View Full Version : need help with deer dragging alternatives

September 9, 2006, 11:51 PM
I am new to hunting. I know nothing. Any help is greatly appreciated.

I recently scouted an extremely remote area that I think is home to a humongous, monster, whitetail brute beast stud buck. I can't begin to explain the magnitude of this find. I will not try. Just believe me when I say It is hard to think of anything else.

In the reoccurring daydream that I can't get out of my head, I drop the brute in his tracks with one shot and then realize I can't get him out of the woods.
The only other deer I've taken weighed 150 lbs dressed. It took me 3 hours to drag him just under a mile. It was one of the hardest physical things I've ever done. If I was to get a shot at this bruiser, I would likely have a 5-7 mile hike in horrendous country back to tent (located 7 hour paddle from car).
I've seen pack frames that you can buy, but don't think they are practical. Too heavy, and wouldn't be able to hunt effectively with one. I'd have to hike back to camp to get it.

What would you do to get deer back to camp? I will be alone.

I spoke to the most knowledgeable hunter I know and he told me not to worry about it. He said to just worry about getting the deer, and that I could always cut the deer in half. Carry 2 front quarters with head out in one trip (1 leg over each shoulder--cover meat with garbage bag), 2 hind quarters out in 2nd trip. Sounds risky to me, I'd look awful deer-like walking with a deer head on my back. Do you think orange surveyors tape tied all over carcass would be enough? I know I'm ramblin' here...help!!!!!!



Thanks to everyone for the helpful advice given so far. Unfortunately, ATV's, Horses, and game carts are not an option. Laws (ATV's, Horses) and terrain (game cart) prohibit them.

The area I hunt is located in the west/central Adirondack region of NY state. It is remote state owned, roadless land where the mountainous part of the state meet the St. Lawrence river basin. It is northern hardwood forest/boreal forest/beaverswamp/mountains all in one package. On top of all that, a microburst storm hit the area in '95 leaving the area peppered with pockets of practically inpenetrable forest. It was once a highly hunted area that gets little pressure now due to difficulty of travel and recent gradual decrease in deer population. Luckily I have found what appears to be well traveled routes with tons of doe and big buck sign (big tracks, big poop piles, previous year(s) rubs, old scrapes (huge!). As to be expected, it is impossible to get anywhere by walking as the crow flies. I used a GPS when I scouted the area and later determined area of prime sign (Core area) would be 3.5 (straight line) miles from my camping location. Furthermore, after studying the terrain with Maptech (usgs maps on computer) I'd guess this buck will range northerly further away from my camp during the peak rut. Consequently, I think I'll take the advice of Rem33, elkslayer6x5, youp, swampdog, and others, and forget dragging him. Bone 'em out, and pack 'em out--yes, the only way to go in this case. I'll update this post for sure if I get him. Thanks. Good luck to everyone this season!

September 10, 2006, 12:10 AM
You need an ATV. ;)

September 10, 2006, 12:15 AM
Good question. In the area I used to hunt Elk they no longer allow the use of ATV's. An elk is a whole nother story. Guess I'll have to get into horseback hunting. I can't even get to where I used to go on foot.

September 10, 2006, 12:24 AM
Is a horse available?

I have used a nylon strap tied to the deer then wrapped around my waist. That is easier than pulling with your hand.

A hay hook hooked in the lower jaw is easier to drag with than holding on to a foot or horn.

Take a cheap blue tarp with you, a good knife, skin and bone on the tarp, carry the meat in plastic bags inside a good back pack.

Get help.

But first you will need to find him when season is open. Surprising how they can disappear once opening day arrives.

