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PACK ANIMAL DIFFERENCES S TA F F A R T I C L E GARTH JENSON PROFESSIONAL HUNT ADVISOR P ack animals are a tremendous resource when used under the right conditions. In this article, I will go over what conditions and the best uses I have found to be most advantageous for each of the big three animals, horses or mules, llamas, and goats. I have mostly used horses, mules, and goats over the years and have found pros and cons with all of them. I have been around llamas a bit but have not used them much. One thing is for certain, no matter which animal you pack on, if you get a good one, you can’t live without it, but if you get a bad one, sooner or later you’ll want to send it packing down the road. Llamas and goats fit into the same mold as they have a lot of the same qualities. Both should be able to pack 15%-20% of their bodyweight, which equates to 20-30 pounds for a goat and 70-80 pounds for a llama. Also, both can travel longer distances without needing as much water or feed as horses or mules. Goats will fulfill most of their daily water intake from foraging while you are hunting, except in very hot, dry conditions. Llamas will LLAMA PHOTOS COURTESY OF BACKCOUNTRY LOGISTICS 12 often go two to four days without water under normal conditions. Both of these animals will aid in packing part or all of your load, but you will still have to hike into your hunting area. If you are already a strong backpacker, these animals are the ones you should gravitate towards. There are certain breeds of goats and llamas that are traditionally used for packing. Most pack goats are typically bred from large dairy goat breeds, like Alpine, Oberhasli, Saanen, or Toggenburg, as they are taller and bigger framed than other goat breeds, which allows them to better handle heavier loads. With llamas, it is no different as the Ccara (classic llama) is taller and has an overall larger frame than the Tampuli (wooly) llama. The Ccara breed has shorter hair and requires less maintenance than the wooly llama. I have found that pack goats work extremely well when I am hunting in an area that has limited water sources. I have had my goats on an eight-day pack trip with the only water source being a few puddles from a rainstorm on the third day of the hunt. This was an early season September hunt at 8,000- 9,000 feet in elevation, so the mild temperatures helped. I have noticed that when I am packing in extreme heat, 85 degrees and above, goats tend to sulk and I have to slow my pace and plan for twice the amount of time it typically takes to hike the same distance. In general, goats move at a slower pace than a human’s normal walking speed, so they will slow you down about a third of your normal pace. One nice thing about goats is that if they are well trained and conditioned, they will follow along behind you and you won’t have to drag them. Llamas will also follow behind without a leash, but if a llama makes up its mind it’s not going anywhere, you’re not going to make it. Goats are very friendly, social animals. With my goats, they always want to be right with me around camp and never stray too far if I turn them loose. It is always better to have at least two goats for packing for two reasons. First, they keep each other company when you are off hunting, so they won’t blat and cry while you’re gone. Second,