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Author Topic: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?  (Read 22209 times)

Offline KyleMB123

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Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« on: October 22, 2012, 03:40:55 PM »
What types of horses would be best for backcountry hunting and packing? I want to get into backcountry hunting, but I don't want to do it on my feet I want to do it on a horse. I can ride, but I know very little about horses with respect to the various breeds available. I want a horse with a good temperment and build for hunting and packing (i.e. strong and calm). I was looking at Percherons, but I don't know. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

I don't plan on buying a horse anytime soon because I don't have the land for it currently, but I plan on getting one eventually for this purpose.

Offline K357**

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2012, 03:42:52 PM »
Bump
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Offline 6x6in6

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2012, 04:15:27 PM »
Mules for the pack animal(s), for sure.
For riding, a mule is tough to beat there too.  That was difficult for me to admit being a horse guy. :chuckle:
If it's a horse you choose for your saddle animal, I prefer Quarter's. 
It's very hit and miss (more miss) with this breed but one of the very best trail horses I ever owned was an Arab.  Go figure....  :chuckle:
It's mostly about the breeding and the training. 
It's also like trucks and the Chevy/Ford/Dodge is better than the Chevy/Ford/Dodge thing.  Everyone has there opinions.  :)
Never ridden a Percheron so no real experience with them.
 

Offline KyleMB123

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2012, 04:33:51 PM »
Would a horse or mule be able to pack out an entire elk on its back with a rider?

Offline kentrek

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2012, 04:38:56 PM »
Would a horse or mule be able to pack out an entire elk on its back with a rider?

one elk + one rider on one mule ?? i dont think id wana go more than 300 pounds on a mule..ours start to get pretty stuborn if there loaded to much..ive road on a horse with half an elk underneath me..didnt seem to phase the horse much..big horse tho

a this is just my experiance and animals..lots a other stuff to consider such as distance, terrain,shape of the mules/horses

Offline RG

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2012, 04:49:08 PM »
Try to keep the total load to 200 lbs or less plus saddle and rigging.... unless you find a really big horse or mule then you can stretch that.  Standard loading is a half elk per pack animal plus a riding animal unless you load the stock and walk yourself.  I usually load my pack horse with 170 to 180 lbs plus saddles, etc. since she doesn't work every day for months at a time like the stock we used when I did it for a living.  Speaking of working every day, if you let your horse stand in the pasture all year then try to use it for a week at hunting season you are going to have a long season unless it's a pretty special horse.  The more you use them the better they are.  They can be your best friend and your worst enemy all within the same 5 minutes.
And I think God must be a cowboy at heart
 He made wide open spaces from the start
 He made grass and trees and mountains and a horse to be a friend
 And trails to lead ol' cowboys home again

Chris Ledoux...

Offline KyleMB123

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2012, 05:05:42 PM »
Would a Percheron be unwieldy in steep, rough, rocky terrain because it is a massive horse (2,500lbs) compared to the Quarter Horse or Morgan (1000lbs)? I want a horse that I can take anywhere, and if I have to load it up and walk out with a little on my back that is fine. I just don't want to have to take multiple trips on foot in and out. I want to have a one-way ticket out once I bag an animal.

@RG: Does that 200 lbs include a rider, or is that 200 lbs on top of the rider?

Offline Todd_ID

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2012, 05:21:21 PM »
Think of it this way: it takes a big, strong horse to carry a large person.  Many horses can't carry a 300# person; therefore, many horses can't carry 200# of elk and a kid let alone an adult.  Plan on needing 2 horses to pack an elk and you walk/lead them out; then ride one back and lead the other to bring camp out like you brought the elk out--walking/leading them.  If you want to ride, then you'll want 3 to be able to get an elk out in one trip.  If you want to bring out camp and an elk and ride in one trip, then bring 5 (and good luck getting the trailer needed to haul 5 into many of the backcountry trailheads).
Bring a GPS!  It's awkward to have to eat your buddies!

Offline RG

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2012, 06:38:37 PM »

@RG: Does that 200 lbs include a rider, or is that 200 lbs on top of the rider?

A horse carrying a rider can handle more weight since the rider, theoretically, works with the horse as they go along.  Packs are dead weight that just hangs there and is harder for the horse to handle.  (I've seen some riders that look like a sack of fertilizer on the horse though).  My riding horse is a 16 hand big quarter horse and he has no trouble with carrying my 190 lbs and a pretty heavy 65 year-old saddle that I ride.  I ride him a lot too so he's in shape.  My pack horse is a smaller quarter horse mare that spent her life as a reining/cutting horse.  She does well in the mountains because she's so athletic but she doesn't get used as much and is quite a bit older (18), so she's not in as good of shape.  I ride her too and she handles it fine but wouldn't do as well carrying me in the steep country without some more work, or more frequent rest stops.  Mules vary just as horses do.  I've had a smaller mule out of a mustang mare that was super to work with and very smart.  He carried about the same load as a horse.  I had a big 16 hand molly out of a thorobred mare that could probably handle 300 lbs if you didn't go too far.  She had a few more mule quirks but was still a great animal.  I have a little mule out of a POA pony, Sassy, who carries about 120 lbs on a sawbuck I rigged for her.  I've had her 22 years so she's part of the family.

