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I recently became interested in pack goats, and since I have plenty of room at home to raise them, I am seriously considering getting a couple to start out with to use elk hunting. Of course, I have a lot of questions, many of which I have found answers to.

I've seen it mentioned that the goats will follow you around while hunting. My first thought was ,great, just like having 4 kids taggin along not paying attention and spooking game in the process.

My question is as relates to this. How do elk react when they spot the goats? When trying to stalk in close for a shot opportunity, are there problems with the goats giving away your position, or getting spooked by a bugling bull and blowing the set-up?

Since sometimes action comes fast, there is not time to high line them or tether them to a tree, I guess I'm just concerned with them being a hinderance to the actual hunting aspect of the trip.

Is it practical to use the goats to pack in and set up camp, and keep them in camp while out hunting all day? Other than concerns of predators, I would be more worried about them either getting all tangled up, or getting loose and disappearing while you're out hunting.

I will be retiring next year, and my plans are to spend the entire archery elk season in the mountains, hunting and moving around as necessary to find game. I'll stay on the mountain until the season ends, or a tag out. Whatever it takes. More than likely, I will be hunting solo most of the time.

Being just me, I'm thinking 2-3 goats would be plenty. Any insight anyone can offer would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Don't leave your goats alone. You will find that they may actually distract the elk from you. As you look through the threads, many of us find the wildlife curious if not down right comforted by other herd animals browsing nearby.

If you don't want them with you, then get someone else to tend them in camp.

There's a thread on how many goats to carry an elk. I don't remember exactly but I think it was six goat trips.
 

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You need more than 3. I hunted w/mine last year one day w/em and another day w/em in camp.

The way to hunt w/em is plant your butt on the ground and let them graze. Otherwise their packs make quite a racket on the bushes. The will stick w/you, no problem.

I have a friend that hunts w/horses. He claims that a boned hind quarter of an elk is about 60# (one goat) and I don't rember what a front quarter weighs. But, he always bones out his elk and that is what you will have to do w/goats. BTW, he knows what it weighs because he balances his packs. So, that is 2 goats for the hind quarters, if not 3 (40# a piece) for the hind quarters....then you have the back and ribs and neck. Also, I know you've heard that an elk weighs 700#, but that is BS. An elk weighs 300#, when you get it to the packing house (but they don't mess w/the head). The boned out spine and ribs probably weigh 100#. I can tell you that you can get 3 unboned quarters on a horse (I believe that it was 235 when it got to the butcher). We boned the other quarter and carried it out, 2 days later. We carried camp and the horns out that day, on our backs)...rested our aching backs, for a day and then went back in.

So, if you carry the rack, you prbably need 4 goats...and then what are you going to do w/camp? So, you could maybe do it w/3 goats, if you took 2 trips.
 

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Here's the link to how many goats it takes to pack out an Elk. viewtopic.php?f=3&t=415

Herb also has a great link in there for figuring out how many "actual" lbs of meat you can expect based on body weight.

Basically it'll take 4-6 goat loads, depending on the size of the Elk in question. Then as stinky said, you still have to worry about getting camp out.

Goats are noisy, they have no concept of sneakiness in the woods, even without packs on. But leaving them unattended in camp is not a good option either. As Bob said above, I prefer to take someone to tend camp (babysit the goats) while I'm out hunting or leave them home and go get them if needed. Leaving them alone at camp is dangerous for them in predator country. But the bigger issue is that they don't like it and will bawl the entire time you are gone. Kind of like a live predator call. There is no way I can concentrate on hunting when I know my goats are bawling back at camp and wolves, cougars or who knows what may be stalking up on them at that very moment. You hit it on the head when you said you would be worried about them getting tangled or loose and wandering off as well. It has happened.

Personally I find the goats are a distraction while I am hunting but many others don't. I know several packers who have fleece or wool covers that slip over their panniers to make them quieter in the woods which seems to work well. Sewing the actual pannier out of fleece doesn't hold up well.