September 10, 2006, 12:52 AM
And get your self ready to bone out this monster buck!
If you do not know how to butcher your kill, read up on it.
and once you get this brute on the ground go to work, caping the head for a mount if you wish. then remove all meat from bones , pack your meet in game bags/ garbage bags load um in your pack. tie some marking tape on horns then invert the head/ cape bundle on top of pack and head home a happy hunter. Leaving all unwanted parts behing to give back to nature..:D happy hunting and go get him....... post a picture once it's done.... make a list of what to pack only take what you truly need... A good knife And stone, Bone saw/small ax, 1/4" cord to help lash things down, marking tape, game bag/ etc. small tarp 5x7 helps keep meat clean dubbles as shelter if need be. Just remember to invert horns when packing him out... we all know horns grow on top of the head and point Up ;)

September 10, 2006, 04:47 AM
Yea, happen to me one time when I killed a big buck and started dragging it by the rear feet and the horns kept getting hung up in brush. A fellow walked by and said it would be better if I dragged the deer by the horns. It was alot easier but I kept getting further from camp.:D
I know I Know but I couldn't help it.

September 10, 2006, 05:35 AM
If you would PM me with the location of this buck I would be glad to come down and help you drag it, or something like that:D

I generally have snow to drag a deer on, slippery is good. I always use a rope as the antler method hurts my back way too much. I prefer to have a couple of young stud hunters in camp. The stonger and the bigger the ego the better.

I have an otter sled. I use it mostly for ice fishing, but it is in deer camp also. I believe it is indestructable. I also have a pack frame. And a four wheeler complete with many hundreds of yards of rope and a snatch block.

My preferences, in order are:

1) Young, strong, egotists.

2) Four wheeler.

3) Rope and Otter Sled.

4) Pack frame.

If you have a choice choose rather dim witted egotists. The smart ones start to figure it out too soon.

September 10, 2006, 06:09 AM
I've packed out some good sized animals on bicycles. Gutted deer goes on bike, head on handle bars, you push. I've also butchered in the woods and packed them out on my back in an ALICE pack. A head lamp is great if you have to do this at night.

Deer are much easier to drag if you rig them correctly. Put a loop around its neck and both front hooves. Put a couple of 1/2 hitches around its horns until you get it to drag right and pull. A nice piece of 5/8's soft samson braid certainly makes it easier.

I pulled one like this, toting a rifle and a stand, for 3 miles through the swamp, one night. I was sure happy to get to my jon boat. The stand went on the deer, in the clearer areas. I was wore out and I'm in pretty good shape.

Dragging with a friend is much easier, but you might end up having to drag HIS buck. :D

September 10, 2006, 09:10 AM
If you have a choice choose rather dim witted egotists.

Lol. You can buy one of those game carts with two wheels - they can go places 4 wheelers can't. If the deer is under 125 pounds or so, and you're young, if you can get it slung over your back, with legs dangling down in front, you can carry it out that way, if you don't mind getting bloody. If you can find just one friend, you can do the classic aboriginal carry, with the animal hanging upside down with legs lashed to medium-sized limb or branch, hoisted on your shoulders. Dragging is hard work, so I try to avoid it if possible. :)

September 10, 2006, 11:18 AM
Horrendous country... I'm thinking ATV. It doesn't sound like an option since you came by water.

I think your best option is to use a two-wheeled game cart if you are by yourself. They work great, but you have to either carry them or wheel them to the hunting location. They don't work well climbing cliffs. You could pre-position the cart (ie hide it) prior to hunt. Other best option is to quarter the buck and pack it out. This 5-7 mile hike to your hunting location sounds a bit extreme. What state is this? What kind of terraine? Are there trails?

September 10, 2006, 11:24 AM
22-rimfire has it right. I'm a 50+ lady with arthritis who hunts, sometimes with hubster, sometimes alone. If I drop a deer, ANY deer, it is not going to dragged out by yours truly. So I will either quarter it and carry the pieces back (which I could do) or use a cart.

One thing for all you guys who are close to my age (or more): a recent article in one of our hunting mags (sorry, don't remember which right now, I'll try to look it up later) said that one of the most dangerous things hunters do is drag a deer out of the woods. Dangerous, because it's a heart attack waiting to happen. It may be manly to hike that big buck out two miles, but it may also be the last thing you do. If you are hunting alone, get a cart, or take your kill back to your vehicle one quarter at a time. Live to see another season ;)


September 10, 2006, 11:39 AM
Trying to get a dead deer on a horses back doesn't always go that well.

