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exbiologist's picture
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Pack Stock

My buddies and I have been weighing the pros and cons of horses and mules, but I've also been considering pack goats.
Who here has much experience with horses, mules, llamas or goats? I like the idea of goats due to cost, maintenance and the ease of training, but you can't ride them and I worry about them being eaten. Same thing with llamas, but I have no experience with them. When I was younger I raised pack goats, so I have a comfort level with them.
But what about horses and mules? I hate the costs involved with keeping one or two year round, and the initial cost is appalling for a supposedly well trained animal, but the amount of effort involved with untrainted animals can be a nightmare. And of course they can kill you if they spook. My buddy got run over by his mare last fall because she didn't want the elk legs attached to the rest of the meat. He was ok, but it could have been much worse.
Anyone with horror stories, or success stories with any of these? And what would you do, with a limited budget?

B.A.M.F's picture
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Pack Stock

If it were me id go horses! BUT they have to be comfortable w/ shooting! I have been on a few in my day and thay are big powerful animals that can throw you pretty hard! They take alot of wrok to get to a point of trust to shoot around! Just my .02

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Location: WESTERN COLORADO
Joined: 03/18/2009
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Pack Stock

I bought my first horse 6 years ago and I now have 2 , they have been great for hunting thats why I got them as I am not a "horse person" .I have crappy knees and my hunting partner has crappy ankles so even if we only ride in 2 miles thats 2 more miles we can hike while hunting.We have packed in for a couple of hunts and that is a whole new world of hunting even if you walk and the horse packs .We both bought generic west slope grade horses between 8 and 15 years old that had trail and packing background.they are not fancy and none of them cost over a $900 they go any where and pack anything,bought the tack and trailers at auctions.Bottom line for each of us was about $3600 for 2 horse, tack , trailer , saddle panyards ect. Feed ,hoof triming ,shots,fly spray ect about $700 per year per horse.But hay is a lot higher on the front range I pay $4.50 to $5.50 a bale.The mule people say once you have one you'll never buy another horse for many reasons ,but you will pay $2500 to $4000 for a good mule! I am lucky that I can ride right from my house, If I had to trailer every time I wanted to ride I wouldn't have them .Too much work!! Look around your hunting area there are people that will rent you a horse for $200 to $300 a week,no vet bills ,no trailer ,no finding some one to feed them when your gone , ha! why didin't I do that !!!

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Location: WESTERN COLORADO
Joined: 03/18/2009
Posts: 78
Pack Stock

I bought my first horse 6 years ago and I now have 2 , they have been great for hunting thats why I got them as I am not a "horse person" .I have crappy knees and my hunting partner has crappy ankles so even if we only ride in 2 miles thats 2 more miles we can hike while hunting.We have packed in for a couple of hunts and that is a whole new world of hunting even if you walk and the horse packs .We both bought generic west slope grade horses between 8 and 15 years old that had trail and packing background.they are not fancy and none of them cost over a $900 they go any where and pack anything,bought the tack and trailers at auctions.Bottom line for each of us was about $3600 for 2 horse, tack , trailer , saddle panyards ect. Feed ,hoof triming ,shots,fly spray ect about $700 per year per horse.But hay is a lot higher on the front range I pay $4.50 to $5.50 a bale.The mule people say once you have one you'll never buy another horse for many reasons ,but you will pay $2500 to $4000 for a good mule! I am lucky that I can ride right from my house, If I had to trailer every time I wanted to ride I wouldn't have them .Too much work!! Look around your hunting area there are people that will rent you a horse for $200 to $300 a week,no vet bills ,no trailer ,no finding some one to feed them when your gone , ha! why didin't I do that !!!

ecubackpacker's picture
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Joined: 09/11/2009
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Pack Stock

Anybody know where I could rent a horse for a week or hire a guide 2 pack out the meat if successful in Unit 7 for first rifle? Plan on backpacking but a horse/mule/llama would be a big help b/c I'll be going alone. Also any info on a taxidermist/meat processor? Any info would be a great help. Thanks.

Kelly

exbiologist's picture
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Sendero Ranches does most of the pack horse rentals in the state. And buckhorn llamas will rent you llamas. They both provide some level of drop off services and both have websites. If you're in unit 7, Ft. Collins has a good processor, called Reliable Game Processing on Hwy 14. I don't have much of an opinion on taxidermists

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Pack Stock

Hey Exbio I am a farrier and get under around 35-50 horses a week. I have never hunted off horses or mules but I would have to say I would choose them over the goats . If there are any coyotes in the area they would be lunch. Llamas could take care of themselves , they are actually used as guard animals for goat and sheep heards. I once saw a dopey shepard cross run into a sheep pen to play with the sheep and the Llama in the pen grabbed that dog by the back of the neck and shook the dog up. Honestly having owned quite a few horses if you could rent horses for the week that would be the way to go. Hope this is some help it seems its usually you giving me advice. Thanks ...Tony

ecubackpacker's picture
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Ex Thanks for the info. I'm guessing u meant Sombrero Ranches as I couldn't find anything on Sendero Ranches. Post a reply if different. Going 2 send an email 2 Buckhorn about renting from them, seems easier 2 manage llamas. Thanks again. Kelly

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Location: Northern High Sierra
Joined: 02/11/2009
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Been hunting east of Meeker Col for the last several years. My group rents their horses from Sombrero. We have our own tack, Sombreros is really used. Generally good horses. Tack is cheap compared to the cost of keeping a horse. If I packed more during the year I may be able to justify buying a horse or mule or both. For now the system works. Also, a goat or llama will not carry the load that a hose or mule can.

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Location: Colorado
Joined: 10/05/2004
Posts: 126
Pack Stock

I've rented horses from Sombrero Ranches in the past. Generally decent stock. I have used other horses from a suggestion from a buddy and got something just short of rodeo stock. Not the greatest experience.
Not sure if Rex Walker still owns Sombrero.

Good Luck

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Joined: 01/22/2007
Posts: 120
Pack Stock

Goats pack at most 40lbs each. A good horse will pack 150-200 lbs.
Llamas are 60-70 maybe 80lbs. so you need to figure 5 goats, two llamas or 1 horse.

goats and Llamas will eat almost anything. Horses need grass or pellets and during October, grass is scarce. So you will need to pack in grain or feed for the horses, Maybe nothing for the other two

I have 4 horses and my buddy brings his, So 5 horses, We ride in two horses and pack 3. We usually have to make two trips to get all our stuff ( wall tent, stove, cots, sleeping gear food ) One trip for our stuff, second trip to haul feed for the horses.

Horses need to be used year round. You can't just turn them out and leave them for 10 monhs and expect them to be useable for hunting season. I ride my horses at least once a week. And I have no trouble loading almost anything ontop of them,. We hauled a moose out last week in the dark and my horses didn't give it a second sniff. I've loaded elk on them in high wind storms with trees crashing down. Horses were nervous of the wind, but didn't care about the elk.

After you buy the horse and all the gear, I figure it cost me $1000 a year to keep each horse. Vet bills & vaccinations, Farrier bills, hay etc. If you can rent a horse for hunting season for $1000 or less, you are probably money ahead to rent. But I thoroughly enjoy my horses. Fishing trips in the summer, Shed hunting late spring. Getting out and away from cabin fever in the winter, and of course hunting in the fall. I don't do anythng with cows, fairgrounds, rodeos, or other horsey activities. I trail ride and enjoy the out of doors.

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