Top Ad

Collapse

Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

DIY horseback Colorado elk hunt

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • DIY horseback Colorado elk hunt

    My wife and I are avid horseman and own our own stock. We are looking for a campground that accommodates horses in NW Colorado, I'm currently looking in GMU 23 in the Flat Top range. I've found one online by Trappers lake but it looks like it closes mid October.
    Not interested in drop camping. We would be in an RV.
    I guess my main question would be....does anyone know of horse friendly campgrounds where we could ride right out from camp to hunt?
    I've done a bunch of Google searches but haven't seen much for people like us that want to bring our own horses.

  • #2
    Wayne let me talk to my buddy he is very familiar with the whole state. They have a place they camp, they have a camp stove and all the other big stuff stashed out there so they only have to make two trips in on horseback for a two week stay. I am sure he knows of a campground though. He has been hunting colorado for over 30 years.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks Jason. I'm an avid outdoorsman and we are both excellent with horses but have zero experience with elk or the rockies. Any help is greatly appreciated.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Wayne R View Post
        My wife and I are avid horseman and own our own stock. We are looking for a campground that accommodates horses in NW Colorado, I'm currently looking in GMU 23 in the Flat Top range. I've found one online by Trappers lake but it looks like it closes mid October.
        Not interested in drop camping. We would be in an RV.
        I guess my main question would be....does anyone know of horse friendly campgrounds where we could ride right out from camp to hunt?
        I've done a bunch of Google searches but haven't seen much for people like us that want to bring our own horses.
        Boy, where to start. I also had my own stock (and packed for the USFS) and hunted with them in Montana. That's sort of a misleading statement ... I used them to get to where I hunted on foot. So I speak with the voice of experience.

        1. Are your horses familiar with backcountry? If not, (and I strongly suspect they aren't) that can be a problem. Getting them across trail bridges can be challenging if they're not familiar with it. Getting them across creeks and rivers that don't have bridges can be even worse! Some rookie nags will shy when in close quarters like trees grown in next to a trail. And riding out after dark in the woods can really unnerve a horse that's not used to it. Crossing deadfall (which you will encounter) can be very unfun for the uninitiated. And let's say you just happen to be extremely lucky and see an elk to shoot at. Will it stand there long enough for you to get out of the saddle and tie up your horse? Very unlikely. Don't try shooting from the saddle unless you have a death wish! Don't try shooting out of the saddle without tying the horse to something very solid with something very solid (like nylon 1" rope bowlined over the ears) or you better have some good walking boots because that horse won't stop till it gets to the trailer! So you miss the elk. Try to poke that smoking gun back in the scabbard and see what happens!! Oh boy! Let's say you get lucky and actually kill the elk. Then what? An elk carcass is a handful!! Ever quartered one up? It's a BIG JOB even if you have done it before! Don't make the same mistake I did the first time I packed one out (1971) and chop all the ribs off on the front quarters or you won't be able to put one on the side of the horse. And even if you succeed it will probably pull her right over off her feet. Let's say you actually know how to properly put meat on a horse (and I'm sure you don't know), will your horses actually stand still for it? They smell that blood and see that hair and you're likely in for a rodeo. It will scare the crap out of any horse that's not used to it, I can just about guarantee it. There's ways to deal with it but not something you can expect to figure out on your own standing on the side of a steep mountain with 130 lbs of floppy meat in your arms while doing the polka dance with a packhorse. What do you know about pack saddles? Or do you intend to pack meat with a riding saddle? Not saying it can't be done (I have done it) but it's an art form to accomplish properly and even then not the best deal for the horse. To be continued ...
        Last edited by Ontario Honker Hunter; 02-28-2019, 09:12 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Your reply might scare me off but like I said, we are expert horseman. I'm a farrier and trainer and my wife grew up barrel racing. We bring our horses up the Smoky mountains close to where we live and trail obstacles are no prob, and I shoot a 45 Colt off my primary riding horses.

