The Cost of Shipping Elk Meat Home – A Guide for Hunters

One of the most exciting parts of bagging an elk is imagining all the delicious steaks, roasts, and burgers you’ll be enjoying for months to come. But for out-of-state hunters, getting hundreds of pounds of meat back home can be a daunting logistical and financial challenge. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down the various options for shipping elk meat and help you determine the best method based on your specific circumstances.

Why Shipping Elk Meat is Expensive

The sheer size and weight of an elk makes transporting the meat inherently costly. A large bull can easily yield over 500 pounds of boned out meat. Factoring in antlers, cape, and other parts, you can be looking at transporting 700+ pounds! Compare this to a whitetail deer that yields just 50-100 pounds. Here are some key reasons elk shipping costs rack up:

  • Bulk and weight – Elk meat takes up a massive amount of space and weighs a ton. More weight means higher shipping carrier fees.

  • Perishability – Meat must be kept frozen or near frozen at all times, limiting options. Cannot be left unrefrigerated.

  • Inspection – Special handling and inspection is required for transporting meat and animal parts.

  • Packaging – Meat must be professionally cut, wrapped, frozen and packaged in insulated containers Materials add up

  • Shipping distance – The longer the transit time, higher the cost. Cross-country shipping is expensive.

  • Limited competition – Not a lot of shipping companies specialize in transporting wild game meat. Lack of competition leads to higher pricing.

Factors That Determine Elk Meat Shipping Costs

Several variables affect how much you will spend to ship your elk meat home, The major factors include

Meat weight – The more meat you are shipping, the higher the overall cost But up to a point, you benefit from economy of scale.

Transit time – Overnight and 2-day air is significantly pricier than ground transport that may take 5-7 days.

Packaging – Use of commercial foam shippers or cardboard boxes, amount of dry ice needed.

Distance – Cross-country transport costs exceed regional shipping. Exact mileage and route affects pricing.

Carrier – UPS, FedEx and specialty carriers have different rates. Compare costs.

Season – Peak hunting season leads to higher demand and prices. Off-season transport is cheaper.

Discounts – Loyalty programs and corporate accounts offer shipping discounts and lower rates.

Supplemental fees – Fuel surcharges, residential surcharge, oversize fees all bump up costs.

Cost Comparison of Elk Meat Shipping Methods

The strategy that works best for you depends on your specific situation. Here is an overview of popular options and their typical costs:

Checked Baggage on Commercial Flights

Cost – $25-$150 per cooler

Speed – Arrives same day as your flight

Limits – Airline baggage size and weight restrictions apply

Benefits – Convenient, allows you to accompany meat home

Downsides – Baggage fees add up quick, limited capacity

Ground Transport (Drive or Carpool)

Cost – $200-$1000 for fuel, vehicle wear & tear

Speed – Multi-day drive depending on distance

Limits – Your vehicle capacity and time availability

Benefits – No baggage restrictions, cheaper for large loads

Downsides – Time commitment, cannot fly home

Parcel Shipping (UPS, FedEx, USPS)

Cost – ~$200-$500 for 500 lbs of meat (regional)

Speed – 1-5 days depending on service selected

Limits – Carrier restrictions on weight per package

Benefits – Reliable transit times, some temperature control

Downsides – Ground transport takes time, expensive for large loads

Specialty Meat Shipping Companies

Cost – ~$3000 to ship 500 lbs cross-country

Speed – As fast as overnight express

Limits – Depends on the carrier

Benefits – Designed specially for transporting wild game meat

Downsides – Very expensive, especially for longer distances

Tips to Min

How Many Coolers to Get Your Elk Home, Randy Newberg explains


How much does it cost to ship 50 lbs of meat?

Weight Tiers
FedEx Ground
FedEx 2Day
41-45 lbs
46-50 lbs
51-60 lbs
61-70 lbs

Can you ship elk meat home?

As always, rates fluctuate with fuel prices and the bigger the elk, the bigger the shipping charge. Thankfully, meat seems to be more reasonable to ship than antlers, but don’t think you’ll get off easy.

Is it expensive to ship meat?

SHIPPING LOCATIONS & RATES Meat is shipped FLAT RATE based upon the region you live. Rates are $20-$59 in the continental US and $120 to Alaska and Hawaii. This includes the cost of a compostable liner, dry ice, and UPS shipping. The rate does not increase based upon weight, so stock up at one time to save on shipping.

How much does it cost to fly elk meat?

For most airlines, you can check up to a 50-pound cooler of frozen/processed elk for a typical bag fee, which can range from free to $50, depending on the airline. Go over the 50-pound limit, and you’re looking at anywhere from $50-$200 in extra fees.

Where can I buy elk meat?

Timber Butte Elk Ranch: Order Elk Meat Anywhere in the US [Grass-Fed!] Timber Butte is proud to sell only the best quality Elk products. Our meat contains no steroids or growth enhancing hormones. Timber Butte Elk Ranch is a family ranch, home to the Molenaar family and an ever increasing number of Roosevelt Elk.

Why is shipping meat so expensive?

Pack Meat, Ship Gear: Shipping meat is expensive because it needs to be expedited to ensure it doesn’t thaw. Gear and clothing, on the other hand, can take the cheaper, slow boat home. I emptied my rolling bag of everything except my shaving kit, filling all that empty space with frozen meat.

Does USPS ship meat?

The US Postal Service is pretty lenient when it comes to shipping meat. All you have to do is make sure the meat conforms to regulations set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). USPS also doesn’t restrict you to any specific type of service for shipping meat, as is the case when shipping hazardous materials.

Why should you order elk meat online?

Order our elk meat online today and taste the difference quality makes. QUALITY YOU CAN TASTE. Our elk meat is from farm-raised animals that are free to forage as they would naturally, eating a combination of native grasses, wild grains, bark and berries. The result is a lean, tender meat with a flavor and texture similar to that of wild elk.

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