Lift Big Game With Ease

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There are times when you need to lift a big game animal off of the ground – either for getting them out of the reach of a hungry bear or for loading them into say the back of a pick-up truck.  I recently harvested a bull elk that I guess weighed about 375 to 400 pounds after being field dressed.  It took 4 people to get that animal into the back of a pickup truck. That was not going to work when Deb and I were on our own.  Sure we could quarter the animal and accomplish the same but I wanted to save that learning situation for another hunt.  Deb and I discussed the issue until we came up with an easier way of accomplishing that lifting or loading task for her elk.  

We used a simple group of pulleys.  With the assistance of a rope the pulley makes moving objects upward easier.  When using one pulley in place on the load you reduce the pull weight by 50% since your pull and the object are moving in the same direction - a 100 pound object takes 50 pounds of pull to lift.  The mechanical advantage is simply the number of ropes pulling on the load.  We had expected at least another 400 pound bull elk so one pulley wasn’t going to do it. 

We needed a 3:1 pulley system.  A 3:1 pulley system is simply one long rope attached to the load (the elk – around the shoulders in our case), with the other end of the rope going through a pulley attached to the back of the truck bed, and that same rope end going through a 2nd pulley attached to the same point on the load.  There needs to be enough rope length left to adequately pull from within the truck bed.  Three ropes make a pull of 133 pounds.  The pulleys are secured using a Prusik Hitch knot.  I'll not detail how to tie this knot within this tip as it is not mandatory to use it.  We also used carabiners as extra weight load safety but this is not mandatory as well.

It took us approximately 2 minutes to load that bull elk.  One person was outside of the truck doing some lifting and guiding of the animal.  We used a tie-off within the truck bed to hold the tension on the line.  The two pulleys with connected hooks rated at 1200 lbs each cost a total of $25.00.  The 50 ft. of ½ rope with a rating of 800 lbs was $20.00.

The other solution is to just buy a block and tackle as one unit.  We found several rated for 2 tons with a cost from $25 to $40.  Or you could just set up a winch in the back of the truck.  That may cost a lot more!


Will_Hunt4Food's picture

Great Suggestion

This fall I injured my shoulder and I really wanted to spend some time in the woods prior to surgery never anticipating that I was going to get 200+ pound deer. I was fortunate enough that a friend let me borrow his 4 wheeler but due to the thick steep terrain I was unable to drag him behind the 4 wheeler and w/ my busted winged I wasn't able to lift him on the back. I wish I had prepared a pulley system prior to that night because in the dark and rain miles deep in the woods i had to improvise a little. This is a priceless suggestion thank you, I just wish that I had read it 2 months ago ;)

Ca_Vermonster's picture

That's an interesting way to

That's an interesting way to do it.  I like it for use in the field.  I have the generic one you can buy from any hunting store, where it has either the 2 pulley design and the spreader bar.  However, it's not like you can carry that spreader bar very easily in a backpack.  I could see this as a very compact was to take along, and like you said, maybe hang an animal from the tree to get it off the ground.

Out here, we like to skin the animal in the field because it's so hot.  However, just slinging a rope over a branch would not be very easy, even with the small size of our deer.  With your little concoction, you could slip that puppy up really fast and get to work.

Thanks for the tip!

BikerRN's picture

Rock Climbing

This is a great tip and one I didn't think of, although I am very familiar with the pulley system from my rock climbing days.

When one is doing what is referred to as top roping, with the belayer on the ground and not at the top of the climb, it is a pulley system that is used to provide safety to the climber, in a manner of speaking. It is also what is used to hual loads on multi pitch/multi day climbs.

Thank you such a great tip! I will definately be using this one.