Tips & Tactics

It's a Drag, Man

It's a Drag, Man

By Ken Piper

It's all fun and games until somebody shoots a deer. Then the work begins!

Hunting with the folks at Mystery Ranch packs in Wisconsin in November, one of our party shot a bruiser buck that fell just 25 yards from his stand. It was only about 100 yards off a field edge, but the drag was all uphill. The shooter and a few other guys were in their 30s and 20s in age, so I was more than happy to let them do the work.

The buck looked like a horse. We later weighed it, and it sure looked bigger than the 263 pounds registered on the scale. But the draggers felt every one of those pounds during the climb.

I kept telling them we were in no hurry and to take breaks, but they didn't listen. When we got to the field, the youngest (not the shooter) promptly threw up from the strain.

There are several lessons here, not the least of which is to listen to your elders!

Seriously, though, shooting and dragging a deer is strenuous, and hunters die from heart attacks every season. For many, the long walks and climbs into stands are more exercise than we're used to, pushing heart rates to the limit.

Be aware of your heart rate as you go about your activities in the woods and take breaks if you start to feel winded. Getting to your stand late is better than not getting there at all.

If you're successful and face a drag, consider field-dressing your deer on the spot. That's about 40 pounds less you'll have to pull. In my experience, gut piles have minimal effect on future hunting prospects, even within the next day or so.

If help is available, don't be ashamed to ask for it. Two dragging is twice as good as one (even I can do that math)!

If you hunt alone frequently, consider purchasing a deer cart. I have one, and I've only used it twice, but I'm very thankful for having it those two times. I actually use it at home now and then to move heavy objects, so it was more than worth the cost.

A cheaper alternative is to use a plastic sheet or sled. You wouldn't think placing a deer on plastic would make that much of a difference, but it does. I've seen guys use actual kids' plastic sleds, but there are also rollable tough plastic sheets available made just for dragging deer.

Finally, don't forget you can hook a drag rope directly to your safety harness. Adjust the rope length to where the deer's head just barely lifts off the ground. Even when using your harness, it can be helpful to have a handhold on the drag rope. Some ropes have built in handholds. If your rope doesn't, wrap it around a stout stick a few times a few feet down from where it's attached to your back.

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Copyright 2020 by Buckmasters, Ltd