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Worth taking horses in the backcountry?

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Old 08-14-2013, 05:35 AM
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Spike
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Default Worth taking horses in the backcountry?

Heading to Colorado next September for archery elk season. Been thinking of getting a couple horses and working with them so they are ready by then. I'm from Missouri and would have to trailer them out. Checked into renting horses but the feed requirements from the renter are such that I wouldn't have room for any gear because I'd have to haul so much horse feed. You guys think its worth it taking your own horses? Can they find enough pickins' in the early season to last them a full week? Your opinions would be great.
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Old 08-14-2013, 05:50 AM
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Giant Nontypical
 
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Horses are great if you're the one who doesn't have to take care of them. They are a great plus to bring an elk back to camp, but the two times I rented horses out in Wyoming they were a pain in the azz because of all the extra time it takes in the morning and evening along with having to make sure there is an accessible water source nearby. The feeding really isn't the big deal, but there is no way you can carry water for even one horse for more than a day or two as much as they drink. If you're young enough and in good health, my advice would be to have a good backpack and be in shape to quarter and bring an animal out on your back. However, if you wanted to go back in a few miles and set up more than just a bivy camp, horses or mules would be the way to go if the water/feed problem can be worked out.

Last edited by Topgun 3006; 08-14-2013 at 05:52 AM.
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Old 08-14-2013, 06:54 AM
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If you are doing a remote camp see if you can just hire them to carry your gear in and out on a predetemined location, day and time.
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Old 08-14-2013, 11:35 AM
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Spike
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Thanks guys. The more I think and read about it, just hiking in with a backpack seems like the easiest way to go. That's my biggest concern is having to take the time fooling with them and not using that time to hunt.
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Old 08-14-2013, 01:23 PM
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You may not think that's a great plan when your packing out an elk on your back.
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Old 08-14-2013, 01:34 PM
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Backpacking meat isn't fun, but I'll be 66 on Friday and I still help haul out elk every year in Wyoming. You just have to be in shape and not carry any more than your physical limitations. Some guys like my buddy can haul out a hind quarter and a backstrap in one load. I'm lucky if I can get the backstraps of a bull out in one trip, but I just take what I can carry and do multiple trips. The main thing is to get the meat boned out and in the shade ASAP until it can all be taken out and put on ice before heading home or to a processor. People that have never hunted elk and seen how big they are make a big mistake if they don't have a plan ahead of time to get the meat out and chilled properly. An elk is so big that it's critical to get it broken apart so the internal meat can cool properly before it sours.
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Old 08-14-2013, 07:05 PM
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Horses have their value, but require a lot of maintenance. Packing with them into the back country is not for the inexperienced. As stated, consider hiring someone to pack you and your camp back and have an arrangement for them to come in if you have an animal and pack it out, as well as your camp. Horse ownership isn't for the fiscally faint. The animals are expensive, care is expensive, feed is expensive, hauling them is expensive. If they are something you would enjoy and ride most of the year, then they may be a good investment. If you want an animal to help out, consider Llamas or goats. Cheaper to get into and maintain, as well as haul and can carry what you want (depending on how many you have) while you hike.
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Old 08-16-2013, 01:07 PM
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I used my horses for some 20 years to hunt deer, elk, moose, and bighorn sheep in the Montana backcountry. It was some of the best hunting that I ever had.
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Old 08-24-2013, 08:42 AM
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Ive heard goats are a great option. No need to carry feed, they eat what is around them, smaller, cheaper, but can carry less loads.
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Old 08-25-2013, 07:59 PM
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check with sombrero ranch around Longmont. they take care of the rental, feed, etc. my friend rented from them last yr and hunted off horseback and he loved it.
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