Hunting with Horses.......

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Deerslayer

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So what do you guys think about hunting with horses?
I know many of you have used them on occasion, so what is your opinions on what they can add or take away from the hunt?
There is also debate about trail damage and such, and damage from overuse in horse camps.......what's your take?

They can sure get you in away from the crowds, and makes hunting daily covering several square miles no problem at all....

....not to mention how effortless they make getting game out once you've punched your tag.


All the "creature comforts" in a backcountry camp is simply a matter of loading the ponies.....

.....although there is also some extra work that comes along with having horses in camp.....but I think their invaluable in many situations.

So let's hear some of your experiences, both good and bad, with horses. Surely there are a few good "horse wreck" storied out there:lol
 

JoseCuervo

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DS,

Here is the worst story I have had, with horses in camp. About 4 years back, we took two horses up on the Clearwater, and one of them was a young 3 year old, that was developing into a good little horse. On about the 4th day, just before dark, I dumped an Elk. We split it open, gutted it, and went back to camp, about 2 miles for the night, and would bring the horses with us the next morning.

Well, during the night, the filly, and we don't know how, got her back leg up in her lead rope hooked to the highline, and twisted it around the ankle.

We found her the next morning, and got her straightened out, but it was a pretty nasty gash. We doctored her up, and shot her some Butte, and took her with us. She didn't have much limp, and she was ok, or so it seemed.

This was the first time she had ever been around dead game, and we loaded her up, and she packed the 1/2 out like a trooper, well behaved.

Her ankle never seemed to heal, we ended up getting her to a vet, who x-rayed, and found chips in the ankle. She had to be put down.

We don't know if we made it worse, or what happened, exactly, but we did lose a good young horse, that was able to pack game. The guy who owned her had raised her from a foal, so it was kind of a bad deal.

 
D

Deerslayer

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That's too bad, Elkgunner. Nothing worse than having to put one down.

I watched tow men put down a rental one year about twenty miles back in. The horse had spooked and rolled over the edge of a steep trail and couldn't get up. Busted a back leg......so they had to dispatch it and then get out to the trailhead and pay the replacement fee for what could be characterized as "kill plant" horse.....cost them an extra $1200....bad deal all the way around. That's quite a bit of Alpo that will never reach the shelf right there


You mentioning loading the horse for the first packout it had ever done reminded me of a good one....

Two years ago, Anaconda, Indy Jay and myself took horse in about a mile down a slope to retrieve a downed bull. We decided to save time and just drag it uphill whole behind the horse since we had good snow on the ground. Good plan, right?hahahah well, the horse could pull the elk, no problem. I tied the pulling rope off to the saddle horn, and gave the horse a good slap on the ass. It would only go a couple of feet and stop. This got to be ever increasing difficult, and I was getting real pissed. So I go around front to have a talk with the steed face to face as I sometimes do.....they know it ain't good when this happens so they tend tyo back up a little.

As soon as the horse backed up, it stumbled back towards the dead elk, looked down and noticed the bull right behind it's ass, FLARED HIS NOSTRILS and lit out like a scalded dog!
..I was almost trampled to death!
..and each time he would slow down from the up hill pull of an entire elk dragging behind, he would glance around and see the dead elk again and PUT IT IN HIGH GEAR! He was leveling small trees all along the way and it was all we could do to try and run along side and keep up in the snow. We were toatlly exhausted when we reached the top out at the road.......and have since decided to always quarter and place the elk in the panniers!
 

Boman

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Well I have yet to hunt with horses. But this year will be the first. I see the advantages far outweighing the disadvantages. I especially like the idea of setting up a good camp and being able to hunt from it everyday. Now I just need to learn a whole lot about horses and everything that goes along with em..Yeah I need lots of help. But I can't wait and welcome the challenge.

DS, damn those are great pics. You have some beautiful horses there. Man those pics are killing me though. I sure with I was hunting now..
 

JoseCuervo

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DS,

The occasional rodeo just makes the hunt that more interesting. That is pretty good visual, of the dead Bull ramming his antlers up toward the horse....

