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Thread: Pack goats?
Just wondering if anybody on here has ever used or been around anyone using pack goats to get into the high elevation areas. Pro's and con's of them would be great. I've thought real hard about starting two or three out and seeing how it goes, but don't wanna waste a year or two if it's more problem than problem solved.
I have a few goats that I plan on packing with (2 are pretty well trained) this year. I'd like to know others experiences as well. I can see them being used to get into areas further and faster than if I were to just go by myself. Maybe not into areas I supposed, but out. I don't think I'd like packing out a downed buck + camp for 20+ miles. Also, they will hopefully speed up the pack out. I don't have a lot of vacation, so once I get something down I need to get out quick.
It will be interesting to see the responses. We have a couple of milk goats that my wife takes care of mostly, so when I mentioned pack goats, she put the kibosh on that...unless I wanted to be taking care of all the goats.
They are friendly creatures, but require a bombproof shelter and fence (hog panels work great) as they get into everything. I don't have time after work right now to spend the kind of time a person would need to with pack goats. Also, you really need a good way to transport them up to your hiking spot. We use the back of our minivan to transport them 1-2 x's/yr for instance to be bred or to see the vet, but that is a little bit of an ordeal and requires two adults it seems. One adult to drive and one to make sure the goats don't get in to any trouble. They are more like puppies, forever it seems, than dogs.
I would be interested to know how people do when hunting with the goats alongside them? Does it help or hinder the hunt? Because, there is no way I would leave my goats unattended, as they would be easy picking for a wolf or lion.
Get in touch with Jody Cyr, he is here on Rok Slide. He has used them in the past with good results.
I've got two pygmy goats that I think the world of. After wrestling with them from time to time, pound for pound I don't think theres a stronger animal out there. My interest in goats is for longer camping trips and meat packing. After a stupid idea when I was younger I fractured some vertebrae, and in the future see backpacking becoming harder and harder to do. Taking steps right now to slow the effects down, but eventually i'll be faced with having to do something else.Hopefully others will see this and chime in! Loving the Rokslide family already!
Here's a link to a write-up on an elk hunt we did with goats last year. I really enjoyed the hunt. One of the guys on the hunt raises and sells pack goats; if anyone's interested I can give his contact info:
Cool write up. Thanks.
i know a guy with two goats that pack 50 lbs apiece. they follow him around like dogs the deer do not seem to mind them being there. especally if there are livestock in the area. they are easy to keep, they do not eat much,and do not require good feed. easier to transport than horses. but i think any animal requires lots of extra work. we have horses and when we are using them they are really worth it, the rest of the year they are a big expence
That mirrors my experience. The goats we used packed less than 50 lbs. though, closer to 40 max. but that depends on breed, age, and size. They're weaned at one day old and hand-fed with a bottle so they imprint on humans. They do follow you around like dogs, and can be a little over-curious aound camp if they're loose and you leave the tent open. Once you get on the trail they line up and folow the leader without much problem. They're very sure-footed and can cross a stream on one log easily. They eat anything, so no need to pack feed.
Here's a photo of a little guy that took a likingto me during a break:
In camp, someone had to come back to camp mid-day every day to let them off the tether to feed:
I use pack goats and I am sold. They work great for the terrain I hunt in:
1. Low maintanance: Don't need to worry about food or water while hunting. I've gone on 6 day trips before without giving them food or water. They will find enough food (grass, leaves, bark, rocks ) and their bodies are very efficient in using water. After hiking out on 5 or 6 day hunts without water often times they still won't drink when we get to a creek.
2. Minimal investment in equipment: Pack gear is simple and cheap. The also just jump in back of my truck and away we go so no need for a horse trailor.
3. Safe: I've been around a few horse wrecks in the mountains and now horses scare me. Too much risk for getting kicked, bucked off or severely hurt in the hills. As said above, goats are just like dogs and very friendly. They also could care less about blood, meat or dead animals
4. Athletic: For the goats I have and in the steep terrain I hunt, 50lbs is top end. They are better with 40 lbs which having 2 goats is plenty for a high country buck hunt. Cliffs, downed trees, rocks it doesn't matter...if you can hike it the goats will follow.
5. Hands free: Goats don't like to be led. They prefer to lag about 20 yards behind and will browse as you hike. Once you get out of sight they run to catch up.