Using them to attract, or as a decoy for the animal being hunted stirs up a lot of controversy among folks who think its unfair. Some states even restrict to use of "live animals" as decoys so you need to be careful how you categorize them when talking with other people. No need to create more problems for ourselves. We already get the short end of the stick, evidence be danged, with the Pasturella issue and Bighorns.
 

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Here's the link on the elk carcass.

http://ces.uwyo.edu/PUBS/B594R.pdf

Well I go against the fine advice here. My goats stay in camp, unattended while I'm out hunting. We take turns having one person return to camp during the day to take the goats on a grazing run. I'm mostly in Colorado and not that worried about predators. The only loud bawling goats I've had have been Nubians, La Mancha, and Boer, don't use them anymore. They learn the routine, off teather, they expect to go with you, on teather they know they are staying put. If I was concerned about predators, I'd put an efence around camp.

I'm more concerned about a dog attack in my summer pastures around home than I am about attacks in the wilderness. I'd probably address it differently in wolf or grizzly country, but that's not where we spend our time.
 

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Herb said:
Well I go against the fine advice here. My goats stay in camp, unattended while I'm out hunting. We take turns having one person return to camp during the day to take the goats on a grazing run. I'm mostly in Colorado and not that worried about predators.
I think it may also help if you have more than two or three goats tied in camp by themselves. There is security in numbers so more goats tied near each other probably helps. How many goats are you taking on your Colorado hunts?
 

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Also, if you do take the goats along and want the ability to pack meat on the spot. Assuming you're hunting from a base camp, saddle them all, but let only one goat carry all the panniers. It will cut down the noise considerably, cover them with fleece or such, even better. Still, to much noise and activity for me to have hunting.

Good point on numbers of goats Rex, we typically have 12 goats.
 

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I also leave the goats in camp while hunting, I have 4 most of the time. They bawl for a minute but calm down really fast after I leave. Here in Wa the wolves aren't here in any great numbers YET but they are on the way :twisted: . I have run into problems with them getting twisted up when I first started, but now I'm more careful and don't have problems anymore. Being an archery elk hunter myself, I couldn't imagine the trouble having the herd following me would cause. :lol:
 

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I posted the original part ofthis thread-had to re-register on the site. The way I hunt is to pack in a base camp a fairly short distance from the trialhead- about a ior so. Then hunt 3-4 day bivy trips out from there until I find game.

I hunt with a longbow, so shots are close. While some hunts I may have a partner with me, solo trips are not out of the question. I can pack in to an area, set an over night camp and hunt the area for a day or 2 then move as necessary, or bring camp along in the morning, and set camp for the night where ever I end up at he end of the day.

I initially figured on just 2-4 goats, if I get an elk down I could get it out in 2 trips solo or 1 with a partner with us carrying a pack load of meat as well.
Having an extra person to leave at camp with the goats is not an option really. For day trips out of a spike camp, I wouldnt have much with me as far as gear, and thegoats could carry it. if left in camp, they would be unattended from before daylight, to likely well after dark each day.

After a fe days of that I would be returningto base camp for re-supply, although with goats I could carry more food so I wouldnt necessarily need to other than for a day of rSo I guess I need to fgure out if goats are compatable with this style of hunting,and if so just figure on them tagging along.est etc.

If not, then I would prefer to find out before I put the expense into getting goats, and just plan on hunting via backpack.
 

