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Epic pack outs?

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by H&Hhunter, Aug 8, 2018.

  1. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

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    Seeing the transporting heavy game thread made me think of some of my most "epic" pack outs.

    I've got multiple but I'll start with one of my better ones. It was about 15 years ago, my buddy Tim and I were hunting up in the Maroon Belles of Colorado. We started off on a high ridge right at tree line and had spotted some elk far below meandering through the dark timber in a deep and steep bowl. We decided to go for it. Long story shortened, several hours later and just at sunset we found ourselves among a huge herd of bachelor bull elk with a few wandering cows about. I was thinking that we needed to limit ourselves to one bull in this area because the pack out was going to be a as tough as it gets with a 1500' vertical climb in steep and rugged terrain.

    We both had two elk tags in our pockets, one either sex and one bull tag. I was just going to have a little pow wow with Tim but he'd disappeared, as usual before we could have that conversation. It was at this time that it all "happened" I am standing there and all of a sudden hear the clanking of antlers. Out of the timber a little rag horn 4 and a 5x5 appear at about 60 yards. I raise my rifle and shoot the 5x5 as I'm coming out of recoil I hear Tim shoot just about 100 yards further down the bowl.

    I am now hoping that maybe I missed my bull. At the shot my bull had taken off up the hill into some thick timber. I listened to him crashing through the brush. Then I heard him stop, fall over and start sliding down the hill. I hadn't missed. It was just about now that I heard another shot from Tim. I immediately thought "geeze I hope that was a finisher and not another elk!"

    I got busy skinning and quartering my bull. It's a little after dark when Tim found me and tells me his story. He'd shot a cow and had her all quartered up and hanging. I asked about the second shot, Tim says he shot at a little rag 4 that came running by but thinks he missed him. I have him take me over to where the little bull went running by. I find hair, lots of hair but no blood. Tim who was new at hunting back then had not been on the right set of tracks. We tracked the bull it is now pitch black outside and we are using head lamps. We go about 50 yards and there it is in the snow, a crimson drop of blood. Then a splash, then a bigger splash, then a bigger splash, it's a classic heart shot and we find the bull,our third elk down about 100 yards further on in a nasty tangle of blown down cross fallen pines.

    We get number three cut and hung for the night and haul our own sorry carcasses up to the ridge line and back to the quads. We get into camp at about midnight and crash out in our tent. The next morning we found an old fire cut road that allowed us to get closer and cut our vertical distance to about 1000'. We strapped on our pack boards and headed down into the bowl. We boned out the meat to reduce the weight and were each able to carry about half an elk worth of meat per load. That worked out to roughly 150 lbs per load. Three round trips and multiple thousands of vertical feet later we had all the meat loaded onto the four Wheelers. It is now about midnight and it had started snowing heavily several hours prior to getting the last load up to the road. The snow fall had turned into a massive blizzard and has dumped about a foot of fresh snow. The accumulation rate was getting heavier by the moment. It was time to go. We've got two severely over loaded quads on a steep and nasty fire cut with a massive drop off on the down hill side.

    Everything was going well until I got on to a part of the trail that was angled, my machine started to slide in the snow, it hit the edge of the trail and flipped. I was able to jump free and watch my quad go tumbling down the steep slope. My pack, my rifle and my binos went sailing into space as the machine picked up velocity rolling down hill. The elk meat miraculously all stayed attached. The quad went about 200 feet down before it hung up on a pine tree and stopped. I found my pack, after a long search I found my rifle. The binos and range finder are still up there as far as I know. I never did find them.

    We were able hook up Tim's winch line to my winch line and and pull the now bent and beaten quad back up to the trail. Fortunately it was still running. As we got up to the last part of the trail it got real steep and the snow was 2 to 3 three feet deep in areas. We were forced to hook a winch line up to an available tree and winch up for a 100 feet or so at a time. We did this for most of a mile until we got back onto a portion of the trail that was shielded by the timber and allowed us to once again drive the quads with out high centering in the deep snow.

    We pulled into camp at about 3 AM, severely dehydrated, bone sore, tired and happy to be in camp. We built a huge fire to warm our hands and feet and pulled out a bottle of rock gut whiskey, Canadian Mist I think it was, I remember taking a couple deep swigs and then waking up at some time late the next morning, every bone and muscle in my body was stiff and my head was pounding from the mix of dehydration and the shots of whiskey.

    We spent the day pulling down camp and headed home that night with a truck full of elk meat and a head full of memories. That was one of my most epic pack outs, but not the most epic.
     
  2. Shanghai McCoy

    Shanghai McCoy Member

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    OK, if that is not your "most epic" pack out I'll be standing by to hear "the rest of the story"...
     
