Re: Go in Light and Come out Heavy - Which Pack?
If you can't afford a Kifaru hauling frame (I think the model is the Timberline Duplex now), save a while longer. All my hunting is done via backpacking and I've tried them all. I've had nothing but trouble with Badlands. Same with most of the other dedicated hunting packs. Mystery Ranch aren't bad but your spending as much or more than you would for a Kifaru and I much prefer the Kifaru. Nimrod makes good packs as well. Those are expensive too.
Blacks Creek are alright and can be had cheap right now. They have a good sizing system too. For an inexpensive pack that will do what you are asking, Blacks Creek Canadian may be the ticket. You can get one new for less than $150. The other option is a used Gregory Pro Series. The old style like a Robson Pro or Denali Pro. You can use the fitting instructions on the Gregory website and look for one on eBay.
FYI, there is no such thing as a comfortable backpack with over 75 lbs in it. That is uncomfortable work no matter what you are wearing. Most "hunting packs" suspension breaks down long before you reach 50 lbs anyway. I've found that square inches on your body means much more than thick padding for an effective suspension. And pack fit is the MOST important thing for comfort. If you have sore shoulders after a day hiking, either your pack doesn't fit or you don't know how to work the suspension. I've also found that most external frame packs ride too far from your body and when hauling heavy weight, off trail, the load can shift and cause you to fall. I stick to internal frames that hug the body.
I don't haul elk quarters on my back anymore. I use a sled. Works great even without snow. I can haul all the meat, antlers, hide etc. in a single trip. Much less work and much, much easier on the old body.