Suppose you needed to dispose of a large carcass for one reason or another while in the backcountry... what would be the best way to dispose of it in the woods so that it wouldn't be discovered? You always hear stories of people burying bears that they've had to shoot, but I can't imagine digging a big enough hole in the rocky ground to hide a 500lbs+ bear. Especially if you weren't carrying a descent shovel. Is it easier to section the animal and bury the smaller parts? What about when you're up above the treeline? is covering it with rocks enough to hide it, or would you need to drag it into the trees and find some soft soil? I don't see anything on the Leave no Trace website that talks about this. Does anyone have any tips or stories about what they've done in these types of situations?

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    For reference; todays date is the first day of the month of april. – ShemSeger Apr 1 '15 at 15:17
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    Best sentence is: I don't see anything on the Leave no Trace website – user2766 Apr 1 '15 at 15:48
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    Feed it to the zombies. – Michael McGriff Apr 1 '15 at 16:54
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    @nhinkle - The funniest thing is that technically, this question is not off-topic. This is a real problem that hunters and land-owners encounter, and Fishing and Hunting SE was merged with The Great Outdoors SE in May of 2011, so this is the appropriate site to earnestly ask this question. Some of the answers may not be appropriate outside of April fools, but the question as it's worded is still technically valid. – ShemSeger Apr 2 '15 at 16:38
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    @nhinkle: I'll say it again, the original intent is irrelevant. This question is on-topic. – Lightness Races with Monica Apr 2 '15 at 20:01

Throwing a dead body down a ravine in a rugged mountain area is a morally blameless act, much like throwing your biodegradable orange peel into a bush. Crows and coyotes will rapidly take care of it, leaving only disassembled bones, which they'll scatter. Just make sure to remove all the nonbiodegradable stuff, like clothing, credit cards, and so on. This also helps with not getting caught. It's easy for a search and rescue team to find someone if they're wearing a brightly colored tee shirt.

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    Today's (or yesterday's) bears really need credit cards and t-shirts being out in the woods? Quite sophisticated. – Wills Apr 2 '15 at 4:48
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    To avoid mercury release in the environment, please also remove dental amalgams. The cleanest method is by using pliers, but if you're in a hurry, a hammer appears to be fastest. – Gras Double Apr 2 '15 at 12:30
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    @Wills: they need credit cards to order the T-shirts online, because there's no clothes shops out there for them to buy using cash. They need T-shirts, because they're wearing trousers so as to have pockets to keep their credit cards, and a bear in just trousers isn't a great look. – Steve Jessop Apr 2 '15 at 18:11

You can just leave whatever parts you don't eat for the scavengers. Seriously, this is the outdoors, not Disney: critters have died, from time to time, and worms have eaten them* - which is why the woods are not cluttered with corpses. "...we fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots. Your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service, two dishes, but to one table".

*Apologies to Will Shakespeare.

  • -1 for violating "leave no trace." – djechlin Apr 1 '15 at 18:11
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    @djechlin Let's remove animals and plants from The Great Outdoors then, for violating leave no trace. – gerrit Apr 1 '15 at 18:17
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    Treating the topic seriously (I know ;-), when a tahr dies of old age, it's body is left in the wilderness. When a bear eats a fish, the remains of the fish are left in the wilderness. The decay of these items returns important nutrients to the ground. If you have shot an animal that is too big to carry out intact then there is nothing wrong with leaving its body in the wilderness. Just leave it far enough away from trails that hikers aren't going to be upset by the smell of decomp. – Greenstone Walker Apr 1 '15 at 20:48
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    @djechlin No but you did downvote based on it so now you get to defend your implicit assertion that following it is a mandate. – Lightness Races with Monica Apr 2 '15 at 17:29
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    Wish I could downvote people – Lightness Races with Monica Apr 2 '15 at 17:40

Burn it.

