Imagine yourself on a solo hunt, and you’ve arrowed a big whitetail. You’ve found the animal, tagged it and taken pictures. Now you must get it out of the woods and into your vehicle. How do you do that?
First, field dress the animal. That means removing the animal’s organs and entrails, which helps cool the carcass and preserve the meat by slowing bacterial growth. It also lightens the load for the trip out.
Then, pick one of these options for getting the deer to your vehicle for the trip home.
Can you drive close to where the animal fell? If a road or tractor trail is nearby, or the landowner or neighbor lets you drive off-road to reach it, you’re lucky. Drive in and load it up. That sounds easy, but loading 150 to 200 pounds of dead weight onto the back of a car, truck or four-wheeler isn’t easy. If your state allows, you could cut up and quarter the animal into manageable chunks.
Or you can use the landscape to your advantage. Position your vehicle at the base of a ditch or hill, and back up to the slope. Next, drag your deer down the hill and roll the carcass onto the vehicle. Bring a tarp, or large cooler if you quartered the carcass, to keep your car or SUV’s interior clean.
If you can’t drive a vehicle to the site, consider using a game cart. A cart’s big wheels and low center of gravity make hauling an animal far easier than dragging it. Affordable carts cost $60 to $150.
If wheeled vehicles aren’t possible, consider dragging your deer out. Most deer hunters use this option at some point, but it might not suit those with back or neck problems. It also requires strength. If you decide to drag out your harvest, use these tips:
If none of those options works, cut up and carry your harvest out in a backpack. This is often the best option when bowhunting deep in a forest or marsh where vehicles can’t go. This technique requires game bags to keep the meat clean, and a backpack with a solid frame to support the weight. Your backpack should adjust easily for proper fit, especially at your hips.
Whether you use wheels, the terrain, or brute strength, you can get your deer out of the woods and into your vehicle. It just takes planning, dedication and – sometimes – a little creativity.