Best Deer Cart Reviews of 2019 (Updated)
A good deer cart is one piece of equipment you should definitely consider if you're going deer hunting for the weekend. Many of us have a set checklist of equipment we need; some will be for actual hunting, some will be for safety and comfort, and other will be individual items that we each prefer. But Anyone who’s been successful in the woods knows one thing: The fun is over once the last shot’s fired. You have to field dress and carry your game out of the woods the best you can. If that's uphill, then it’s certainly an uphill battle! Generations of hunters have been looking for a way to make this task easier, and one of the best ways so far is to use a cart.
Many people have the idea that a game cart is essentially a heavy wheelbarrow which you need to trundle through the forest to bring back a downed deer or wild elk, but the reality is very much different. Deer carriers allow you to not only bring back downed deer with ease but also to transport equipment to your preferred hunting ground. Contrary to popular belief, they are not big chunks of unwieldy metal or aluminum that are troublesome to move and store; the modern deer hauler is lightweight, flexible and fitted with a range of features.
They are made for hunters, by hunters. Whether you decide to buy or make your own game cart, it is a hunting accessory that will make the difference between being able to safely and easily move equipment or game, and having to trudge through difficult terrain with cumbersome and often incredibly large weights. It’s an efficient and enjoyable way to move equipment that'll make hunting more enjoyable. Also, make sure that it is legal to use your hunting cart in your chosen area. In some areas, they are regarded the same as ATV’s, and they'll get you a game violation if you’re not careful. So remember to check the hunting law and rules for the specific area you plan on hunting in first.
In this article, we’ll look at the best deer carts on the market with reviews and a buying guide. We'll also cover the advantages and benefits you can gain by having a handy deer hauler. We’ll also take a look at the key features that you should be looking out for when considering a deer carrier purchase.
Top 5 Rated Models Comparison Table
Reviews of the Best Deer Carts
Key Features / Things to Consider When Purchasing a Deer Hauler
There are a few things that you should take into consideration when looking for the best game cart for elk or deer, so here's our top points to think about before spending your money on a model.
When choosing the best deer cart, make sure the wheels are suitable for all terrains. Generally, the wheels should cover two important factors. Number one, they should be pretty large; the size will make it easier to pull over bumpy, uneven ground. Number two, they should be hard rubber tires; you don’t want a deer hauler that might get a flat while you’re loaded down with a couple of hundred pounds of deer on board.
While most carriers average around the 30-pound mark, you need to consider what kind of weights you’ll be hauling. Some of the lighter models will have less weight capacity (perhaps 300-250 pounds), whereas the heavier frames can accommodate up to 750 pounds in some cases. Think about how many deer you're likely to bring back on an average trip before investing.
The frame is the most important part of each cart. Some carts are collapsible and will fold away into two parts, others into three, each has their own advantages. You might want something more flexible if you’re going to be hauling out a tree stand or a lot of equipment, but if it’s just for the downed game, you can usually get by with a folding two-parter. It’s also worth making sure you get a frame with an appropriate finish for the surroundings and weather conditions.
Most deer carts are easy to assemble being only made of a couple of frame pieces and wheels. But you should still consider how easy it is to put together. Most deer carts don’t require specialized tools (or in many cases, any tools at all); make sure the one you choose best fits your preferences.
Almost all deer carts have some kind of strapping mechanism. Some will have standard lashing straps and others may have buckles for extra security. You don’t want your kills or your equipment toppling off, so think about the gear you will haul and what will be the best method of securing it. (Because they are always frames, it is easy to add some elasticized straps with hooks).
Whether you want a carrier for taking equipment or just bringing home fresh meat, consider your hunting style, likely uses, and how you would use it.
Advantages and Benefits of Using a Carrier
Bringing Home The Deer
Depending on where you hunt, a downed deer can weigh up to 200 pounds (although White-Tailed deer, for example, can be about half the weight). After you’ve shot the animal, how do you safely and easily transport it back to your truck? Some people will hoist it with a friend, others will drag the carcass, yet this puts a limit on how far you can track a deer.
Most deer haulers can easily take between 350 and 500 pounds, which means you and your hunting friends can move more deer over longer distances without breaking your back. And what about if you want to set up a deer hide somewhere? It’s likely that any tree stands you set up are going to be off the beaten track, hauling all the lumber and tools is tough work. With a portable carrying cart, you can take your gear out into the hunting ground easily, pack away the cart, and use it to bring home your equipment and hundreds of pounds of fresh meat.
As mentioned, the standard idea of a deer carrier is a bulky wheelbarrow that gets caught on leaves and roots. The fact is that the modern deer or elk cart is not only lightweight, but can also fold away, too. An average hauler will have a packed weight of less than 30 pounds, be foldable, and even have removable wheels. This means that you can easily carry it out into the field as part of your hunting gear and set it up when you need it. Also, because they fold away easily, they can be stored in your truck without taking up hardly any space.
