It may sound like a good idea to simply wheel your game down or up the side of a mountain. It's not - don't do it. If you are ever tempted with the thought of using a game cart in the mountains, let me save you - stop entertaining the thought right now! Don't even think about it. It's a bad Bad idea.
Thanks to a member of our hunting party who thought it would be a brilliant idea to bring a game cart for hauling an elk off the mountain, we tried it once. It wasn't pretty. I wanted to chuck that thing right off the mountain by the time we were done with it. I was so tired and frustrated by the time we got back to the truck that I backed the truck into a tree. Yep! I still get harassed by my husband for that one.
Here is the story...
It was the fall of 2005 when the game cart folly incident occurred. We usually don't hunt a specific area during our hunting trip until the last couple of days because no one wants to drag an elk out of there and you can pretty much guarantee that an elk encounter will happen at the bottom which means hauling an elk UP the entire mountain. It is a place reserved for the last ditch effort and lovingly referred to as the DMZ. The above photo displays this area behind us. It doesn't look so bad from the picture, but one thing I've learned while hunting in the mountains... the terrain can easily fool you!
In the hopes of my first bow elk, I led the way in the early morning hours through waist high ferns, across boulder fields magnifying each bugle like a natural amphitheater and finally to the edge of sky high pine trees marking the entrance of the bottom forest. We were chasing the sounds of a bugling elk and closing the distance with each bugling episode. As we began to inch into the edge of the forest that swallowed up the wapiti, each step taken was absorbed by the soft forest duff concealing all noise and the closeness of something else present was made known by the chill on the back of my neck. With each step forward, I knew the moment may present itself in an instant.
With arrow nocked, feeling a bit like Pocahontas leading her men through the woods - all of the sudden the forest came alive! I was closer than I realized. I had probably 5 bulls scatter all around me!! And then the sound of... "Thud!" "Crash!" was followed by crazy repetitious cow calling. Todd had gotten a shot off. It was his first bull and the excitement caused his glasses to hang from his dazed face as he looked at us with an expression of wild-eyed adrenaline.
Then the moment of realization sunk in - we were at the bottom of the mountain in no-man's land staring at a 5x5 bull elk nestled in a bed of waist-high ferns. The guys were having so much fun watching me sneak around through the woods we didn't realize how far we really were into the forbidden hunting area. Not forbidden as in it isn't legal to hunt here - forbidden as in nobody should consider dragging an elk OUT of here.
It took us probably 12 hours to get that elk out and the first mistake was trying to use a game cart to speed the process. I made the first trip to the truck to retrieve the packs and GAME CART. Now, wheeling that thing down the mountain over the boulders wasn't a big deal and I actually thought we might be able to get the elk out in just one trip. (so wrong!) The first trip up the mountain with that thing took around four hours. Game carts loaded down with 200 lbs of meat do not roll easily through jungles of ferns and rocks and uphill slopes. At one point, I think Todd and I were actually carrying the game cart instead of attempting to wheel the Dang thing!
I'm honestly surprised that Mr. Elk didn't end up at the bottom of the mountain that day in a heap of tenderized meat and game cart wheels. So, let me tell you - if you are ever tempted to simply wheel your meat back to camp. Think twice and don't give into the sweet allure of the game cart. The best option if you don't have pack mules, horses or guides while hunting in the mountains, is a good PACK FRAME. Or you can always find a good wife who is willing to carry it out for you.
From the Draw
A website devoted to sharing bowhunting stories. From the draw in the mountains to the draw on paper, the moments live on.