How to Build a Deer Hoist

How to Build a Deer Hoist

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Processing deer is a somewhat messy job and the best way to do the job right is to hang the animal. You can purchase commercial hoists but they are expensive. Building your own hoist will save you money and you can custom fit it to the location in which you prefer to use it. A portable hoist that can be used in the field is a common device that can be assembled quickly and used just about anywhere.

Items you will need

  • Steel cable

  • Gambrel

  • S-hooks

  • Cable clamps

  • Locking pliers

  • Electric or hand winch

Check your winch for the specifications of the cable it uses. You will need a minimum of 25 feet of cable as you are going to lift the deer over an available tree limb. A typical manual winch can lift approximately 1/2 ton with 5/32-diameter steel cable, which is more than enough to hoist your deer over a tree limb.

Make a small loop in one end of the cable. Insert a cable clamp around the end and the cable where the loop begins. Tighten the clamp with the pliers.

Wind the cable tightly on the winch so the tension stays consistent. Winch cables come pre-attached and wound; however, after use it is important to rewind the cable carefully to avoid slack in the line, which can jerk the deer right off the gambrel.

Hang the cable over a high tree limb or other bar-type structure out in the field to hoist the deer. Attach your gambrel to the end of the cable once it has been hung over the limb. A gambrel is a triangular-shaped device with a spreader bar in the center and two hooks or prongs at either end of it to attach a deer's legs. The top bars of the gambrel are usually either flexible strapping, cable or solid bars that come to a point for hanging. Attach the gambrel to the cable with an S-hook.

Hoist the deer using the electric or hand winch by cranking it once the deer has been secured to the gambrel. Lift the deer to a comfortable height to work on field dressing it.


  • Loosen the tension on the winch and lower the animal before removing it from the gambrel so the cable does not suddenly snap upwards from the tension.
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