Pack Goats

Discussion in 'Backpack Hunting' started by adamsoa, Dec 8, 2008.

  1. adamsoa

    adamsoa Active Member

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    Hunting with Pack goats.
    My friends and I have been bow hunting some pretty inaccessible areas along the Wasatch Front in Utah. We have also been packing into some other areas that are a little harsh. We started out packing everything in on our backs. That was ok but it seemed like you would hike in for the day and then be a little tired for the next few days. We started looking at ultra light packing getting the packs, bags, hammocks, stoves etc. It would still be a pretty heavy pack for a good stay on the mountain. We started looking for ways to help us take a camp up the hill and still have a comfortable camp. We originally looked at llamas and by some fluke found out about pack goats.
    At first we thought the goats were a strange way to go but the idea stuck and I started to do a little more research. I found a guy that rented them and we spent some time learning about them. I was very impressed to say the least. The first picture of my buddy and I was up one of the nastiest trails that I know. We took two goats from that friend to try and they were awesome. The big horned goat had about 65 lbs and the other had about 40. It was a great trial run.
    For those of you that aren’t familiar with pack goats they are very easy to pack with. Goats by nature are very social. After a week or so of visiting them with treats in your pocket, they will follow you anywhere. They are kind of like big dogs in that manner. You don’t have to worry about lead ropes or anything else. Just get up and take off and they will be behind you.
    On our first trip we came up to some fallen trees that were very hard for us go get across. My friend and I jumped across. The mountain was VERY steep on both sides of the trail. It was also incredibly thick. Clay Zimmerman who let us use the goats said to just go over the obstacle and don’t look back. If we could make it over they would find a way because they didn’t want to be left behind. We did and so did they. They can go up and down things with full packs that I don’t think I could.
    Besides being able to walk almost anywhere with a full pack they are great with food and water. They are able to go a couple of days without water as long as they can get good green feed. And speaking of feed they can eat anything. Sometimes we highline them at came others we let them roam. They never go far. They love pine, weeds, dear leaves (sounds like a kid with a bag of potato chips) and grass…about anything that they can get too. Makes for great packing companions because you don’t have to bring them in any food.
    Goats also seem to put big game animals at ease. We have walked up to both deer and elk with the goats. A couple of years ago we were bow hunting in a spike elk unit. The elk were in the rut and we were having a great time. We were camping a few miles in and the elk were coming into camp every night. During the day we could walk right up to them with the goats. On one occasion we heard a bull bugling and headed into his direction. We caught up to him in an aspen thicket. We had seven goats with us and were quite a group. The elk was about a 320 six point. We walked to within about 20 yards. He noticed us but didn’t seem to care. One of the larger horned goats walked right up to him. The elk was raking the heck out of an aspen. The goat walked up to the aspen right next to him and started to rub. The elk stopped for a second and gave the goat a look. He then started to rake again. We always seem to see big animals up close when we have the goats with us.
    They also do well in the cold. My friends took the goats up a couple of weeks ago in the snow and had a great winter camp.
    The goats can pack about 50-60 lbs. They are very easy and fast to load. They follow you and make good companions. We now have some great light weight gear and can take quite a bit with us. I like camping a little more when I can bring some good food and comfort gear….especially when I’m not carrying it. We just load our packs heavy and use the goats to pack out any animals we might harvest.
    One last thing about goats. They are much cheaper than horses. One goat eats about a bail of hay every two weeks. They also need a much smaller living area and I can throw a few in the back of a truck.
    Anyway here are a few pictures of us and the goats out packing.

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    Here is also a website with some more info on pack goats.

    High Uinta Pack Goats

    :)
     

  2. gamedog

    gamedog Well-Known Member

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    Awesome Man!!
    Thanks for the post. Beat the heck out of waisting your back.
    Looks like they'll haul deer quarters out ok.
     

  3. ol mike

    ol mike Well-Known Member

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    Adamsoa ,-----------------!!! Great post -best i've seen in a while ..

    Thanks for the info i appreciate it.
    The goats make perfect sense -i knew they didn't eat or drink much , i read a story about them not bothering to get a drink of water after a long stenuous mountain climb.Myself i'm a water glutton and toting water into dry mountainous regions is hard work as you well know.
    Horses are a -pita- too much upkeep -bust out running and bucking for no reason known to man sometimes -very expensive .

    Can a guy get any run of the mill goat when they're young and get them use to wearing a pack and packing ?

    I'm mainly a predator hunter and have thought that a couple of goats in the backcountry would be great not only for packing but as decoys for couger -and wolf when legal.
    Being able to get close to game animals and have -extra stuff- for comfort in the backcountry would be a big-time blessing.
    When i get a little more settled in [might be moving to oregon] i will definately get a pair.

    Thanks again for sharing and add more info if you can.-Mike
     
  4. bigsky

    bigsky Member

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    Pretty Cool!!!! I wish I could have used them earlier this year.
     
