19 Ways to Transport a Whitetail Deer

Hunters have been perfecting deer transport for centuries

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

The standard deer-dragging technique.
The standard deer-dragging technique.Outdoor Life Online Editors

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

Deer transport by wheel chair.
Deer transport by wheel chair.Jesse's hunting and outdoors

But there are much more innovative ways to drag out a deer, like attaching it to your electric wheel chair.

3. Canoe Carry

Transport by canoe.
Transport by canoe.North Maine Woods Guide Service

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

Horses and pack mules used to be your one option.
Horses and pack mules used to be your one option.cazador's adventures

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 moved by motorcycle.
A deer moved by motorcycle.fugly.com

A deer hog-tied to the back of a motorcycle? Why not?

6. Jet Boat Deer

This is may be the fastest method.
This is may be the fastest method.Vogel Outdoor Adventures

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

The most popular way.
The most popular way.Outdoor Life Online Editors

A modern-day pack mule, ATVs have become the most popular and easiest way to take out deer.

8. ATV with Deer Rack Attachment

This is helpful for solo hunters.
This is helpful for solo hunters.Hook-A-Rack

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*

Full deer on your back.
Full deer on your back.Outdoor Life Online Editors

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

Try a mountain bike.
Try a mountain bike.Outdoor Life Online Editors

Where ATVs aren't allowed, try a mountain bike with a trailer.

11. Two Bikes

Buddies with bikes.
Buddies with bikes.Outdoor Life Online Editors

These guys seem to have perfected the art of deer transport by bike.

12. Bike as a Cart

Wheel the deer out.
Wheel the deer out.Outdoor Life Online Editors

Then there's the low-tech way. Just throw the deer on your bike and wheel him out.

13. Head Harness

Two hunters and a harness.
Two hunters and a harness.Outdoor Life Online Editors

This harness makes it easier for two hunters to pull on a deer at one time.

14. Tree Stand Harness

Tree loop around the deer's head.
Tree loop around the deer's head.Outdoor Life Online Editors

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

Deer dragging sled.
Deer dragging sled.Dead 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

A team of kids.
A team of kids.Outdoor Life Online Editors

But a regular sled works well too, especially if you have a team of kids to pull it.

17. Deer Cart

Hunt near level terrain.
Hunt near level terrain.Outdoor Life Online Editors

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 classic method.
The classic method.Outdoor Life Online Editors

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

Toyota Corolla deer hauler.
Toyota Corolla deer hauler.Outdoor Life Online Editors

If you don't have a pickup, a Toyota Corolla works pretty well too.

*A Full Deer on Your Back, Revisited

Old-school deer hunters with whitetails slung over their shoulders.
Old-school deer hunters with whitetails slung over their shoulders.Wisconsinhistory.org

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.

A New York Deer in Fall leaves.
A New York Deer in Fall leaves.Alex Robinson

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.