Tips For Hauling Game On An ATV

Chances are one of the reasons you own your ATV/UTV is to use it when you hunt and fish. If, like me, you are whitetail deer hunter, your ATV serves to not only get you to your hunting area/stand, it also serves as a carrier for your deer once you get it on the ground.

Here are some things to take into consideration when you are hauling a heavy load, such as a deer:

Tony Dolle

* Remember, with you and a deer you can easily exceed the total weight for the machine, so be careful. Even if your weight and the weight of a deer fall within the manufacturer’s maximum, a small ATV can easily sag so much so that you’ll bottom out and damage the machine. Once you bottom out, it gets tough to steer and that’s asking for trouble.

* Don’t forget when you are hauling heavy loads, such as a deer (or other items), you can adjust the shocks to a more firm position. This is pretty easy to do and varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but the details of exactly how to do it, according to my mechanic, can be found in your owner’s manual. Just follow the directions and you’ll improve the ride and stability of the machine.

* One of the things you can do is field dress the deer before you put it on your ATV. This can reduce the weight of a whitetail by as much as 50 pounds.

Keep Rope, Ratchet Straps Handy
* Use rope and ratchet straps (mine are SmartStrap Ratchet X straps) to hold your deer on your ATV. I particularly like ratchet straps because they are so flexible and easy to make work in any situation. I carry four or five extra ones in my ATV and backpacks (I use a Guide Gear front basket and a Classic Accessories rear rack bag). They have a ton of uses and keeping them handy during the hunting season is smart.

* I use a couple of pieces of rope to initially secure the deer to the ATV, then use the ratchet straps to make sure it’s secure. I test it by pushing and pulling on the animal. If the machine moves when I push on the animal, then I know I’ve got it secure. However, just to be safe, I stop on my ride out of the woods and test it again to make sure nothing has shifted or needs to be tightened.

Something else to remember when you get back to your hunting camp or the house: wash off anything on your machine left by the animal such as blood, feces, or whatever. Those things can be corrosive to plastic and metal so wash them off as soon as you can. A little soap and water works great, but a hose or just snow will work until you can get your machine home and clean it properly.

Your ATV/UTV is, in my opinion, at its best in the deer woods. And, using it for hauling your whitetail out of the woods is one of the best uses I know.

Shop The Sportsman’s Guide for a fine assortment of ATV Accessories!

Tony Dolle has been writing about and working in the outdoor, entertainment and manufacturing industries for the past 35 years as a journalist, marketing, public and media relations professional and as a resource user (hunting, angling, cycling, sailing, photography to name just a few). He’s been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his work as a news reporter, has been president of several national, regional and state professional media organizations and has worked tirelessly to promote the conservation of the nation’s natural resources. He is Executive Vice President of Windward Communications — a company that specializes in successfully changing the marketing status quo for businesses. He can be reached via e-mail at

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