November 13, 2012
Are You Tough Enough to Haul Out a Full Deer on Your Back? - 14
I'm sure you've seen photos like this of rugged, old-school deer hunters hiking out of the wilderness with whitetails slung over their shoulders (this shot is from Wisconsinhistory.org).
Such images flashed through my subconscious Saturday morning as I looked down at the dead, gutted buck at my feet. I was by myself about a hilly mile away from the truck with no quad or cavalry on the way. My options: I could drag out the carcass; quarter the buck and pack it out; or …
I stooped low and grabbed the buck with one arm below his front legs and then wrapped my other arm around his back. With all of my might, I lifted back in a sort of bear hug, hang clean motion. I hoisted the front half of the deer a full four feet off the ground, grunted, heaved, and then … gave up.
It turns out that deer, even young Catskill Mountain bucks, are heavier than these old-time photos suggest.
So, I decided to quarter the buck and stuff him in a pack, which is legal in New York but not in all states. Make sure to check your local regulations. A quartered deer in a pack weighs somewhere between 60 and 80 pounds, which is a pretty reasonable load (if you're curious, here's a video on how to debone an elk, the same concepts apply for deer).
I got the buck out of the woods and was back home in time for dinner. But still, I can't help but think about the good old days when men were men and deer were hauled out whole on determined shoulders.
Or, maybe, the whitetails were just smaller back then.