Open Season: Dry Ice for Hunting & Other Expert Tips

A father and son scout their hunting location.

Open Season: Dry Ice for Hunting & Other Expert Tips 

If you’re looking for an expert to help you improve your hunting experience, Kevin Paulson is a good person to start with. An avid hunter and owner of both and, Paulson is an experienced outdoorsmen with nearly limitless knowledge to share, starting with this: Pack meat with Penguin Brand Dry Ice®.

Paulson uses dry ice for hunting because it’s the best way to keep game meat cold when he’s on a hunting trip. That way, he can avoid meat spoilage during transport from the hunting grounds to a proper meat freezer. In addition to dry-ice packing tips, keep reading for a slew of helpful recommendations from Paulson—from the gear he doesn’t leave home without to his philosophy about a hunter’s place in the world.

Why dry ice is better for hunting trips

When, after spending hours in the stand, you’ve finally found the buck you’ve been waiting for, the last thing you want to worry about is whether you’ll be able to get the meat home safely. That’s why Paulson depends on dry ice to keep what he harvests fresh.

“Dry ice is an essential part of my routine to keep the meat cool and safe,” says Paulson. “When regular ice melts, the water coats the meat and promotes the growth of bacteria. My experience with dry ice has been excellent. I have been able to travel great distances with meat in the cooler.”

How do you pack a cooler with dry ice?

Start with purchasing Penguin Brand Dry Ice at a store near you. Then, Paulson recommends the following process:

  • Pack the meat in quarters inside of Caribou Gear game bags (bone the meat first if necessary)
  • Place the bags inside of a 125-quart cooler
  • While wearing gloves, break a 25-pound slab of dry ice into two pieces
  • Wrap each piece of dry ice in newspaper to avoid direct contact with the meat
  • Place at the top of the cooler

“I keep the drain plug on the cooler open to allow proper venting,” says Paulson. “This allows any gas to escape from the cooler.” Also consider where that gas goes once it escapes the cooler—you don’t want it to fill your car. Store your cooler in the trunk of your car or the bed of your truck, and open the windows periodically.

“I also often check on the temperature of the meat by using a Kestrel DROP inside my cooler. The Kestrel DROP delivers temperature readings right to my cell phone through Bluetooth. It is a powerful tool to know your meat is safe.”

Be prepared for anything

In colder times of year, rain and sweat can quickly turn a great hunt into a dangerous situation. When planning your trip, Paulson recommends you consider the weather conditions of the area in which you’ll be hunting, giving special consideration to how long you’ll be up in the stand. 

“I will not hunt without a quality layering system for my clothing,” says Paulson. “I have spent far too many hunting trips without the right gear. I hunt hard and in a variety of different climates and altitudes. I also rely upon a quality knife, first aid kit, game bags, Mystery Ranch Packs to get my meat out of the field and a quality cooler to get my meat from the field to the table safely.”

Other guidance: Responsible hunting

“Hunting requires integrity and ethics,” Paulson stresses. “Follow the laws and respect the wildlife you hunt. If you hunt ducks, then join Ducks Unlimited. If you are as obsessed with mule deer as I am, then join the Mule Deer Foundation. Most importantly, if you enjoy hunting, pass it on and become a mentor to others around you.”

Making the most out of each hunt

“The most important advice that I can offer is to take time to enjoy the land on which you are hunting,” Paulson adds. “Notice things around you on a broad scale like the clouds, trees, sunrise and sunset. Notice the things around you on a macro level like the grasshoppers bouncing through the grass, plants and flowers blowing in the wind. Notice the wildlife around you, whether you are hunting that species or not. Soak it all in because these memories will keep you coming back year after year.”

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