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Need horse to pack out meat
I hunt on my own and have packed out many elk on my back. I hunt no more than 3 trail miles from the trailhead. I then hunt within a mile from the trail.
So IF I were to kill an elk this year, I would pack the meat to the trail and call someone with horses to pack out the meat to my truck.
OK, this sounds simple, but who do I call? I checked with one outfitter and he said, according to law, he could only pack meat in his area and the cost is $400.
Maybe I could rent a horse for the day. Would they include a trailer? Maybe I could put an ad in the paper, "Horse needed, please sit by the phone in case I call"
What do you do?
Ask the forest service who is permitted in your area and call them.
I've have been seeing more and more people renting llamas for pack animals. Might want to check that out. I've seen on the web where you can through two of them in the bed of a truck and head to the trailhead.
Or use the Colorado Outfitters Assn website to find out who's licensed in your area - see link
It might help to find a contact if you gave the general area where you are hunting.
Talk to ranchers and cowboys, they’ll usually know someone who has access to mules or horses and will pack an elk for some cash. Depending on the state they may need to be licensed to pack an elk for you.
I have used a trail ride horse concession dude for a couple of decades....he also has a outfitters license. They are easier to find than many think. He takes my gear in and I even ride a horse in....when coming out I just call and let him know if I have a animal and he brings more pack horses.
I actually pay him MORE than he charges and tip his wranglers handsomely. Best connection I ever made.
Thanks cnelk, I didn't realize that sight existed. I emailed 3 outfitters.
What do you do?
What I did was bought some acreage I could afford, bought a horse and mule and necessary tack and trailer and took em hunting with me. In Colorado you are stuck with who has the outfitting license in your hunting area. If they're too busy to get to you or want $600 to pack one out you either pack it out on your back, or rent a horse for $500 from an outfit like Sombrero ranches. Course you dont know what kinda counterfeit, broken down old nag and wore out weathered guaranteed to break tack you're going to get, and if you have no experience that could be your last mistake. Worst part is I by law am not allowed to help out the camp next to me and pack out their elk for a couple hundred bucks, but I hear it happens. That's what I did, good luck if Colorado is where you hunt.
I don’t think dealing with animals yourself for that few of miles is worth it.
The danger of mules and horses for a novice is high. And it’s another full time job dealing with stock in the back country.
It’s worth paying the four hundred to an outfitter. Worst part is waiting while the weather hits 70 in September. Or take a partner to help pack. My group splits processing and elk evenly....
Sombrero rents lots of horses. My friends and I have gotten along well with their “old nags”. Never used borrowed tack so I can’t offer any advice there. Horses are not motorized wheelbarrows.
Lack of extensive experience exponentially increases one likelihood of broken bones, gear and yes tack.
Rental horses generally about $600 delivered and picked up these days.
There's a reason it's $400.
And even then, I bet it's more hassle than it's worth. "I'll be there in 3 days ... wait for me at the trailhead ... I'll be there between 10 am and 6 pm ... probably."
Once you've got it to the trail a game cart could get you the rest of the way in two trips. You'd probably have it out before the outfitter could even show up. Especially if it's predominately downhill.
Even if you could pack out as little as 40 pounds at a time, you would be done way sooner than the packer could reach you on most occasions.
I don’t know where y’all hunt....My moneys on the horses !!
That Colorado Outfitters Assn website search function sucks. I plugged in an outfitter I know well who is permitted in a unit I hunt and he didn't show up in the search.
Unless you are REALLY experienced packing with horses, don't try to do it yourself. Even those of us who've done it a lot with our own stock have rodeo stories to tell..
Once you realize that the purpose of a horse is to try to kill you every chance it gets. Or die it’s self from one of the 10,000 things that will kill a horse. Then you realize they are best avoided.
I’m HALF joking of course, I have had roping horses for decades. And enjoy them, but they can be challenging to say the least.
BTB..just bring a knife and fork...:)
Keep in mind that not every horse is going to tolerate carrying a dead animal on it's back. It may just be meat, but they can smell.
If I were to do that type of hunt, I would probably use horses, but they would be preconditioned to packing meat. I'd also want to spend some time with them before agreeing to trust that critter with my life. I don't need some knothead grabbing the bit and running me into a tree.
19 years ago. Colorado unit 10. Not long after this pic was taken, this mule [borrowed] decided it had enough and took off with my bull.