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I have hunted elk and deer with my goats, both archery and rifle. Personally, during the archery season, I keep my two best obers by my side at all times. Part of that practice evolved from the fact that I hunt in Grizzly, wolf, blackbear, and lion country so it didnt make sence for me to leave them tied up, but after letting them tag along for a while, I quickly realized that they are very compatable to my style of hunting. I spend many long hours covering many miles of country as I look for sign, listen for bugles, spot and stock, etc. In the past, all the weight of my daypack would have been on me, but when I keep the goats with me that 15 or 20 pounds (Im a boyscout at heart, be prepared is my motto) of saftey equipment, 'what if' supplies, my lunch, extra water, etc. At first I was annoyed that the goats made noise, but after a while I realized that outside of the sound of the panniers rubbing on brush (which I have found several ways to alleviate) all the noises they make are pretty much the same noise that the elk and deer would be making anyways. The plit plat of their droppings hitting the crisp leaves on the trail, the gurgle of their stomachs, the sound of them munching on grass, the noise of them peeling bark off of a pine tree, all these are noises that the wild critters are no doubt used to hearing from each other anyways.
Last year, the nice 5x6 bull elk that I took with my bow was only at 20 yards when I took the shot, and he was staring right at my two goats. I have had cow elk walk right up to them to check them out on a number of occasions, and just for fun I used the goats for a shield one time and was able to walk directly to a group of mule deer does tow within 30 yards with zero cover. Not to mention all the times that the goats have spotted deer for me that I had missed im my scan.
At least in Idaho, the new law is that you only have to take the meat from the four quarters, the backstrapts and the tenderloins, so in a pinch you can get a boned out elk on 4 goats, or myself and two goats in two trips. When we hauled out my elk last year, my father and friend each had one hind quarter, I had the head, and the two goats carried everything else and we made it out in one trip, that would have normally take two trips without the goats, and we would have had to have worked alot harder.
In South Eastern Idaho, we have a local outdoor TV show called Jared Scott Outdoors, Jared is a good friend of mine, and he did a show last year about a trip he and I took with the goats, he has much of the footage up on his website;http://www.jaredscottoutdoors.com/VideoClipsElkHunting.html
 

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Thanks for this valuable info. Until I read this post I was really worried that my goats could be attacked (in a friendly sort of way) by a big horny bull elk. I cow called 4 bulls in last year. One to 15 yards, one to 25, and two to 50 (which is way too far for me). I didn't shoot at the two close ones because they didn't show me anything but head and neck. They knew right where I was, and that I wasn't a cow elk. So we just looked at each other for a minute or so, then they took off. I have been worried that having one of those guys so close, and maybe seeing the goats instead of me, he may go for them. I guess if something like that happens, I will just have to shoot him or jump out and scare him off.

I have had deer, elk, oryx, rabbits, and javelina let me get a lot closer with the goats than I ever could have without them. I also don't worry about the noise they make, except for metalic clanking and squeeking sounds, and nylon scratching sounds. I think their four legged animal tromping thru the brush noise sounds a lot like elk or deer.

If I get drawn for a bow hunt this year I'll take my goats along, but I would never leave mine in camp alone because of mountain lions and wolves. It sure would be nice to not have to carry anything but my bow, my wallet, and my truck keys.
 

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This is my experience with 3 mature goats on our archery elk hunt for 2 weeks. We were camped at a trail head. The goats had a portable electric 42in tall mesh fenced with a solar charger. This worked great. There were big cats, bears, and wild dogs. I was comfortable leaving them alone for a few hours during the day but not in the dark. I had compressed hay bales and grain for late hikes when everyone was tired. Grain was given every morning when we left base camp in the dark of morning for our hunt. The region demanded a lot of hiking at times 8 miles a day in steep terrain. The goats carried all the meat sacks, rope, pullies, first aid, extra food, clothes and water. On a long hunt 1 or 2 goats were loaded, 1 went empty and they traded off the packs so each goat got some time bareback. It was essential to make quiet panniers. I made them of a heavy green leather I found at the army navy store. The nylon panniers make a lot of noise in the brush. Goats are more startled by a grouse taking off suddenly to flight than a bull elk bugling 30 yards away. The goat hooves moving though the woods and their munching on the forest does not seem to bother deer or elk. Goats are great for leaving base camp and setting up a spike camp deep in the hills. With a bull close in my husband and I would find cover and get set up. I made light weight lead ropes with plastic clips to avoid unnatural sounds. This allowed us to position our selves with goats either wandering about or tied to a log. Either way they would laydown shortly as they were usually tired. As luck would have it we encountered many elk but did not harvest one. The goats are a moderate amount of work. Lots of planning made it fun. There were areas we would never have hunted because it would have been to hard to get an elk out. Horse may not have navigated some of these ravines. The goats allowed to hunt these tough areas with elk.
 

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