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Single horse hunting in the backcountry

 
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Spike


Joined: 30 Jul 2008
Posts: 22
Location: SF Bay Area, CA

PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 8:18 pm    Post subject: Single horse hunting in the backcountry Reply with quote

One of the reasons I got back into horses after moving here to CA was to get out and do some backcountry hunting. It's not something I have any experience with, as there's just not a ton of "back country" in North Carolina (where came from). Everywhere I went back there I could just use a basecamp at the trailhead.

The more I read in mags and and experience with outfitters, the more I start to wonder if it's really do-able with a single horse and no pack-animal.

The way I figured, I could use backpacking gear to keep my own load light on the ride in, then let the horse pack the animal out if I should tag one. Is this realistic?

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huntsman22
Spike


Joined: 09 Mar 2008
Posts: 22
Location: Elizabeth,Co

PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is very doable. I've done it a lot. The only thing in your post that may give you trouble is, the realistic aspect of 'letting' the horse pack out your game. They usually aren't real good about the 'letting' part..... Most have to be tied to load, few will stand for that part, without being held or tied. Some even need to be 'scotched' or laid down. Maybe you meant 'make' them pack.......
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huntsman22
Spike


Joined: 09 Mar 2008
Posts: 22
Location: Elizabeth,Co

PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I should have added...... A packhorse, drug along with you is a whole bunch easier. They keep each other company and you have room for the stuff you need without scrimping. Most trailers hold at least 2 horses. Might as well use the space.........
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2rocky
ADDICTED ELK ARCHER/Moderator


Joined: 09 Aug 2005
Posts: 2880
Location: Northern California

PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Phillip, this is an area I struggle with in my mind as well. I feel that I am more mobile and less tied down to camping spots with good feed and water if I just carry my own pack. But that has been within 4 miles of the trailhead in a sparsely watered area, after blacktails.

What has piqued my interest is going after elk on my own, and/or a deeper - longer trip into the back country.

I figure I need 40 pounds of pack and gear for a 3-5 day trip in moderate temps for myself . Add to that supplemental feed and electric fence for grazing my horse and it gets to be too much to juat stow in saddle bags. now I'm looking at walking and leading my horse with a relatively light pack load. 80-90 pounds total. But I am afoot. Can I make a 10-12 mile hike leading my horse?

Now I tend to worry about my horse when he is out of sight. Is he gonna whinny and fret when I get out of sight? Is he gonna get mistaken for a bear (he's a bay) and get shot by some yokel? Is he gonna eat some poisonous weed I didn't see when I set the electric fence up in the dark last night?

These worries I'm afraid will distract from being focused on purely hunting while I am out trying to spot and stalk game. I think I need to do a dry run scouting to feel more at ease, or find a wrangler who just wants to go for a pack trip, to accompany me.

That has been what has held me back so far in my solo ventures with my own stock.

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Hog Blog
Spike


Joined: 30 Jul 2008
Posts: 22
Location: SF Bay Area, CA

PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the info so far, fellas... good stuff, and look forward to more.

My horse hobbles fine, although I'm not convinced I want her hobbled in the wilderness areas. She'll also tie to a highline with no problem. Hadn't thought about packing in portable e-fencing. I've seen that stuff, but it's one more thing to contend with.

The feed issue is one that's kinda bugged me. How much do I need, supposing I'm packing in where there's enough to graze? I doubt I'd be looking at more than a weekend (two nights). I know my pack is fairly light, especially in the gentle CA climate, but it starts to add up fast.

Oh, as far as loading game on her, my mare's had a little work with that. She didn't care much for it at first, but we've reached a compromise. I don't stick her with horns or thrust dead critters right in her face, and she'll let me toss it in the saddle panniers.

Figure I'll tie her anyway, just in case... but she's pretty laid back with gunfire, dead stuff, and all that goes with it. Just enough to make me complacent and then give me a rodeo whenever I finally get around to doing this for real.

Wish I had a pack horse, but living in this damned city, it's all I can do to keep a saddle mount.