Art Eatman
September 10, 2006, 02:35 PM
Drifting a bit from the original question: If you have help, using a piece of galvanized pipe is good. 3/4" is stout enough but not real heavy. BUT: Don't tie the legs over it. The side-sway will eat your lunch. Open the chest cavity completely. Put the pipe inside the pelvis and chest. Tie the legs together, and the head up to the pipe. No swing and sway.

If you want to use a pack horse, but its spooked by the smell of blood: Make sure you have a strong rope on the horse. Blindfold the horse. Get a handful of blood and slap it into the horse's nose.

After the rodeo is over, and the horse is standing all spraddle-legged and quivering, load the deer. He won't smell a thing.

:), Art

September 10, 2006, 02:56 PM
One of the more entertaining parts of an Elk hunt is watching a couple of men trying to get Elk quarters on the back of a mule.You will likely hear some pretty colorful vernacular.

September 10, 2006, 04:34 PM
Most of you guys aren't giving this guy any help.

HE SAID IN HIS POST no game carts (which would include a bike), no horses, mules, ATV's, etc.

He has to pack this deer out, plain and simple.

WVB, I would plan on 2 trips. There just isn't any other option if you're alone.

Shoot the deer, cape and remove the head, remove the loins and backstraps. Pack it all out.

Head back for the deer, bone out the front and back quarters, pack them out.

If you're alone and miles from your truck, dragging will not be an option (especially in hilly terrain). You're going to have to bone the deer out.

He sounds like a brute, good luck!!


September 10, 2006, 06:35 PM
Well,it's a little unreallistic.I doubt there is one man in a thousand that can hike in 5 to 7 miles in bad terrain,haul 70 or 80 pounds of deer out ,turn around and do it again.There is probably not one in a hundred that can do it the first time.Your options are to take a couple of people with you,or cape him out the best you can and take the head and cape out with you.If you can handle a little more weight,take the loins.It should be cool enough there to leave him overnight.Take a rope and pull the rest of him off the ground as high as possible if a suitable tree is available.If you can't go back the next day,leave him on the ground for the other wildlife that probably need it more than you do anyway.

September 10, 2006, 08:23 PM
Good point, Duck.

If there were snow on the ground, I'd rig a small plastic sled so that I could pull it through the open terrain. You can ride with the deer when you go down hill. :D At least it would slide over the ground. Sometimes pulling is easier than carrying.

September 10, 2006, 08:47 PM
see if you can hunt on some farmers land,and see if he owns a tractor with a front end loader on it:D .

September 11, 2006, 12:44 AM
Your best bet is going to be quartering it and packing it out like the others said. Art has a real good suggestion if you have a partner with you. I've had to do this several times to get deer out of some really rough terrain back in the Glass Mountains in West Texas. All I had available at the time was a metal T-post. Put the post or pipe, what ever you have available as far down in the body cavity and tie the legs around it. Put it up on your shoulders and walk it out. I've never done it further than a mile or two, so if your going to be taking it 5 to 7 miles that way, you probably should be ready to set up camp along the way.

September 11, 2006, 02:20 AM
Don't know if this is much help, but Cabela's used to sell a little thing called a Deer-Sleigher. It is a sheet of high-density polyethylene with slots to lace it around a deer and rope handles. Tie the deer in, start dragging. I used mine twice and it works OK. Basically, it just gives a hard, slick surface to drag on.

September 11, 2006, 03:14 AM
this thread is pretty helpful. i use to just throw it over my shoulder and start walking. id get a little tiered after a mile and a half or so, set it down, yell at it for a while, drink some water, then repeat. now things have changed, i recently had knee surgery and have been looking at alternatives. i was a butcher for three years so for me boning it out wouldn't be a problem, but id rather do that at home in a cleaner environment (a tarp in the garage beats a tarp in the field:D ). scorch's suggestion looks like its the winner. it folds up and looks like i would fit threw a vest (some guys use a backpack i use a bird vest). plus its less than $30.00, thats like three gallons of gas.:D

September 11, 2006, 09:02 AM


September 11, 2006, 09:17 AM

Where do you hunt deer that bone out 140-160 lbs of meat? Most deer in NY state are under that weight on the hoof. You would need to be shooting at least 350 lb deer, to even approach that amount of boned out meat.

