The Meat Cart — Lightweight Elk & Deer Cart System

Dallen with his spike elk on the deer and elk meat cart.

After hauling the elk out with the Meat Cart my Carry In Big Game Cart system, I had Dallen take the wheel for a picture.

Hanging from the cart are my heavy duty homemade canvas big game meat bags.

In 2007 I was back out archery elk hunting again, packing in six miles to hunt. I was fortunate to get a little five point bull on my fourth day hunting the area. After shooting the bull in the morning it took the rest of the day to bone the elk out and take trips hauling the meat up and out of the steep rugged canyon to a trail. My base camp was about a mile from this location and the trail head was a good five miles out from there. I realized that I was not going to be able to get the meat out in time to keep it from spoiling on foot. I needed help and I placed a cell call out to a good friend to bring in some horse. The next morning I was grateful to see my friend and his horses, however I felt bad that I had taken him away from his family and the activities he had planned for the day.

It was at this time that I really started formulating ideas and drawing sketches of systems for me to haul an elk or deer out in one trip.

Here was what I wanted in a system.

  • Something small enough that I could place it on my backpack along with all the rest of my gear.
  • Something light enough that I would not be too weighed down by it and the rest of my gear. My goal was to get it under ten pounds.
  • It needed to be strong enough that I could place up to 150 lbs.
  • It needed to be able to haul meat out by a single person along narrow trails
  • I wanted a brake system for better control on inclines.

During the following year I started experimenting with different cart oriented designs. After all the experiments, I ended up with a cart system based around a single wheel. The cart is designed such that the meat is held in my canvas meat bags hanging from the frame of the cart. The weight is distributed evenly across both sides of the cart and can be all balanced directly over the wheel. The cart has detachable handles that balance the cart but don't hold any of the weight. And of course I placed a brake to control the cart on inclines. The handles can be quickly detached by turning two knobs. After removing the handles the cart can be easily placed on my frame pack or strapped to the outside of my internal frame pack for transport.

Lightweight Single Wheeled Elk and Deer Cart System

Here is a picture after a few modifications in the fall of 2010. The handles have been removed and tied to the side in preparation to use the cart for elk season this year. Two modifications are better brakes and lug bolts across the bar that the meat bags hang from. The bolts will help keep the meat bags from slipping out of position. With the modification the cart now weighs in at 13.8 lbs. With the right materials and welding I'm  confident a cart like this could be built weighing in the 7-10 lbs range.

In 2008 I was back archery hunting my usual area and this year I had the Meat Cart with me. It did add some additional weight but having it with me gave me great confidence in getting an elk out myself, if I were to get one on the ground. I was prepared to shoot a cow if I needed just so I could test out the Meat Cart, however after setting up my base camp and taking daily hunts all over the place I was only able to find one elk, a six point at that, but he was on the wrong side of the fence. Elk sure know where the public ground is and isn't. I think there must be something printed on the backside of the no trespassing signs the elk and deer can read. Something like "entering this area can greatly harm your health". Anyway, I struck out for 2008, so during the following year I made a few more tweaks to the cart.

Right now the cart weighs in right around thirteen pounds. I went with a solid, non-puncture inter-tube that added some additional weight. The breaks are also a work in progress and are excessively heavier than they need to be. Along with the steel frame the cart still only weighs 13 pounds. That's 10 pounds lighter that the two wheeled collapsible deer carts that are currently on the market. I'm pretty sure if it were built from aluminum and with some better manufacturing of the brakes the cart would probably be in the seven to ten pound range. I'll keep tinkering...I need an aluminum welder, hmm...

Single Wheeled Ultra-Lightweight Collapsible Elk and Deer Game Cart

I now have a new 10 lb prototype of this lightweight style of collapsible game cart. You can learn more about my newest lightweight game cart in my journal entry titled: Ultra-Lightweight Backpack Packable Game Cart

I am now manufacturing a updated version of this lightweight game cart by the name of Pack Wheel.

Dallen's spike elk he took with a 243 WSSM, became my first test for hauling out an elk. We were only a mile in to where his elk was on the ground so we didn't have to go too far to get it out. I used the cart to haul probably about two thirds of the elk out with the rest going in a frame pack on my back while Dallen carried much of the gear and his trophy rack. The cart did a wonderful job considering it was it's first call to duty. I had to go up and out of one canyon and across another to get back to our vehicle. I learned a few things that I will be tweaking but, for the most part my collapsible lightweight game cart worked very well.

The original idea for the cart spawned from my father's idea and the single wheeled elk / deer cart he built back the the 70's.

You can learn more and watch a video of my newest ten pound prototype lightweight game cart in use on a muzzleloader mule deer hunt in 2011.

January 2012: The lightweight game cart worked great for me on a late season cow elk hunt where I was able to use the cart to haul an entire cow elk out three miles.

Related Product Links:

Pack Wheel Backpack and Game Cart LogoPack Wheel — Lightweight Backpack and game cart

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