While reading this thread, I couldn't help but notice that the geographical location of the poster seems to have a lot to do with the gut/ungut in woods practice.
Leaving the deer ungutted seems to be more of a southern thing than a northern one.
Why? Maybe it has to do with the fact that southern deer are considerably smaller in body mass than the northern ones, especially northern ones that come from the corn belt.
In Illinois if you shoot a 2.5 year or older buck, you may very well be dragging a good 210 to 240 pounds of dead weight out of the woods. I've killed buck FAWNS that weighed over 100 pounds on the hoof. That's a LOT of unecessary weight to pull.
The other factor may be that many of us northern deer hunters like to hang/age our deer, and we then know that the sooner you get the guts out of them, then the faster the cooling process can begin.
If I drag my deer with the guts in at all, it's only as far as I need to in order to:
1. Get it out of the water.
2. Get it on flatter ground.
3. Out of heavy cover.
4. Out of the neighbor's back yard (JUST KIDDING!!!!)
Offer No Apologies.....
NRA Endowment Life Member