Elk Hunting With Horses



Regarding hunting with horses, an associate and experienced wrangler and elk hunter, gave me some guidelines to share with you. This information assumes that you will be using the horses, on your own, without a guide. (See video below: How to pack quarters on a horse.)

Will Your Horse Cooperate?

Pack Horse Overloaded

First, keep it simple. Don’t use more equipment than you need and know your equipment before you go hunting with horses.

You should preferably know your horse, as well. What will the horse be willing to do? How will it react to having huge chunks of meat strapped to its back? How does it do in pitch dark in new surroundings?

Know where you are going. Give yourself time to get there and back. Know your limitations and your horses’ limitations.

Is the Horse in Shape?

Plan ahead thoroughly before going hunting with horses. Stock should be in good shape to handle the length of the trip. Take the time to get your horses in shape by going on trail rides in varied terrain. When your animals are in shape it is easier on them and they will be more cooperative and obedient. Take care of shoeing ahead of time. Make sure to have sound horses with sound feet.

Don't expect your horse to pack you and your gear ten miles into a wilderness area, when they have been a pasture ornament for the last 6 months. Keeping your stock “legged up” during the off season makes tackling the hills easier in the fall.

You might want to ask around your area for someone interested in doing some riding on your horse. They may be able to help put some much needed miles on your stock, if you can’t. Some charge by the hour, some by the ride. Arena work is great to get to know the horse and workout any “issues”, but trails and hills will put on muscle and get them ready for distance and load.

Use Quality Tack and Know It

Pack Horses

Use the summer time to become familiar with your equipment and methods of packing. Don’t expect your horse to know what a pack saddle is when she’s standing at the trail head.

Become familiar with what that saddle feels like after a few miles. Not spending the time getting used to tack can spell disaster on the trail or during the hunt.

Saddle Pannier

If you need to buy tack, buy quality, well in advance of your next trip hunting with horses. There are many sources of tack online. However, hands-on knowledge of what to use, and how to use it can’t be beat.

That doesn't mean you have to buy everything new. There are lots of good used saddles and pack saddles available that have been well cared for. Check at saddle shops, even pawn and second hand shops. Auctions and estate sales sometimes have these hidden treasures as well.

Know the Area and Horse Use Regulations

Related topics available:
Field Dressing Elk
Gutless Field Dressing
Skinning Elk
Deboning Elk in the Field
Moving a Whole Elk
Game Hauler Review

Know the area you plan to hunt, including any regulations pertaining to stock use and feed requirements. What are the grazing restrictions in that area?

If you will be using pellets or hay cubes, make sure your horses get used to them ahead of time. Start them on weed-free feed at least one week before your trip. This gives their system time to flush out any noxious weed seed.

Hunting With Horses: Keep it Clean!

Keep your tack in good shape. The cinch and pads need regular cleaning. Too much hair and dirt build up can cause sores. The last thing you want while hunting with horses is a lame animal along that can’t be used. Your stock and equipment are investments in a quality hunt. If you take care of them, they will take care of you.

Mountain Lightening Storms

Jack Meigs contributes the following advice about lightening: When lightning is getting closer, get down beneath tree line as soon as possible, because lightning in the mountains can be dangerously close. If you are at your camp and lightning is in the area, don't tie your horses to trees. It would be safer to hobble them, because the lightning can strike a tree and travel down to the horse.

Plan Carefully

The number of days out you will spend hunting with horses will have to equal the food and gear, not only for yourself, but for your stock as well. More days out means more gear per person. Keep gear and clothing to a minimum.

When setting up loads for your horses, balance of the load is critical. The load weight on each side should be within 3 pounds of the other side. (Watch the video below about how to pack meat on your horse.)

Day hunting trips from camp are great ways to learn new areas. If you are planning to ride only so far out, then just stay in that area for the day. While you are out hunting, your horses will need to be used to being tied for long periods. A trip actually hunting with horses is not the time to start this training. If you have a problem horse, leave it at home.

Sometimes, the Forest Service does seminars on hunting with horses including packing, low impact stock use and camping. Some of these are done at the Nine Mile Ranger Station out of Missoula, here in Montana. Check with the Forest Service in your area.

There are some licensed horse rentals for the Western States. Do your homework before renting a horse. Do they have pack stock or not? Do they give any sort of instructions regarding their rental horses?

Horseback elk hunting can be fun. You can cover a lot more ground in a day than on foot. You rest, the horse walks, but you have to do the planning and take care of all the details to make it all come together.

(Do yo have any tips for hunting with horses?)

Video: How to Pack Game Quarters on a Horse



Please subscribe to or our Quick Elk Hunting Tips and Updates newsletter or to an RSS feed (see left column for both) to be alerted whenever new information is added to the site.

We'd appreciate it if you would "Like" us on Facebook, or share this site with others.


