ATV Tips: How to Haul Deer With Your Quad

If you're an ATV owner and a whitetail hunter, chances are that one of the reasons you bought an ATV in the first place was to haul a deer out of the woods.

You need to be realistic if you're going to put that deer on the rack. Here are some points to consider:

If you have a smaller machine -- allotment say under 300cc's -- you may well exceed the manufacturer's total weight for the machine. Even if you meet the manufacturer's weight maximum, smaller wheelers will sag dramatically. If you bottom out the suspension, it will be very difficult to steer safely. And, in the case of loading deer on the rear rack, the bike's front tires could be lifted off the ground.

If you and the deer meet the machine's weight requirements, adjust the rear shocks to their most firm position. If you've never done this chore, this is as good a time as any to learn. Just check your owner's manual. This adjustment should improve the ride, making the bike far more stable with a heavy load.

I prefer to gut the deer before hauling -- this can easily shave off 30 pounds of weight. Also make the extra effort to drag the deer out of any steep terrain that may make the machine too squirrely to drive. If the quad's front end isn't on the ground, then it's not safe to drive.

You can use rope to secure the animal, but having at least one small ratchet strap (ideally two) will save you a lot of work. The trick is to have some help as you lift the deer onto the rack. Strap the center of the deer to the mid section and then secure the second strap across the body length. Once those four points are nice and tight, you can add a few extra pieces of rope. Make sure to safely secure the head so the antlers won't bang against your ATV's rack. Or more importantly, stick you in the behind if the deer shifts.

The key is to use however much rope it takes. To check, simply shake the deer. Your ATV should move like the animal has been welded to the frame. Take your time, ride carefully, and check after a mile to make sure the deer has not loosened up.

You'll also want to get a hose. Rinse the machine the same day to make sure all the blood is washed off. Blood can be caustic stuff, and damage several kinds of plastic and nylon compounds.