True, campfires are not really a perfect example of leave no trace. But what you can do:

  1. Carry the carcass far above the treeline, where there is no vegetation
  2. Carry firewood to the same location (of course, only already dead branches and gathered from a sufficiently large area to be not suspicious)
  3. Burn!
  4. Whatever is left, carry out. If you can carry it up when it is full, surely you can carry the remains out. Don't forget to take the ashes, too.
  • What about the smell, and the smoke? Would it be best to do this at night? – ShemSeger Apr 1 '15 at 15:31
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    I've always understood leave no trace to mean there should be no trace after you finished whatever you're doing. Clearly as long as you exist you are observable in some way. – gerrit Apr 1 '15 at 15:33
  • So this should be fine as long as it's safe to start a fire in the first place. – djechlin Apr 1 '15 at 18:12
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    It takes a surprising amount of fuel to incinerate a dead body. The numbers I've seen are that you need one pound of gasoline for each pound of body; since wood has a lower energy density, you need much more of it. – Mark Apr 1 '15 at 23:00
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    I have picked up the occasional annoying hitchhiker, so I can speak with some authority on this subject. Bodies - particularly fat bodies - will practically burn themselves if you do it right. What you need to do is create a wick and they will burn like a candle. Remove any cotton or synthetic clothes (woollen clothes are OK). Wrap the body in 4 or 5 tight loops of heavy rope. Splash a couple of litres of petrol on the body and rope, and light it. The subcutaneous fat will melt quite quickly and be drawn up into the rope which will act as a wick. May take several hours, but everything will go. – Peter Webb Apr 2 '15 at 13:24

According to my wife, who is an experienced backpacker, it’s insufficient to merely leave the carcass to scavengers. You also need to leave a Snickers, to attract bears.

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    She adds, “Bears love Snickers.” – Bradd Szonye Apr 2 '15 at 1:25

Eat it

Happy April Fools!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    Which leads to the follow up question - "How do you eat bones and other typically inedible parts of a body?" – Adam Davis Apr 1 '15 at 16:03
  • @AdamDavis: Bring a dog. They love eating bones, even if it is not good for them. – dotancohen Apr 1 '15 at 18:56
  • @dotancohen - Bones are extremely good for them. Random fact: Scientists believe human ancestors were scavengers, and developed the first oldowan tools to help them crack open bones to get at the rich marrow inside. – ShemSeger Apr 1 '15 at 20:32

the correct way to dispose of...er-hem,(ex-living tissue !),is to dissect it into smaller,manageable pieces,(portions ?),and bury them in the ground,not together,but separately.Make sure that when you bury them,there is at least 30 cm's of space above the meat,you need to add a capstone to every piece buried,and then compact the soil above that. Cover your handiwork with twigs,leaves and brush etc. The whole exercise is best carried out at sundown,so any vapor condensation is not immediately visible.By the way,how old(fresh) is the stiff ? body heat is retained for 2-4 hours after the kill,so if you dismember it too soon,bare in mind,vapor condensation will escape,and could be seen by others !!!!-This could be a bad thing....it may mean you have more digging and dismembering to do. The reason you need capstones above the meat is to prevent them from being dug up by scavengers,and there-fore exposing your dirty secrets to all and sundry. I definitely haven;t killed anyone and buried them in the woods,LATELY ....

  • *Thing, you haven't killed anything. – ShemSeger Apr 2 '15 at 16:40
  • I disagree with much of this. If you allow scavengers to dispose of the carcass for you, there is an excellent chance that no significant portion will remain. Even if portions are later discovered, if you used appropriate methods and due care in rendering the carcass a carcass, nothing will be left to prove that its demise wasn't due to natural causes. – jamesqf Apr 2 '15 at 18:23
  • @jamesqf - Unless you shoot it in the head and leave a skull behind with a bullet hole in it. – ShemSeger Apr 2 '15 at 18:34
  • @ jamesqf, I disagree with your comment.If you leave the meat un-disturbed,natural decomposition will occur.Granted,it will take time,BUT,and it is a significant but,IT WILL REMAIN UNDETECTED..... – fred of the forrest... Apr 2 '15 at 18:48
  • @ jamesqf,sorry,I hit the wrong button,Istill have stuff to say... – fred of the forrest... Apr 2 '15 at 18:50

Depends on where you are. Near Las Vegas, there are plenty of abandoned mines where a body will almost certainly remain undiscovered for years. Talk to the local mob for specifics.

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