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Are You Tough Enough to Haul Out a Full Deer on Your Back?

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.

 

Comments (14)

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from Catpool9 wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

That photo proves that those guy's were some tough old birds back in the day, but I think with someones help and you get a deer tied up and balanced on your back it's not as bad as it looks, I saw my Daddy throw a doe I shot when I was about 10 yrs. over on his back and walk it out of the woods and he only had one arm.
I one time drug a spike buck a mile about 30 yrs. ago but the deer lost all his hair on both back hams.

These days I have a hard time loading up a deer on the 4 wheeler.

David H.

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from canthitathing wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

I actually did this twenty years ago or so (no way could I do it again unless it was real puny in which case I wouldn't shoot it anyway). My brother and I tried a pole sling but the damn thing kept swinging so bad I finally threw it on my shoulders and my brother carried the guns. The distance was about 1 1/4 miles along a decent one way in one way out logging road at dusk. I would huff and puff for 100 yards or so then stop to catch my breath. The deer was an Ontario spike buck, dressed weight about 120 pounds so I guess about 140-150 with head, hide and hocks still on.

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from JM wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

If the guys in the photo has access to modern technology they would use it. I could probably get a deer out on my back, buy why do that when there are easier methods(even simply dragging it).

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from pineywoods wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

Ten years ago I was tough enough, but not any more. Nowadays, a good deer is one killed near a road and a REALLY good deer is one killed right by the side of the road. (That's a logging road, and has nothing to do with road hunting.)

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

I am not tough enough to haul a deer out on my back unless it is a yearling. I am though tough enough to hold a mature buck on my back to get a good picture and fool generations down the road.

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from huntfishtrap wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

A couple of thoughts: First, I believe the average weight of deer has gone up in the last few decades, most places anyway, due to the spread of agriculture. So those deer are probably not as heavy as the average deer in that area today. That buck doesn't look light though!
And secondly, doing today what those guys in that photo were doing is a good way to get shot!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

I did that once with an antelope years ago but couldn't now. The guy in the lead has a pretty big bodied deer in my opinion. One other thing, I agree completely with Johnnie, do we really need all this stuff to kill a deer?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from spneese wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

Heck, this is easy. Just shoot small deer. ;-)

Next question!

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from floridahunter wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

I hunt a WMA where the deer have to remain whole untill you reach the check station, last year I had to drag a 6pt 650yds through palmettos and marsh. Hope to do it again this week. Our deer are smaller down here though. That deer was a 3.5y/o 6pt that weighed 117lbs

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from Johnnie wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

No fancy camo, looks like no scent control, no scopes just lever actions and it looks like the boys did quite well for themselves. Sometimes I question all this modern day fancy hunting clothes and some of the equipment - a GPS is nice to have.
I tried to see if I could carry a deer once across my shoulders, not an easy feat. I don't think I would chance carrying a deer on my back nowadays for in fear of being shot, even if it was draped in blaze orange.

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from elkslayer wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

I have done this for short distances, mostly just to get the carcass up to a logging road where I can get to it with my game cart. The furthest that I have carried a deer would be about 200 yds, and it wasn't easy, it didn't help that it was all up a 40 degree slope.

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from jcarlin wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

I don't believe quartering is an option in PA either. Deer must remain with ear tag on until to place of processing/consumption. I don't think a bag of parts and an ear count.
And I think it depends on the deer. Carried a doe across a creek a few weeks back becuase I didn't want carcass in the creek water if I could help it. Drug a buck up hill with help and put him in truck with same help and was glad for that help Saturday. Fireman's carry might have been possible, but not any fun.
Somehow I think if you're even considering that move, placing an orange vest on the deer might be an act of self-preservation.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MazPower wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

Tough enough to haul out a full deer on my back? Yes, but smart enough to quarter it before hauling it out.
I've killed more elk than anything, and have only hauled out a few on foot. Our M.O. is to quarter and pack them out on mules.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from mb915 wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

This is something that I want to start doing, but my only question is what do you keep to prove the identity of the deer. In my home state of VA, you are required to not destroy the identity of the animal, see the regulation below.

Any input on what would be needed would be greatly appreciated. Those 2 mile drags up and down the mountains are no longer fun.