Use Google Custom Search to search this site:

Custom Search


Return to the Do-It-Yourself Elk Hunting page, from Hunting With Horses

New! Comments

What do you think about this topic? Leave a comment in the box below.



Search This Site Here:

Custom Search

Huntin Fool

Huntin'Fool consultants provide economical hunt planning for your dream hunt. You'll be impressed! Try the 60 day Free Trial, if you like what you see and subscribe to a standard or premium membership, 20% of your subscription will be applied to any purchase over $50 from ElkHuntingTips.Net! Just let us know here and we'll apply your discount to your purchase on this site.

Gear and Services That We Use:
ASAT Camo

Free U.S. Shipping On ASAT Camo


Montana Decoy Elk/Deer
Now Available Here!

Montana Decoy

$99.00 Free Shipping!


Bugling Bull
Game Calls

$5 Flat Rate Shipping
or Free Shipping over $50


ElkNut Productions

Free Shipping on
ElkNut Products Here


The StringSling:
Best Bow Sling Design!

String Sling Bow Sling

$28.95, Including U.S. Shipping

Also, see the XBow Buddy/CrossBow Sling here


Clip-Shot: 1 oz. Camera Mount

$19.95 Free U.S. Shipping


Skull Hookers
Now Available Here!

Skull hooker

$34.99 & 59.99 Free U.S. Shipping!


The Safari Sling:
Best Rifle Sling Design!

Safari Sling Best Rifle Sling Available

$27.99 Free US Shipping


2013 Five Yard Archery Kill Video:

6 X 6 Archery Bull: 5 Yard Shot With Video by: Dave, ElkHuntingTips.Net


Go to Forums

Forum Topic Discussions:


Is a 308 rifle enough for elk hunting?I recently bought a Mossberg in 308 caliber. I am wondering if that caliber is ok..., by Skip (Tucson, AZ)

295 yard kill with a Kimber Montana 325 WSM, by Don from Dallas: My ELk did not even twitch once. He was dead when he hit the ground.

325 WSM is worth considering, Palmer Lake,CO: I believe that the .325 WSM is the ultimate elk caliber...

30-30 for Elk? : I have a 30 30 with 170 grain round nose bullet. Will this work to shoot an elk ?

(More comments about Best Elk Rifle below)

Recent Submissions

Unit 62 in Montrose, Colorado?, by Skip, Anyone hunt Unit 62?

Best and Cheapest State to take Nonresident Youth, by Noel (MN), I've always wanted to elk hunt but $$ and distance has detoured me...

Help needed for 1st DIY Hunt w/Son, by Patrick (Parker, CO), "I was looking for some advice on my 1st DIY hunt for 2014 in CO with my 13 yr old son. I have countless hrs going over stats, topo maps & Google Earth"

Benches?, by Scott (Minnesota)...could you explain a little more about benches? I've read a lot of magazines and they all mention benches and that elk typically bed 1/3 the way down a slope.

2013 elk bow hunt around Pagosa Springs: by Bobby (Little Rock , Arkansas), looking for someone to join my DIY hunt!...

Unique Elk Talk by Idaho Steve (Hailey, Id ), In the middle of the night, a herd of elk came traveling through the drainage and right past my tent...

Smelly Elk Areas? by Jimmy (New Mexico), I've come across many areas that just stink of elk, literally. I have heard two somewhat contradictory stories...

DIY Gear List Must Have's! by Craig (Florida) "Here are some of the items I use on my DIY hunts in the CO backcountry..."

Elk and Deer Hunting and Mountain Bikes, by Skip Shepherd (Tucson, AZ)~ At 67 I am thinking a lot about investing in a mountain bike to get back into remote areas...

Elk Hunting Colorado Unit 85, by Jerry~ I'm looking for any good advice on hunting elk in unit 85 in Colorado Spanish peaks area....


Solo archery hunting -- tips for calling/set up?, by Idaho Steve (Hailey, ID )~ I hunt by myself a lot...I'd love to hear your thoughts on strategic set-ups when solo hunting and calling.

Non- Lead Bullets for Elk?, by Dave, Elk Hunting Tips.Net (Garrison, MT)~ What do you ballistics guys think about the use of non-lead bullets for elk? According to this story...

Rage Broadheads by Chris, ...my buddy gave me a rage practice tip and when I shot it you could not pick out the broadhead from the field points. I was sold...

Recent Submissions:

Finally filled the freezer..., Colorado Rockies~ "I was bummed when I got to the property and no elk, nor any hoof prints in the snow. ...I pulled each of the elk into shade then started gutting..."


Wounded Veteran Elk hunts, by Joshua FL), I am a disabled veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and have always dreamed of hunting elk. I am posting this to see if anyone would know of any elk hunts free to disabled vets....

First Elk with a Bow, by Ryan H. (Colorado), ...Finally after many years of hunting with a bow "I got er did"!