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The challenge to holding a strong personal ethic is to live by it yourself without forcing others into your own mold. How and why we hunt is an individual thing. Just be safe, obey the law, and make clean, humane kills.
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Huffmad
4 point


Joined: 06 May 2008
Posts: 163
Location: oregon

PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If your going to take one horse into the wilderness, you might as well take six. My point is you have the same resposibltys no matter how many you take. So you might as well take a nice camp in and live it up. If you want to be mobile then don't take any horses. Or do like me I take my old man along and if I want to bivy out for a few nights I leave him to take care of stock and he hunts off of his horse. Maybe I should learn from him he always kills bigger bucks then me and they are most of the time off of his horse.
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Spike


Joined: 30 Jul 2008
Posts: 22
Location: SF Bay Area, CA

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Huff.

It's not a question of responsibility or mobility or any other -ilities. It's a question of, I only have one horse. If I had a pack animal, this probably wouldn't have come up.

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The challenge to holding a strong personal ethic is to live by it yourself without forcing others into your own mold. How and why we hunt is an individual thing. Just be safe, obey the law, and make clean, humane kills.
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Spike


Joined: 30 Jul 2008
Posts: 22
Location: SF Bay Area, CA

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oops... can't edit my post, but wanted to be clear...

FOR ME, It's not about responsibility...etc. Didn't mean to speak for anyone else.

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The challenge to holding a strong personal ethic is to live by it yourself without forcing others into your own mold. How and why we hunt is an individual thing. Just be safe, obey the law, and make clean, humane kills.
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Arrowslinger
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Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 2230
Location: GONE

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Phil....skip the horse and backpack in.
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Spike


Joined: 30 Jul 2008
Posts: 22
Location: SF Bay Area, CA

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's what I've been doing, Kirk.

Just thought it would be more fun with the horse... combining two of my favorite things.

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The challenge to holding a strong personal ethic is to live by it yourself without forcing others into your own mold. How and why we hunt is an individual thing. Just be safe, obey the law, and make clean, humane kills.
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2rocky
ADDICTED ELK ARCHER/Moderator


Joined: 09 Aug 2005
Posts: 2880
Location: Northern California

PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Phillip,

I've got a new aquisition that might push me more into that horse hunting mindset...


http://skinnymoose.com/racktracker/2008/08/04/new-packsaddle/

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Mule Skinner
Spike


Joined: 29 Jul 2008
Posts: 30
Location: Idaho

PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 5:16 pm    Post subject: Solo hunts Reply with quote

I too hunt solo sometimes, more out of necessity than preference. Be safe and reduce your risk, get a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon), and of course, all of the other stuff, like make sure someone knows where you're going and when you're expected to return.

Most of the PLB's require a subscription but may be worth the extra $$ in the event you get into a tight spot. Also if you get one brand, you can send an email to a trusted person just to let them know your ok. On a long solo hunt that can prove to be invaluable for several reasons.

I've gone solo with one horse. I've walked and led a horse, and went light and rode. Walking with a light pack is better than riding with one, because my pony can carry way more than I can. To me, most horses and mules won't do very well alone, they are herd animals and will act accordingly. If you have one that is ok by itself in camp all day (and night) then great. I also shy away from the portable electric fence in the back country. I have one and use it at base camp but a high line serves me well in the back country. Around here you almost always have to pack in feed, a hungry horse or mule will tend to want to wander.

Just my 2 cents.
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steelyeyes
Spike


Joined: 11 Mar 2008
Posts: 16
Location: WA State

PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2008 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've done the single horse thing, sort of. I've packed in my camp and dropped it off and then come back with one riding horse. I highlined him and fed him pelleted feed from a muzzlebag. He was fine when he was alone for the most part.

I'd ride him up to where I was going to hunt, tie him up, put a blaze orange saddle cover on and take off hunting. Never really had a problem.

I've never really had a rodeo trying to load game so maybe I've been lucky. I've only used three horses and two mules to carry meat though so my sample size is small. I figure they animal takes their lead from me. If I act like I'm expecting trouble they pick up on the tension and get tense too. I just talk calmly, tell them it's just a load, and don't make any sudden moves and things are fine. I let them look over the head and sniff the hide and stuff ahead of time.

