Hunters who capture deer usually want to get them out of the woods as quickly as possible – without access to a truck or four-wheeler, that may mean dragging it.
To catch deer safely and humanely, hunters need only grab them by their antlers or front legs and begin pulling. But this may be dangerous for hunters operating alone.
Grab the Antlers or Front Legs
Once a deer is downed, its time to consider what comes next: retrieving it. Sometimes this process is straightforward while other times more effort may be required depending on where your truck or camp are and the terrain that lies before you.
Grabbing the antlers or front legs is one effective method for extracting deer from their habitat, and can be done either alone or with help. For added security, you may also wish to tie both together as this creates a more streamlined effect while keeping legs from getting caught on underbrush as you drag its carcass away.
Another alternative is to turn the deer over on its back and step carefully between its hind legs, making dragging easier from behind; though you will likely still need your belt or rope for assistance in handling its weight.
To complete your task successfully, a sharp, sturdy field knife will be required. As you will be cutting through fascia, tendons and ligaments to separate hides from muscles beneath, long bladed knives are preferable. For added assistance when working alone on the job in challenging environments such as swampy or muddy ground where driving vehicles cannot enter for loading purposes. A meat pole or cart could also come in handy; these could especially come in handy during heavy rainfall situations when loading vehicles are impossible.
Grab the Hind Legs
An easy way to make dragging a deer simpler is using a harness, which places its weight on your shoulders instead of arms. This can help accelerate movement faster while also protecting against getting stuck on rocks or trees while pulling.
Sleds can also be an indispensable tool in the deer hunting process. Sleds can help when moving deer over terrain that lacks roads or is extremely rugged. Although this method might take more time and energy to use than simply pulling the deer yourself, it can often prove less exhausting on both you and the deer itself.
If possible, it’s also recommended to drag your deer headfirst for maximum effect. Deer are designed to travel forwards so dragging it backwards could damage its hide or pelt; this step is particularly crucial if you plan to mount or tan its hide later.
After conducting a quick inspection to make sure all licenses and permits are in order, begin work on dragging your deer from the woods. It’s easier if you field dress your deer prior to dragging as this helps create an organized carcass for easier dragging – this also helps your deer cool off more quickly as well as make hauling to your vehicle easier; additionally many processors do not accept deer without being quartered!
Grab a Rope
Step one in dragging out a deer is gathering a rope. If you brought along someone to help with this step, they may assist with this endeavor; otherwise it may be necessary for you to devise your own plan – such as tying one end of the rope around an object like a tree and the other end around its ankles – if hunting alone this may prove more challenging.
Deer drag harnesses can also help you transport deer efficiently. They feature straps around your shoulders that connect to a rope or strap attached to the animal’s ankles – perfect if you need to transport an animal over long distances without other means available to you! However, these harnesses may prove uncomfortable; therefore it would be wise to practice before heading out hunting with one.
Keep your deer lighter and easier to carry by field dressing it immediately after harvest. This will also help prevent bacteria growth that spoils its meat, keeping your meal clean until returning it to your vehicle. Alternatively, game carts offer faster and more comfortable processing – boasting large wheels to handle rough terrain with ease while remaining fairly cost-effective.
Grab a Leg or Antler
Early November: You’re alone hunting deer in the woods and have just shot an impressive deer with an arrow. While your initial excitement fades quickly after such a success, quickly followed by the reality of having to remove its carcass – this task could prove challenging unless your hunting area allows wheeled vehicles nearby and you have access to transporting this beast out of its natural environment.
Bowhunters often wear fall-restraint harnesses during hunting excursions, making this an invaluable deer-hauling tool. Simply cinch the tether around your deer’s antlers or head and adjust as necessary before pulling on it; make sure it reaches slightly above ground level to prevent ripping its hide while hauling.
Another option for field dressing your deer is field dressing it, which involves extracting organs and entrails to speed cooling, reduce bacterial growth, and lighten its load on its trip out. If your hunting area does not permit gutless hunting or you prefer more traditional approaches, consider purchasing and using a folding dead-lift crane, available from many sporting goods stores, to assist you in hauling it out from the woods; especially useful when the nearest road is miles away from where your deer site may be.
Grab a Tree Loop
Deer may appear graceful and agile, but they’re far from lightweight creatures. Capturing one from the woods alone can be quite a task; one popular method involves grabbing it by its hind legs and dragging it. Working together helps distribute strain and lift over brush piles or saplings more safely.
Tree Loops provide another method for moving deer, as you can tie a bowline around its neck or antlers for added security before tying a rope around its middle and placing it across your shoulders to distribute its weight evenly and provide you with greater safety from oncoming vehicles.
Deer carts can also be useful when it comes to hunting in tough terrain where dragging is difficult, like on steep hillsides. One such deer cart, the EZ Glide is made of coated nylon for reduced friction and visibility during movement of your quarry. Plus, its bright orange safety orange colour ensures easy visibility as you transport it across.
Wooden dowels can make this job much simpler as well. Simply secure the animal’s legs, head, and neck to it before taking turns dragging him behind two people on either end of the dowel – this method ensures greater efficiency while keeping him off of dirt, grass or rocks that may damage its fur coat.
Grab a Sled
If you find yourself on public land without truck, ATV or UTV access, and need to transport a deer out without using one of those methods, devising an exit strategy may be essential for success. There are various approaches you could try.
One way is to field dress your buck at its kill site and then drag it with you as you walk away – this works best with someone to help and requires strength and determination.
Deer carts or traditional plastic snow sleds are another great way to navigate snowy conditions, and come in various sizes to fit every adventurer’s needs. Pack frames such as mountain bike packs or rucksacks may also help distribute the load between you and the ground safely.
Some hunters choose travois, a long stretcher designed for deer dragging. You can also purchase ones designed specifically to do just that. Many hunters, particularly those hunting from elevated platforms, wear fall-restraint harnesses as part of their safety gear; their leg straps make great deer drags; simply cinch around its antlers or head and adjust length of tether accordingly so it stays off of ground surface slightly before pulling. It may take awhile but this method provides a safer means of getting out of woods quicker; instead of trying to grab its antlers or front legs which could poke you or ruin its hide later on.