September 11, 2006, 09:43 AM
Im looking at deer sled on Cabela's thinking -hey, not a bad idea. But then I look at the weight? 5 pounds for the large one???:confused: How??

September 11, 2006, 11:20 AM
Back in the Midwest where I have deer hunted (WI & MO) the deer have to be registered and you cannot pack them out as the critter must be whole when registered. Don't know about NY. As a previous poster indicated, a VERY large whitetail will yield about 80 lbs of boned meat. I have been hunting primarily in Western states recently and I have field butchered about a dozen animals now. It is not very difficult. I carry a 6' X 8' piece of plastic to butcher the critter on. Start with the hind quarters and work your way forward. Don't forget the tenderloins. I can very easily carry 40 lbs or so for a long hike. My brother and I have hauled out a couple pretty decent sized mulies in one trip with the 2 of us. A verry stout pack is mandatory. A pack frame is even better. A buddy of mine shot a huge cow elk last year and we ended up just cutting her in half just forward of the hind quarters and that worked good too. Good luck.

September 11, 2006, 12:59 PM
field & stream's gear issue (maybe last month's) had a one-page about "never field dress a deer again," with brief instructions on how to lop all the meat out hastily. might be worth a read for ya.

September 11, 2006, 01:14 PM
You may think that the game cart is not an option if you have never used one due to rough terrain etc. As long as you don't have to climb cliffs or travel through very rocky (ie large rocks that you have to climb over), you are far better off with a cart even when there are limited rough areas. Even if you walk an extra mile, they work slick. You can map your exit route also for transporting a deer out too. Game carts work really well even in the woods where you have to cross logs, creeks, and modest sized rocks. Following old logging roads is a dream as long as they aren't all grown up in brush/briars. Game carts are heart attack savers. No buck is worth dying for EVER.

I dragged a deer out (usual 120 lb deer) for a mile or so (thru brush, over trees, over rocks, up hill and down hill) in the dry woods. It about killed me and I have to say I was thinking heart attack when I have no heart problems. Shot another buck in the same area and wheeled it out on a cart and it took just about as long as it does to walk in slowly. Heart was not even beating more than normal. You need about 2.5ft width to navigate.

You could scout a trail in and out with the transportation issue in mind. I'd mark it so I could find it later. Aerial photos and topos work well for locating old trails and roads. There are not many forests in the East that there are not logging roads built at one time or another. You just have to find them.

Other than that, as everyone said... bone it and carry it out.

September 11, 2006, 04:59 PM
Meddac19,you must be talking about large rabbits.Just kidding.I was thinking in terms of the weight of a large gutted buck.Assuming he weighs 200 pounds plus,which by the initial description he must,then then you would be looking at dropping maybe 60 pounds when you field dress him.Boning out what you can of the meat is a better idea,I agree.

September 11, 2006, 06:29 PM
22-rimfire brought up an excellent point about planning your routes.

Everything he said goes double for a bicycle, btw. The viet cong moved tons of rice by bicycle, over some very mountainous terrain. They aren't as easy to load or steer as a game cart, but you can get one just about anywhere it won't sink.

Good Luck

September 11, 2006, 07:13 PM
I use one of those $6.00 tobaggons that roll up into a tube.
They sell them at toy stores etc.
drill holes around the perimeter for lashing and a tow rope.
they are cheap and disposable and work really well if you are lucky enough to be dragging on snow.

September 13, 2006, 03:09 PM
Just do it the way the American Indians used to.... Take along a small tarp and some rope and a good knife(or "pocket saw)...Shoot deer... Cut 2 fairly straight saplings, suspend deer on tarp between saplings. Then haul it out. Mostly you'll use your hands, but you could rig a shoulder strap as well. Tough work, but not as bad as you might think, if you have to cover most reasonable terrain.

john in jax
September 13, 2006, 08:03 PM
If you have just got to put that deer or part of him on your back please wrap him COMPLETELY up in 1 or two of those cheap orange ponchos. Being too safe will get you back to camp.