If you’ve ever tried to gut and skin a deer on the dirty ground, you’d probably like to shake the hand of whoever invented the deer skinning gambrel. Gambrels—devices to hang your deer for easier access during the gutting, skinning and butchering process—make the job of turning your dead deer into delicious meat much easier. However, not all gambrels are created equal. To make a good selection, you should ask yourself three critical questions—how tough you are, what attachment type you prefer and are there any trees or other places around to hang your gambrel.

How Tough Are You?

This rope hoist has a capacity of 2 tons and will work with just about any gambrel. White Dog

You might snicker at this question, but it’s an important one. If you’ve ever hooked your deer to a gambrel, tossed the rope over a tree limb and then tried to hoist up the beast, which might weigh more than your own body weight, you know it can be a nearly impossible task. If you have a buddy along, working together you can probably get the task accomplished. Some gambrels come complete with mechanical pulley systems that can enable you to easily hoist objects several times your weight. Other companies offer the same type units to be used with a gambrel you already own or purchased separately. Regardless of which you choose, if you’re not going to have any help, some kind of device to help you pick your deer up off the ground will make it easier.

What Attachment Type?

This gambrel is designed so that the bent hooks on the ends fit in a slit made along the deer’s Achilles tendon. CRKT

Most gambrels have bent legs at each end that are made to slide into a slit you cut along a deer’s Achilles tendon. When the gambrel is raised, the hooks hold the deer in place, and the bends on the end keep it from sliding off and falling to the ground. Others are straight bars with thin wire cables at each end. The cables are made with slip-knot style attachment so that they cinch down when pulled tight. To use them, simply put the deer’s feet through the loops and crank the deer up. Other models are similar to that but use a chain to tighten around the deer’s legs instead of the thin cables. Which kind you choose is largely a personal choice, but it’s interesting to note that most on the market now are the type with the bent hooks at the ends.

Do You Have a Place to Hang It?

With this truck hitch gambrel, you can hang your deer without needing any trees or other objects normally used for that purpose. HME

The best gambrel in the world isn’t going to do you a bit of good if you don’t have a place to hang it. Some areas just don’t have a tree, barn rafter or other hanging place available, and that can leave you in a quandary. Fortunately, a number of manufacturers offer gambrel systems that don’t require a tree or any other tall object to hang them. Some attach to the trailer hitch receiver on your vehicle, giving you the flexibility to gut, skin or butcher your deer just about anywhere. Other models are made to set up like a tripod, which has an attachment for your gambrel rope. If you’re going to be hunting antelope on the wide-open prairie or deer in areas where finding a tree or rafter might be difficult, this type of gambrel is a good choice.