Deer hunters are a creative group, and they’ve come up with a bunch of unique ways to transport deer from the field.
19 Ways to Transport a Whitetail Deer
Which technique do you think works the best?
1. Grab a Leg, Start Pulling
Of all the ways to move a deer, this is the most common: grab an antler or a leg and start pulling.
2. Transport by Wheel Chair
But there are much more innovative ways to drag out a deer, like attaching it to your electric wheel chair.
3. Canoe Carry
As long as you’re headed downstream, a canoe is one of the easiest ways to get a deer out of remote areas.
4. Horse or Mule
Before trucks and ATVs, horses and pack mules were the only option to pack out a deer (unless of course you wanted to pack it out yourself). In some places, they still are the only option.
5. Movement by Motorcycle
A deer hog-tied to the back of a motorcycle? Why not?
6. Jet Boat Deer
This buck was evacuated by way of jet boat. This is by no means the cheapest way to take a deer out, but it may be the fastest.
7. Modern ATV
A modern-day pack mule, ATVs have become the most popular and easiest way to take out deer.
8. ATV with Deer Rack Attachment
For more sophisticated deer removal, you can even get one of these racks. It allows you to transport your deer by ATV without having to hoist it up onto the quad. This is helpful for solo hunters who have shot big-bodied deer like this one.
9. Full Deer On Your Back*
While this is a priceless photo and you have to respect the toughness of this hunter, hauling out a full deer on your back is never recommended in areas where there are other hunters (especially if you’re not wearing orange).
10. Mountain Bike
Where ATVs aren’t allowed, try a mountain bike with a trailer.
11. Two Bikes
These guys seem to have perfected the art of deer transport by bike.
12. Bike as a Cart
Then there’s the low-tech way. Just throw the deer on your bike and wheel him out.
13. Head Harness
This harness makes it easier for two hunters to pull on a deer at one time.
14. Tree Stand Harness
You can also use your tree stand harness for the same purpose. Fasten your tree loop around the deer’s head, put the harness’s leg straps around your shoulders and start pulling.
15. Deer Dragging Sled
There’s a sled made specifically for deer dragging. It’s called the dead sled and works best when there is a few inches of snow.
16. Youth Team
But a regular sled works well too, especially if you have a team of kids to pull it.
17. Deer Cart
If there is no snow, a deer cart is a good option. But if you’re not hunting near trails and level terrain, this won’t help you too much.
18. Old Pickup Truck
The old pickup truck is by far the easiest way to get a deer out, as long as you can drive up to your hunting spot.
19. Corolla Deer Hauler
If you don’t have a pickup, a Toyota Corolla works pretty well too.
*A Full Deer on Your Back, Revisited
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.