The Longest Drag
Go deep when hunting this fall! You might just find the hard work quite satisfying.
Some of my fondest hunting memories have come when pursing deer and hogs a mile or more from the truck.
My most recent memory is from Altamaha WMA, where I spent several days hunting hogs a few Octobers ago. Between six of us, we hauled 15 hogs out of the woods, with the longest pull being more than 2 miles from deep in the river swamp. Every one of those hogs made it back to camp and were later consumed at a supper table. I think it’s the hard work involved in getting that prized meat out of the woods that sticks out in my mind the most. It’s an indescribable feeling of accomplishment and reward when the hard work is through.
I was cruising the GON forum (forum.gon.com) the other day and came across a thread called “Longest Deer Drag. Let’s Hear It!” It makes me smile when I read stories about hunters, most of them public-land guys, willing to go the extra mile to put meat on the table.
“I shot a big 9-pointer on Lake Russell WMA at 7:30 in the morning,” said Andrew Hiner, aka ‘aj.hiner,’ of Martin. “I had my climber, my rifle, about 15 pounds of clothes and my backpack filled. The deer dressed 140 pounds, a huge mountain deer. I gutted the deer and had about a mile of dragging.
“I had to go about 500 yards through a creek bottom and then up and over three ridges. I had to take all my gear, stand, etc. and walk up 200 yards, set everything down and then go back and drag the deer up to my gear and then start over.”
Andrew got back to the truck at 3:30 that afternoon.
“My legs literally seized up several times, and I would drag 10 yards and then collapse. People ask why would I have done all that for fun. Well, that deer will be on the wall forever. My legs will be sore for two days. Yeah, it’s well worth the reward.”
GON Forum member Matt Stephens, aka “mtstephens18,” of Rocky Face, said his worst drag ever was only an 85-lb. spike that he only had to drag 300 yards.
“It was so steep it took two of us from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. to get him out,” said Matt. “I had to crawl up a bluff 3 feet at a time and tie him to a tree. Then my buddy would crawl up past me, drag him 2 feet at a time and tie him to a tree, so he wouldn’t slide back down. It was the longest day of my life, and I’ll never shoot another scrub in that spot again.”
Matt is not a first-timer when it comes to shooting deer in difficult places.
“I had another day when I killed two about a mile and a half back in,” Matt said. “I almost cut my pinkie finger off with a limb saw and had to drag two deer out that far in the pouring rain and cold. I was on a WMA and ended up having to use my state tags because all the wardens were gone home (when I got back to the check station).
“Another time I dragged three deer over a mile. It was so steep you could stand flat footed, extend your arms straight out, and touch the ground. Needless to say, I don’t shoot anything in those places anymore unless it’s a good one.”
Some hunters think of innovative ways to “drag” their game back to the truck.
Caleb Owenby, aka “ChattNFHunter,” was hunting on the Chattahoochee National Forest with Jason Burnett (aka Prophesy Mountain Hunter) in 2011 when he shot a doe.
“It was 0.7 mile back to the truck,” said Caleb, of Epworth. “We started to drag her and said, ‘No, we don’t believe we will,’ so we found a limb and toted her out luau style. It worked well.”
Bears present quite a problem getting out of the woods. Just ask Josh Chatham, of Dahlonega.
“I have killed several deer in the mountains that you shoot early in the morning and get them out after dark, but the worst drag I’ve ever had was a 170-lb., field-dressed bear,” said Josh. “Not sure exactly how many miles I was back in the woods, but it was an hour and 20 minute straight walk and relatively flat as far as mountain hunting goes. I shot the bear and had him dressed by 2 p.m. I got him to the truck close to midnight! It’s the last bear I have shot.”
Hunting long distances from a road presents a challenge most times. And for some hunters, they’ve learned some areas are a little too far and too steep to pull the trigger on anything but a wall hanger. Still, for some hunters, it’s the overall adventure and satisfying reward that has them returning deep in the woods each fall.
As you enter the 2014 deer season, maybe it’s time to embark on a long-distance journey that will have you working for that prized game meat. You might just find it the most satisfying meat you’ve ever taken.
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