First Elk!, by Tater (Sheridan, Arkansas) I took the advice I received from this website and was successful…I wanted to Thank You and Your Forum and the folks that share on here for the knowledge and information that helped me find an elk I was quite happy with.


Questions

Any success in Unit 14?, by: Dave (MI), "I'm planning on doing a DIY in Unit 14 for 2012..."

Rough Estimating Elk Antler Score, by Tater (Sheridan, AR) "I have booked my first elk hunt out west. My package includes up to 250 inches before the bonus prices increase. Can someone tell me how to estimate the antler size of an elk or at least a 250 inch elk?"


Share Elk Hunting Secrets

Bugle in Herd bulls, by Swiltbank (Az) The key to calling in a herd bull is to get into his bedding grounds and threaten his herd. Start off sounding like…


Best Big Game Rifle?

Best Rifle Caliber?, by Buglemup (Superior, MT), “ I've been reading what people have been writing about rifle calibers and here is what 16 years of guiding elk has taught me."

7mm Remington Magnum, by Dean (Helena, MT. USA) I use my Liberty Ruger M77, 7mm Rem. Mag. for antelope, deer, elk... Comment: "What do you guys think about the idea of hunting elk with a 270? I also know a guy who kills elk with a 243."


338 Marlin Express, "Light, fast shooting, hard hitting, manageable recoil, and for a lever gun - very accurate."


Guns I like for Elk, by Mountain Walker (Kootenays east B.C. Canada),"I think the gun you shoot Elk with should be one you shoot a lot with... "


.35 Remington, by Bill Smith "...my .35 Rem appears to have dropped a medium deer flawlessly, but I now have serious doubts as to its capability to take an elk."


Arizona Elk Hunting

Where to hunt in Az unit 3B?, by Cliffjumper (Tucson, Az) ~ I got a late bull muzzle loader hunt in Arizona unit 3b. Does anyone know how to hunt bulls in the late season?...

First time elk hunter hunting Arizona unit 6A , by Rob Marchio (Omaha, Ne)~ I'm a first time elk hunter hunting Arizona's unit 6A. I'm planning on staying in the Pine Grove campground...


Elk Hunting Colorado

Help needed for 1st DIY Hunt w/Son, by Patrick (Parker, CO), "I was looking for some advice on my 1st DIY hunt for 2014 in CO with my 13 yr old son. I have countless hrs going over stats, topo maps & Google Earth"

Elk Hunting Colorado in 2013, By William (Midland, TX) "I am planning an elk hunt next year in Colorado and I wanted to know if hunting Gunnison National Forest..."

Unit 60 Elk 4th Rifle Season Nov 13-17 Either Sex 2013, By Chester "...Any general advice about the unit would be appreciated!"


Idaho Elk Hunting

Elk Hunting Idaho Unit 8 8A 11, This is my first year seriously trying to track down some elk. Is there anyone that has hunted in any of these units and can give me some friendly advice? Mitchell, Moscow Idaho

Elk Hunting Pocatello by Cameron (Pocatello) Where is the best place to elk hunt around Pocatello, Idaho? I'm a student at ISU and I'm looking for somewhere around here to hunt next season.

How is the elk hunting in unit 30A in Idaho?, by Terry (Richland Center, WI) Has anyone archery elk hunted in unit 30A in Idaho? What can you tell me about the area?


Elk Hunting In Montana

Hunting in Western Montana, by Mike A. (Alabama)

I did not draw a tag for Missouri breaks where I have hunted in the past. Having to start over and try western Montana.


New Mexico Elk Hunting

New Mexico Unit 49, by Silas (Los Alamos, NM)

If anyone has tips on areas to start scouting, I'd really appreciate it.

First Elk Hunt First Elk Hunt, by Big "R" (NM)

I finally got drawn for a late elk hunt in Unit 28, north of Road 506 and south of the boundary line of the Lincoln National Forest...


Elk Hunting in Utah

"This is my first year hunting. I'm trying to make it fun and exciting for my kids. We went to the north slope by Bridger and China Meadows..."


Elk Hunting Nevada

Cow elk in Nevada's unit 222:

"Any good places known in unit 222?"

Northeast Nevada Early Elk hunt, by John (Carson City,NV)

"Any suggestions on what areas I may see some signs of elk?"


Questions from Novice Hunters

Retired USMC MSgt Needs Advice, by Ken Wing USMCRET (Bealeton, Va)


Big Game Recipes

Elk or Venison Steaks Grilled to Perfection Here's how to turn them into steakhouse steaks!

Spice-Crusted Grilled Venison Roast Recipe This Spice-Crusted, Grilled Venison Roast recipe works great for any red meat roasts, including elk, deer or beef roast...

Corned Elk Recipe You can easily make corned venison and elk, moose or corned beef from these instructions...


My wife's website: