Farthest You've Packed An Elk


Jul 17, 2002
Hamilton MT
In the salmon hunting thread there was some talk about how far is too far to pack an elk. One person even indicated there was nowhere too far or too rugged for him to pack an elk, cuz he is tuff and eats bugs and stuff. Others said they simply wouldnt pull the trigger?

Whats the farthest/toughest that you have done?

Ive done lots of them on horse and backpack, but the toughest was back in the early 1990s, about 8 to 10 miles packing meat on a packboard. But it was on a decent trail.
A mans got to know his limitations. Let's here some
In 1998, we were hunting elk in Arizona. I shot a bull across the third canyon back from the road. In a straight line, the distance was about 2 1/2 miles. In consideration of the vertical distances covered, I would guess it was close to 5 miles. We had to cross three canyons and a large flat. I shot the elk just past noon on a Saturday and we packed out the last meat on Monday morning. It was three men making four trips each. One pack trip Saturday night. One Sunday morning, and one Sunday afternoon. Then the last trip on Monday morning.

I packed a whole 6pt in one trip 15 miles up hill both ways... didn't have no shoes either. ;)

Personally I havn't packed an elk on my back and don't plan on it if I can help it. The only thing I've packed on my back is a couple antelope and a few deer. I'm just not that tough or stupid how ever you look at it to want to pack an elk out on my back. No matter what the size, I'll go find some horses some where or have some lined up and waiting... I

generaly don't like hunting from horses either, but have no problems packing in camp with them... During bow season I usually pack in with a camp on my back and go from there, If I get one on the ground I'll get it cooled out as best I can, pack up camp and head out for the horses. Be back in first thing in the morning or that afternoon if possible and pack it out.

I've shot some elk in some real shit holes and have had to drag them for a ways before I could get to a spot to load them... but I've also pulled quite a few with a horse to get them to a loading area too...

I grew up spoiled with the use of horses for elk hunting, I just couldn't imagine not having a couple at my fingertips to take care of business. This fall could be a diffrent story how ever. I won't have horses available for my elk hunt in CO, but for a cow I'll be a little pickey and try and get one close to a road...

Horses are key equipment for elk packing IMO. I think the farthest we've "packed" an elk on horses is about 12-13 miles... Average is about 4. The furthest I've drug one is about two miles or so...

I love hunting elk, but just not bad enough to pack one on my back for 10 miles...
buzz shot one off the road once then packed it 5 miles into the wilderness dumped it then packed it back out!
I helped another guide pack a bull after everyone was tagged out, with mules, and I don't know how far it was but it took 6 hours to get back to camp once we got him loaded. usually when you go to pack a bull you sleep in, pack a trail jug, and enjoy the day. That time we left in the dark and got back in the dark. It was one of those shoot the bull in the ass and see how far he goes and how many bullets you can shoot deals. I bet that bull was 15 miles from camp by the time they finally killed him. keep in mind also that "camp" in this case is 27 miles from the trail head, so it ends up being a 30 mile pack for almost any bull by the time he gets in the back of pickup and headed for town.

Another time I had two hunters kill two nice bulls right together. I had no help, except hold the occassional leg, and it took me all day to get the skinning caping and quartering done. The next day it took me all day to get the bulls out, probably 10 miles from camp. By the time I got back, the cook had let them shoot a couple dink mulyes right from camp, so we tagged out while I was packing meat. We looked like sanford and son coming out of the woods with all those bucks and bulls plus coolers and gear on 6 head. Its common in that country to ride 2-3 hours from camp in the early days of the hunt and then hunt closer s the hunt goes on. so you can get some bulls down a long ways from camp if you kill early.

[ 06-16-2004, 06:46: Message edited by: ARCAT ]
4 miles, mostly uphill due to the fact it died in a basin. made the first mile back to camp and the rest the next morning. 2 guys one haul.
Well, I packed a large cow .5 miles up a canyon to a road, as well as a 6 pt. about a mile down a 2000 foot sand dune. I don't know which one was harder. Yes, there is a limit to how far I pack an elk on my back, that limit is greatly increased if I have several 4 legged friends to help, or Moosie.

My Son and I shot a big cow in a saddle between two peaks. She was about 1.5 miles straight up from the truck (GPS). We quartered her, took the back straps and head. We made it in two trips. We shot her around 10 AM and got the last load in around 6 PM if memory serves. That was my first pack it out adventure, no horses just us. I'll do it again if I have to. It's all part of the adventure.
Killed 5 all meat pack jobs (except 1 cow)

