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Mountain bike hunting -- trailer or no trailer

With a four mile round trip on this hunt, the author decided to leave the trailer behind.
With a four mile round trip on this hunt, the author decided to leave the trailer behind.
Robert Clark

When would a big game hunter on a mountain bike choose to pull, or not pull, a trailer? On the surface, using a trailer seems like a no-brainer. It allows the hunter to remove his harvest from the mountains easier and faster. Yet, we see plenty of hunters on just a bike and no trailer. Are they inexperienced or ill prepared -- maybe, but maybe not?

Trailers strong enough to haul a deer or a couple of elk quarters are going to be heavy. Anyone who has pulled a trailer all day up and down gravel roads will tell you they would prefer to not have it. It is simply a necessity under certain criteria. However, some situations make it a non-necessity.

A hunting party of four mountain bikes does not need a trailer. Four frame packs and rear bike racks will easily haul out a quartered elk. In fact, two hunters on mountain bikes do not need a trailer. They can haul a quarter elk out in one trip by lashing legs to the frame of the bike and stuffing rear saddle bags full of boned meat, albeit, they will be walking the bikes out. So distance may be a criterion here.

Ten miles back to the truck is a long walk when pushing 200 pounds of meat on a bike. However, five miles may only be a three hour walk, or less, under the same conditions, which isn’t bad. A hunter’s personal time constraint is a legitimate criterion. The trade off in not pulling trailers with only two elk hunters is that it will take longer and require more effort hauling the elk out. If they choose to bring the trailers, they will use more effort during the hunt but save time if they harvest an elk.

A solo elk hunter would benefit most by bringing a trailer. Solo hunting on mountain bike is where a trailer is most useful in that it can cut down on the number of trips hauling out elk quarters by as much as two-thirds. This is a massive savings on time and effort when talking about a large animal.

One can bone out a Blacktail deer and wear a frame pack full of meat that weighs less than 100 lbs. However, if time is not on his side and boning an animal is not an option; a trailer is the way to go. Trailers are easier to use for deer hunting because a deer’s territory is so small, a hunter can drop his trailer and work an area all day and still only have a short distance to go to retrieve it. If a hunter plans on returning to the same spot for the duration of the season, he can just leave his trailer hidden in the woods.

Distance back to the truck, the number of hunters in the party, and their time constraints determine if trailers are needed. However, a solo hunter has the most to gain from using a trailer. Two hunters may choose to use trailers if their distance from the truck is over four or five miles. On hot days when meat spoilage is a danger, getting an animal to the cooler fast may inspire the use of a trailer when ordinarily one would not.