One thing that hasn't been addressed is the need for a breeching/britchin and a breast collar when using a set of saddle panniers.
It may not be necessary if you are on flat ground, but likely since you are elk hunting it is likely going to have slope, maybe even lean out a little.
I have met people going down the trail or observed from a distance with optics, horses with loaded saddle panniers with the saddle slid nearly up on the neck or slid forward and pinching the withers and gotten to watch the jackpot that followed. Packing epecially rutting bulls can get a little western at times even with the best of equipment.
I will admit to never using them(saddle panniers), but then again I have always had 5 or 10 head of mules and horses looking over fence at me every morning. So I have never lacked for pack stock or proper packing equipment.
I would suggest a couple books for you.
Horses, Hitches and Rocky Trails, by Joe Back (RIP, of Dubois Wyoming) it is a good read even if you aren't using it for information.
Horse Packing in pictures by Francis Davis (out of print, check amazon or alturis(sp)
The first time I rented two horses with a friend out in Wyoming we ran into this trouble. Even though both of them were no problem taking care of or riding it was a different story when we tried to pack out a mulie buck. Neither wanted to be close to that dead deer and we finally ended up boning it completely out and putting all the meat in a couple garbage bags that we were lucky to have along and then put them in the cloth saddle panniers we had rented. The horse went out like that with no problem. When we turned the horse and tack in at the end of the trip we told the owner about the problem and he said he couldn't believe that and that they were all trained to pack game. Yea, right!!!
Never leave it in the holder when you are not on the horse. If you haven't bought holders yet, bring your gun to the Tac Shop with you when you buy any. The larger scopes on todays rifles make it nearly impossible for guns to fit properly in old style ones that we basically intended for open sights. Always tape the end of your gun to keep debris and or moisture getting into it.
If you're bowhunting, get a "soft case" that can strap easily behind the saddle. When flying to do a horseback hunt, invest in a soft case to put in your hard case or make sure the outfitter can supply you with one.
Never leave it in the holder when you are not on the horse. If you haven't bought holders yet, bring your gun to the Tac Shop with you when you buy any.
I only had and hunted with horses for 20 years. What's the "holder"? And how many of them did I need?
Always tape the end of your gun to keep debris and or moisture getting into it.
A friend of mine has a cabin in the area he hunts elk. He usually hunts on horseback. One day it had been snowing all day and the snow had accumulated on the trees and bushes. When he got to his cabin that night, he brought his saddle and rifle into the cabin. He had been hunting with a custom .338 that he left in the leather saddle scabbard, and stood it in a corner, muzzle down.
The next day he spotted some bulls, got off his horse, pulled his rifle out of the scabbard and shot at one of the bulls. BOOM the barrel split open from the muzzle almost the whole length back and shattered the forend of the stock. Luckily, he was not hurt.
Evidently, the previous day, snow had fallen into the scabbard and when he brought it inside the warm cabin that night it melted. The end of the scabbard was tight enough that the water didn't leak out. The next day while he was riding the water in the scabbard and the rifles muzzle froze, plugging the barrel. When he fired the shot, the bullet hit the ice plug in the muzzle, and the barrel split.
As for the canvas saddle paniers, I have 2 sets of them. I packed a lot of camps in with them, and a pile of elk, 3 bull moose, 2 bighorn rams, and one black bear out in them. Loading the quarters of a bull moose into and out of those saddle paniers by myself one year was a bit of a chore.
That guy was as lucky as all get out that he didn't have some serious bodily dmage with that plugged barrel. That is another good example in that you just can't be too careful when you are talking guns!!! Too bad he didn't take it out of the "holder"!!!
I can't believe that anybody even with a little bit of knowledge would leave a rifle in a scabbard or a holder over night when they have been in wet conditions. But then perhaps that is just me. If I know that the rifle got wet I'll oil it down when I get back to camp and at the least take it out to make sure that it is dry.
I sure can't argue with that critter! I take care of my firearms like I would a baby and even though they all have been used a lot they all still look almost like new! I hate to see anything not taken care of properly and that guy was lucky he didn't blow his head or other body parts off!
I just got back from my elk trip to Colorado and must say that I learned quite a bit about hiking in that one trip. I researched all I could on the internet and thought I was prepared going out. For the most part I was but I want to pass on a few major things I learned that helped me drastically!
1. Pack light. I know this may sound like common sense but believe me. After reading everyone's advice on what you need to pack, chances are your pack will end up weighing more...