It is unlawful to destroy the identity
(sex) of any animal until it is checked.
After the appropriate tag has been validated
(notched), successful hunters
are allowed to dismember the carcass
to pack it out from the place of kill as
long as they do not destroy the identity
of the sex and all the parts of the
carcass (excluding internal organs) are
present when the animal is checked.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

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from Johnnie wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

No fancy camo, looks like no scent control, no scopes just lever actions and it looks like the boys did quite well for themselves. Sometimes I question all this modern day fancy hunting clothes and some of the equipment - a GPS is nice to have.
I tried to see if I could carry a deer once across my shoulders, not an easy feat. I don't think I would chance carrying a deer on my back nowadays for in fear of being shot, even if it was draped in blaze orange.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

I did that once with an antelope years ago but couldn't now. The guy in the lead has a pretty big bodied deer in my opinion. One other thing, I agree completely with Johnnie, do we really need all this stuff to kill a deer?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntfishtrap wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

A couple of thoughts: First, I believe the average weight of deer has gone up in the last few decades, most places anyway, due to the spread of agriculture. So those deer are probably not as heavy as the average deer in that area today. That buck doesn't look light though!
And secondly, doing today what those guys in that photo were doing is a good way to get shot!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from pineywoods wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

Ten years ago I was tough enough, but not any more. Nowadays, a good deer is one killed near a road and a REALLY good deer is one killed right by the side of the road. (That's a logging road, and has nothing to do with road hunting.)

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from mb915 wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

This is something that I want to start doing, but my only question is what do you keep to prove the identity of the deer. In my home state of VA, you are required to not destroy the identity of the animal, see the regulation below.

Any input on what would be needed would be greatly appreciated. Those 2 mile drags up and down the mountains are no longer fun.

It is unlawful to destroy the identity
(sex) of any animal until it is checked.
After the appropriate tag has been validated
(notched), successful hunters
are allowed to dismember the carcass
to pack it out from the place of kill as
long as they do not destroy the identity
of the sex and all the parts of the
carcass (excluding internal organs) are
present when the animal is checked.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MazPower wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

Tough enough to haul out a full deer on my back? Yes, but smart enough to quarter it before hauling it out.
I've killed more elk than anything, and have only hauled out a few on foot. Our M.O. is to quarter and pack them out on mules.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

I don't believe quartering is an option in PA either. Deer must remain with ear tag on until to place of processing/consumption. I don't think a bag of parts and an ear count.
And I think it depends on the deer. Carried a doe across a creek a few weeks back becuase I didn't want carcass in the creek water if I could help it. Drug a buck up hill with help and put him in truck with same help and was glad for that help Saturday. Fireman's carry might have been possible, but not any fun.
Somehow I think if you're even considering that move, placing an orange vest on the deer might be an act of self-preservation.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from elkslayer wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

I have done this for short distances, mostly just to get the carcass up to a logging road where I can get to it with my game cart. The furthest that I have carried a deer would be about 200 yds, and it wasn't easy, it didn't help that it was all up a 40 degree slope.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from floridahunter wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

I hunt a WMA where the deer have to remain whole untill you reach the check station, last year I had to drag a 6pt 650yds through palmettos and marsh. Hope to do it again this week. Our deer are smaller down here though. That deer was a 3.5y/o 6pt that weighed 117lbs

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from spneese wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

Heck, this is easy. Just shoot small deer. ;-)

Next question!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from JM wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

If the guys in the photo has access to modern technology they would use it. I could probably get a deer out on my back, buy why do that when there are easier methods(even simply dragging it).

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from canthitathing wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

I actually did this twenty years ago or so (no way could I do it again unless it was real puny in which case I wouldn't shoot it anyway). My brother and I tried a pole sling but the damn thing kept swinging so bad I finally threw it on my shoulders and my brother carried the guns. The distance was about 1 1/4 miles along a decent one way in one way out logging road at dusk. I would huff and puff for 100 yards or so then stop to catch my breath. The deer was an Ontario spike buck, dressed weight about 120 pounds so I guess about 140-150 with head, hide and hocks still on.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

I am not tough enough to haul a deer out on my back unless it is a yearling. I am though tough enough to hold a mature buck on my back to get a good picture and fool generations down the road.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Catpool9 wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

That photo proves that those guy's were some tough old birds back in the day, but I think with someones help and you get a deer tied up and balanced on your back it's not as bad as it looks, I saw my Daddy throw a doe I shot when I was about 10 yrs. over on his back and walk it out of the woods and he only had one arm.
I one time drug a spike buck a mile about 30 yrs. ago but the deer lost all his hair on both back hams.

These days I have a hard time loading up a deer on the 4 wheeler.

David H.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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