I enjoyed this article. For some reason I had never really considered a horse for hunting.
I just figured horses would hate the gun fire, I was surprised to learn that horses could be trained to get used to gun fire. I figured the blood from the game animal would make them skiddish... just goes to show you I don't know much about horses. :smile:
Horses = problems, IMO, the ATV is the way to go unless your a horse person, in which case you add your hobbies together on your outing. They are just chock full of problems, feed, water, tack, shelter if weather bad, the heck with horses, ATV, gas, and if you want fancy a tarp to cover it.
I'm a little torn on the issue. I tend to agree that I really like the idea of parking the ATV and forgetting it until I need it again. I'd lose interest in the ATV pretty quick if I had to go out there constantly and pump gas into it, wash it, hire a mechanic to come out and tweak it all the time, etc. But then, I raised cattle and hogs and in my opinion horses require way too much maintenance as a species.
But then again, an ATV doesn't have a horse's personality (is that good or bad?), and with today's restrictions you can take a horse a lot more places than you can ever take an ATV. I gotta admit there's been times when I've trudged a long way through snow on an elk hunt and come across hunters on horses, sitting up high and comfortable like George Washington. Gave me an idea of what it must've been like at Valley Forge.
I just don't know if it'd be worth the expense and effort. You've got to have the horse because you like horses as a hobby, and not simply as hunting transportation.
I gotta admit there's been times when I've trudged a long way through snow on an elk hunt and come across hunters on horses, sitting up high and comfortable like George Washington. Gave me an idea of what it must've been like at Valley Forge.
You have more noble thoughts than I. Usually their are a few practical things going through my head in this situation:
- Damn this elk is heavy, should have brought a !%*^* atv or horse.
- Damn my feet are beat, that horse would be mighty fine!
Either way, I think a horse could help you get into terrain that only your feet and determination would otherwise. 4 wheel drive (on a truck or atv) is great but it does have its limits.
All this is theoretical for me, I have never used a horse for a hunt or an atv for that matter...
If vehicles scared away game you wouldn't see as many road hunters as you do.
A lot of it no doubt boils down to what the game is seeing throughout the year. Game animals are smart, and don't inherently fear mechanical things. Go to Yellowstone and you'll see this exhibited in a big way by all kinds of animals paying no attention to gawking tourists. Over time they learn to associate things with threats. I'd wager that if deer see ATVs year 'round but horses only during hunting season, a horse will spook them more than an ATV.
My daughter and I just got back from our late season elk hunt. We both were able to get a cow. We used horses; and of course there were horse problems, minor. But without the use of them we would not have elk hanging in the shop. First it was a walk in unit, and even if it wasn't I don't think an ATV could cover the terrain we were riding in with the deep snow. There is no perfect hunting rig. Tall mountains, deep snow, and notched tags what more could one want :smile:
ATV's disturb other hunters, I know they disturb me. They're noisy as hell and leave permanent scares on the landscape. If you can't walk, buy a horse if you can't afford the upkeep of the horse walk. If you can't do either stick to the roads, lord knows there are enough of them carving up the land.
There has to be room for both ATV's and the Horses /mules etc. We will always find people that dont like either of em, but they both have their good sides. I love my horses, and have many times admired them and thanked them for getting me into and out of places I could not hunt without them. Many years and nearly twenty elk have I taken out on my back, wondering all the time how a beast of burden would be in that situation. Now I have a meager 10 years of horse experience. I am no cowboy or "horse person" ,but they do bring a measure of something different to the table in a back-country hunt. Yes, they need tending, water, feed, training and can be jerks. Often I would love to back on only my backpack etc, but the flip side is when I "cowboyed" down a narrow elk trail on my horse, over a rock outcropping and returned the same way all packed up with my 6x bull the rush wouldn't be near the same with out them. My mare will stand all fours on a stretched, bloody elk hide and not freak out...some definetly will. There's good ones and trouble ones thats for sure. If I knew of plenty of public land accesable by atv I would own one of them too! The ATV hunters dont offend me, they have the right to choose the same as me...as long as they are not trespasing on land closed to motor traffic. Just thought I would jump in.........
Understanding wind currents and thermals in hilly, broken terrain can often be incredibly frustrating. I've found that collecting and storing milkweed seed pods during the late summer has made me a better hunter in the bluff country that I hunt. These little feather like seed dispersers will float on the lightest of air currents and will show you what the wind is not only doing right at you're location but more importantly down range. I like to use the off season to float them...