Fact checked by Steven Lines, lifelong Hunter and Outdoorsman.
Elk are very large animals and yield a lot of delicious meat once harvested. Elk meat is also one of the tastiest and most nutritious meats, but it can be quite a chore to cut up and butcher by yourself. This is why most elk hunters take their elk to a meat processor. But just how much does it cost to process an elk?
Meat processing is calculated by the elk’s weight, so prices will vary depending on your elk’s size. Prices will also change depending on the type of cuts that you prefer. On average, however, it will cost anywhere from $300 to $700 to process an elk by a professional butcher.
Getting your elk properly processed is extremely important to enjoy all the meat you get from your harvest. It will prevent any from going to waste unnecessarily and keep you from having to do the work yourself. Continue reading to learn more about processing your elk and the costs that come along with it.
Should You Pay to Get Your Elk Butchered?
The first major question that many hunters will ask themselves is if they should pay to process their elk in the first place. After all, how hard can it be to cut it up themselves? It is much more difficult than you might think.
Elk are extremely large animals, and it can take several days or even weeks to cut one up all by yourself.
You may not also have all of the proper knives, tools, and equipment needed to make the most out of your elk meat. You will need a large, open area in a cool environment and a freezer big enough to hold the carcass as you work on it, both of which the average person does not own.
This is why most hunters will opt to pay a professional butcher or processing plant to cut up and clean their elk meat.
Varying Costs of Processing Elk
The biggest drawback to getting your elk processed is the price tag. Many hunters do want to pay the price to get their elk processed due to how much it costs them and the fact that they think they can do it themselves.
But what will it actually cost? The answer will depend on the weight of your elk meat and what kind of cuts you want.
Most processors will charge a flat rate per pound. This gives them a base rate for what you will pay. From there, they will add on the price depending on if you want certain types of steaks cut or if you want things such as jerky, sausage, or additions to your meat.
This will raise the price significantly but can provide you some variety in the meat that you get back.
So depending on the weight of your elk meat and the types of cuts that you want, your processing costs will vary. The advantage of paying this price, however, is that you do not need the skills or tools to do all of the work yourself and can rest assured that it is being handled by professionals that do it for a living.
How Long Does it Take to Get an Elk Processed?
If you decide to cut up an elk yourself, you might be able to get it done in a few days or maybe a week or two. But afterward, you will be extremely tired and may not have the necessary skills to do everything.
If you take your elk to a processor, however, you will get to relax and wait for others to do the work for you. The only downside is that it will usually take a little longer to process.
Most processors will allow an elk carcass to hang for a minimum of two weeks to allow all of the blood to drain out and to dry age the meat.
During this time, they are busy working on the animals of other people. Even when your meat is done hanging, they still might not be able to get to it right away because there are others in the queue ahead of you.
On average, getting your elk meat back from a processor will take anywhere from two to six weeks. Of course, every butcher and processor is different; some may be shorter or longer.
Best Elk Processors
There are many meat processors out there that can cut up your elk for you. It is a good idea to call ahead before your hunt to ensure that a particular business or butcher does wild game such as elk and if they have any available room to take your animal should you be successful on your hunt.
Almost every town or city will have at least one or two processors that can do it for you, so a little bit of homework is good to do.
Here are a few of the best elk meat processors in the country that can help you out, as well as how you can best contact them to get your own elk meat processed.
Ted Baker Meat Processing
Steve’s Meat Market
Prasek’s Family Smokehouse
Sportsman’s Wild Game Processing
Getting your elk properly processed is a great way to ensure that not an ounce of the delicious meat goes to waste and that you have clean, properly cut meat to last a long time. Although it may cost a little to have your elk processed, it is easily worth every penny!
Steven Lines is a hunter and outdoorsman from Safford, Arizona, USA. Since he was a child, he has been hunting and fishing and has over 20 years of outdoor experience. Steven works as a hunting guide in Arizona during his spare time and runs a Youtube channel dedicated to sharing his outdoor adventures with others.