1. Slower: They aren't the fastest pack animal. If you are in great shape you will have to go a bit slower than you want. I figure the goats go about the same speed I would if I were carrying the same wt.
2. Boarding: As mentioned above they are hard on fences, trees, and they will get out of most solid fences.
3. Pack wt: In my opinion elk are too big for goats. You would need a pack string of 5-6 goats to comfortably get an elk out with camp
4. They hate water: If the area you hunt in has a lot of large creeks or rivers you might have a problem getting them across.
5. Slow to mature: It takes about 5 yrs for a goat to be in their prime and you cant really pack anything with them for about 2 yrs.
Last edited by VANDAL; 03-30-2012 at 02:54 PM.
Vandal, have you been elk hunting in dense timber with them where bulls seem to like to bed? What has been your experience in calling in elk or stalking mule deer with 2-4 goats in tow? My family is pretty attached to our goats and I just could never see myself leaving them at a base camp alone in the areas where I hunt. If I came back and there was a bloody mess, I couldn't forgive myself. We have some mixed breed milk goats which apparently all have some representation among packing goats (a Lamancha/Nubian/Saanen and a Toggenburg/Oberhasli doe right now).
Their athleticism is amazing at times, but can get them in trouble. One day when our does were about 1 yr old, while I was working on their shed, and because I was not paying attention to them, they started running up the shed wall and jumping off over my head while I was bent over a little hammering. The first couple of times it really startled me. But they seemed to be able to repeat their jumps with various forms of acrobatic air maneuvers and landings all while narrowly missing my head each time. This continued irrespective of any scolding I gave them until I was ready to pay attention to them.
I don't keep the goats by my side when making stalks. When hunting deer they'll be around when I'm glassing but if I go in for a stalk or do a 1/2 day hunt away from my tent I will tie them up. Usually on about a 20ft rope and they seem to do fine. I've never had any issues but I do get a little nervous about a dog or cat injuring them when I'm gone. They do know how to use those horns.
As for elk as long as you take off their panyards they are very quite. I've never done it but I think you could be effective with them by your side. If you here a bull close you could tie them up real quick and move away 50-100 yrds and would be fine.
Nice pics, guys! VANDAL, looks like you were in the debut edition of Elk Hunter. Looks like your goats and gear anyhow. I talked to the guy that I got my two experienced goats from and he likes to stake them out on a tether individually during the day (in a diff. spot each day so they have more to eat) white he hunts. I was thinking I will probably take this approach. I guess in more open, spot and stalk country they wouldn't be bad to have by your side. However, I have a feeling I won't want to think about anything else besides hunting (not dealing with goats getting themselves into trouble).
To transport them to the trailhead, I planned on buying a canopy for my short bed pickup. I am hoping I can fit all 4 of them back there. Hopefully, I can tie each one off to a corner so they don't fight with each other (They are known to battle in close proximity of each other). How many can you guys fit in the back of your trucks?
Sorry to attempt a threadjack and ask so many questions IrishId. Hopefully we can both learn. :-)
No problem! This should be a learning thread.
04-01-2012 #17"I'd rather be called a redneck backpacker than a yuppy hunter."
As far as the logistics it depends upon how many goats you want to take. I have 3 prefered ways of transportations:
1. Back of my truck- 2 goats. Any more than that they seem to fight too much and I'm worried I'll get a horn through my back window. I usually have one goat tied facing forward toward the cab and one goat facing the back of the truck. You need to tie them down and make sure they cant get their front legs over the side of the truck bed or they could try and jump out. WARNING: You will look like the a huge redneck and as people pass you they will be laughing and taking pictures...
2. Stock rack- 2-4 goats. Real light metal paneling that was made into a stock rack. It doesn't go up very high, maybe 2ft and I can throw it in by myself. This is nice for long trips as you can tie the goat of higher on the paneling, usually one goat in each corner.
3. Back of truck with a shell- This is nice for longer trips and cooler temps giving the goats more shelter. 4 goats not tied up. For a while its like a mosh pit but they eventually sort things out .
Hopefully that helps. If you have anymore questions let me know.
The only problem I see with a canopy is it needs to be sturdy and durable. They may also eat it
Thanks for the replies, guys!