PEAX Equipment

Horses in elk country

Buckskinbob

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I'm hoping to start a thread where you horse savvy elk hunters will give tips and tricks to using horses for hunting elk.

I've had a crash course in using horses in the backcountry this year and I know I'm not being as efficient or effective as I could be.

We've had a few wrecks and a few things a pro probably could have avoided easily, but like they say, experience is what you get right after you need it!

How do you guys make it worth it to take stock with you? I know they make more work and there is no way around that, but how do you do it effectively.

Are you hunting from the back of your ride or are you just using them to pack in and hunting from foot?

Do you pack in the whole deal, (canvas tent, stove, real food, bedroles) or do you pack light like you are back packing?

Do you prefer a highline, or picket, or electric fence? Hobbles? We have been highlining two while leaving the third loose, and rotating them. Is that a big risk? Or can you rely on the third horse to stick around always?

Is there always a wreck when dealing with horses? Or does it ever go smoothly?!?!

Do any of you use burros or mules? Do you ride them or just walk them while they carry all the gear?

I dont expect all my questions to cover everything, im really just looking for your collective wisdom on everything that is involved in using stock in the backcountry.

yes the horses are in the care of someone who is experienced with horses and has the means to do it, im fairly experienced in the back country but we have had a few hard lessons trying to bring our capabilities together for this purpose.

Also the more pics the better!

thanks in advance!!Snapchat-1311705000.jpg
 
I'm hoping to start a thread where you horse savvy elk hunters will give tips and tricks to using horses for hunting elk.

I've had a crash course in using horses in the backcountry this year and I know I'm not being as efficient or effective as I could be.

We've had a few wrecks and a few things a pro probably could have avoided easily, but like they say, experience is what you get right after you need it!

How do you guys make it worth it to take stock with you? I know they make more work and there is no way around that, but how do you do it effectively.

Are you hunting from the back of your ride or are you just using them to pack in and hunting from foot?

Do you pack in the whole deal, (canvas tent, stove, real food, bedroles) or do you pack light like you are back packing?

Do you prefer a highline, or picket, or electric fence? Hobbles? We have been highlining two while leaving the third loose, and rotating them. Is that a big risk? Or can you rely on the third horse to stick around always?

Is there always a wreck when dealing with horses? Or does it ever go smoothly?!?!

Do any of you use burros or mules? Do you ride them or just walk them while they carry all the gear?

I dont expect all my questions to cover everything, im really just looking for your collective wisdom on everything that is involved in using stock in the backcountry.

yes the horses are in the care of someone who is experienced with horses and has the means to do it, im fairly experienced in the back country but we have had a few hard lessons trying to bring our capabilities together for this purpose.

Also the more pics the better!

thanks in advance!!View attachment 291032
Where bouts you located bob? Place looks familiar!

Wish I could help with the horse thing. I just cannot wait for a horseback hunt in my lifetime.
 

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Where bouts you located bob? Place looks familiar!

Wish I could help with the horse thing. I just cannot wait for a horseback hunt in my lifetime.
That pic was taken in the pintlars this summer definitely looks similar!

I'm in missoula, soon to be the other side of the continental divide, you?
 
All I know is one person gets to hunt and the other watches the horses.
Then you switch.
Otherwise they twist off and bolt for the trailhead, hobbled or not.
We had one incident where we packed up a horse and by the time we were done saddling up the other two we realized he was gone, backtracked about five miles and found him in the brush with the pack underneath him. Had to lead him several miles past where he split before he realized we weren't gonna head for the trailer that day
 
Horses are the bees knees, as long as they are someone else's headache when the hunt is over! JK! I worked for outfitters off and on for 20 years in between concrete and ski patrol. Was blessed to have worked with some mighty fine mountain stock! I learned from professionals so I was able to keep my rodeos and mishaps to a minimum. Only have a few busted ribs to remind me of the mishaps! Glad I got to do all that stuff when I was younger. Sounds like you guys are starting out ok, takes awhile for everything to work into place ! The high line works great , but I would not leave one roaming around too long and once they learn to run with hobbles, you best put on your jogging shoes on and hope you shut the last drift fence! I am sure some old pros will weigh in when they can!
 
We elk hunt most years with horses here in Oregon. We pack in a big camp with 2 canvas tents, food for 5 people and everything needed to hunt for a week. We use a highline and that seems to work great. We are 8 miles back in and I usually just hunt by foot from camp until I get an elk down and then use the horses to retrieve and pack elk back to camp and then to the trailhead later in the hunt. The two older guys in our group will ride the ridge tops and "hunt" along the way, but it's mostly just an enjoyable horse ride for them.

