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Deer hoist features to look for

 Posted on: April 26th, 2023

If you’ve been making do with a rope and a tree branch, it’s time to upgrade your deer hoist set-up. In this article, we break down the key features that will help you make an informed choice about the type of deer hoist that will best suit how you handle your harvested deer.

man using deer hoist swivel installed on truck
tree-mounted deer hoist in the woods
Left: Kill Shot Deluxe Hitch-Mounted Deer Hoist; right: Kill Shot Tree-Mounted Deer Hoist

Mount and use location

Every hunter has their own style and process, and each deer hoist is designed to be used and mounted a particular way.

man with tree-mounted deer hoist
Kill Shot Tree-Mounted Deer Hoist

Tree-Mounted Deer Hoists

Highly versatile, tree-mounted deer hoists are usually lightweight, portable, and can be used on a tree near your home or on-site. This allows for more options in the days leading up to your hunt, and gives you the choice to process your deer near where you harvested it to both lighten the load and keep it as hygienic as possible on the trip home. The other biggest advantage to a tree-mounted hoist is that you can mount it as high up on the tree as you need – we recommend about 12’ to ensure enough room to fully raise and process your deer.

camo man with deer and hoist
Kill Shot Hitch-Mounted Deer Hoist & Carrier

Hitch-mounted deer hoists

Convenient when hunting with your truck nearby, hitch-mounted hoists can facilitate an array of post-hunt processes depending on the model and additional features. For instance, some hoists include a deer carrier for transporting your deer directly on your hitch, others make loading it up into your truck bed much less strenuous, and all give you the height clearance to process a deer on the spot.

Kill Shot Tripod Game Hoist with Gambrel
Kill Shot Tripod Game Hoist with Gambrel

Free-Standing Deer Hoists

These offer greater freedom because they aren’t bound to a specific type of mount location and you can use them absolutely anywhere. If your property doesn’t have a lot of trees but you still want to process your deer at home, they’re a great choice. Similarly, you can transport your hoist to the location of your deer for processing instead of hauling it to your hoist.

Weight capacity

If you’re a seasoned hunter, you probably have a preferred game type, and know the weight range of the animals you’re hunting. Make sure your next hoist can support the full weight of a large, undressed male.

The weights of the two most common deer to hunt in the US are:

  • White-Tail Deer: Adult bucks weigh between 150-300 lbs (with the largest ever recorded coming in at 403 lbs. dressed) and adult does weigh between 90-200 lbs.
  • Mule Deer: Adult bucks weigh between 121–331 lbs., and adult does weigh between 95-198 lbs.

Additional features

Not all hoists come with a gambrel, so be sure to purchase one separately if you know your new hoist won’t have one. They typically run about $40 and are available both online or in most sports goods stores.

The majority of hoists operate with a manual winch and handle mechanism. Alternatively, some hunters prefer a rope and pulley system to give them better leverage.