Temps in the 70s. Chased that MFer for 3 hrs before we finally caught it again. I thought we were going to have to shoot the mule.
Cnelk, every horse I’ve had thought their name was MFer:^)
I actually do enjoy horses. But they will test your affection often.
Altitude, would you say they are kind of like women in that way?
Packin out my bull and cow last fall.
Packin out my bull and cow last fall.
But when you've had a string for 10+ yrs and they know the trails and the routine as well as you, they sure add to the experience.
Most horses are like most women. You just have to decide if the ride is worth the risk.
Sometimes it's just better to do the job yourself.
I have llamas. Great pack animals but their natural gait is a little slower than what you and I walk so you have to be willing to slow down and take your time. The will carry about 50 lbs and have a 5 mile range per day if they are in really good shape you might get 8 miles out of them in a day. Having said all that, I have only used them once to pack out an elk. I realized that by the time I drive home, load them up, get back to the trailhead and walk back in I could have done everything myself and been home a couple of hours earlier. Unless I am packing in 5 or so miles and already have the llamas there, it just isn't worth it. Furthermore, when you pack an animal out then you still need to go back in and bring your camp out. If heat and spoilage are issues then you might be better off to man up and do it yourself. Maybe not what you want to hear but those are the realities.
I had horses for years and did the packing 'thang'. Moved on from it.
With the frame packs and gear available nowadays, it not near as bad as it was back in the day.
Remember if you pay someone they have to be licensed to pack out your animals.
Thanks for all the advice. At 72 I can still do it myself and I will. I live in Pagosa Springs, CO in case someone wants to help;-) I can return the favor too. Bruce
Bruce, As a resident of Pagosa, you should know which outfitters are permitted in certain areas. Pagosa anymore has a high amount of outfitters, and other outfitters coming in on day permits. Not many outfitters lease horses out anymore, too many horses getting injured. Mike Reid was huge on busting guys without permits for outfitting, sad he retired. With the outfitters being so busy during the season, it might take a day or two to get to you. And with the heat we're getting and the dryness, you'd loose your meat waiting for them. Several outfitters will do it, but the animal has to be quartered and you waiting at the trailhead. They run from 300.00 to 800.00 depending on the distance, number of horses, and are tough to get ahold of during the day. We have horses, but for our own personal use now.
I have my own morgan horse and Mule. A big part of the experience. Plus I ride around all summer scouting the back country and love it. ther eis lots of work and you need your own place which I do
I would'nt use a guide to pack out my Elk. I did it once and the Guide told me he would not tell anyone about the area, the next year i was going to hunt this area again. witch i had hunted it many of years Harvested 5 bulls 3 cows. When i started packing into the area there were 5 Guide camps all ready in the basine. Kiss that good bye.
Some days they're great, most days they aren't !!!
If you were a young buck I would say go for it, but at 72 it is asking for trouble to lease a horse for a day. I am not usually a naysayer when it comes to livestock and elk hunts, but you have to know your limitations. Depending on how serious you are I would recommend leasing it for a 2-3 month period, including a month before you hunt, in order to get to know it well and spend a lot of time around it. I think a big key is knowing your horse , it's quirks and personality. The first 2 years I used horses I leased. Knowing what I know now and looking back, the first year it was only God's grace no one got seriously hurt. Those horses were unreal. The second year/string was a little better, but we had a wreck packing out and I had to put the horse down. After paying the lease outfit for the cost of the horse I decided I would have been better off to have had my own and went out and bought 3!!! I have been using my own ever since. Things can still get a little hairy sometimes, but I know my animals and they know me. IMO that makes a world of difference. I'll second what Dirk said. They are a pain at times, but each year when I am covering 3 times as much ground on top of my horse as the on foot guys, passing them in the steep hills, and packing out 200 lbs of meat and horns, on the back of a horse it's all worth it. My horses know me as I am the feed man most of the year, and am the main human that they interact with. Once they are used to the routine, like Dirk said, it becomes way easier. My personal opinion is that having a trust bond and a good rapport with the animal is the most important single thing of all. With my horses I can get away with stuff that I am sure someone else would not with the same horse. I can also read their soon-to-be issues because of that. Case in point: With this particular bull (picture) when I killed him the night before this horse had stood tied for 15 hours. when I got her down to the bull I broke him down while loading meat. She stood fine. When I went to put the horns on top she wasn't having it. I could have pressed the issue and between the howling wind, steepness of the hill, and both of our tiredness most likely had an extreme wreck. Instead I played it safe and carried the horns myself. She followed too close and poked herself on the tines twice, but it didn't bother her. She's usually too lazy to blow up due to something like that. I tried a mile down the trail to put the horns on once more and could immediately tell again it wasn't worth the risk. The next day however, after a good nights rest, a belly full of hay, and being tied to a hitching rail that would prevent any major wrecks I decided it was worth pushing the issue. She took them no problem and I led her and my gelding out with no issues whatsoever.