5pt bull in canyon, thats a bad thing, all day huge bodied Rosie bull 2 guys, 8hrs pack, vertical 1/4 mi, killer absolutely worst pack, rain, and we were new, I'll never pack bones again.
3pt bull 1/2 mi 2 guys EZ pack about 4-5 hrs from kill to truck boned out.
2-Spike bull's, just me packing, about 1/4 mi or so down to truck in timber not bad all boned out about 5hrs each, 2 packs each time boned meat so heavy packs.
The best pack, a cell phone cow, 2weeks over bowhunting eastern WA,had 1 shot, missed, last day heading home, 5th wheel on truck , 250 yds before we get to the on-ramp to I-90 at Taneum creek, cows in field, saw one hung up in a fence,poor cow had 2 broken legs from coming down an irrigation flume (no sh*t !) I grabbed my bow and went to put her out of her misery,my partner say don't do it, everything is posted there next to the main rd,I didn't want a ticket/game violation, so I called the game cop on cell phone, he showed up and he shot her in the head, we tagged her at his OK, backed the truck and 5th wheel right down an access rd to her, boned her out and into the big white coolers she went.
Farthest was nearly 7 miles, three of us one elk. One hunter had heel spurs and a bad hip, so I had to bring my pack ahead of them and drop it and go back to help the other one. Did this all the way out and it was the worse pack I had ever done. That was the last elk done onmy back and now I have a horse so don't really care how far it is. Getting too old to do all that packing anymore and horses are saving my back now.
how many pack goats does it take to pack an average bull out? Do you string em together or run em loose? Do you feed em or just let em graze and water them selves? What do you wear while packing goats ie. cowboy hat and duster, treehugger gear, or a sheepherders garb and a staff?
LOL Rocky...
It has nothing to do with being tough, it has every thing to do with ethics. These are the places I like to hunt, don't have access to horses, and if you shoot some thing, you process it up, no matter the phisical costs. Plus I like the work outs. It's all personal choice, and not about being tougher than any one else... ;)
There are a few on the board that are much 'tougher' than I...
Well, I'm just dumb and ambitious enough right now that I'll pack one from ANYWHERE.......ONCE. I dont know if I'll be gung ho to do it again, but right now I"ll chase a bull into anywhere and try and kill him.

I have some access to horses if the owner isn't too busy hunting (right rocky?) and I also have access to a nice little herd of 8 pack goats. So....I probably wont have any real backbreaking packs ahead of me, no matter where I go, that is kind of a good feeling!

Danr 55, are you honestly telling me it took you guys 12 trips to get one elk out?? I've only packed one bull out and one cow out. The cow I drug, by myself, downhill for about 1/2 mile, then very slighly downhill on a log road for 1/2 mile. The bull, I packed head, cape, antlers, front shoulders, the rest boned out meat, to the truck in 3 trips. It was about 80 pounds per trip. It was about 2 miles. If it'd been a big bull and further distance, I am sure I could have done it in 5 trips. How did it take 12? Not trying to be an asshole, that just sounds like a lot of trips!
I packed my bull last year out in 4 backpacks of boned meat. But i have a huge ass, which helps on the up hill

I think it would take about 32.7 packgoats to get an elk out. They string out about 4 miles, so some of them are actually at the truck while the others are loading
Yeah, I am generally in some garb similar to what Jesus wore when I'm packgoating....

The goats average about 40-50 pounds. Some carry 70, some thirty, most about 50. If I went in with 4 goats we could pack a bull out of ANYWHERE! They'd have about 200 pounds of boned meat, I'd have upwards of 70 pounds on my back depending on how big he was I guess. If he was a giant bull and I needed more goats, then I'd take 5 or 6 in.

You just walk and they follow you. They can survive on most any food in the elk woods, just bring few treats for them. Its $$$$!

Rockydog is a tough bastard, he usually ends up packing more than his horse does when he gets an elk.
I can really picture you in the jesus robe with the goats, and a huge elk rack on your back. It would probably make the cover of Bugle, or Hemp Magazine, whichever, if you grew your hair and beard out too.

In reality, i wont shoot an elk anywhere that i cant pull him to a road with the winch. My winch cable is 2 miles long.
The hardest pack I've ever done was also the the closest. I had a hunter shoot a bull that was alone right up in the rocks with the sheep. He wasn't more than 300 yards away but the canyon between us must have been 1000 ft deep. The creek in the bottom was 20 yards wide and maybe 4 ft deep. it was also novmeber, and cold and snowy. There was no way to get mules to him, and the hunter wasn't all that interested in helping either. We got to the bottom OK, fell in the icy creek as the bottom was frozen, and worked hard enough climbing up the icy cliffs to keep warm. it took 2 hours to get to him. the photos have us with icicles hanging from our clothes. It took another tow hours to get him taken care of and even more time to get the cape and rack back across and up the hill. It took me and the camp jack two days, 1 trip each per day is all we could manage due to the short daylight that time of year, to get what the birds didn't eat. There was no way to cross that creek withou falling in. I can tell you that camp robbers, ravens and eagles can eat alot of meat in two days and we were grateful for every mouthful they ate. The bull was a dandy, but hardly worth the effort when it was all over.
Sounds like a burner. Wouldnt it be nice if there were just a road or an ATV trail into those areas were the big bulls are?
When I was a KID I'd walk Miles and miles hunting Elk, Good thing I sucked. Now that I'm OLD I try to keep it under a mile, I've packed(back packed) one out a mile and a half, Thought I was going to DIE. I'll never do that again. I'll hier some one to do it, or try to convince him to walk back to the truck with me and maybe crall in side too!!!

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