Sometimes, when you consider all the up front and ongoing expense and potential vet bills, it's not too bad to spend some extra time riding that bicycle and pack it out on your back.  The pain goes away after a good meal and a nap and your life is easier.  Of course I got bit by the bug 30 years ago working on cattle ranches and as a guide/packer in several states and provinces so I can't help myself.  I feed horses all year round.

Sorry Jimmy but I'd probably just eat the goat when I got to camp..... that way nobody would see me packing it.  I can't help it, it's just the ego speaking again.  It's kind of like packing llamas, (Peruvian Camels).  I'd wear a different hat, and maybe a disguise...  Sorry
« Last Edit: October 23, 2012, 07:56:07 AM by RG »
And I think God must be a cowboy at heart
 He made wide open spaces from the start
 He made grass and trees and mountains and a horse to be a friend
 And trails to lead ol' cowboys home again

Chris Ledoux...

Offline WAcoyotehunter

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2012, 07:43:58 AM »
Would a horse or mule be able to pack out an entire elk on its back with a rider?
Definately not.  You'll need more horses.  Half an elk per horse is fair.  That's without a rider.

Big horses are not necessarily better at carrying loads.  Mules are generally stronger and more sure footed, but a bit tougher to train.  A good quarter horse that has experience in the hills is a good bet.  Keep them in shape and take care of them and they will take care of you.


Offline KyleMB123

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2012, 02:49:37 PM »
I was looking at Percheron/Quarter and Percheron/Morgan crosses. They are a 1300-1500lb horse. Would it be reasonable to assume a horse like that would be able to pack 25% of its body weight (325-375lbs) in meat, equipment, etc. or even 30% of its body weight?

Offline IBspoiled

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2012, 03:17:19 PM »
You also have to realize that you have to be able to get the packs on the animal and tie them down.  A Percheron is a pretty large animal.  We try to stick with our pack horses being in the 15 hand range.  But my husband has to load them with me helping him and I'm only 5'2 and have a hard time lifting heavy packs over my head. 

We generally pack our gear in with horses, leading them while we hike.  Our plan is always to lead them out if we get something and then ride back in and pack out camp the same way.  We actually have 4 horses and could ride two and pack two, but keeping 4 in camp just ad's to the load of what you have to bring in.  They have to eat too! 

Offline fillthefreezer

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2012, 03:19:26 PM »
its a tough question here, you want a tall  long legged horse for navigating blowdown etc but a short horse for easy loading... :dunno:

Offline WAcoyotehunter

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2012, 04:08:42 PM »
I don't know much about percherons.  They might be able to carry that much, but they might be too damn clusmy under weight... I don't know.

I would rather feed two normal sized horses than one great big one.

Offline 6x6in6

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2012, 04:29:23 PM »
This is right in-line with what RG said above.
Look at the last part, it nails it!  No simple answer. 
http://www.outfitterssupply.com/russon/how-much-weight.asp

Offline BurleyDog

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #15 on: October 23, 2012, 04:40:10 PM »
I have experience with large draft horses and draft mules.
I also have experience with trail horses.

I don't want to be a wet blanket or anything but based upon what I am hearing so far you should just quit the daydream now.  If you don't own pasture and have little exprience with horses/mules then your gonna end up with a very expensive hobby that you get very little from.


Offline WAcoyotehunter

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #16 on: October 23, 2012, 07:20:34 PM »
yeah- it's not worth owning them if you're just thinking about packing for a week or two a year.  Hire it out- it's going to be WAY cheaper in the long run. 
Unless you want to make a serious committment to owning them, you'll want to reconsider this idea.  Find some freinds with horses and spend some time around them to learn their limitations and your own limitations... and really take this seriously. Horses are a huge committment and (to be honest) a pain in the ass.

Offline Knocker of rocks

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #17 on: October 23, 2012, 07:41:20 PM »
Horses are a huge committment and (to be honest) a pain in the ass.