Horses are alot of work, but I've come to enjoy it and it does make for a comfortable camp. I get up early every morning and feed the horses and then leave to hunt on foot. In the evening when I get back, I'll take them to water and feed them again.

Seems like we always have at least one wreck during the week but when you're packing in 6-8 horses with several trips to and from the trailhead to camp, that is to be expected.

Horses aren't for everyone, but I don't know how you'd get an elk out of some of those places on your back. Sounds like you are on the right track. Good luck!
 
Horses are the bees knees, as long as they are someone else's headache when the hunt is over! JK! I worked for outfitters off and on for 20 years in between concrete and ski patrol. Was blessed to have worked with some mighty fine mountain stock! I learned from professionals so I was able to keep my rodeos and mishaps to a minimum. Only have a few busted ribs to remind me of the mishaps! Glad I got to do all that stuff when I was younger. Sounds like you guys are starting out ok, takes awhile for everything to work into place ! The high line works great , but I would not leave one roaming around too long and once they learn to run with hobbles, you best put on your jogging shoes on and hope you shut the last drift fence! I am sure some old pros will weigh in when they can!
Did you ever use electric fence?

Fortunately I havnt broken anything but a few of the wrecks have left me in the dirt wishing I had put my hiking boots on instead that morning
 
We elk hunt most years with horses here in Oregon. We pack in a big camp with 2 canvas tents, food for 5 people and everything needed to hunt for a week. We use a highline and that seems to work great. We are 8 miles back in and I usually just hunt by foot from camp until I get an elk down and then use the horses to retrieve and pack elk back to camp and then to the trailhead later in the hunt. The two older guys in our group will ride the ridge tops and "hunt" along the way, but it's mostly just an enjoyable horse ride for them.

Horses are alot of work, but I've come to enjoy it and it does make for a comfortable camp. I get up early every morning and feed the horses and then leave to hunt on foot. In the evening when I get back, I'll take them to water and feed them again.

Seems like we always have at least one wreck during the week but when you're packing in 6-8 horses with several trips to and from the trailhead to camp, that is to be expected.

Horses aren't for everyone, but I don't know how you'd get an elk out of some of those places on your back. Sounds like you are on the right track. Good luck!
They are most definitely some handy creatures to have around.

How much time do you usually plan to spend packing your camp in and out? the one part that always gets me is that I know I could pack my camp in on my back faster and with less frustrations. Man is it nice when I am frying a steak though instead of boiling water for a dehydrated meal.
 
They are most definitely some handy creatures to have around.

How much time do you usually plan to spend packing your camp in and out? the one part that always gets me is that I know I could pack my camp in on my back faster and with less frustrations. Man is it nice when I am frying a steak though instead of boiling water for a dehydrated meal.
It takes us two trips to get everything in so we usually start 2-3 days before season. Coming out we can get it all in one load (no human or horse feed) if we've shuttled elk quarters to the trailhead during the week already. Definitely faster and less frustration without the horses but the comforts in camp and the ease of getting an elk out 8 miles make it worth it.

Having said that, if my buddy that has the horses didn't love having/dealing with them year round, it wouldn't be doable. I've had horses of my own and the year round work wasn't worth the week or two a year that I actually used them. My buddy is in his 70's now and one day he'll be gone as will my horse days I'm afraid.
 
We have mules. You need to really love the riding, packing, wrangling side of the hunt; in addition to the hunting, for it to make sense imo. I have always highlined ours in the past. Next time out, I will be packing electric fence to provide a grazing area in addition to the highline. They need more time off the line grazing to put their mind at ease. The ability to get back in there on stock is phenomenal, but it comes at a cost of time spent tending to the animals instead of hunting. We've had a few wrecks, but certainly nowhere near every time out. Practicing in the off season is key to preventing that.
 
Somebody in camp must be knowledge about horses!!!

If you or anyone in camp is not comfortable riding, let them walk the horse in. Bear in mind the horse will walk faster than you.

Use 3 legged hobbles.
The best way to avoid train wrecks is to buy good pack saddles and distribute the weight equally on both sides.
Always stop and readjust the minute you see a load looking like it shifted. Even if you just readjusted it. Guaranteed rodeo if you continue.
Never Grain them before riding them, grain them at the end of the day.
Always pay attention to the horse in front of you.
Don't let your lead rope get under the tail.
If horse wants to lay down or roll, the cinch is too tight or the horse is overloaded. Eitherway - ADDRESS it right NOW!
When you get to camp, the 1st thing you do after tying up your horse is get your gun out of the scabbard, and then immediately start unloading the pack horses. There will be time for drinking the beer you packed in later. Take care of your horses 1st!
Tie them high and tight at night. Any horse whining in the night, means one got loose.

