Whole, halved, quartered. Hide on, hide off. Gutless, gutted. Packs, backs, bikes, trucks, and ATVs. I feel like I have taken game animals out of the woods in about every fashion except for the use of pack animals. Early on we often did things the hard way because we didn't know any better. Today, I predominately use the gutless method to quarter my game and carry it out of the woods in my pack. I have acquired some… unique pack out stories over the years in my hunting journey. One, in particular, comes to mind.
I flew home for Christmas during one of my college breaks. The late archery season for blacktail deer was still open and I was a new bow hunter. Longtime friend, Danny, and I had to get out to stretch our legs and look for a deer around the holiday festivities. We biked into Danny's honey hole on logging roads. It was a beautiful misty morning and it felt great to be in the woods.
I remember stalking my way along an old, overgrown logging road that cut through a transition of old growth and clear-cut. I found myself staring down a doe through the boughs of a fir tree. I came to full draw and soft-footed my way to the left for a clear shot. I released at maybe 15 yards for a clean hit. In short order, I had my first archery bow kill.
After a few photos, I suggested we quarter the doe and haul her out. Danny figured we should just tie the doe to a tree limb and carry her out on our shoulders since she wasn't all that heavy. Against my common sense, I agreed. The pack out was fine as we walked the mile or so to our mountain bikes. However, a dilemma arose as we tried to determine the best way to strap the doe to our bikes in such a fashion that we could still peddle out. We decided the best bet was to place the stout tree limb across the top frame of our bicycles. One end would be on each of our bikes and the doe would hang down in the middle as we peddled.
We began our long ride out. It was predominantly all downhill and I only had one working brake on my questionably functional bike. We hollered at one another to "SLOW DOWN!" or "SPEED UP!" in our attempts to stay even and keep from crashing as we careened down the bumpy logging roads. I knew we were a couple of young fools but I was loving every second of it.
A few miles down the road, a logger came driving up behind us in his work truck. He followed behind as we careened down, shouting back and forth with the hapless doe hanging upside down in the middle. We later spoke to the fellow at the bottom. I remember the man's smile as he told us he had never seen anything like it. Needless to say, we survived the ride and our doe made it home and into the freezer.
I can't help but laugh every time I think of that ride. Of course, I will never do it that way again, but I am sure glad I did it once.