We actually don't hunt with them that much, as we have come to the conclusion, that they are more work than they are worth. One of my buddies always decides, at the last minute, not to bring the horses, and says, if we knock something down, he'll drive back to the Valley and get them. It never fails, we knock something down, and then he says, well, if we each take a quarter, we can get one load out tonight, and the rest of it out by tomorrow afternoon, and that is about the same time we would get it with the horses. So, we load the quarters on the pack frames, and haul them out. I think we have taken 3 elk out on horses/mules, and 20+ on our backs.

We are thinking, some day, we will get too old to haul 1/4's on our backs, and then we will become full time horse hunters, but for now, we seem to be able to haul the meet on our backs, and know that the horses are in the valley, eating contently, for yet another 12 months.

I think you need to have a full time wrangler in camp, someone who does not mind messing with the horses, as there is some work. It is kind of odd, but there are people who love dinking around with horses, and actually enjoy futzing around with them. We never seem to hunt off them, but just use them for hauling freight. They are kind of a pain, if you want to leave camp at 4am, and return at 8pm, in the dark, and have to mess with the horses. If you could just find a wrangler/camp cook in the same person, it would make for a sweet camp.
 

KC

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DS:

We rented 8 horses in 1998. Everything that could go wrong, did. But we managed to return all the horses to the outfitter un-harmed. I'm not sure I would repeat the ordeal with unfamiliar stock.

Also it takes a lot of time to care for the horses. That's time that I could be hunting. You've probably already solved this problem but I haven't.

KC
 

Greenhorn

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My opinion on horses is probably different that most.

Rarely will the help your "hunting" at all. In fact they screw it up more than anything. They are a pain in the ass, expensive to keep, and require too much time that should otherwise be spent doing other things... with regard to hunting that is.

If you had a full time person, just dedicated to horses, who'd stay in camp and take care of them, help you with the packing of equipment and dead animals, that's one thing. But if you think doing all that yourself is effective for your "hunting," then think again, it isn't true.

I'm sure there are ways to effectively hunt on horses, but in the places I like to hunt, you might was well leave them at home, until you have your dead animal somewhere they can get to.

They may be fun and entertaining for some people to raise, but personally, I'd rather carry 3 75lb loads of meat 10 miles one way a year, than take care of horses year round to help me out with that.
 

DaleT

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I can see where Greenhorn is right if you live near where you hunt, and are climatized on day one of the hunt. Especially if you know the area real well and are in shape for that type of terrain.

But for Jimmy and I who live at 600 feet and relatively flat ground. Where usually this is the first time we have ever been to the area we are hunting. Horses they have made a huge improvement on our ability to hunt in the Mountains. We use them as taxi's to get us back to remote country fresh and ready to go. Then we get off and hunt hard all day while they are staked out grazing, then at the end of the day when we are tired, they get us back to camp real easy.

In the past we would pretty much shoot our wad, walking the 3 to 6 miles up and in, then we would mope around all day and limp out that evening. After about day 2 or 3 of that sleeping in was looking real good, and we got some serious sore feet, legs and all, because we don't have hills like that in Texas.

The last two years with horses, we were still going pretty strong on day 6 and 7, and we were covering twice the country that we had in the past. Our success has gone way up, but I am sure that some of that is because we are in better areas.

We don't own our own horses because they are too expensive to keep, and flat land horses will kill you in the mountains, because they don't have the lungs or feet either. When you rent horses, you better be a pretty good horsemen because they all know some tricks and you better be experienced enough to deal with them, or they will relish in dealing you mysery. I grew up on several fairly rank horses and broke and trained a colt in High School, so I can usually persuade them to do what I want.

If my situation is like yours, I highly recommend them. Dale
 
D

Deerslayer

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KC, I agree with you about the unfamiliar horses....I would never reccomend renting the "kill plant" horses from places like Sombrero. They buy some at sale right before the season, rent them for hunting, then run them back to the sale for dog food...happens every year. You can get hurt on an animal like that...just ask Jimmy and Dale!


