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When I hunt solo, loading a deer into my truck is a struggle. I have a couple of herniated disks, so lifting while twisting is the worse thing I can do for my back, but that’s the exact motion required to lift a deer off the ground, and flip it into the tailgate.

I really hesitated to spend the money on a pricey hitch hoist for this task, but I got a gift card for Cabelas from the mom of a kid I gave some archery lessons to, so I decided to make a purchase for this season. I bought the HME Hitch Hoist from Cabelas and put it together yesterday: Truck Hitch Game Hoist Kit | HME Products

Here are my initial impressions:
One of the common negative reviews online for this model is that some guys struggle to assemble this unit. I’m baffled by that review. The instructions are clear, and honestly, if a guy struggles to assemble this unit, he probably never turned a wrench before. Literally two bolts to attach the crank/winch, and everything else is just quick-release pins. Pictures on the box and instructions clearly indicate the position of everything too, so even if you can’t read, assembly is easy.

Another negative review that I saw is that once assembled, the crank handle for some guys hits their tail gate. Unfortunately this is the case for me too, with my 2017 F150 (pic below). This is unfortunate because I would like to have the tail gate down while lifting game, but out of the box, this will not be possible. I’ll need to have the tailgate closed while cranking/lifting game, or I’ll have to buy and install an extension to my hitch that pushes the whole hoist out a couple of inches. (One reviewer said that he just drilled another mount hole on the square bar that installs into truck hitch, but I judge that to be a risky solution because there is not enough extra bar stock to counterbalance a heavy deer if you have so little of the bar stock inside your hitch.)

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Other than this one flaw, all of my other impressions are quite positive. The finish appears uniform and adequate. All holes and hardware lined up and installed easily. It doesn’t take long to assemble this, but don’t just toss the box in your truck on the way to the woods—assemble it the night before a hunt at the latest so you’re familiar with it.

I’m really pleased with the overall height, and how HME designed a slot at the top for the game “Gambrel” slides into so that it would keep your deer stable for gutting/processing, if you choose to do so.

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The height seems appropriate for whitetail deer, though you’ll have to lift the lower part of the deer a little before you drop it on your tailgate (image shown as you would spin around to drop)

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Also (above),this model has an adjustable foot that you can drop for additional support—I didn’t drop it in these pictures but it works fine, though my hitch is at a height that will require a rock or other shim while in the driveway.

I didn’t take a picture of how I take it apart and store it in my short (5’5”) truck bed, but it had a shorter setting for the main bar, and disassembles easilY into two pieces that will fit in my truck bed easily, and not diagonally.

Overall, it seems to be a very robust piece of equipment, with only one flaw to my eyes. I plan on finding a hitch extension that I currently own for another purpose, and that will provide an extra few inches of clearance to solve that flaw.

Now I just hope to get a chance to put it to work!!
 

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Nice review SG!

I've been using one of the HMEs for a couple seasons and it's a good tool for the price. Moving the crank is an easy fix for the tailgate problem and I think you can get away with adding just one hole. It's not the most compact lift but it does give you the ability to work on an animal where the shorter "lifts" don't which might be important. It is for me. A fellow hunter who has some physical challenges set his up with an electric motor that connects to his towing plug which is pretty slick.

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