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  3. LoonWulf

    LoonWulf Member

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    You got me beat, that does sounds pretty epic to lol.

    Hardest carrying I've done was trying to get a pair of rams back to my truck just gutted.
    It was only a quarter mile or so, 500 foot elevation change, and relatively easy. Only issue is I don't do well at 9k feet (I did fine when I hunted every weekend and was I'm decent shape). Hacking, wheezing, and coughing till I finally gave in, deboned, and stuffed one in my backpack.


    At this point I'd much rather hunt up and carry down....too bad critters rarely cooperate.
     
  4. Patocazador

    Patocazador Member

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    My wife and I boned and packed out a 6x5 elk from a canyon. Had to go up the almost vertical canyon wall about 400 feet @ 10,000'. However, there were no 150 lb. loads. The biggest was the head, cape and antlers at ~90 lbs.

    The next time I needed to get out a big animal it was a moose about 250 yds from a logging road. Got the truck to within 50 yds. and winched him right up into the bed. That was more like it.
     
  5. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    i did a long drag the year after high school. i was hunting state land there was a river i crossed there was a old indian fish wear i crossed over at lked about 1 mile with my rem 14 1/2 in 44-40 jumped to deer a nice 6 and a big doe. shot them both. that 14 1/2 was so quick. then i remembered i have to drag them across the narrow pile of rock in the river. i dragged the 2 at the same time then one across the wear. i was tired so i left the one at the river and dragged the one to my truck about 1/4 mile. i get to the truck reloaded the gun. it was about dark i have had some run ins with bear and coyotes before. i get back to the river i find 4 dogs on the deer i killed all four they ate the belly and ass out now real meat was harmed. dragged the last deer back the back to the river for the coyotes this was when we have are dog shoot ere in February i got $100 per dog the big on was 87 lb they get ones every year over 100lb that was the worst drag i did remember im 400lbs my self i clled out work the next day lol. it sucked at the time but id do it again.
     
  6. MutinousDoug

    MutinousDoug Member

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    I hunted the muzzleloading season over by Meeker in 2001 with a couple of younger guys from work. We packed our camp in about 4 miles and set up overlooking a big valley below us. It snowed about a foot overnight so opening day was pretty quiet but one of the guys shot a raghorn about a mile from camp about sundown. We quartered it and hung the pieces in the trees and called it a day. Next morning I shot a cow less than a mile from camp. We had talked about the condition of the ground: sloppy and decided to call off the hunt when we got two animals down. We got our two animals into camp and started to break it down when a herd of elk walked right into our living room. Third guy looked at us and we had to say go for it.
    Three animals and our whole camp 4 miles from the truck and still 4-6" of wet snow to slog through. That was Sunday. After three 8 mile round trips We got out to the road on Tuesday. Called my wife from the top of Rabbit Ears Pass to hear somebody was attacking New York and Pennsylvania and to please hurry home. Sept 11.
     
  7. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    I "thought" I had an interesting" story. But after reading that I've got nothing.
     
  8. Captcurt

    Captcurt Member

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    On one Colorado hunt I had friend shoot a bull elk at the top of a slide. Thinking that he had killed it he rode to it only to have it get up. At his second shot it staggered and fell off the top of the slide and went all the way to the bottom of the basin. This was 8:00 A.M. opening morning. To retrieve the bull he had to ride over 2 miles just to get to the bull. It was noon the next day when he got it back to camp.

    My personal experience was a 4X5 Mulie that I shot across a gorge. It rolled probably 200 yards down into a steep hell hole. It was so steep that I had to tie his horns to a bush just to field dress him. Then I spent the rest of the day packing out quarters to the top of the hill where we could get a horse to it. I swore that the next one would be in the middle of the road. Good times!
     
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  9. Mn Fats

    Mn Fats Member

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    Man you guys make me feel like I'm not a true hunter at all. The most epic haul I've ever done was a big buck maybe 200 yards. Gutted. With another guy holding the right antler while held the left. In about a foot of snow. I was massively hung over and thought I was going to have a heart attack by the time we got to the pickup. That's as epic as I've got. Sad. Other than that 95% of the time I haul game back with an ATV or snowmobile. Pretty accessible land here in MN.
     
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  10. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    my easiest drag was a deer i shot next to my truck that was on the lane way i pared to hunt about 150yds from where i sat the doe was by the tail gate when i shot it jumped and fell dead in the bed. i still had to drag it to the end to gut it.
     
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  11. Mn Fats

    Mn Fats Member

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    That's pretty good. My easiest was a nice buck jumped out in front of my truck as I was pulling up my driveway and I nailed the brakes. He stood 10 ft in front of me just staring. I uncased my rifle and chambered a round, hopped out of the truck and fired. He just stood there and waited for me. Suicidal. Or just plain friendly.
     