  5. royinidaho

    royinidaho Writers Guild

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    Hey, ol Mike,

    I checked out the goats last year in prep for this year.

    For 500 bucks you can get one, trained and equip't. 2 fer 1K$. Most probably worth it.

    The neat thing is that they are domestic pack animals. Thus when the woofs attack/harass them, you can shoot. Be careful though as they are quite friendly and the woofs could spook 'em right into your sleeping bag.:D

    The fella I'm talkin' to says 2 goats pack out one deer very easily. He takes 4 goats lightly packed then doubles up with the meat on the way back.

    They will go anywhere you go and then some.

    Don't get a run of the mill goat. One butt to the head and you'll know why........
     
  6. WildcatB

    WildcatB Well-Known Member

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    I love it. I was thinking of doing this myself a few years back. You might have pushed me over the edge. My wife will not like this.
     
  7. adamsoa

    adamsoa Active Member

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    Glad that you enjoyed the post.
    Big dairy goats are the ones to get (Saanens, Alpines, Togenbergs and LaManches). I would try to get one from someone who raises packgoats. This is because you are looking for a certain type of conformation in a pack goat. For 500 dollars you should be able to get a great goat with experience. But if you look you can get some good ones for a lot less. My most expensive one was $100.
    There is a packgoats group on Yahoo groups that has everything that you would want to know. Every friday they have a friday market. If you look you can see what is out there and available.
    The pack geear is also affordable. A good sadle is about 100 and packs are about 50 or so.

    We can easily pack out a deer with a couple of goats quartered. Or if you bone it one could get it. I've had friends pack out elk with four.

    I cant even tell you how nice it is to pack in with them. You dont cary much, they follow and you can go at your own pace and get into all sorts of places.
     
  8. royinidaho

    royinidaho Writers Guild

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    adamosa,

    Those white hornless ones look like monsters. Do they pack any heavier that the bony ones?

    I've been told that if the goat lays down during short stops that it indicates they are loaded too heavy. How do you determine when enough is enough for a specific goat?

    Thanks for the thread starter.......
     
  9. adamsoa

    adamsoa Active Member

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    As general rule a goat can pack about 1/3 of its body weight. If you put way too much on they will lay down. We try to keep their packs at about 50-55 lbs or so. When we are packing something out we might go a bit more but for a good hike 50lbs is about right.
    As for body types, I like the goats with longer legs and a strong build.
     
  10. srhaggerty

    srhaggerty Well-Known Member

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    Hope you aren't taking those guys where Bighorn Sheep live....
     
  11. MagMan

    MagMan Well-Known Member

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    Why is that considered baiting...:D Or do goats and sheep not get along?

    adamsoa, I really enjoyed your informative writeup on pack goats. Truly interesting.....I never knew.
     
  12. adamsoa

    adamsoa Active Member

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    There is has been some concern about the transmission of diseases between domestic goats and sheep and wild sheep. I have an article from a friend listed below that talks about it in more depth. I dont have a lot of sheep country near where I hike/hunt so its not an issue. We also take very good care of our goats and hit the vet at least twice a year for checkups and shots. The only times that there have been problems that I am aware of is when there are large "groups or herds" of meat sheep/goats up in the same areas. But to play it safe at least until they have more evidence one way or the other I dont plan to take them into the same country as sheep.

    With so many places to hike, I try to avoid taking our packgoats to areas
    that are known bighorn habitat (particularly known areas of lambing as the
    young lambs may try to approach goats). There is a possible transmission of disease (Pasteurella) from goats to sheep.
    It is best in my opinion to avoid known Bighorn sheep habitat.
    I think that the literature supports that most disease transmission in the
    bighorn sheep is believed to be from domestic sheep to wild sheep. I'm not
    aware that any biologist or scientist has stated categorically that goats do
    NOT transmit disease to bighorn sheep (unfortunately). I believe that they
    use words to the effect that there is some risk, though it may be very
    small. I think that there is a recorded case where some herd meat goats
    (that escaped) caused "pink eye" or something like it in bighorn sheep,
    which resulted in loss (death) of some bighorn sheep because they went
    blind.

    From what I’ve read on the topic is that biologists seem to associate free roaming or herd managed
    goats (like herds of meat goats) to introduction of diseases (not
    packgoats). Biologists seem to make the distinction between herd managed
    goats and packgoats. The general public just hears "goats. I'm not aware that any one has
    pinpointed a disease transmission from domestic packgoats to bighorn sheep.
    It's all about scientific data (or lack of it), and perception.


    Andy

     
  13. srhaggerty

    srhaggerty Well-Known Member

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    Andy,

    That is great. I looked into a few years ago and my buddies in FNAWS adviced me otherwise. I am not a qualified biologists, but I do know they had cases of pack goats transmitting diease too.
     
  14. silvertip-co

    silvertip-co Well-Known Member

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    Way cool idea. I'd want a lotta blaze orange on them tho. I wish I was in shape for all that. Thx for your great pix.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2008