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Buyer's Guide

Best Deer Hoists & How to Build Your Own

 Updated on: September 5th, 2023

Best Deer Hoists
Kill Shot Tree-Mounted Deer Hoist

We’ve finally reached deer hunting season in many parts of the United States. In certain parts of the country, deer hunting is imbedded into the local culture, and hunting enthusiasts wait all year for opening weekend.

There is a lot of equipment a hunter needs for the sport, not just for the actual hunt but for the processing of the deer as well after the kill. Among other things, hunters need a way to hang the animal after getting it back home, and a deer hoist is the best way of accomplishing this.

We’ve broken down the best deer hoists by looking at price, mounting style, weight capacity and overall design to make it easier for you to identify the hoist that’s right for your needs.

Before comparing deer hoists, read Deer Hoist Features to Look For to better understand what makes each design unique and what works best for specific applications.

Deer Hoist Comparsion Table

Viking Solutions Tree-Mounted Deer Hoist VKS-VKH001 Shop Kill Shot Tree-Mounted Deer Hoist TREE-HOISTShop Viking Solutions L-E-Vator Portable Deer Lift VKS-VLV001Shop Kill Shot Tripod Game Hoist with Gambrel DRC-DTP-V2Shop Kill Shot Hitch-Mounted Deer Hoist with Gambrel DEER-HOISTShop Viking Solutions SwiveLift Steel Hitch-Mounted Lift VKS-VSL001Shop Kill Shot Deluxe Hitch-Mounted Deer Hoist with Swivel & Gambrel DEER-HOIST-SWIVELShop Kill Shot Hitch-Mounted Deer Hoist & Carrier DEER-HOIST-CARRIERShop
Weight Capacity 300 300 300 500 300 300 500 600
Mounts to Tree Tree Free-standing Free-standing 2"Hitch 2"Hitch 2"Hitch 2"Hitch
Lift Height Any Any 3' 4" 8' 11" 6' 10" - 7' 8" 4' 4" 7' 2.25" - 7' 8.25" 7' 6"
Key Feature Portable Portable Affordable loading solution Stable tripod design Gambrel stabilizer Pivoting loading platform Swivel design Built-in Carrier
Best for Wood-dressing deer Wood-dressing deer Lifting game into truckbed Dressing versatility Irrigating, cleaning, skinning Loading game into truckbed Loading game, irrigating, cleaning, skinning Transporting deer

Best Overall

Kill Shot Deluxe Hitch-Mounted Deer Hoist with Swivel & Gambrel

Kill Shot Deluxe Hitch-Mounted Deer Hoist with Swivel & Gambrel

Why we love it:

  • It has a 500 lb. capacity.
  • It swivels 360 degrees on ball bearings to help with loading large game into your truck bed and has a four-pin locking system for when you need the deer stationary.
  • The multi-purpose design works great for cavity irrigation, deer aging (in temperatures less than 45 degrees F), cleaning and skinning.
  • A gambrel is included.

Best Value

Kill Shot Tree-Mounted Deer Hoist

Kill Shot Tree-Mounted Deer Hoist

Why we love it:

  • Portability! It breaks down for transport and comes with a storage bag.
  • Bright orange strap for easy visibility.
  • 6” serrated braces grip bark securely.
  • High quality for an affordable price.
  • Installs easily.
  • Great for on-site skinning and cleaning.
  • >Mounts to just about any tree trunk diameter (we recommend picking a large one).

Most Versatile

Kill Shot Tree-Mounted Deer Hoist

Kill Shot Tripod Game Hoist with Gambrel

Why we love it:

  • Easy assembly and legs pull apart for compact storage.
  • Use it anywhere!
  • Extended legs are a full 5’ apart; base is incredibly solid.
  • 500 lb. weight handles large bucks.

Building your own hoist

If buying a hoist doesn’t appeal to you, or simply isn’t in your budget, you can always opt instead to build your own. You’ll be able to customize it to your game type, mount location and design specifications, however be sure to test it thoroughly and safely before you use it as it won’t have gone through the rigorous testing of a commercially-produced hoist.

Let’s take a look at the process of building your own deer hoist.

Before you get started

The first step is to make sure you have all of the equipment you will need to build the hoist.

The most important pieces of equipment to have are a steel cable, gambrel, S-hooks, cable clamps, locking pliers and a hand winch or electric winch.

Make sure the winch you have matches the cable you’re going to use. You’ll need at least 25 feet of cable if you’re going to create the hoist out in the field, but in general it’s good to have at least that much anyway. Most manual winches are capable of lifting around 1,000 pounds of weight with a 5/32 diameter steel cable.

Building the hoist

Once you’ve got all your materials gathered you can start building the deer hoist. The first step is to make a loop on one end of the cable, then clamp around the end where that loop begins. Use a pliers to tighten that clamp as much as possible.

Begin winding the cable on to the winch. Do so tightly—this will ensure the tension in the cable stays consistent while it’s being wound. Usually the cables will be pre-wound on the winch, so you’ll need to rewind the cable tightly to avoid slack that could make for a difficult time getting the deer up to elevation.

Hang the cable over a sturdy bar-type structure, or over a tree limb if you’re out in the field or trying to keep it simple at your property. You can then attach the gambrel to the end of the cable with an S-hook.

The gambrel will also feature a spreader bar at the center and a pair of prongs or hooks at either end. Attach those prongs to the deer’s legs, and make sure the connection is sturdy.

Once everything is connected, you can use the electric or hand winch to get the deer up to a comfortable height for you to begin dressing it.

It’s really that simple—there’s a minimal amount of equipment required to create your own deer hoist, and it will be highly effective and portable, even allowing you to raise the deer out in the field.

If you’re going hunting this season, best of luck to you, and we hope you enjoy the time outdoors and the thrill of the hunt!