Greenhorn, I already knew you felt that way, and can totally see your point. But there are hunts where they make life a lot easier, and I guess that is the key for me.

I am that guy who likes "fiddling" with the horses in camp. I get up before dawn and it takes about an hour to get them ready, and I always do this with all the horses...then I spend an hour after dark feeding and messing with them, usually while my buddies are inside eating or resting. But we are always where we need to be at daylight and not back until after dark. I spend about two hours a day for horse care, and it is usually predawn and after dark.....so my hunting time rarely suffers.

I will be the first to say they are expensive to keep around, and you really just have to want to own horses to have 'em, because there is a much cheaper and easier way most of the time. But I will always have horses as long as I live in the west......I love riding in the off season and scouting from horse back.

I rarely or should say never actually hunt from horseback......but rather use them to access areas miles from camp.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ 03-28-2003 15:10: Message edited by: Deerslayer ]</font>
 

DaleT

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I can see where Greenhorn is right if you live near where you hunt, and are climatized on day one of the hunt. Especially if you know the area real well and are in shape for that type of terrain.

But for Jimmy and I who live at 600 feet and relatively flat ground. Where usually this is the first time we have ever been to the area we are hunting. Horses have made a huge improvement on our ability to hunt in the Mountains. We use them as taxi's to get us back to remote country fresh and ready to go. Then we get off and hunt hard all day while they are staked out grazing, then at the end of the day when we are tired, they get us back to camp real easy.

In the past we would pretty much shoot our wad, walking the 3 to 6 miles up and in, then we would mope around all day and limp out that evening. After about day 2 or 3 of that sleeping in was looking real good, and we got some serious sore feet, legs and all, because we don't have hills like that in Texas.

The last two years with horses, we were still going pretty strong on day 6 and 7, and we were covering twice the country that we had in the past. Our success has gone way up, but I am sure that some of that is because we are in better areas. But if you do the math, being able to hunt twice as hard for twice as long, you are setting yourself up for more success.

We don't own our own horses because they are too expensive to keep, and flat land horses will kill you in the mountains, because they don't have the lungs or feet either. When you rent horses, you better be a pretty good horsemen because they all know some tricks and you better be experienced enough to deal with them, or they will relish in dealing you mysery. I grew up on several fairly rank horses and broke and trained a colt in High School, so I can usually persuade them to do what I want.

If my situation is like yours, I highly recommend them. Dale
 
D

Deerslayer

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I certainly would never disagree with Greenhorn's methods, and his record speaks for itself. But I also realize that there are only a very few that could walk a mile in his shoes hunting.

Case in point. I like to hunt with friends. It is a downfall of mine I have always had. Though I've been told many times I would be better served to hunt alone, I still find myself making plans each fall with a half dozen or so guys for 3 or 4 different backcountry trips. And many of these guys couldn't pack out a can of vienna sausage from a steep on their backs, much less elk or deer meat. Not to mention the hiking factor. I guess the ponies are a vehicle to facilitate the weaknesses some of us have, especially as a group. Suddenly a guy with limited hiking ability can now access country miles from camp, with nothing more than a sore butt. And he can get his kill back to camp with out so much as breaking a sweat. So in that aspect, I guess horses are nothing more than a way to overcome shortcomings in physical abilities.....which many hunetrs have.

I like to think I could hike with most anyone.....I have been called a mountain goat on more than one occasion, and there will never be any one with more desire to hunt than I have......but yet, I still find myself saddling ponies and inviting more friends to hunt with me. So I'm sure my desire to hunt with a few "pals" will keep me from ever reaching my full potential as a hunter, at least in the way of taking nicer animals. Though I will do solo hunts and shorter hunts on foot, like the one Buzz and I did in January, I still usually plan hunts around my horses. And even on the elk hunt Buzz and I did backpacking, he asked me several times...."why the hell didn't we bring your horses!"


They are expensive, they are a pain in the ass, they are not necessary.......but I sure do like hunting with them.....
 

