We all know that once a deer hits the ground the real work begins. Typically, our options for a getting our venison back to the truck are pretty simple—drag it out or quarter it up and haul it out piece by piece. However, there is a third option. You can carry the deer on your back. I learned this old method from James Lawrence, a 72-year-old veteran whitetail hunter from the mountains of Arkansas. James was taught how to “shock pouch” a deer by his grandmother in the late 1950s.
“I don’t know where the name came from, but that’s what she called it,” James told me.
The shock-pouching method involves removing the lower leg bones from all four legs, while leaving the hide and dewclaws (the two black spots above the hoof). You then tie the front leg’s hide to the hide of back legs on the opposite side with a square knot. The dewclaws keep the knot from pulling loose. You do this on both sides and essentially make “backpack straps” with the hide of the legs. You can then get on the ground, slide your arms through the “straps,” and stands up. The leg hide is comfortable on your shoulders and you can carry a deer for an extended period of time leaving the your hands free.
“I’ve carried deer as far as five miles back when I was younger,” James said.
The weight of the deer rests on your hips if you lean slightly forward while walking. I’m an average-sized guy weighing in at about 165 pounds. I can shock-pouch a 140- to 150-pound deer fairly easily. The hardest part is just standing up once the deer is on your back. Once you’re up, all you have to do is take some breaks occasionally by leaning up against a tree or on a rock.
Take extreme precaution and always wear hunters orange when carrying out a deer on your back. Use common sense and be careful! You don’t want another hunter to mistake you for a live deer.