Horseback Elk Hunt - Day Trips

youngbuck2

Member
Nov 4, 2016
69
1
Minnesota
Hey everyone, new to the forum so I'll hide behind my ignorance for this first post, assuming someone has already posted something along the lines.

In 3.5 short weeks we will be headed to Colorado for our "4 annual, once in a lifetime trip" for the 4th elk season. This year we decided to try some horses. So my question is, when hunting off a horseback, what can we expect?

All of us are comfortable on horses so Im not concerned with the riding horse but, just dont know what to expect when hunting off them.

Thanks
 

dirtclod Az.

Veteran member
Jan 26, 2018
1,365
219
Arizona
Lots of Maintenence,You know if a horse person.Plenty of feed.Half hunting,half takin' care of animals.Lots of good times.:cool:
 

Tim McCoy

Veteran member
Dec 15, 2014
1,855
2
Oregon
Get a good fitting scabbard for your rifle and make sure you pick a secure tie off when dismounting to hunt... Some will react poorly to blood/meat if you plan to pack game meat with them and they have not done so before.
 

youngbuck2

Member
Nov 4, 2016
69
1
Minnesota
Thanks Tim. We have all of the equipment lined up and ready to go. Our intention is to ride up and god willing, pack out. In your experience have you rode to a certain spot, tied your horse and hunted on foot till your ride out? The past years we've just walked, all day everyday so hopefully the horses will give a slight edge to get to the top of the mountain earlier, and with less effort.

I have spots picked out that i think could be good, but not sure how close to ride before hiking into them.
 

Tim McCoy

Veteran member
Dec 15, 2014
1,855
2
Oregon
Thanks Tim. We have all of the equipment lined up and ready to go. Our intention is to ride up and god willing, pack out. In your experience have you rode to a certain spot, tied your horse and hunted on foot till your ride out? The past years we've just walked, all day everyday so hopefully the horses will give a slight edge to get to the top of the mountain earlier, and with less effort.

I have spots picked out that i think could be good, but not sure how close to ride before hiking into them.
Usually ride to a spot, tie em up and hunt. If wolves are thick, stay with the horses. New to country, have been known to stay mounted and scout/hunt. You can often get away with things on a horse you can’t walking where elk are concerned.
 

HighPlainsHunter

Active Member
Mar 1, 2018
419
3
Laramie
So are these your personal horses from Minnesota or are you using rental horses?
Are you cowboys?
Do you like rodeos?


The only people I know who are comfortable on horses use them on a daily basis, real cowboys.

Even my non cowboy friends who have horses end up having rodeos in the mountains resulting in everything from minor scrapes and bruises to one horse that fell of a trail with a rider on, thankfully rider walked away but had to buy a new gun and horse had to be put down. The list of things that can go wrong with horses is extremely long but plenty of people manage to do it safely. You are smart to be asking questions now to help avoid problems.
 

dirtclod Az.

Veteran member
Jan 26, 2018
1,365
219
Arizona
Rode horses all my life.Every saddle up is a new horse.
Sit tall in the saddle,Keep your head up high,Keep your eyes fixed where the trail meets the sky.

Courage is being scared to death..but saddlin' up anyways.

Thats why they call me "Dirtclod Az.":cool:...or is it "Meadow Muffin"?/"Road Apple"?
 

youngbuck2

Member
Nov 4, 2016
69
1
Minnesota
I wouldn't consider myself a "cowboy" by any stretch, but have rode a fair amount here in the flat lands and survived a few bucking experiences that were unexpected. So when i said comfortable, basically just meant not afraid of horses by any stretch. We are renting horses from Sombrero so at the very least they are mountain horses, and hopefully good ones. We are showing up early to catch a day or so in saddle before hunting begins.

We are hunting the flat tops in unit 24, an area that familiar to us on foot. Last year we killed our first elk, we happened to stop for a drink of water and caught them side hilling across the valley. Pure luck. Understanding that the odds of this happening again are really slim we decided on horses to be able to hunt more ground.

Never thought of wolves..... ever been a problem in the past?

Thanks for the feedback, much appreciated.
 

minn elk chaser

Active Member
Jan 6, 2014
270
16
We have rented horses several times and would say that some of them should have been shot. Just because they come from people who do this for a living doesn't mean their horses are good. I think most of them spend the summer on pasture and are only used during the hunting seasons. Best advise is to expect all most anything with them and never let your guard down when you around them. We know they can be the most miserable beast and your best friend at the same time.
 