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  12. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    i did that more then once. id it many time when i was selling fire wood. i creamed a nice buck with my truck leaving the farm after hunting did not see any deer that day close to a full moon. broke up all the antlers but ate good lol. i hit over 15 one year thank god i have a good brush guard. thanks for the story sir
     
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  13. Mn Fats

    Mn Fats Member

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    Well I didn't hit this one. I got on the brakes fast enough and he just stared at me. Just confused like a fart in a fan factory not knowing where to go. I know what you mean though, I welded a brush guard for my grand marquis. Too many hits or close calls.
     
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  14. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

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    Your wish is my command! :)
     
  15. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

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    Drawing a coveted Mt Goat tag in Colorado came sooner for me than most. It "only" took 12 years for me to draw the tag, I opted for a nanny tag to increase my chances of drawing and it worked. I spent that entire summer getting in shape, hiking at high altitude and scouting for goats. When September finally rolled along I was lean, in shape and mentally prepared for a long solo goat hunt above tree line. Stmaryglacier2013_zps3e9c3a93.jpg
    100_0256.jpg
    Well almost a solo goat hunt, my wife who had spent a good amount of time scouting and hiking with me all summer helped me pack in my base camp which was located at 11,800', well above tree line and in a small depression that kept my tent out of the worst of the winds which tended to roar by at odd intervals several times during the night and throughout the day. Unfortunately on the 5 hour hike into base camp I developed a full depth blister on my right heel which made the rest of the hunt an excruciatingly painful affair. I taped up my heel and hunted anyway.

    As Ive already written an extensive hunt report on this site about my goat hunt I'll skip forward to the kill and the pack out. I spotted a herd of goats at about noon on the second day of the hunt. They were on a mountain about 2 miles from my camp. I loaded a day pack and headed of in hot pursuit. At about 4:00 Pm I found my self in range and shot a goat at 71 yards with my super long rage set up M-70 Winchester custom rifle chambered in .270 Weatherby. All that long range practice came down to a quick shot with my scope on the lowest setting. That's hunting for you. In any case I shot the goat through the shoulders and anchored her on the spot as she was standing on a very precarious spot over a near vertical drop off. She indeed dropped to the shot. I worked my way down to her as I bent down to admire her and stroke her luxurious coat she shifted and went straight off the cliff face! I had to let her go or she would have taken me with her. She wound up tumbling well over 1000' almost vertical feet down a rock and dirt chute before coning to a rest above a hanging lake. I took a few selfies with my now beaten and battered trophy and then quickly got her skinned and quartered.
    100_0277.jpg
    I had no way of carrying her out with only my day pack so I built a rock shelter and placed the quartered meat on a tarp then placed a heavy flat rock over the top of it. After making sure the meat was secure and cooling properly I set off up a steep and jumbled boulder field several thousand feet and several miles back to my base camp.

    After about 45 minutes of climbing on those treacherous loose and slippery rocks the wind started to blow and then the storm clouds moved in and it started snowing hard. It was blowing and the snow was driven with such a force that it was stinging into my face and eyes and blinding me. Then the snow started to stick to the rocks making them impossible to travel on. I dropped down out of the snow into a deep crease and inventoried my situation. I could try and spend the night, but only had minimal equipment and nothing to burn for a fire. I could wait out the storm and try to make it to base camp later but the rocks were still going to be ice covered and deadly to try and climb on. Option three, the highway was about a ten mile hike and all down hill I could try and get a hold of my wife and meet me along side the highway and we could regroup and come back in the next day for the retrieve. I turned on my phone and had one bar. I quickly sent out a text, she got it and agreed to make the three hour drive to meet me.

    It took several hours of slow, steady and careful bouldering on ice covered covered rocks to get down to softer ground. The snow had turned to driving rain at lower altitude. I picked up the pace and several hours later met my beautiful wife along side the highway. I was wet, cold and on an a mission. A heated car never felt so good!

    On the way down the road I called my buddy Tim and told him my situation and asked if he would be able to help me pack out the next day. He agreed, we now needed to pack out my base camp, and a full goat. We drove home and made a plan. Early the next morning after several hours of sleep we loaded two horses into the trailer and jumped in the truck, picking up Tim along the way. My wife and I rode the horses up to base camp. Tim hiked straight over the top of the mountain to the kill sight. Once the Mrs and I got to base camp I helped her load base camp onto the now riderless horse with set of saddle panniers. She rode her horse out and and lead the loaded horse back down the trail to the truck. I headed over to the kill site where I met a now relaxed and resting Tim. He'd already loaded his pack with half the meat. I loaded the other half and the head and the cape into my pack and we began the steep hike back to the truck.