          Comment


          • #6
            I'll also add that we night ride fairly regularly. I do butcher my own deer, 3-4 a year but like I stated. Zero experience with elk.

            Comment


            • #7
              2. I suspect there's a reason why that campground closed down in October. Like several feet of snow. Better look into that. You may need to adjust your schedule accordingly.

              3. Backcountry horse use is not what it used to be. All kinds of regulations these days. You may be required to have certified weed free feed along. And if it's strictly leave-no-trace you might actually be required to have diapers for your livestock and carry out the poop! Again, you'll need to do your homework, especially if you're hunting federal land.

              4. You will be moving up in elevation several thousand feet. Will you and your horses be up to that? It can take a toll on unconditioned horses just as severely as unconditioned hunters.

              5. Are you aware of all the stock transport regulations along the way? Some places out west back when I had stock it was required (in theory at least) to stop and get a brand inspection every time I crossed a county line with my horses (do you smell cash cow?). Better do your homework because you'll be crossing LOTS of boundaries on your way to Colorado. Better have your trip planned out carefully. You can't just stop anywhere and let the horses out to stretch their legs. Is your trailer ready for that long trip? Be sure to check all the wheel bearings before leaving!!! Keep a close eye on tire pressure along the way.

              6. Are you prepared to take care of your horses once you're out in the sticks? Can you fix a loose shoe or replace one as needed? What do you know about horse first aid? Can you twitch one if it's in a jam and panicking? Do you know how to properly picket a horse without damaging it or the trees it's picketed to? I can almost guarantee you'll see lots of dead trees due to idiots who didn't know.

              Are you getting discouraged? I hope so. Just writing this wore me out all over again. Hunting the backcountry with horses is no scenic drive in the country. It's hard work and a science. If you don't know what you're doing it will be a nightmare even in the best case scenario. Take it from a fella who learned from the school of hard knocks (mostly ... I had some good advice along the way too). This is much, much more complicated than you can possibly imagine. Playing with horses in the arena is a whole different world.
              Last edited by Ontario Honker Hunter; 02-28-2019, 09:08 AM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Wayne R View Post
                Your reply might scare me off but like I said, we are expert horseman. I'm a farrier and trainer and my wife grew up barrel racing. We bring our horses up the Smoky mountains close to where we live and trail obstacles are no prob, and I shoot a 45 Colt off my primary riding horses.
                Well, that sounds a lot better! At least I know you can take care of the horses and have had them in the in the backcountry. I really wouldn't try to shoot a big rifle off that horse without spending a lot of time getting him acclimated to the extra noise. Anyway, it's been my experience that most of the hunting is done on foot. Horse gets you to where the elk have been and then it's stalking on the ground.

