Game Cart Selection Guide

Internet searches for retrieval carts can be most confusing. It is not at all surprising that so many wind up with carts that will not perform as expected. The problem generally is a lack of understanding of the difficulties involved in retrievals and the qualities required in a retrieval cart to overcome these difficulties.

Unless you already have a seasoned familiarity with the situation, assess the terrain and circumstances that will be involved in your retrievals. Start with the approximate size and weight of the game animals you are hunting. Are you going to bone, quarter, or retrieve the game whole? Examine the terrain, growth, obstacles and any special problems you might confront on likely retrieval paths. Rate the likelihood that pack boards will be needed for some part of the retrieval. Finally, review the strengths, abilities and expectations of the retrieval crew.

For the most part, the difficulties can be overcome by hard work together with the help of qualities or features offered by the various carts that will best do the job. The following “List and Description of Qualities to look for in a Retrieval Cart” was designed to help with this. The Game Cart Review could also help. Not only should this improve your understanding of what you need in a cart and why, but you will be better prepared when dealing with vendors, and can ask for assurance that any proposed cart will adequately perform the task you describe.

the qualities to look for in a game retrieval cart

Strength & Capacity

(1) Frame Strength & Capacity. Are both the strength and capacity of the cart sufficient to accommodate the animals (or portions) you hope to retrieve? Consider the design, the materials used, and the quality of construction. 
Wheel Strength. Is the wheel strength sufficient to support both the animal and the cart? 
Adequate Braking. If you anticipate needing the safety and control of a braking system, do these brakes have the strength to do the job?

Ease of Transport

(4) Balance the Load. Is all, or substantially all of the load carried or balanced above the wheel(s) so that you avoid lifting and carrying more than you should? 
(5) Hard to Balance. Is the load a problem to balance? 
(6) Mobility. Does the cart design and wheel(s) allow for the mobility you need to travel easily (or with the least possible difficulties) through the terrain in which you will be hunting? 
(7) Side hill Tipping. Does a slope or side hill cause the cart to tip so as to risk dumping the load? 
(8) Clearance. Does the cart design and wheel diameter provide sufficient clearance in such terrain? 
(9) Smooth Rolling. Is the wheel diameter of sufficient size to allow the cart to roll more smoothly, with fewer hang ups, and with less rolling resistance over such terrain? 
(10) Effective Helper Input. If the cart is designed for two does it have rigid handles and otherwise allow for effective assistance with power, braking, steering and balance from hunting partners? 
(11) Efficient Energy Use. Looseness, bending and sagging results in the dissipation of energy which in turn makes it far more difficult to handle any game and almost impossible to handle larger game. Does the design and construction of the cart avoid this and maintain needed strength and rigidity? 
(12) Easy Loading. Can the game animal be easily loaded onto the cart and from there onto the pickup? 
(13) Fit. Can the cart be made to fit the user so as to avoid unnecessary strain and muscle aches resulting from poor fit and heavy loads.

Note: While this consideration was not apparent when the rest of the list was prepared, it has emerged as the result of suggestions by GameTote owners. It seems that proper fit can alleviate much of the aches and pains that otherwise result from the combination of poor fit and the handling of large animals. To accommodate these needs we developed height adapters some time ago. And just this last year, in connection with the introduction of a new wheel, we were able to offer adjustable heights on all carts. You can now select one of five axle holes and thereby the size (height) to fit best for a more comfortable use. Height adapters can still be piggy-backed for further refinement or provide for switching handlers of differing heights without having to change axle holes each time.

Other Considerations

(14) Break Down. Does the cart break down for storage and/or transport without loss of strength and rigidity? 
(15) Single or Multiple Users. Can the cart be used by both a single user and by two or more users? 
(16) Use for both large and smaller game. Is the cart big enough and strong enough for large game? Is it too cumbersome or unwieldy for smaller game? Will it handle both comfortably? 
(17) Reliability. What is the cart’s reputation for reliability? Have you heard of it collapsing or otherwise failing when called upon? Do buyer expectations often exceed cart capabilities? Should cart limitations be more effectively communicated to prospective buyers?

With these considerations in mind, check out the Game Cart Review.