Calif. Hunter

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I've only really ever hunted with horses once, and we only had 2 horses between about 6 hunters. I only used them once - the rest of the time I was hoofing on my own two feet. I saw elk, but always on the next ridge a mile away. I let my older, fatter brother use the horses and he got a great 6x6 on the first day. My other buddy had loaned me the money to go on the hunt, so I let him use the horses the next day. His rifle got screwed up and wouldn't fire when he had a bugling bull 50 yards away. I felt bad,and led him to where I had spotted a herd with a couple of nice bulls that had hidden in the quakies - then he missed a 75 yard shot.
I walked a lot, had fun when I got to ride but never got a shot because a sheepherder brought his flock in and scared off the elk.

It was a heck of a lot easier to get to where the elk were with the horse, and no contest when it came to packing out the bull. I live at about 50 feet above sea level, so the horses did make the hunt easier.
 

FLIPPER

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I too am fat, lazy, old and out of shape.



I will be using a horse during my elk hunt this fall and can't imagine going on this hunt without one.

I only hope Elkhunter finds a GOOD horse for me to rent.
 

Nut

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Ohio but my heart is always in the woods
Being at low sea level and out of shape will make any hunt difficult in any mountains for me. (Might break a toe or two while I attempted
) So as a realist knowing that the Greenhorn way is not to be my way I have enjoyed reading this thread.


Utilizing horses will be one of the factors I will have to add in to a future elk hunt. So what is the average cost for renting a horse and what do you look for in a good horse to use?
 

Elkhunter

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Hunting with horses is the best thing that has happened to me. I often hunt alone and my horse is like my best friend. He will go anywhere I ask of him and just keeps on going. He is 20 years old and has put me on elk more than once. As it has been said, they are like a Taxi service. Mine carries my ass 6-8 miles in, which saves a lot on these old legs. He is then tied to a tree and I am off hunting. I generally return to the horse for lunch and let him graze and eat a hearty meal of grass, grain and alfalfa. I generally give him the same before heading out. I have never had a rough time with my horse and thank my lucky stars for that.
When I get up in the morning I put the coffee on and get dressed then go out and give the horse his breakfast of alfalfa. He gets a good dose of grain while being saddled. I take grain and most of the time some hay cubes with me in the saddle bags. When we get back he gets grained, fed and watered. Repeat process the next day.
Yes, they can be expensive but so can a lot of things. I ride mine in the hills every weekend all summer. I don't mind the expese of the horse for the enjoyment I get out of him. He has made my hunting much easier and saves me a lot of leg wear and back wear getting an elk out. I feel I am very lucky to have the horse I have. He enjoys hunting, elk more than deer. Some say they don't help you hunt. I beg to differ on that. I have seen him cut tracks and follow a set of elk tracks. I have seen him stop and refuse to go because elk are near. I have seen him decide to hang a left when was wanting to continue straight, only to have him bring me to elk. I have seen him get excited when we first head out for deer. Two weeks later when we go for elk, I have seen him excited beyond belief and get us back the 8 miles without stopping at all until he gets to the tree I tie him to.
I will stick with the horse.
 

T Bone

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Good lookin ponies DS. Especially the paint. I've always liked horses, but have never owned one.

My father in law has lots of them. Since riding his horses I have been trained not to like them. He calls them "spirited". I call them "possesed by satan".

He's had two rifle stocks broken by horses throwing him and rolling over his rifle. About 5 years ago I refused to ride them in the hills anymore. The next week he went out and bought an old plug especially for me and the grandkids. This old horse goes when I want him to and stops when I say. He wouldn't spook if a grouse flushed from right under him. My father in law calls him half dead, I call him just right.

I still choose to do 99% of big game hunting without horses.

T Bone
 

Elkhunter

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Glad to have him here at a time like this.



On top of the world at nearly 10,000 feet, a 4 hour ride to get here.



Two hours later at 10, 000 feet. We finally made it.



Took a lot of climbing to get to this point.


Time for a break.



A day of R&R in a summer camp.

 

trophy_killer

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I've never hunted with horses but I would like to try it once. Nice lookin horses guys, I'm jealous, they are such awesome animals.
 
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