When it comes to packing out your animal, there is no easy way to get the job done. That said, there’s a way to make this “hard part” as easy as it can be ... and it’s so rewarding. Whether it’s an elk, moose or deer, the easiest way is to have as much help as possible and do it one quarter at a time. Over the years I’ve found that having a good pack frame is essential and makes carrying a heavy load doable. The key is making sure everything is secured and well balanced before taking off. Any tiny sway in a heavy quarter will force you to exert unnecessary energy trying to keep steady.
I used to use a regular backpack on the hunt. When the animal was down, I would go back to camp, get my pack frame and head back out. However, this adds an unnecessary trip to the adventure. My new method is to carry my pack frame the entire time so that I can bring a quarter back on my first trip.
The Eberlestock F1 Mainframe is light enough to use as a regular pack and boasts a variety of features. I actually strap my bow to the pack as well so that my hands are available during the hunt. On a recent elk hunt, I used the two batwing pouches to hold my gear. When we got our bull down, I was able to put the quarter on it, strap my bow on the outside of the quarter and carry the batwings. That way, on my first trip out, I brought a quarter, my bow and the gear in my pack without making any unnecessary trips.
Eberlestock also makes a dry bag that connects to the pack frame. That’s helpful for all of the extra meat such as rib meat, neck meat, backstraps and hide (basically anything that’s not connected to a quarter). This way, it all stays together and your pack isn’t full of blood.
It’s important when picking a pack frame to test it out before you get to the field. Ensure the straps all fit and that everything is set perfectly before putting on a heavy load. If it is just your gear, it’s not the end of the world if everything isn’t exact, but I can promise you that once you have a moose quarter on your back, you’re going to want everything perfect.
Once you’re in the field, the hardest part is getting the heavy frame pack off the ground. If you have two people with you, I recommend sitting on the ground and putting your pack on. Tighten all your straps, and when it’s time to stand, have them lift each side as you get to your feet. Once you’re up, just keep moving forward!
If you don’t have anyone around, I still recommend sitting down. Get in the pack and strap it down, then roll to your knees and stand up from there. When you’ve done all you can and need a break, look for a rock, tree stump or something that can hold the weight of your pack. This way you can take a rest without having to take everything off.
There’s no real-life workout like packing out your animal. In my mind, it’s part of the fun of the harvest and keeps me in shape. Packing out is great for your core, legs and mental toughness, but having a good frame pack is the first step!