I've used the portable E fencing in a few spots. Never had a problem with that either. Horses rest better when they aren't tied to a highline. One place I was in we'd move our fencing every day so we didn't overgraze any one spot. That way the horses were never hungry or had a reason to want to stray.

In one place we only kept the horse in the fencing at night and for part of the middle of the day. The rest of the time we let them loose to graze, no hobbles or anything. We weren't near a trail where passing horses would draw them away and they had tons of good feed in the woods above camp. A cliff and steep creek banks made a natural barrier so to escape they'd have to go through camp. After using that place for a couple years they knew the drill and about half of the time they'd come in on their own. Other times I'd hunt my way back to that hilllside, find them and send them down.
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Spike


Joined: 30 Jul 2008
Posts: 22
Location: SF Bay Area, CA

PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2008 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Muleskinner, great point about the PLB. I've had one since the first year they were legal, and it really helps out... mostly by giving some relief to the homefront, as they know I can get help if I need it.

I strongly recommend picking one up for anyone who does much solo hunting, especially if you're going deep. It seems like an extravagance, but what it can do if you ever need it is worth way more than the cash you'll spend on it.

By the way, the new SPOT system is really (comparably) affordable for folks who are considering a PLB.

Also, if you get one, make sure it's one that uses a satellite signal. There are some on the market that just use a radio signal, and as anyone who's ever been in the canyon country knows, a radio signal is next to worthless.

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The challenge to holding a strong personal ethic is to live by it yourself without forcing others into your own mold. How and why we hunt is an individual thing. Just be safe, obey the law, and make clean, humane kills.
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steelyeyes
Spike


Joined: 11 Mar 2008
Posts: 16
Location: WA State

PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2008 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought of a couple more things.

One is feed. I feed 20 lb. per day per horse if I pack in feed. If there is graze then I don't pack in feed and shoot for a minimum of two grazing periods of at least 2 hours each. Any time I've taken animals in and relied on grazing they've come back out fit and once they even gained weight. On a trip of two weeks with four horses 15 miles from the trailhead packing feed just isn't practical. For a weekend with one horse it's a different story.

For the portable E fencing I don't use any premade posts because they suck. I use PVC pipe cut about 3 feet long or whatever fits in my rig comfortably. I drill holes in one end and put a loop of hay twine through it to run the hot tape through. I bring in short pieces of rebar (painted bright orange) and one gate handle. I also bring in lots of hay twine so I can use a tree or a branch as a post and the twine as an insulator.
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2rocky
ADDICTED ELK ARCHER/Moderator


Joined: 09 Aug 2005
Posts: 2880
Location: Northern California

PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 11:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wanted to kick this back up to the top to see if any one had a gear list for a walker with one pack horse. I'm gonna give Steelyeyes self made PVC posts a try. I like that.

Some questions for consideration:

What are you going to add to your Gear with the horse in tow?

What's going on the pack horse and what are you carrying?

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ray porter
4 point


Joined: 22 Jan 2009
Posts: 187
Location: arkansas

PostPosted: Sat Dec 05, 2009 8:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

for the e fence i have never carried any posts. i just string the fifeglasswire thru the bushes. you can bury a piece of wire for the ground too. sometimes it may be necessary to tie some string to the trees to use as insulators.
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saddlesore
6 point


Joined: 06 Mar 2008
Posts: 657
Location: Colorado Springs, CO

PostPosted: Fri Dec 11, 2009 2:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't like to carry anything whle I am leading a pack aniaml. Iahve doemit with oneaniaml, and I might carry my rifle. Bad things can happen fast and a person needs to be able to move quickly .Carry ing stuf or a back pack can be a hindrance at time such as that. Maybe a small day apck at the most.

Personally, to me, two animals are not any harder than one to take care of than one . I can put everything I need on a pack animal ,and take weight off the saddle animal on the day hunts.Then when I get something down, I can pack it out that day and transfer a lot of stuff I had on the pack animal to the saddle animal.

The whole purpose of using horses or mules is so that the hunter does not get used up getting to and from his hunt area.Be that for a day or an extended trip.

You can hunt your butt of all day long, then crawl bcak on your horse and ride 5-10 miles back to camp. If on foot, you are not going to do that too many days

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