ATVs Can't Always Be Used
Sometimes it's just not possible to get an ATV or truck over the land and into the area where you've made the kill. The terrain may not be suitable, or, it may just be illegal to use an ATV in that area. As mentioned, it is illegal to use ATVs in some areas while hunting therefore a game cart is your next best option if this is the case.
Can Carry Gear
Yep that's right, you don't have to just use your buggy for transporting game. It can also be used as a nice way to carry around all your equipment in one place without having to spend extra on lots of backpacks. Some of the best decoy carts you'll find on the market today are in fact just game carriers. Because these haulers are designed for carrying heavy weights, they are more than able to handle most of your gear comfortably.
Recommended Extras - Some Good 20" Inch Replacement Wheels
If you use your carrier extensively throughout the season and drag it across a whole different range of terrains, the tires will inevitably have some wear and tear on them. This is why it's important to inspect your gear before any hunt and ensure that things like your wheels are undamaged before going out. Sometimes, however, it's impossible to predict things, and the unexpected can happen out in the field such as your tires becoming damaged and unusable.
This can be a complete nightmare if you have no way of fixing them on the spot or don't have a set of replacement wheels. What we would recommend is to buy a set of 20" replacement wheels to go along with your purchase, which you can then take out with you as a backup and give you that piece of mind that you have a spare tire with you.
Are Game Carts Legal?
Before 1964, it was legal to use motorized and mechanical vehicles pretty much anywhere, but after the Wilderness Act created the National Wilderness Preservation System, it created millions of acres of protected land across America. This meant that the use of ATVs, motorized vehicles, and even mechanized carts (including wheeled game carts) were prohibited in many areas.
The theory was that a wheeled cart might be too destructive for the environment, but with the advent of the 1990s Disability Act, the idea was rethought and amended.
In most areas now, you can use a hand-pulled game cart, but restrictions are still in place on motorized vehicles. Although you can use a cart on almost any path or road, it’s worth ensuring that your chosen hunting area does not have specific restrictions. Protected Wilderness areas are a no go zone.
How To Load A Deer Onto A Game Cart
For most hunters who have just begun using a deer drag cart, the usual method of loading your kill is to pick it up and place it on the cart bed, but this can risk serious injury if you’re not lifting right or if the deer is particularly weighty.
The best and safest method is actually not to do the lifting yourself, but to use the strength of the carrier and gravity to load the kill. Begin by laying the kill flat on its side and put your cart against its back (also on its side. Next, in one motion roll the deer legs up towards you while tilting the cart back to the upright position. This will help the deer roll onto the cart bed as it becomes upright.
If, however, you have a larger deer and don’t want to stress your back, you can follow the same method as above but strap the deer to the cart before you tilt it upright; you'll be able to keep your back straight and use the frame as leverage.
Should your buggy have a long base, you can drag the top half of the carcass onto the bed and then use the handles to tilt the rest of the body on.
Using With An ATV or Bike
While purists may balk at the idea of taking an ATV on a hunt, they can be great fun and really help you out in terms of transport, hauling equipment and bringing back the kills. If you want to set up a permanent tree stand deep in the wilds, shifting the materials and tools can be a real hardship; using an ATV with a game cart allows you to move lots of gear with very little effort.
Many game carts can be attached to an ATV, but even if your cart doesn’t come with a connection rig (often ball and socket or bolted bracket), it is fairly simple to make a stable, secure connection by yourself.
Rigging your cart and ATV by yourself is simple and effective, but make sure that it’s safe. Don’t have loose rope or wires hanging off; don’t make a connection anywhere that will interfere with steerage, and make sure the cart won’t get in the way if you need to make a tight turn.
An alternative to an ATV is a motorized bike. Trail bikes are fun, hardy and can handle moving over more rugged ground; they can, however, leave a very large footprint in terms of churning up the ground if you use them irresponsibly.
The Wilderness Act and other state ordinances will be in place for certain areas when using ATVs or bikes. Make sure you are not breaking any laws by checking with local councils before you head out; the directives are in place to protect the environment for us and the animals, not to spoil your fun.
Prices for deer carts across the board have come down a lot in recent years. There’s never been a better time to go afield, as there’s just so much great equipment and tools making the chores of hunting a lot easier. Deer haulers and carriers are no different, with such a wide range to choose from there’s so many options to consider.
As with any hunting activity, remember to do no harm to the environment. Use your game cart and ATV responsibly and carefully; it will not only protect you physically, but also ensure that the deer population remains stable and available for many years to come. Not only do they transport gear and equipment, they just make the entire hunt a more enjoyable experience.
Hopefully you've stopped stressing over which model you should spend your money on and can now go out and make the right purchase.
Just be sure to follow our buying guide above with our list of the 5 best deer carts available on the market.