The Dragging Rope

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Just about every hunter who has hunted big game animals has used a rope to drag his game. Over the years I have seen many kinds and sizes used for this purpose. One of my friends brought a deer to my house to hang in my garage for butchering, and he had a 1” hemp rope that was at least 12 feet long on it. It was large enough to tow a truck! Another time I saw a guy stuffing an entire 50-foot coil of that stiff, plastic rope into his pocket to use as a dragging rope.

I have found that the ideal dragging rope isn’t very large or bulky, and it only weighs a few ounces. I use the soft, nylon rope that is ¼” in diameter. It collapses and tucks into almost any pocket or pack. Here’s how I make and use it.

(1)     Cut a piece of rope about 8 feet long. Use a match, lighter or propane torch to melt the last ½” of the ends and roll them against a cement surface to make a small “ball” on them so they will not fray. Be careful! Don’t get the molten material on your skin or clothes.

(2)     Tie a small loop in each end using a bowline knot. The loop only needs to be large enough to put two or three fingers through. If you aren’t familiar with this knot, go to  for very clear and simple directions. This knot will not slip and will never tighten so that you can’t untie it if you should want to.

(3)     To drag your deer, simply grab the rope about a foot from one end and push it through the loop. You will now have a large “choker” loop to put around the animal’s neck. It will tighten as you pull, but will easily come loose when you slacken the rope.

(4)     Find a stick that’s about 1-1½” in diameter about 18” long. Make a loop in the other end of the rope and put it around the middle of the stick.

(5)     I like to make a half-hitch around the deer’s nose with the rope near the head. I then drag the animal by holding the stick with both hands behind my back, with my rifle slung across my back. Ideally, the animal’s nose should be off the ground slightly, just far enough back so it doesn’t bump your feet when you walk. Adjust the rope length to suit yourself.


BikerRN's picture

Braided Rope

I take an old rope, the kind used for roping cattle, and untwist it giving me three strands. Then I braid the three strand together and finish the ends off with a knot.

I commonly make the rope about 4 1/2' long for use as a set of hobbles for horses and carry it behind my cantle. It's easier on the hands when you have to drag something with it and pliable enough to fit most anywhere.

Deer Slayer's picture

My dad and I have tried

My dad and I have tried different kind of drag ropes on several occasions. I don't think we ever made it through a complete drag with a drag rope. We always resorted back to the good old fashioned way. Antlers or front legs, depending on if it was a buck or doe. I think eventually we will find one that works and this one sounds pretty good. Thanks for the tip.


numbnutz's picture

I have used ropes before and

I have used ropes before and they do work, My last few animals i had to drag out I wrap in a tarp usally 8X10 and tie the deer in. that way it pulls pretty easy over dirt or gravel or vegitaion. it works extremely well on snow or mud, it doesnt really chew up the hair or skin and i found it to be less work in the long run.

Rem2arms's picture

Jerry, I agree with your

Jerry, I agree with your rope, I to have the same thing I use year after year but now here's the thing for me. I Always hunt uphill and with the rope makes it real easy heading back down the mountain to my truck,lol   It's just the places I hunt, I dont have flat land and THANK GOD I dont, I'm to old for that stuff, Bring on the wheeler Good tip though, love the ends of the rope that way for easy release.

arrowflipper's picture

There's a better way

Jerry, I have used a rope on several occasions and I haven't found a way yet to make it a fun job.  I drug one mule deer over a mile until he looked like a hairless rat.  When I got him to the truck, the hair on one side had been completely rubbed off.  I drug another one until his insides were almost full of sagebrush.  I've tried tying the deer up on a long pole and carrying it between two guys.  It's a real treat as you walk along to have the deer sway back and forth just about knocking you off balance with every step.  And it feels real good on the shoulders too.  Almost makes a guy want to shoot little deer.  Almost....

Seriously, I too use a piece of parachute cord to drag an animal, IF I HAVE TO.  But there's a better way.  I like to use my buddy's four wheeler and drive right up to the animal and have someone help me load it onto the back so I can drive it in.  OR, when I can't use the four wheeler, I like to use the deer cart with handles on both ends and a brake system.  Tie the deer on the cart and wheel it out.  I'm getting too old and feeble to drag deer very far.

Elk are another story all together...... I have more often than not, skinned and quartered an elk and carried it out on my pack.  BUT, I did use that same piece of parachute cord to tie it on.  Does that count?

groovy mike's picture

Me too!

After barrowing my buddies 4 wheeler a few years ago and having it to load deer on I HAD to buy one.  I totally agree.  Only drag your deer to teh 4 wheeler if at all possible to get one to use!

groovy mike's picture

Thanks for sharing your experience!

Jerry – I have used a rope to drag deer many times but never used the exact same set up that you describe.  It sounds like a good one no matter what rope you use.  In fact, it sounds so good that I plan to use it at the very next opportunity that I have to drag a deer.  Thanks for sharing your experience!


hunter25's picture

Excellent tip on making your

Excellent tip on making your own rope. I have not had very good results either but this sounds good so I think I will give it a try. The key like you said is getting the length right.

Most of the time we use a game cart now but of course you can't carry it with you everywhere you go.

Thanks for the tip and I hope it will make life a little bit easier this year.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

I can see where this would

I can see where this would work, and be a good, inexpensive way to make a drag rope.

My only problem with ropes has always been that they cut into my hand, shoulder, waist, or wherever I wrap them around.

A couple of years ago I bought one for my dad that had wider straps on it.  It places the pull rope directly in between the shoulder blades.  Felt good on the 169 pound buck he got.

Thanks for the tip.  That'll work in a pinch!

ManOfTheFall's picture

I have tried drag ropes on

I have tried drag ropes on different occasions. So far, every time I always resort back to either grabbing the antlers if it's a buck or the front legs if it's a doe. The drag ropes have never really worked for me. Maybe this is one I will give a try. Thanks for the tip.

WVLongbeard's picture

dragging ropes

Another tip that I use is a kids plastic sled.  I run my pull rope into holes drilled thru the front and then weave it down the sides so that you're pulling the whole thing and not just from the very front.  Roll your deer into it and and then tie it in.  Grab handle in front and away you go.  It will slide over just about anything and you don't need snow.  I keep one in my truck from the beginning of archery season till the end of the year when our season is over.  Not only does it work by itself, but I can tie it to the back of the 4 wheeler when I'm using it as well