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Author Topic: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?  (Read 23767 times)

Offline MountainWalk

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #25 on: November 01, 2012, 01:58:42 AM »
do you even have an idea as to how you plan on packing it out? panniers? mantied? decker sawbuck?
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Offline RG

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #26 on: November 01, 2012, 04:41:21 AM »
do you even have an idea as to how you plan on packing it out? panniers? mantied? decker sawbuck?

All of the above.  Deckers are most common but sawbucks do the same thing.  Panniers are also the most common for most people although professional packers manty their loads more often than not.  I saw a package on craigslist for around $650 that, if memory serves me right, had a decker and some panniers and maybe a few other assorted goodies.  It's still cheaper to do the drop camp.  I think Icicle Outfitters does them in the Entiat for around 800 to 900 per person or so and Norsepeak's outfit is probably around the same for the Chinook Pass area.  That's  cheaper than hay for a year.
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Offline Yak-NDN

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #27 on: November 02, 2012, 10:28:10 AM »
I couldn't imagine not having horses they are allot of money but in who's mind? I can load up headed to the hills 45min drive stop and grab food and drinks and spend the weekend horseback. (cheep weekend if you ask me) If I'm not horse back my weekend's are allot more expensive than that.  If you use horses the cost is offset in my opinion. When they just sit and are not used is when you feel the cost but when you are a horse person you don't see it as a money pit or a burden you see it as a way of life.

Offline RG

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #28 on: November 02, 2012, 10:44:00 AM »
I couldn't imagine not having horses they are allot of money but in who's mind? I can load up headed to the hills 45min drive stop and grab food and drinks and spend the weekend horseback. (cheep weekend if you ask me) If I'm not horse back my weekend's are allot more expensive than that.  If you use horses the cost is offset in my opinion. When they just sit and are not used is when you feel the cost but when you are a horse person you don't see it as a money pit or a burden you see it as a way of life.

Absolutely.  If the bug bites you, you're pretty much helpless.  It's like elk hunting.  Then elk hunting with your horses, I have the tattoo for that one.
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 alecvg

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #29 on: November 26, 2012, 03:41:41 PM »
Mules for packing for sure.  My favorite I have used for riding is a half draft half quarter horse.  Hell of a horse.
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Offline LARK

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #30 on: March 26, 2014, 12:00:36 PM »
For the back country, I ride a mammoth (15.2 hands) donkey.  Smart, smooth, very even disposition, long-lived, easy keeping and tough.  Pound for pound a donk can carry more weight, responsibly than a horse or mule. Great personalities.  Also, they can utilize a wider variety of the plants, brush, forbes and grasses in the backcountry than either a horse or mule.  Mammoth donkeys come in all sizes from 14 to exceeding 17 hands.  I like mules also.

There are good horses out there, but being green as you are I'd get a mammoth donkey or a mule, stay away from the horses.

Offline bearpaw

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #31 on: March 26, 2014, 12:48:08 PM »
There's a lot of good advice so far, especially about there being a lot of work and cost involved with horses. Maybe someone mentioned it and I missed it but you also need to trim feet regularly and you need to shoe them before taking them on a hunting trip. Toughest thing is finding good horses and keeping them good. There is a ton of hobby horses that are rarely used and have tons of bad habits. Not all riding horses will pack, so make sure you get horses that will do both. My advice is find a friend who knows horses very well to help you find decent animals. Once you find a good horse then you need to ride and care for it often to keep it a good horse.

I used to keep several of my own horses and a mule and rent additional horses during hunting season. I finally sold my horses and now rent all the horses I need from a guy who does family horseback rides all summer. I get mostly the same horses every year, they have been ridden a lot, there are no surprises.

One of my all time favorite mountain horses is Quarter/Percheron cross, he probably weighs 1200-1300, I weigh in at 240ish, that horse could carry me, saddle, saddle bags, and back pack, all day in the most rugged country. Another really stout horse that wasn't so tall was a Quarter/Morgan cross. There are a couple other large horses I use that are Quarter/Draft horse cross. I've put 400 pound riders on them before. I did pack three cow elk on three horses once, but they were all good sized horses, the elk were quartered, and I only had to go a few miles in easy terrain. Normally I put 1/2 elk per horse.

Final advice, get help finding good animals, learn proper care, and be sure you are ready for the cost and commitment.  :twocents:
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Offline Machias

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #32 on: March 28, 2014, 09:55:57 AM »
Persheron Mule



My saddle mule Abbey





Getting ready to go up into the Salmo Priest area for some trail clearing



We all got caught in a huge thunderstorm and hail storm.  Temps dropped from the upper 70s to the upper 40s in less than an hour.  Shivered all the way down the mountain!!





Hey LARK, look familiar?  :)





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Offline Machias

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #33 on: March 28, 2014, 10:03:00 AM »
A couple more of LARK's Mammoth Donkey



Me and Denny (Calvin) waiting on the Judges  I think he was genuinely interested!!  :) 


Fred Moyer


History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.

Offline Machias

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #34 on: March 28, 2014, 10:08:04 AM »
Of course you could always end up like this and I bet you don't bend like she does!!  :)

Started off nice and then the little donkey broke away and headed for the exit gate!!!











Fred Moyer


History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.

