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Topic ClosedWhat Does It Take To Be A....

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SelwayPacker View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: What Does It Take To Be A....
    Posted: 10 July 2003 at 11:40

What does it take to be a packer?

Wall now, looking at Saddlesore there... guess a packer don't need youth.  And if you ever saw Muleskinner... a packer shore don't need to be purdy.

Saddlesore gave me the idea for this topic with his elk hunting story about 9' of snow... had to pony his mules out.  Now SS ain't got youth on his side and his body is in worse shape than a hobbo's who's been dragged by a freight train.  He's held together by balin' wire and screws.  Still, he'll be back there next fall.

And Mule, he looks like he's been kicked and stomped on... over and over and over... dern cayuse problee blowed snot in face for more effect!   Still, them old boys keep going back for more mishaps and hardships. 

So what does it take to be a packer?  Wall now, I think the answer lies in what this feller tolt me after learning I went to the Selway a second time... he said, "You Selway hunters are like men who get divorced and then remarry... you got SHORT MEMORIES!"

I think stubborness and a short memory are the most common traits.

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.416 Rigby
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 July 2003 at 13:29

Damn Selway. That's a good one. But I still remember my first wife. God it took a lot of money to get rid of her, but it was still worth it.

They are going to have to carry me off the mountain before I quit.

What's it take to be packer?

 You have to have the desire to sit on a mountain top at day break, watch the sun coming up and the steam rising off a timber line lake with trout rising, hear a bull bugle down in the canyon, a coyote crying, or if your lucky, a wolf some where off in the far distance. Or sitting at a small campfire at dusk, watching a beaver  slip trough a pond, or a doe wth a fawn feed out into the meadow, hear the jingle of you mules hobbles  off in the dark while waiting for that peach cobbler to get done in the dutch oven. All this with not another soul around for miles. It okay with a good friend,but there ain't nothing like being by your ownself, knowing that it's up to you alone to make a go of it.  You don't have to ask anyone where to go, how long to stay, where to stop and when to go home . Everytime you go, you know your'e going to work your ass off, get sore, probably stepped on at least, maybe some hide burned off, or maybe have to sew your self up from some stupid mistake.

I guess at my age, I'm like one of those old bulls that likes to go off by themselves, don't care if there are any cows around or not, and gets grouchy when another bull wants to come into his territory.  

And on the pack back out to the truck, your already planning your next trip.. Those bad memories just fade pretty fast,but the good ones stay with you along time. Being a packer is making memories.

Most folks never experience this and have no idea what it's like, nor can even imagine it. They think riding the mechanical pony down in front of K-Mart is the bifg thrill

Saddlesore
If God wanted you to walk and carry things on your back, He would not have invented stirrups and pack saddles
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 July 2003 at 13:39
I haven't a clue what it takes to be a packer. We always had horse's when I was a kid, but I much prefered my motorcyle back then. Anyway I would like to see some packers offer a game hauling service. I'd be a customer as I know all to well what it is to be the pack animal.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 July 2003 at 15:23

Brings a good question,

   Can a guy do it alone, if he's only got one horse with him?  If so he sure half to travel light.  Been thinkin about thet fer a bit now.  Hell, I just ordered the maps an such fer Colorado just to start lookin over things again.  Ain't no books to tell ya how to go about it all by yourself.  Thinkin ya might be able to do it without a horse if you can hike in a good ways and camp.  Got to keep away from the crowds even if you only get rid of half of the folks by goin in three miles or so.  I walk that far to get to my tree stand here, so's I can have some peace an not have to shot at a deer thet's runnin from another hunter.  One of my friends thet want to try it likes poket navy, en kingpin (he's got a quad runner).  He's tryin to tell me we need to go that route.  Another guy's still got an open invite fer me to use quadrunners down by durango.  If I could I'd setup like saddlesore, an muleskinner (don't know if mule sets up a camp or not).  I'd enjoy the work of settin up a camp, folks who don't work fer animals ain't enjoyin all they could.  too much hold over from the rat race - get it done and go home.  Guess I'm gettin fustrated, and pissed I didn't stay in Colorado.  Should of taken more time to scout than I did fly fishin.  I swear I was born in the wrong part of the country.

Spot

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 July 2003 at 02:39

Spot shooter. A guy can do it alone, but it's dangerous, especially if you aren't 100% sure of using livestock. The big trouble is when you tip over an elk, and even a cow weighs about 500 lbs and a bigger bull will go 800, and you only got 1 animal. Your'e in for a mighty big chore. Getting in is easy. Getting it all back out is not. I have seen guys do it, but they are just as crazy as the guys I see humping elk quarters on thier back. Then what happens if something happens to that one horse, or it gets lose and runs off? There is a good book "Packing with Horse & Mules" by Smoke Elser, that can get you started. But be prepared to lose  a few packs and do a few repacks on the side of a mountain when you first start

I left out the flip side, of coming back into camp and finding one of your mules lame, making a 10 mile loop of adjacent camps trying to find enough bute to dope him up and try to get him back to the trial head. Ponying him out 9 miles, riding back in, making for almost 30 miles in the saddle that day. Passing on a nice bull the next day because your worried about that mule down in the trailer that you have had for 25 yrs.