Just a few words of wisdom off the top of my head.

Almost all rodeos are preventable!
 
The better half started the local chapter of Back Country horseman a lifetime ago. I have to imagine you would find a similar organization where you are. Be a great place to make some friends. Also still involved in local search and rescue. Every summer about this time there is at least one horse wreak the involves life flight out of the Eagle Cap Wilderness.
I’ve given up on using horses, even in hells canyon too damn much work:)
 
The only time I ever had problems with horses is when I borrowed one.
The main problem I see now a days. No one rides or works with their horses year round. I rode most every day and knew my horses and my horses knew me.
I know life gets in the way of what usually needs done.
At 19 my girlfriend and I rode into Chamberlin Basin with 3 horses and never had a problem.
Know your horses and equipment and how to use both.
Horses don't get anything out of their feed until it's ready to go through the intestines. So they need to eat a lot of the time. Pack pellets if you have to but they need to eat and they need a lot of water when feeding pellets.
It's been too long since I've had horses and used them. I miss them everyday. So my information is somewhat outdated but still useable.
 
The better half started the local chapter of Back Country horseman a lifetime ago. I have to imagine you would find a similar organization where you are. Be a great place to make some friends. Also still involved in local search and rescue. Every summer about this time there is at least one horse wreak the involves life flight out of the Eagle Cap Wilderness.
I’ve given up on using horses, even in hells canyon too damn much work:)
I'll have to look into the groups around here!
 
Thanks you all for chiming in I will try and keep this updated with lessons learned and what not over the coming season.
 
I personally thinks it about raising a horse from a foal and spending daily time invested into them. I think a person is asThe only time I ever had problems with horses is when I borrowed one.
The main problem I see now a days. No one rides or works with their horses year round. I rode most every day and knew my horses and my horses knew me.
I know life gets in the way of what usually needs done.
At 19 my girlfriend and I rode into Chamberlin Basin with 3 horses and never had a problem.
Know your horses and equipment and how to use both.
Horses don't get anything out of their feed until it's ready to go through the intestines. So they need to eat a lot of the time. Pack pellets if you have to but they need to eat and they need a lot of water when feeding pellets.
It's been too long since I've had horses and used them. I miss them everyday. So my information is somewhat outdated but still useable.
i agree with the part of knowing/using your horses. I see so many horses as pasture pets that never get ridden, ground worked, or just spending time around. People talk about the added work, but I enjoy them every week, and it doesn’t seem to take more than 30 minutes to an hour max per day to care for them. A horse can really turn into a nice trustworthy animal in 30-60 minutes of training/riding a few times a week.

I wouldn’t personally own a horse if it wasnt a pet/riding animal for most of the year, and then got to maybe pack out an elk once or twice a year. It wouldn’t be worth it to only own an horse for a week or two of hunting. And I’m not a big fan of riding someone else’s horse. I had two horses previously (22 years ago and 9 years ago) that were purchased when they were older and supposedly “trained” and have raised/trained two since weanlings and I wouldn’t trade these younger horses for one older supposedly broke horses. Best of luck, and I’m not a experienced horseman
 
Did you ever use electric fence?

Fortunately I havnt broken anything but a few of the wrecks have left me in the dirt wishing I had put my hiking boots on instead that morning
We used electric from time to time , but our big camps all had corrals next to water. They had to be approved by the Forest Service, and they were quite a bit of work, but the horses were better off for it. There is always a pecking order with horses and every now and again "Butch" had to spend the night tied high and tight! The wrecks are not permissible (but still can happen) when one is working with seasoned cowboys and horsemen/women. The worst that usually happened on the trail to or from the trailhead was some horse breaking the break aways, and it was a matter of getting them tied up again to the horse in front of them.
 
That pic was taken in the pintlars this summer definitely looks similar!

I'm in missoula, soon to be the other side of the continental divide, you?
It does look very similar, but not the same! I’m in Bozeman, picture in the Gallatin Range. Where ya heading? Good luck with the move!
 
There's a lot of work with them. The one guided hunting trip I did we had horses to get us into the backcountry. They had a wrangler with to tend to the horses every day while we were hunting. They require a lot of attention!
 
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