Especially in Enumclaw

Offline RG

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #18 on: October 23, 2012, 07:54:16 PM »
Horses are a huge commitment.  My comment earlier about riding a little extra on the bike all summer and backpacking the meat instead of trying to use horses was dead serious.  First you get the horse, that's not too expensive, maybe $1200-$2000 or so for a good experienced horse.  Then you find out he's herd bound and you need to get another one to keep him from losing his mind.  Now you can't get him home so you have to go buy a horse trailer.  Plan on $3000-$12000 depending on what you get.  Then you will figure out your truck can't haul that much so now you have to go buy a bigger truck.  After you get the horse home you figure out you need a saddle, $400-$1200 for a good one, don't buy junk!  Now if you want a pack saddle, panniers, and all the rigging plan on $450-750.  Then you have shoes every 6 weeks,  $95-$110.  Then you figure out that your pasture only feeds him part of the year.  Another $250-$350 per month for hay at todays prices.  Now you notice your horse is rubbing his butt on a tree, time to worm him, $15 per horse 3 or 4 times a year.  Then it's spring and time for shots $40 -$75 more.  That's the price for worming and shots if you do it yourself without a vet.  Then it's a wet winter and your horse starts limping.  You don't know it because he's your first horse but he has an abcess in a hoof.  Call the vet, $250-$450, or, if you already did this, your farrier, $100.  Now it's time to hunt.  Buy horse feed to pack in, probably 100 lbs. if you will have two horses in there for 5 days or so.  Now deduct 100 lbs from the weight you can pack for your camp.  If you didn't work your horses quite a bit all summer go pick up all the stuff they bucked off, then go try to find them again so you can repack it.  When you get to camp they have to be highlined at night and allowed to graze on grass 2 to 4 hours a day.  Picket, hobbles, portable electric corral?  What are they broke to do.  Then you get your elk, you just figured out the horse is afraid of blood.  Bone it out, bag it, stuff it in a pannier and hope the horse doesn't notice.  Otherwise you might not be able to get within 20 feet of him with a bloody carcass.

My point here is I speak from experience.  These are all realistic.  If you love the packer, horseman, cowboy lifestyle it will all be worth it to you.  As you become more experienced these problems will diminish and become non-issues.  I shoe my own horses, have found good discount hay, worm them, give them their shots, have a pretty horse proof pasture so I don't call the vet very often.  I have an old horse trailer that I keep refurbishing so it works well.  I already own all the tack that I could ever use.  My expense is much lower than it could be.  I still buy good hay and ride every week.  It's a commitment but I love it.  It may not be the right thing for you.
And I think God must be a cowboy at heart
 He made wide open spaces from the start
 He made grass and trees and mountains and a horse to be a friend
 And trails to lead ol' cowboys home again

Chris Ledoux...

Offline 6x6in6

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #19 on: October 23, 2012, 09:28:18 PM »
And that pretty much sums it up RG.  Great post!!!   :tup:

Offline kentrek

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #20 on: October 23, 2012, 09:56:05 PM »
Horses are a huge commitment.  My comment earlier about riding a little extra on the bike all summer and backpacking the meat instead of trying to use horses was dead serious.  First you get the horse, that's not too expensive, maybe $1200-$2000 or so for a good experienced horse.  Then you find out he's herd bound and you need to get another one to keep him from losing his mind.  Now you can't get him home so you have to go buy a horse trailer.  Plan on $3000-$12000 depending on what you get.  Then you will figure out your truck can't haul that much so now you have to go buy a bigger truck.  After you get the horse home you figure out you need a saddle, $400-$1200 for a good one, don't buy junk!  Now if you want a pack saddle, panniers, and all the rigging plan on $450-750.  Then you have shoes every 6 weeks,  $95-$110.  Then you figure out that your pasture only feeds him part of the year.  Another $250-$350 per month for hay at todays prices.  Now you notice your horse is rubbing his butt on a tree, time to worm him, $15 per horse 3 or 4 times a year.  Then it's spring and time for shots $40 -$75 more.  That's the price for worming and shots if you do it yourself without a vet.  Then it's a wet winter and your horse starts limping.  You don't know it because he's your first horse but he has an abcess in a hoof.  Call the vet, $250-$450, or, if you already did this, your farrier, $100.  Now it's time to hunt.  Buy horse feed to pack in, probably 100 lbs. if you will have two horses in there for 5 days or so.  Now deduct 100 lbs from the weight you can pack for your camp.  If you didn't work your horses quite a bit all summer go pick up all the stuff they bucked off, then go try to find them again so you can repack it.  When you get to camp they have to be highlined at night and allowed to graze on grass 2 to 4 hours a day.  Picket, hobbles, portable electric corral?  What are they broke to do.  Then you get your elk, you just figured out the horse is afraid of blood.  Bone it out, bag it, stuff it in a pannier and hope the horse doesn't notice.  Otherwise you might not be able to get within 20 feet of him with a bloody carcass.


oh an then after all that peaple will still get mad at you when you wont go pack there elk out for em... :bash: :bash: :bash:

Offline KyleMB123

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #21 on: October 24, 2012, 12:55:11 AM »
Thanks for all of the info. I think I'll just hire them out when I need them.

Offline RG

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #22 on: October 24, 2012, 08:10:36 AM »
Thanks for all of the info. I think I'll just hire them out when I need them.


Do what the smart guys do, find a hunting partner who has horses.
And I think God must be a cowboy at heart
 He made wide open spaces from the start
 He made grass and trees and mountains and a horse to be a friend
 And trails to lead ol' cowboys home again

Chris Ledoux...

Offline JPhelps

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #23 on: October 24, 2012, 08:20:30 AM »
Thanks for all of the info. I think I'll just hire them out when I need them.


Do what the smart guys do, find a hunting partner who has horses.

Or just hire an outfitter to drop you off and pick you up.  Way cheaper than owning them and a lot less headache.

At least that is how I justified it on my trip. ;)

Offline Yak-NDN

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #24 on: October 31, 2012, 08:11:05 PM »
If you do decide to get horses go with BLM you can't beat them.

 

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