Back issues field dressing.

Steve79

FNG
Joined
Apr 21, 2024
Messages
4
Hey fellas,

So the story goes, I killed a hog a couple of weeks ago, and quartered it out using the gutless method.
My lower back was super stiff and sore when straightening/repositioning between cuts and its only been getting worse since, to where I had to lie on my back to get my shoes on this morning.

Obviously I'm gonna have to see the doc. But while I don't (or didn't) have a "bad back" as such, I always get some residual lower back stiffness and minor pain for a few days after field dressing an animal on the ground.

Short of hanging the carcass (which isn't always possible) do you guys have any techniques or strategies to minimise (or mitigate) bending over for extended periods while recovering meat?

Note: my ability to carry weight for the pack out is completely unaffected. It's only that bending motion that's causing my lower back to give out.

Cheers
Steve
 
Joined
Feb 16, 2021
Messages
1,058
Location
Eastern Oregon
I have 3 sections of an old closed cell sleeping pad for a sitting pad and use it to kneel on. Usually one knee at a time so I can switch it up. Also will stand up and reposition instead of working on something at an awkward angle and take water breaks if there's no reason to rush.
 

Johnny Tyndall

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Nov 17, 2021
Messages
193
Location
MT
I recommend a good PT. I'm going to generalize a bit, but seems like most guys have screwed up hips and shoulders which leads to low back problems. When you're young you can skate, but once you hit middle age the bills start coming due. At some point if you want to stay active you need to start paying attention to mobility. Good PT will help you learn how to move in alignment. You can probably even find one that hunts.
 

crich

WKR
Joined
Jul 7, 2018
Messages
794
Location
AK
Having a partner helps when you can take turns. I struggle with this too and learned that I need to pay attention to posture and body positioning from the start. By the time you feel your back muscles flaring up and getting sore it's not long until it can be a real hindrance. It goes without stating that regular exercise helps but the faster you get at processing the animal the better.
 
Joined
Aug 6, 2012
Messages
1,676
PT, strength training etc.
Take a couple Tylenol before you start cutting.
Pulley system to help lift legs while you cut.
 
Joined
Jun 15, 2017
Messages
1,906
Location
San Antonio
My lower back has been screaming at me the last few deer, Elk, and pigs. I've actually started trying to have access to a small chair and it helps quite a bit, also tried sitting on the ground but that really slows me down.

I also bought one of these gizmos to help with hanging Elk quarters but I'm gonna pack it for deer hunts now, thought being it can probably hoist a whole deer for breaking down.
 
Joined
Jun 2, 2020
Messages
83
Location
Kenai Peninsula
I hear ya, it can get bad butchering moose solo. Need to straddle the carcass a lot, and kneeling is not much of an option on a moose, but I do try to kneel when I can.

And why is it that there is rarely a tree in the correct direction to use a pulley to lift a leg?

Tylenol helps out too. I’ll take mtnrunners advice to take BEFORE cutting. Thanks
 

rkcdvm

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Mar 24, 2020
Messages
238
Location
texas
I've struggled with this since my early 20's. Doesnt matter how much training I do (4-5 days a week on average) , bending at the waist while field dressing always makes me tight in my lower back. My PT told me to kneel or do as much as I can on my knees. I take short breaks and stretch too. When packing out I take as many breaks as needed and I always use trekking poles. I may be sore the next day but ibuprofen is normally all I need .
Weight training and yoga help a bunch.
 

2-Stix

WKR
Joined
Oct 7, 2020
Messages
481
Weak core, get PT, and work from your knees. I have the same issues as you. If I stand and gut a deer my back is screaming.
 

Jimmy

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Apr 18, 2016
Messages
288
Location
California
Yeah a single visit to a PT really opened my eyes and if I keep up on my stretches and exercises I almost never have back problems
 

WCB

WKR
Joined
Jun 12, 2019
Messages
3,332
For short term kneel down...for long term get your back figured out. I have had the same issues... stand up and almost lose my breath and walk like I gotta take a dump for a few feet before I can straighten up. Chiro with strength and stretching. Don't wait until you have to do a whole elk by yourself.
 

GSPHUNTER

WKR
Joined
Jun 30, 2020
Messages
4,054
A good stretch prior to starting may help some. I always have the grandson stretch out real good first, I don't want him getting to sore to pack the meat out. I do get a little stiff from sitting too long while watching him work. He's damn lucky to have me for guidance and moral support. :)
 
Joined
Apr 14, 2019
Messages
1,012
Location
Fort Myers , FL
I used to hunt in an eastern federal forest its a strictly walk in drag out sort of place. It was hilly I had the same problem with my back. I would about have to lay down beside the deer to field dress it. I always found a place to field dress where I could lay the deer uphill. Once I even pulled the deer short distance ( 30 yards) to the very small creek or drain at the bottom of the hill and positioned the deer on the bank and stood in the inch of water in the creek. Not sure what kind of terrain your in but you got to work with what you got. Even a slight slope is helpful if you can get on your knees.
 
Joined
Dec 31, 2021
Messages
1,720
Location
Montana
Some interesting points. Living in the west, I can only remember gutting deer on flat ground a couple times - years ago when I was young and indestructable.

Now I tie the elk heads to a tree to keep everything from sliding down the hill, flip them over on their back and tie a leg to keep them positioned there and then roll everything out below the diaphram. The lungs and heart are a little tougher because of tendons so it takes a little time with a small knife to free things up. I don't cut any bones as I found it keeps the meat cleaner if you are dragging and makes it less accessable to the birds if you have to leave it for a while.

I usually quarter with a block and tackle, a half at a time. If I come back and get them the next day, I bring climbing spurs to set a rope between two trees at about 15-20 ft above the ground. It makes it easy to quarter the elk. With deer I just load them into the saddle on a horse and tie them down for the walk out. That gets tougher as I get older but I haven't seen a deer in 5 years so I will see if I can still do it as I get older.

Some of my experience probably comes from commercially gutting beef with a winch or hanging elk on a tractor bucket to gut. Both allows you to use gravity to help. I think it is also good to know a fair amount about their anatomy especially if you are going to bone them out.

When I cut them up, I cut muscle groups for steaks and roasts and bulk for hamburger. After I have them separated by group then I cut each for serving size for wrapping.

I had a partner who used to freeze the muscle groups and then thaw and cut for each meal. That of course means you eat steak every night until it is gone. I tend to like more variety than that.

I have never found it tireing to gut animals. Just time consuming.

I know the gutless folks say this is all unnecessary but since I am nearly always remote, I have found I prefer to leave a gut pile for the critters to focus on till I can get my meat loaded and back to the house. A minimum for the initial drag is 200-400 yds and into the heaviest forest for bird cover. I'm usually safe for overnite but a coyote or two over the years have proven me wrong.
 

S.Clancy

WKR
Joined
Jan 28, 2015
Messages
2,360
Location
Montana
I've quartered many an elk solo, including several big bulls. The key is using leverage to your advantage and being strong. Most people are weak even if they think they are strong. Strong is 1.5+ BW squat, 2x+ BW deadlift. If you can do those your back shouldn't hurt and you should be able to gutless anything elk or below solo.
 
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