    I mentioned that I'd blown a hole in my heel on day one. I can tell you that the miles and miles and thousands of feet of vertical climbing and descending had not made it any better. In fact every step was an excruciatingly painful shot of fire through my heel. One step at a time at a nice slow mountaineering pace got me through the day. Tim on the other hand was moving at his normal high speed take no prisoners pace. Tim is a true outdoorsman and in particular a high altitude climber who is in outrageously good shape. He has climbed all 50+ 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado mostly solo and he does it it at a pace that would literally kill most mere mortals. He's also an outdoor survival expert, wilderness rescue, ETC ETC. He's a great guy to have on your side in any and all mountain scenarios. But it's demoralizing as heck to try and keep up with Timmy at high altitude with a heavy pack on. Especially when you've got a bum foot! I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and hauled my nearly 100 Lb load all day long. Up and down, and down and up until just after dark when all of a sudden I was at the truck where Tim and my lovely bride were kicking back in the horse trailer sipping on water and talking trash about the old man and his slow pace.:D That was one of the happiest sights I could possibly imagine.



    This photo was taken about a half mile above my base camp.
    The green line is my path to intercept the goats.
    The blue line is the path of the goats.
    The red dot is where I shot the goat.
    The yellow line is where the goat tumble down the hill.
    the is picture is attempting to give some perspective but it's hard to to tell without scale just how big this country is, from where I am standing to where the goat was shot is just a little over two miles.
    100_0243-1.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2018
  16. Shanghai McCoy

    Shanghai McCoy Member

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    Wow, that is a great story and well told.
    Amazing effort on all of your parts. :thumbup:
     
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  17. Patocazador

    Patocazador Member

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    Good story.
    Did the nanny's horn break during the fall?
     
  18. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

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    She did not. Luckily!
     
  19. Kingcreek

    Kingcreek Member

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    I've got nothing to compare to some of the stories here. I already posted the story of recovering a whitetail doe from the side of an old quarry in the other thread.
    I once had to drag a 100 pound doe across a muddy freshly plowed Illinois field. I think she weighed about 400 pounds by the time I got her to the edge where the truck was.
     
  20. Captcurt

    Captcurt Member

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    I was about 2 miles from my truck in the middle of the Ozark National Forest when I black powdered a 6 pt. After field dressing I hooked my trusty harness to him and started the drag out. One hillside was so steep that the buck passed me twice. When I finally got the buck down to what used to be a road, I left the deer and went to get my ATV. It was off limits to take a 4-wheeler in there, but I still fudged and took in. Even with the Yamaha it took me 2 1/2 hours to get him out. I don't hunt there anymore.
     
  21. jak67429

    jak67429 Member

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    Not sure if it is epic, but the most hilarious I ever witnessed. While I was still in HS( a long long time ago) I watched my friends dad get knocked over and then ride a 6pt buck down a very steep snowmobile trail for 1/2 mile. In one hand he had the bucks horns his rifle in the other. Screaming like a banshee the whole time.
     
  22. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

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    Last year my wife shot a huge bodied mule deer buck. It was about a mile and a half across two farm fields to get back to the truck. We tied a rope to his antlers and started to drag him out. I’d just got out of surgery for a separated bicep tendon about 6 days prior. I was out of energy by about the halfway mark were we stopped to rest on a road. I also “might” have driven the truck into the no motor vehicle area to retrieve that buck. ;)

    Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do! As Kingcreek mentioned, that field dressed deer was weighing about 4 metric tons by the time I gave up and got the truck!
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018 at 8:38 AM
  23. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    My packout stories pale in comparison to all these, so ill be quick with my story.

    We primarily hunt river bottoms that run through our farmland.
    It had rained (poured) all night before opening day of gun season. My young son and i had to go into plan B because our favorite spots were inaccessible because of high water. We neared our property on the flooded bottom road and finally chickened out in the predawn darkness when we saw a log float over the roadway. I had to back aaaaaaall the way back to the main road with the crappy dim cj7 jeep backup lights.
    Plan C finally got us to our woods where we had a couple permanent ladder stands. I accompanied the boy to his stand because of the dangerous high water. The last thing I told him was...,"whatever you do, dont shoot a deer across that slough unless its a monster...that water is probably six or eight feet deep. We'll never get it outta there".
    30 minutes later....boom...you guessed it , a scraggly basket rack 8pt that looked like a monster to a 15 year old.
    Anyway, the packout part was done with a borrowed rowboat that we pulled into the woods with my atv, then paddled the floodwater to get to the buck. Field dressed and loaded the buck in the jonboat, paddled back across the slough(which was like a river), dragged the boat/buck back out to tge road with my atv, then loaded the whole bloody mess on a trailer and headed for the pressure washer in the shop.
     
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