WY ME

Very Active Member
Feb 4, 2014
528
14
Wyoming
Riding and packing in the mountains is whole bunch different than riding horse in MN but you'll be fine. Pick up a little book called "Horses, Hitches and Rocky Trails" (I think). Throw it in your saddle bag, it's cheap and will tell and show you most everything you'll need to know. Horse wrecks just add to your fond memories of the trip...Get the book!
 

RICMIC

Veteran member
Feb 21, 2012
1,176
216
Two Harbors, Minnesota
I've rented horses from Sombrero twice, and was very satisfied with the horses and service. They all had their "issues", but once you learn their ideosycs and show them that you are the boss, they can add a lot to your trip. I consider myself an experienced novice with six guided trips into wilderness areas, and these two DIY trips, plus some totally off the wall stuff when I was in the Marine Corps, but I've learned to always respect the power and the stupidity of those big critters.
You will need to pack in feed for the horses, as well as your camp, so you will need saddle panniers (or regular panniers). We loaded up the horses and walked in to our camp, then rode back for a second load when their feed ran low (2 horses, 3 hunters) You can graze them some, but it takes some oversight, and per the rental agreement, you MUST pack in hay, grain, or pellets/cubes. My second trip, I didn't even have a tag, and served as the wrangler/packer, and that worked out well.
I have two canvas saddle panniers available to use; send me a PM if you have an interest. Good luck, and be careful.
 

Colorado Cowboy

Veteran member
Jun 8, 2011
6,139
423
78
Dolores, Colorado
I've done 25 to 30 wilderness horseback hunting trips in California's High Sierras over the last 60 years. We always had a Pack Station take us and our gear to the same camp, about a 10 mile ride. They came back on a predetermined day and picked us up. Everything packed on mules, while we rode horses. We always keep a horse in camp to pack deer. The packer knows we want a horse that we can load a deer (or 2) on it for packing back to camp. EVERY horse is different. Some are great, a couple we even put a bear on their back with no problem. Others were a real pistol. Several tried to kick or bite. You just have to be aware that NO 2 ARE ALIKE. They have to be fed and watered a couple of times a day, like taking care of a kid. I have never tried to shoot off a horses back, but I am sure most would raise a ruckus.

Good luck on you trip.
 

youngbuck2

Member
Nov 4, 2016
69
1
Minnesota
Thanks for the feedback specific to Sombrero, it’s reassuring. Can any of you tell me if they give you an updated, most specifics drop off time? The paperwork just says not before 11 am. I’d like to take the day to scout as much as possible and not wait around for when they might show up.

RICMIC - we are staying at a lodge and the horses will be corralled every night so we don’t have to worry about packing much up the
Mountain. My thoughts/hopes are to get to the top a little quicker and conserve energy to hunt hard on foot all day before riding back in the dark. We’ll see how it works out.
 

RICMIC

Veteran member
Feb 21, 2012
1,176
216
Two Harbors, Minnesota
Y2; Sombrero was pretty much right on time for the pickup and delivery. You have to keep in mind that they generally have to travel a ways on some crappy roads, and may make other deliveries en-route. Add in the catch and load time, I don't think that 11:00am is unreasonable. Of course, everything is negotiable, and you can always ask.
 

youngbuck2

Member
Nov 4, 2016
69
1
Minnesota
For sure, I understand they’re busy and don’t think 11 is unreasonable. I’m just looking for a time, even if it’s 5 pm. Then we know and can plan accordingly. I have a call into them.
 

gypsumreaper

Active Member
Mar 13, 2014
308
0
You need to get some sort of horse first aid kit together just like you?d do for itself, bute, gall salve, nustock, duct tape, gauze pads, stethoscope, pliers, etc. you don?t want a horse dieing on the mountain, I carry banamine in case a horse colics, you can administer 10-15CC under the tongue and it?s almost as effective as IV. If you have never given a horse an IV shot do not try it. Gall salve is for saddle sores when ur riding, nustock for after you unsaddle to help the healing process, bute is for pain management just in case you get something a little sore. Make sure ur horses are tied good and at roughly eye level, try to make sure there?s a branch to keep the rope up instead of sliding down the tree. There?s a ton more stuff about hunting on horses but these are basics, make sure you water ur horses at every creek you cross and all night,


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

youngbuck2

Member
Nov 4, 2016
69
1
Minnesota
Thanks everyone for their feedback on this topic. We have most everything you guys mentioned ready for the trip. We have all spent as much time as possible riding as we prepare to head out. 2 short weeks we will be in mountain country, enjoying the vast wilderness of the Rockies! Good luck to everyone!