Or having 3 elk down , the temperature is hanging at about 5 degrees. You have them gutted, your hands feel like they are glued around the knife they are so cold. Your pants legs are frozen up to the knees from the snow . Your feet feel like two clubs on the bottom of your legs, and you know you have at least 3 more hours of skinning and quartering and bagging. Then a 2 hour pack back to camp. Feed the stock, cook supper, clean up and fall into the sack. You spend 1/2 the night getting up and knocking snow off the tent so it won't collapse. The next morning , your'e so sore you can't move, but you have two more days packing in front of you to get all the meat back just to camp. Then if you are packed back in any distance, three more days of packing back to the trail head.

At any point, one simple mistake and you can cut yourself bad, slip and break a leg or arm, fall and break a rib, not judge your animal right and get kicked or stepped on and break you foot. And cell phones don't help you when your 'e down in some deep dark canyon.

All in all it will take you 5 yrs to amass enough equipment to do it right. Best to find another person who has some horses or mules also and help defray the cost. You don't want to tie up with someone who doesn't have livestock or you will just end up over loading and over working yours. Even at that you will wind up mule rich and money short.

As for those 4WD or ATV,s, a lot of hunters use them, but every year more and more trails are being shut down due to abuse. It will get worse. Ask them what thier success raito is. I bet it averages about 20 %. Mine runs in the 90's. I have set and watched elk leave the country when they hear the whine of those ATV's. All those things that I enjoy , I see being destroyed when you are setting there and one of them comes whining up the canyon and right across the meadow you are camped in. Then they have the audacity to ask if there are any elk around.

And when you have just finished skinning and quartering an elk that you shot at dusk. It's 9 PM and pitch black,your in the deep timber, it's snowing sideways in a 30 mile wind. The flashlight has long since given out.. Try crawling on one of those ATV's and ask it to take you back to camp

I don't begrudge the use of them, just ain't seen too many following the rules.

Packers are unique individuals. We like the high country quiet, don't like crowds. Hunting is just an excuse for being there.

 

Saddlesore
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 July 2003 at 12:06

Saddle sore,

     Theres a reason I didn't accept that guy's with the ATV hunt's offer.  Fer one reason or another it didn't seem right.  I ain't never used a quad runner fer huntin.  Can't really explain it, but it seems wrong, or at least it doesn't match my sense of what huntin is.  I like bein part of the preditor clan, stead of an act of god or technology.  I'd rather work my arse off, an pack in but my problem is I got a bunch of no account city slickers. 

My wife better becareful, she almost lost me once to the rockies, played hell with my system coming back here to Kansas city.  When I go back to hunt elk I might not come back.  Don't know why I'm attracted so somethin so dangerous.  Guess it must be the lack of spike hair'd weird oh's, tree huggers, and tenderfoots.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 July 2003 at 17:37
I do believe the definitive answer is, a strong back, and a weak mind!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 July 2003 at 01:55

I like to think of it as patients, determination, and the ability to enjoy things thet don't give ya instant gratification.  I think muleskinner put it best once sayin that after bein up in them mountain yer leaner, relaxed, and content.  Probably tired as well, but you can get over that.  Now if a guy's got a problem with an animal that could definitely ruin your trip.  Most tree huggers think nature is "pertee,"  I know it can kill ya pertee easy if you don't have your wits about ya.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 July 2003 at 10:07
Waksupi. I sure don't qualify with the strong back. I guess the weak mind  is about right. But I sure know that it's not weak enough to think of the idea of carrying an elk out on my back. I always figured if God wanted  you to walk, He wouldn't have invented stirrups.
Saddlesore
If God wanted you to walk and carry things on your back, He would not have invented stirrups and pack saddles
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 July 2003 at 04:57
Packers might not have a whole lot under their hats, but I figger we're higher up on the food chain than back packers.  
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 July 2003 at 05:27

There ain't nothing that spooks my stock as bad as one of those back packers with a big pack extending up past thier head. Darn fools are too stupid to say something so the mules know they are human, or step off the trail far enough to let you past, or they take a break and set all thier gear in the middle of the trail. and they all walk with thier head down. They don't have  a chance to see the country or whats coming down the trail at them. They must be ATVer's reincarnated. 

Then they complain that the horses and mules are eroding the trial, not knowing that if it weren't for the livestock those trails would't be there for  them. Now the bikers and hikers want to ban the livestock from the forest trails. I hope they all step in cow sh*@    !!!!!

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 July 2003 at 10:06
Only gits better when they got a 12 foot fishin' pole in their hand an' they somehow figur its time to move it around when yer string is passin'.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 July 2003 at 09:03
SS, you really ought to rest easy in your retirement.  Give me your mules and I'll send you some golf clubs and a beef every year.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 July 2003 at 01:53
Naw, can't do that. I hate golf, wife says there is too much cholesterol in beef. I have  a medium size hitch wagon that my young team is going to pull me around in , during my old age. Unless I have a run away and they kill me. Then you can have them all. Now if we talk Jack Daniels, I get a migt more tolerant of the idea.
Saddlesore
If God wanted you to walk and carry things on your back, He would not have invented stirrups and pack saddles
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