Whenever you’re hunting solo, you need to be prepared for success before you even begin—and that includes hunts on crown land. Always have a plan in place for extracting a downed deer, as a 250-pound bruiser can be a handful. Having a friend or two on speed dial to help with the heavy lifting is best, but if that’s not an option, consider using a game cart (or a large toboggan once there’s snow on the ground). I’ve used both, and I was grateful to have them. Otherwise, you will likely have to quarter the deer and pack it out on your back over a few trips. Just make sure to wear blaze orange apparel—and to remember that all the effort will be worth it once you fill your freezer.
BONUS TIP: AFTER THE KILL
To properly field dress your downed buck—especially if you’re alone—you should have the following essential gear on hand:
A sharp knife.
Some light rope to spread apart the legs by tying them to nearby trees.
An extra set of lithium batteries for your headlamp in case you unexpectedly have to spend part of the night recovering the deer.
A white, garbage-sized bag to tie to the antlers or a leg. In the rare event you have to leave your buck overnight, that should deter predators from damaging the meat.
Game bags, if you know you’ll have to quarter the animal.
A painter’s lightweight, plastic drop-sheet to keep the quarters clean while you work.
Mark Raycroft enjoys pursuing big bucks on both private and public property.