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Ca_Vermonster's picture
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Horseback elk hunt?

Like Jim, I am trying to arrange an elk hunt the next couple of years in Colorado, and one thing I have always wanted to do is hunt elk by horseback.

I am wondering, for those of you that are familiar with it, is it generally more expensive than a normal elk hunt, less expensive, etc.?  Are there certain things to look out for when looking into that type of hunt, and are there certain areas that are better for it than others?

groovy mike's picture
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don't know.

I have no experience hunting on horse back but I grew up around horses and have to admit that a pack in hunt in the back country has some appeal just as a historical aspect and for cool factor.

Topgun 30-06's picture
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A horseback hunt is generally

A horseback hunt is generally going to be more expensive because you will normally be taking them in for a number of hours to get to the base camp.  Whether you will use them to hunt the area depends on where you go and the terrain involved.  Normally a horse is used to get you to a good area faster than you could do it on foot and then the horse is tied and you glass or do some footwork.  I have been on one guided hunt for mulies in Wyoming and did two DIY hunts where I rented the animals, tack, and trailer.  If you happen to be even giving a thought to the latter, be prepared to spend a lot of extra time in the morning and evening taking care of the critters because it isn't easy making sure they get enough water and feed every day, besides knowing how to saddle them, put on panniers, shoe them if one drops a shoe, etc.  I'll never do another DIY with horses as it's just too much work and lost time.  That's why you pay a goodly sum of money to the outfitter for the guides to do all that stuff besides trying to find you a good animal!

Ca_Vermonster's picture
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Wow, thanks for the quick

Wow, thanks for the quick reply. 

Yeah, I had thought about all the upkeep of the horses that needs to be done, but hadn't thought about how it would affect your hunt.

Guess I will have to look around.

jaybe's picture
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There is no doubt that horses

There is no doubt that horses can be a real advantage - both for getting back into more remote country and also for packing game out.

It's no secret that many hunters never go more than a mile or so off the road or trailhead, so if you can get several miles back in, you will have the area pretty much to yourself.

By using horses, you will also have someone to carry your gear, food and other supplies, rather than packing it all on your back.

Extra cost - of course, but if you're going to get off the beaten track, why not save up and do it right?

One thing to take into consideration, however - make sure you condition your own body to riding a horse.

I have heard of hunters who got on a horse in the morning, rode 10-15 miles, and then couldn't walk for a couple of days.

Several trips to a local riding stable for a few weeks prior to a hunting trip such as this would pay great dividends in the way of conditioning.

Good Luck if you do it, and be sure to let us know how it goes.  Thumbs up


GooseHunter Jr's picture
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I have never hunted from

I have never hunted from horses even though it sounds like fun.  I know it is more expensive..like $1000 for 5 days for one horse.  I have a buddy that his dad runs hroses for a big Ranch here in Colorado and the horse are all used for hunting  and packing purposes.  he told me himself he would never hunt from a horse.  He said you will spend alot of time in the morning and evening taking care of the horses in which that time could be better spent hunting.  he did say however to take a horse hunting and leave it in Camp and using it for only packing purposes is alot better .  You can just give them a lrge area to graze from and make they get water.  Then just saddke them up or walk them into your kill and then let them do the heavy haul work.  After he said that I mentioned using a mule for just that and he said even a better idea than a horse. 

With all that said I have thought about packing in with a horse and then just hunt on foot from camp and just use the horse to get in and out.  there were some guys up elk huting this yer that did it and packied in about 4 miles from a base camp.  That put them right in the elk every morning without alot of walking or horse prep work.

Where are you thinking about going on your elk hunting trip.

TwoBear's picture
Joined: 12/13/2010
Posts: 43
We charge the same for lodge

We charge the same for lodge hunts as we do for pack in hunts.  So check around and see what you can come up with.  Also, an important criteria in selecting a hunt off horses is how far is it to camp?  If its a day in, and another day out, that will be counted as "hunt days".  So a 6 day elk hunt, you may only get 4 days of hunting.

hawkeye270's picture
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Even once you have decided to

Even once you have decided to hunt with horses you have a lot of decisions to make. You can either go on a guided hunt on horseback where your guide is going to get you and the gear back in there a ways, set up camp and guide you while hunting. You can also go on a unguided drop camp hunt off horseback where your guide will pack you and your gear into an area and then drop you off. Some of these outfits will pick you up and move you if you are not finding game... some of them will not. You will want to find that out before hand. The other options with horses is to rent them. It is going to be your cheapest option but I have heard some horror stories. Sombraro is the biggest horse outfit in Colorado. They rent horses all over the state. I have heard horror stories about them (and had to personally help some guys in the middle of nightmare) and have also talked with guys that swear by them. I would call up some references and talk to them before you do anything. And you and Jim should brainstorm together if you both are seriously going by yourselves. You will pay a lot less for a 2x1 guided hunt than a 1x1.

Location: north idaho
Joined: 06/11/2004
Posts: 610
how good of a wrangler are

how good of a wrangler are you?   do you know how to tie diamond hitches?

Do you use a high line or cobbles?  Pellets or let graze or a combo of both.

If you understand what these questions are, do a diy horse back hunt.  If you don't get an outfitter.  I grew up doing the horseback into the wilderness and they where great trips.  But horses take alot of work and a lifestyle.   But if you want to hunt the wilderness effectively, they are a god send. 

With that said.  I have killed more elk off of a mtn bike than a horse.   I wish the dang laws would change around wilderness and let mtn bikes in.   

JSmitty's picture
Location: Eunice, NM
Joined: 09/23/2008
Posts: 313
we take horses on all our elk

we take horses on all our elk hunts and some of our deer hunts. 

On the deer hunts most of the time we are in the southeast nm sand so we can cover more ground and see more country from horse back.

On the elk hunts we have used them to get into the wilderness but to be truthful most of the time the horses stay in camp high lined over water so no worries about them until we get something down and then they can earn their keep and believe me they are worth their trouble as pack horses.

Tndeerhunter's picture
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horseback hunt

After looking over all the great replies so far I thought there might be one or two things not perhaps addressed. I've been on two horseback hunts, one in Idaho and one in Alberta. Obviously I am NOT an expert, but have a couple of thoughts, nonetheless.

If you hire a reputable outfitter for your hunt and then hunt an area restricted from any vehicular traffic (such as some national forests and private lands) you may well have a leg up on the crowd. It's one thing humping 10 miles into the wilderness on foot, but humping back out with an elk, still on foot will cure most from trying that again.

As far as camp accomodations, if you need a bed and heat when you lay your head down at night you may also need a private ranch for your hunting site. One that does not allow others, besides their clients from hunting there and uses their own livestock to get you up those dang mountains every morning, while getting you back to your roof at night.

A remote camp is a lot tougher, but perhaps not less enjoyable. I did both and think I actually preferred the remote camp cold, as it was...lol.

One last thing. If you think you might enjoy a horseback hunt in the mountains for deer or elk, simply put, you will. I promise you that. Do not base all your enjoyment on a harvest. Instead, look at such a hunt as a lifetime experience. Drink in the air. Take photos of everything. Appreciate the new vistas around every curve in the trail. Your hunt will be as good as YOU make it!  Yes


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