How To Drag Your Deer Solo

Video how to drag a deer

Beka Garris

The first time I ever hunted solo, I was 13 years old. My parents’ house was nestled in the middle of public hunting land, so I could walk out the back door and hunt only a few hundred yards from the house. I rushed home from school one day and discarded my book bag at the door. Homework would have to wait. With fresh snow on the ground, I knew the deer would be moving, and I wanted to get an afternoon hunt in.

dragging deer rope

Thick snowflakes drifted slowly down from the skies above, landing gently on the sleeves of my hand-me-down jacket as I walked as quickly as I could through the fluffy snow. The path in front of me was like a clean canvas, a beautiful bright white that had yet to be marred by any tracks but my own. The air was cold enough that I felt it in my lungs with each breath I took. READ NEXT: Strategies for Dragging a Deer

I set up in a plastic lawn chair nestled amidst a clump of small pine trees. It was a natural blind, and I had clipped a few branches to make a hole to shoot through with my shotgun. It would be an easy 15-yard shot should I get an opportunity at a deer.

It wasn’t long before a doe showed up – I never heard her coming in the snow, she just appeared silently and stood in the clearing as if she too was admiring the beauty of the mid-January snow.

My heart was pounding and hands were shaking as I raised my shotgun, clicked the safety off and squeezed the trigger. The shot echoed through the woods.

I saw the deer fall not 50 yards from where I was sitting, and I got up on wobbly legs to go retrieve her. This was my first hunt alone and I felt such a huge sense of pride. However, after a few minutes of reveling in the emotions of the moment, I realized I was going to need help. I was only 13 and although I was strong, it would take me a long time to get this deer out myself. Using a two-way radio I brought along, I radioed back to the house for help from my dad.

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dragging deer with winch

I often think of that day and how it was just a starting point for me to hunt independently. I have hunted alone most of my life, usually out of convenience; I couldn’t spend my life waiting around for someone to take me or go with me.

One of the biggest hurdles I’ve had to overcome as a woman hunter who hunts alone, is to figure out how to get big game out of the woods and into my truck without any assistance. Four wheelers and UTVs aren’t allowed on public land here, which is primarily what I hunt. So, I had to invest in some gear and figure out how to hunt smarter – not harder. By trial and error, I figured out what gear exactly would be best in assisting my motive. DRAGGING OPTIONS

Getting a large Midwest whitetail out of the woods alone is no small feat, especially since most outweigh me. For years, I carried a piece of rope in my pack, simply tying it around the neck of the deer and dragging it out that way. It wasn’t fancy, but it got the job done. Eventually I switched over to an official deer drag with a handle, and this was definitely easier. It certainly saves wear and tear on your hand! I highly recommend keeping one with you in your pack, it’s lightweight and can be extremely useful.

Cost: $17

sled drag deer

I have seen many other creative ways to drag a deer out of the woods on some type of travois – one of which was a large heavy-duty tarp. Roll the deer onto the tarp, and drag it out that way. The slippery-ness of the tarp on the ground makes it fairly easy to drag heavy things. I have tried this and it worked pretty well! The only downside was the tarp was tough to keep a good grip on, and by the time I got back to the truck, the tarp was a goner. However, for a one-time use, it’s something really easy to fold up and throw in your backpack. Cost: $25

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A few years ago after a particularly tough drag out of the woods on my own, I decided to do some research and see what other solutions I could come up with. In my late-night internet browsing, I came across the jet sled. Essentially, an extremely durable giant sled with heavy-duty ropes to drag it with.

Although it wasn’t really marketed for dragging deer, it seemed like it would be perfect. And I was right – it was perfect for dragging deer, along with dragging any stands, blinds or other hunting gear in and out of the woods. Whenever I was headed out hunting, I would secure the sled in the bed of my truck and if I got a deer I would go back to retrieve it.

The sled slides easily across the ground, even with a deer in it, and is easier to drag than a deer cart or wagon. The only time I have had any issues dragging is when the ground is muddy. If you’re wearing a safety harness, you can easily clip your jet to it for even easier pulling. There are several sizes of sleds, I suggest going with the largest one; it’s worth the money.

Cost: $60

trailer hitch deer

Once I mastered getting my deer out of the woods, I realized I needed to figure out how to get them into my vehicle. I threw out my back one year trying to lift a big doe into the back of my jeep – only to find out that a deer didn’t quite fit.

So for my birthday, I asked my husband for a heavy-duty cargo carrier that attached to the trailer hitch on my Jeep. It sat low enough to the ground that I could easily lift a deer one end at a time into it without straining myself. I covered whatever wild game I was transporting with a tarp and secured with a rope – not only to keep dirt off the animal, but also to shield the public from seeing a bloody carcass.

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I used the cargo carrier for several years, even after I went from the Jeep to a pickup truck. The carrier sat lower than the tailgate, thus making it easier to lift a deer into it.

how to drag your deer alone

Cost: $70

Last deer season I was pregnant. This meant minimal lifting of things, and certainly no lifting or dragging deer. I certainly didn’t want to sit out all deer season, and knowing I wouldn’t always have immediate help if I called someone, I got a winch. My husband installed it in the back of my truck and wired it to my truck battery, so I wouldn’t have to constantly unplug it, and I was ready to go.

On the last day that I planned on hunting, I shot a decent sized doe. She ended up dying close enough to the truck that I could just drive up to her, and hooked her up to the winch. The winch paid for itself that day. It was so easy to drag a deer up into the truck bed with the press of a button. Cost: $90

At this point, I’ve exhausted every idea and have a pretty good method for getting big game out of the woods as quickly and easily as possible. It may have cost me a few dollars, but to me it’s worth it.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>