                What do you know about packing? Joe Back's book is still the bible on that subject. A great help but I'll add an important edit to it: don't pack meat unless it's wrapped up in canvas. I don't like panniers ... stuff in them flops around too much and that bugs the horses (especially inexperienced horses). Tie the loads on per Back's beautiful pen and ink illustrations. Tie the horses up stoutly and a good ways away from where the elk has been dressed and quartered. Then drag the wrapped meat to them (NEVER try to load fur onto an inexperienced horse!). Let them stand with the smell while you go eat your lunch for a half hour. Come back and then try to load. If the horse is still wild, shove some Vaseline in nostrils, let her settle down, come back and try again. Do NOT get horses anywhere close to the gut pile. If you don't have any pack saddles, I would suggest buying only one. Make two trips. It's better to be in the saddle leading the pack horse out ... if possible. Horses cannot simply stop anywhere going up a steep incline ... or I should say they won't put up with a lot of stoppages waiting for you to catch your breath. Stopping and starting is hard on them. They want to keep momentum. They'll eventually get fed up with waiting on you and either drag you to the top or leave you behind. Mind you some places it may not be possible to ride the horse out with packhorse in tow. Don't shoot an elk in those places if you can help it (but it happened to me more than once!). Keep in mind that horses just can't go everywhere. Also keep in mind that the later it gets in the season, the greater the risk that you can get snowed out in a few hours, especially in that high country. You may not have several days to get an elk carcass out of that remote basin even if you do have horses. Better pass on him.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Wayne R View Post
                  I'll also add that we night ride fairly regularly. I do butcher my own deer, 3-4 a year but like I stated. Zero experience with elk.
                  If you have horses I don't advise boning the meat in the field. Gets too dirty and the load is too floppy. Quarter it bone in. Sounds like you're tough enough to lift a bone-in quarter onto a horse if you're tough enough to shoe them. Cut the front quarters off at BETWEEN THIRD AND FOURTH RIB FROM THE BOTTOM. Go ahead and quarter with the hide on. It will keep the meat a bit cleaner, especially if there's no snow on the ground. You'll need a meat saw to cut up the animal. Follow Back's instructions to the letter re meat side out and hocks pointing in the right direction. Also his hitch advice is best (barrel for hind quarters and basket for front ones). If you plan on hunting out of your RV you won't need to be tying any diamond hitch top loads so don't bother buying a lash cinch, etc. His book is small and compact. Just the right size for saddle bag. Buy the cloth bound edition if you can find it. It will hold up better. Wish I was available to help. I'd enjoy that. I'm sure I can still manta up a load and tie it on blindfolded. Seems a shame all my knowledge is going to waste.

                  Oh, and if just hunting out of the RV, I wouldn't think you will need more than two horses. Any more is just extra stuff to worry about (especially when you're gone hunting).
                  Last edited by Ontario Honker Hunter; 02-28-2019, 10:17 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    If it were me I would schedule a hunt for my wife and I with a guide for the first time. I would not want to experiment with my horses if I valued them. One possibility might be to hire a guide to go along with you and your horses for the first time. Good luck, let us know how it goes. Take notes and pictures. Jim

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      That's sound advice thanks!
                      My wife and I have ridden places most people would shy away from, that being said I will definitely play it safe on the side of a mountain in the Rockies.
                      I thought about bringing a pack horse. I have 14 horses and a couple that are broke to drive so I thought about training it to pony along with a pack on it.
                      Honestly, I'm just glad the wife wants to come along so I'm viewing it as more of another back country ride for us, but geared up more for hunting.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Wayne R, jhjimbo makes a VERY good point.
                        I realize "buying" a horse back hunt may be a bit pricey, but in the long run, watching and taking notes from someone with firsthand experience can be a real big plus.
                        The last hunt I went on in Colorado (1979), we just hired the "packer" to take us and our gear into the mountains and leave us riding stock.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          And we may do that. Still in the planning stages. We hope to do this next year, 2020 season.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Wayne R View Post
                            Thanks Jason. I'm an avid outdoorsman and we are both excellent with horses but have zero experience with elk or the rockies. Any help is greatly appreciated.
                            I have not hunted on horseback myself but have hunted colorado. It is one heck of an adventure your first time. Very worth it though.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I have bow hunted for elk several times in Colorado, nothwest part. Tags were over the counter. Are rifle tags by drawing, or they also over the counter ?

                              Comment

                              Welcome!

                              Collapse

                              Welcome to Field and Streams's Answers section. Here you will find hunting, fishing, and survival tips from the editors of Field and Stream, as well as recommendations from readers like yourself.

                              If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ for information on posting and navigating the forums.

                              And don't forget to check out the latest reviews on guns and outdoor gear on fieldandstream.com.

                              Right Rail 1

                              Collapse

                              Top Active Users

                              Collapse

                              There are no top active users.

                              Right Rail 2

                              Collapse

                              Latest Topics

                              Collapse

                              Right Rail 3

                              Collapse

                              Footer Ad

                              Collapse
                              Working...
                              X