Offline REHJWA

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #35 on: May 13, 2014, 09:35:59 AM »
I don't bend like that any more :o...ouch

Offline stevemiller

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #36 on: June 21, 2014, 12:34:13 AM »
Your mules are awsome,That said a quarter horse would fit your needs best.  :twocents: Appies are nice but flighty in my op.Arabs are to small not a good stock horse if you will.Mules are hard to come by.So left is a good Quarter horse.They dont break the bank when you buy them and you can depend on them to be your other best friend.
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Offline Redneck Russell

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #37 on: June 25, 2014, 03:20:40 PM »
That us a big mule
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Offline Piscatory_5

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #38 on: December 26, 2014, 10:03:18 PM »
I was considering using my horse to hunt in road closure areas, just day hunts. But i keep wondering what to do with him if i need to start following some tracks. Tie him up, hobble, small rope corral, or just let him wander. Seemed like to much trouble so i walk. Cannot shoot off him anyway, rifle or bow. As for biking in, I did a lot of mtb trail riding and to be honest it is not more efficient than just walking. If you think about it in addition to all the hunting gear, you have the 30lb bike to propel up and down the road so that is like an extra 30lb you are carrying. Then what do you do if you get a deer or elk ; not practical to ride it out on the bike.

Offline 6x6in6

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #39 on: December 26, 2014, 10:20:53 PM »
I prefer to highline mine.  I keep a 20' rope, a lightweight pair of tree saver straps and a knot saver in the saddle bags.  2nd choice would be just tying him up.

Offline steen

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #40 on: December 27, 2014, 02:50:31 PM »
Love my Arabs but they are not for everyone.  Much more thinner skinned and could be a problem for packing and lighter bodied animal but they will go forever on not so much feed. We take them up to the Pasayten every 3 years with 2015 or next goal year. Definately not cheap and I hear about it regularly but I can't live without a horse or an Arab.





Offline Little Dave

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #41 on: December 27, 2014, 11:08:43 PM »
Another picture I had from trail clearing with Machias.
This is right before the thunderstorm.

Offline 6x6in6

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #42 on: December 29, 2014, 09:35:58 AM »
Love my Arabs but they are not for everyone.  Much more thinner skinned and could be a problem for packing and lighter bodied animal but they will go forever on not so much feed. We take them up to the Pasayten every 3 years with 2015 or next goal year. Definately not cheap and I hear about it regularly but I can't live without a horse or an Arab.
I would agree.  We have 3-1/2 Arabs.  :chuckle:  The 1/2 has quarter in him.
So many people think Arab's are whacked out.  Many are courtesy of breeding (people and the horse).  A well conditioned Arab is pretty tough to beat on a long and tough trail ride.

Offline boneaddict

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #43 on: December 29, 2014, 09:43:21 AM »
I always just tied the up.  Thankfully I didn't have any neurotic diggers.  Then I would have went highline I suppose.   It was usually for short duration stints on a mountainside.   Back at camp we always used a highline.

Offline 6x6in6

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #44 on: December 29, 2014, 09:54:51 AM »
If I can highline an Arab mare in heat - by herself and in completely unfamiliar in the middle of nowhere country - anyone can highline.
OK, that's as close to slamming an Arab as I'll get.   :chuckle:

Offline lokidog

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #45 on: December 29, 2014, 11:22:20 AM »
And then your new pack horse/mule slips and breaks its neck the first time out....  I met some guys who this happened to, they ended up butchering the horse up since they were out for meat.  😉

Growing up, my grandfather raised Arabians, he had a three quarter Arab, one quarter Quarter horse that would do anything you asked.  But I also learned what a PITA keeping them is and how expensive they are.

Offline AKHUNT

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #46 on: December 29, 2014, 11:57:16 AM »
Owning horses is sort of like owning an airplane. It's not a hobby, it's a lifestyle.  They take some amount of work everyday, hunting season or not. You also need to keep them conditioned and work them. We own Morgans and they do great at hunting and packing. Pretty cheap to feed vs some other breeds and tend to be calm and good at picking their footing. During the hunt, when we are calling moose or going after something, we high line if there is time. Otherwise we just tie them ( high and short is the rule here). I don't prefer this as some horses are great escape artists. We keep them on high lines and behind an electric fence in camp. We have to worry about brownies up here.

Offline Jaques Bonet

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #47 on: December 29, 2014, 12:34:57 PM »
Save your self the time, pain, and money , hire a Packer.  Use an outfitter, you will spend as much money or more in the long run, and  hunt a lot more. If you feel the need to look the part Buy a cowboy Hat. Been there done that. If you feel the need then contact me, I've got a real nice pair of chaps, you will need them.

Offline Machias

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #48 on: December 29, 2014, 03:53:56 PM »
 :chuckle:
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Offline Piscatory_5

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Re: Horses for backcountry hunting and packing?
« Reply #49 on: December 30, 2014, 12:37:17 PM »
Both our horses are Quarabs, and they sometimes are a little jumpy but controllable. We trail ride frequently enough that they are used to it but not conditioned well enough for a back country hunt. I was just thinking of day hunts riding him in a few miles on gated roads. Gives him some exercise and it seems game animals are not as afraid of them as they are a hunter on foot. I don't think he would do well tied for very long, half hour or so. Never highlined either of them. We did lose a papered purebred Arab couple years ago cause he was tied too long -  wrapped up in the rope and went down. He pulled something in the groin area even though we untied him and got him up in about 15 seconds. Wouldn't put weight on a bind leg and was holding it out to the side. Died about a week later. I think i would prefer a nice lethargic QH for back country.