It is late afternoon and the moment of truth arrives. You stepped up and made the perfect shot but are 5 miles or more from the truck. Now what?
FIRST, correctly validate your kill. This means filling out the tag and attaching it to the critter. Use electric tape to secure it to the antler or a leg. Fold the printed side in so the tape does not rip off the writing. You can also use a safety pin to secure the rolled or folded into the ear. I have also cut out the tongue and stored it in a plastic sandwich bag in case I needed any final confirmation. The tag must survive the drag, transport, and trip home.
I remember some friends that all tagged out on opening day. They placed the tags onto the horns with zip ties. As the truck went down the road, every buck was hanging out the tailgate to show off. The tags also blew off! When they arrived at the check station, no hunter’s bucks were tagged. Fortunately, their stories were the same and 2 of the bucks still had zip ties attached.
The other problem is getting your harvest out of the field. On private land, they use whatever to haul out the kill. On public land muscle is required. Usually no wheelers, trucks, or vehicles are allowed. This leaves wheeled carts, or sleds.
On one occasion, I helped a friend drag out a huge cow elk out of the Gardiner hunt area. This cow was over 600 pounds dressed. One helper brought his daughters pink snow toboggan. It was under 4 feet long and tiny. Once we rolled the beast onto the tiny Barbie Sled, I was able to pull it easily by myself!
The final option is to quarter and bag it! Elk means six 100 plus pound bags! Deer are 4-5 bags depending on its size. Antelope are one fat bag. The good news is less weight and the raptors in the ecosystem eat too. The critter is also pretty much ready for butchering and you left the mess afield. If you have horses, mules, or helicopters, these are options too.
If the critter is just too big, simply build a fire and start cooking!
For more Montana Grant, haul him out at www.montanagrantfishing.com.