OUTDOORS COLUMN: Deer hunting is quite the drag

Herald Outdoors Columnist

Herald Outdoors Columnist

I recently had an interesting conversation with a fellow deer hunter. Nice guy, but a bit of a blowhard. After making sure I'd heard about the many great whitetail bucks he's tagged in his day, he began regaling me with all the noble reasons he "really, really" loves deer hunting.

"It's the challenge," he said. "It's being in the wild and besting the deer at his own game, on his own turf. You know, the chase, the primitive skills involved. Why, I even enjoy the hard work after the kill is made and the hunt's over."

Obviously this guy pays very close attention to narration and commentary on outdoors television shows.

Challenge? Not really. There are too many things these days tipping the scales in the deer hunter's favor.

The chase? Yeah, right. How many folks actually track deer or stalk-hunt these days?

Primitive skills? Hmm. Can you say variable-power rifle scope, boys and girls?

Hard work? Well, my friend's labor consists of walking to the truck, unloading the four-wheeler, and driving back to his kill. He loads the deer, returns to the truck, and hauls it to the processor.

Now, don't misunderstand me. There's nothing wrong in making deer hunting easier. On the contrary, I'm all for it. I remember when it really was hard work, particularly getting a dead deer from Point A to Point B.

I recall, for instance, dragging my kills. I mean long-distance dragging, not just a few feet to a waiting ATV. Often, I did this alone, with no help save determination. In fact, I once hand-dragged a small deer up a half-mile slope at a very steep angle. Gaining weight with every stride, the little buck weighed at least 900 pounds by the time I reached the top. That's not to mention the times I fell flat on my face when the stick I'd spliced between his back legs broke in half.

After a few seasons of brute-force deer dragging, with its resulting bumps, bruises, and pulled muscles, I got "smart" and ordered myself one of those deer-drag harnesses you don't see much of anymore. You know, those contraptions where you truss up your deer in nylon webbing, hitch yourself into a shoulder harness, and make your drag supposedly 1000 times easier? Yeah, some of you remember those. Perhaps you're even still using them. I'm not.

Not that drag harnesses don't work, mind you. They do. By transferring force, they oppose both gravity and inertia and save a great deal of labor, back strain, and vociferous cursing. Oh, if only I'd had one on the trip up that aforementioned half-mile slope. On the other hand, if only I'd NOT had one later, on a similar incline, this time going down. That's the day I discovered a drag harness does not oppose downhill gravity and inertia quite as efficiently as it does the uphill varieties.

At first I was pleased to note how easy the towing of my 200-pound buck had become. Then, from the corner of one eye I noticed my nylon-strapped, dead-weight trophy overtaking and passing me. Rapidly.

I knew enough physics to realize I could not run fast enough to stay abreast of the deer, whose downward velocity was increasing by the second. Thus, I began, on the run, trying to undo my shoulder harness before the "payload" reached the end of its tether.

My timing was off just the teeniest little bit. I was but 30 yards from the bottom of the slope when I was snatched off my feet and onto my face. Thank you, Galileo and Isaac Newton!

Oh, yeah. There's another force, boys and girls. It's called friction and it opposes motion. That's normally a good thing when deceleration is necessary, but not when one's "braking" apparatus consists of nose, belly and various nether parts. My momentum ceased abruptly when I slammed into a hickory tree, thereby saving one layer of clothing and some of my skin.

"Well, Hoss," said Cletus Monroe when he found me hours later, bruised and battered and wrapped like a wasp in a spider's web, "I see that draggin' contraption works. Thing is, though, ain't you the one s'posed to be doin' the draggin'?"

My mouth being full of forest-floor debris I could manage only an emotional, "Mmmph" in reply.

Just as well. Even in today's more enlightened times, there's not an editor alive who'd print the translation.

Questions? Comments? E-mail Bob Kornegay at cletuswindstream.net