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Thread: Pack animals

  1. #1
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    Pack animals

    The awesome photo thread on pack animals has me wondering about disadvantages and advantages of certain animals.

    When I retire in a couple of years we plan on getting a couple of mules.
    The photo thread has horses, mules, and llamas. I even remember seeing goats in an article a while back.

    So for you folks in the know; why do you prefer a type of pack animal?
    What are the disadvantages/advantages.... from my experience with mules I know what to expect there.

    Thanks in advance!
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    to me mules seem smarter and from what I have heard they don't bang there packs on trees as much as horses but I didn't notice much of difference. Im not the most experienced so I would take that with some salt. I do like horses and mules but I have also wandered about goats. I hear they can go with out water for 3-4 days depending on the feed and they can eat a lot of stuff horses cant...but you also so cant ride a goat

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    Great question. Unfortunately for me as of lately I have been my friends pack animal. I know mules are a popular choice but have heard their temperament can be difficult. Also I've heard and have seen some recent articles on dogs being used for packing. St Bernard's, wolf hounds, Mt dogs seem to be popular. It makes good sense to use the family pet to help pack out. Way less cost vs horses, llamas and mules.
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    I used to take my dog with me on some of my backpacking trips when I was a kid. The only down side is you have to pack food for them, they don't forage like normal pack animals.....and they can't carry as much weight.
    Colorado Cowboy
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    It's nice to have stock there to ride in, or to pack out your kill. But as of lately I don't like to take them, when I get back to camp that is the last thing I want to do is take care of an animal. Other times when I have killed, by the time I get out and go back to get the horses I could have it out on my back.
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    from what i've seen horses are more skiddish, mules are much more calm and less likely to spook and cause a real problem

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    I pack plenty of both horses and mules...I prefer a good string of mules, they walk in line better, avoid hitting objects with their packs and are usually less likely to freak out in a wreck whereas horses usually don't hold their calm as well. I usually break new horses in the summer by first putting them in a pack string. A horse that learns to pack well, will transfer into a great mountain horse that knows how to bend around objects, thus when I'm riding in pitch black mornings i can trust them not to break my knee all morning. . As for Llamas..the devil lives inside a Llama! at least thats what my horses and mules think whenever we run into them on the trail! Not many people use llamas where i spend my summers and falls though, i think a grizzly would have a hey day with a couple llamas if hungry enough.

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    One thing that was mentioned at a recent Rod an Gun Club meeting I attended was that Llamas(Alpacas) and goats can both pass on disease to wild sheep populations for which they have no immunity. Not to mention domesticate sheep in wild sheep territory. Some of these diseases are devastating to wild populations, some regions prohibit use of pack animals which may transmit disease. That said I've been on two pack trips for bighorn using horses and while I realize I would never even get to these places on foot let alone stay and hunt for a week they are a pain. An absolutely insane amount of work and as I understand it quite an expense. On my backpack trips I can pitch camp or break it down in less than an hour and be underway, much less it it was only a quick camp with little unpacked. Packing up a whole string of horses everyday when you're getting into or out of camp is a lot of work, and hopefully all the horses are where you left them because when they're not let the games begin. Actually I can't wait until the next pack trip since I've almost forgot how painful 8hrs on horseback in the mountains really is. I would love either just one mule or even a larger donkey to lead, my camps would get a whole lot more luxurious with another 100lbs or so of grub and gear. Maybe a full bottle of single malt and ham eggs for a couple of days at least.

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    I had 4 mules for many years and hauled them from Wisconsin to Colorado many times on Elk hunting trips. My mules have since passed on. It was lots of fun and glad I had them, however it is extreamly expensive. There arehoof trimming/ shoeing bills, vet bills, health certificates for travel, packs, gear etc... Another thing is your stock always comes first, so when you get back to camp and are tired you still have to care for your critters. Also packing and riding in the mountains is not for beginers. I learned alot from the school of hard knocks, before I swallowed my pride and took lessons from a guy with a lot of riding and mountain packing experience. I know some guys who rent stock every year and pack in. They have them delivered right to the trail head. Might be a better option for you to try this first to see how much work this really is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph View Post
    One thing that was mentioned at a recent Rod an Gun Club meeting I attended was that Llamas(Alpacas) and goats can both pass on disease to wild sheep populations for which they have no immunity. Not to mention domesticate sheep in wild sheep territory. Some of these diseases are devastating to wild populations, some regions prohibit use
    If I remember right, Colorado recently banned the use of goats as pack animals in the back country for that very reason.
    Colorado Cowboy
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    "My Father always considered a walk in the mountains as the equivalent of church going."
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