Horses are a blessing and curse, and usually both on the same day! I would not consider myself a "horse person" per se, but I value them enough on my elk hunts to own them, care for them, and put up with them year round. I also don't "pack" as most do, but ride in with saddle panniers tied on my saddle. If I get one down I lead my horse out on foot. I think that also helps tremendously as you are on the ground and have an advantage of being able to better react if things get hinky. I do lead them out loaded while riding at times, but that's a whole other skill set. If you're on foot it will help keep things calm much more. I have stories to back that up, but will have to save them for another time.
I love hunting off horses/mules. Always been someone elses. Sometimes it's not clear if it was a hunting trip made easier by the horses or if it was horse pack trip with a little hunting squeezed in. Even with the hassle I always enjoyed it. We rented a horse once and just led him in carrying camp. He hauled camp and a deer out. Nice change from the usual heavy packs we would take in there.
Packin up to head bake to base camp.
Packin up to head bake to base camp.
Well said deerslayer. To piggyback on what you said about knowing your string, we were snapping a few pics before heading back to the trucks with horses loaded with elk and horns. I normally don't like to dink around much once they're loaded, I'd just as soon get to the destination and get em unloaded as quick as possible. This was about the 3rd season for the little sorrel mare in the pic and while we were takein pics I could tell something wasn't right with her. I took a minute to look over how I had her rigged up and one of the elk antlers had shifted and was jabbing her in the hip when she shifted her weight from one hind leg to the other. Had I not known her I probably would have disregarded the way she was actin as just aggravated we were dinkin around and not headed out. She may have made it out like it was without an issue, or she may have thru a horse fit on the steepest part of the trail out. Wish I lived closer to ya btb, id give ya a hand. Three of the guys in my camp are 72 themselves. 2 with years of horse experience that I pick some knowledge up from every year. The third I promised I'd pack in for as long as he still had the want to do it. Gonna miss those 3 in elk camp someday in the not too distant future........
Dirk I lost my 75 yr old elk hunting friend. He started our group years ago. He was no longer a killer. slowly losing the camp traditions sucks. During his funeral preps we realized how many big Mulies and elk he killed before any of us even hunted elk.
San Juan NF
San Juan NF
"Bruce, As a resident of Pagosa, you should know which outfitters are permitted in certain areas. Pagosa anymore has a high amount of outfitters, and other outfitters coming in on day permits. Not many outfitters lease horses out anymore, too many horses getting injured. Mike Reid was huge on busting guys without permits for outfitting, sad he retired. With the outfitters being so busy during the season, it might take a day or two to get to you. And with the heat we're getting and the dryness, you'd loose your meat waiting for them. Several outfitters will do it, but the animal has to be quartered and you waiting at the trailhead. They run from 300.00 to 800.00 depending on the distance, number of horses, and are tough to get ahold of during the day. We have horses, but for our own personal use now."
This was not an issue a few years ago. I found an add on the bulletin board at the Laundry Mat in Pagosa Springs. The guy advertising had horses and would pack out your animal for a fee. I guess some went farther and were doing drop camps without being permitted. The Outfitter Association members who paid fees pushed hard to prevent a local from doing this unless he was permitted or a member of that group. Unfortunately, The outfitters are overwhelmed with the clients they have and have little interest in doing pack outs. Especially if it enables and/or encourages a (non-resident) DIY hunter. I'm sure that not everyone feels this way but most do. It's like a Vegan lobbying to stop the sale of beef. They have no interest in the service, but don't want others to perform it either. When I see the signs that say "Welcome Hunters" I think it should say we welcome you fully guided hunters and your check books. DIY bitches stay home! Sorry about the rant but I fear the elitist mentality is ruining our sport and it sticks in my craw. Feel free to disagree. Its awesome country and I have some great memories in that unit. LaGriz