Disposable Drop Cloth
Keeping meat clean while field dressing can be a real problem. Sometimes there is not a clean place to lay a skinned quarter before placing it into a game bag. Clean, sanitary meat handling in the field results in less time spent in the butchering process and better meat on the table.
I carry a plastic drop cloth or large, heavy-duty plastic garbage bag in my pack. Make sure it is large enough to accommodate 2-4 full quarters of whatever animal you are hunting. They don't take up much space, and I carry it in a plastic zip-top bag that doubles as a trash bag for the drop cloth and other trash produced during tracking and field dressing (rope, flagging material, etc.) as described in a previous Tip of the Week.
Prior to quartering the animal, spread the drop cloth out flat, or cut the garbage bag down the side and bottom and spread it out flat. Stake the corners and sides with rocks or sticks to keep it from moving while you work. I keep my pack on one corner of the cloth so it's close at hand.
The drop cloth provides a clean workspace to put the quarters while processing the meat and putting it into game bags, as well as for laying knives, saws and other tools you are using. This really helps to keep things clean and organized in one location. The drop cloth also doubles as a tarp, which has numerous uses around camp. A colored drop cloth or garbage bag is a great way to provide shade for quarters hanging in a tree.
Editor's Note: I found a clear, 9' x 12' plastic drop cloth at Harbor Freight for $1.49. A quick, online search turned up several stores that sell them in 12 or 24 count boxes for $10 to $16.