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Thread: Backpacking/Hunting with pack dogs?

  1. #1

    Default Backpacking/Hunting with pack dogs?

    Hi all,
    I'm doing a backpack hunting trip this fall for Caribou, Goat and Dall sheep I'm going with my two most trusted companions...My german Shorthaired Pointer and my Black Lab... They have their own packs (Wolfpacks). I was just wondering if anyone had ever done anything like that before? Did you have any problems? So far, we've been walking 4-6 miles with fully loaded packs 4-5 times a week trying to get in shape and to make sure there aren't any problems with the packs. I got the idea from watching an old Gordon Eastman show in the McKenzie moutains...they used the dogs to get up in the high country and stay there. They are carrying their own food, 4-days worth...could be streched to 5 pretty easy if needed. They are already broke on chasing game...and they have their basics down pat...sit, stay, and come. We had some deer and turkeys run by us tonight...and they listened with no problems when I gave them the sit/whoa/stay commands...then I sneaked up on the deer like I was going to shoot them...to see how the dogs would react...no problems what so ever... Anyhow, I still have about 3 months of prep time if anyone has any suggestions or ideas on things that I might need to think about or maybe work on.
    Thanks,
    Dane

  2. #2

    Default Dogs in bear country

    Where are you thinking of doing this? I have never seen this, but if you go into bear country with those dogs, you may invite trouble you are not expecting. One of the primary rules in bear country is to leave your pets at home. Why? If they get into trouble with a bear, their first inclination is to come running to you, their protecter, and with half a ton of whoopass on their tail. Guess where the bear ends up when your dog runs through your legs??????

    If you are looking to do this in Alaska, caribou, sheep and goat hunting areas are smack in the middle of bear country. In fact, these are some of the favorite foods of bears in their range. If you are going elsewhere, it may work, but I wouldn't, based on the many trips I took on sheep, goat and caribou hunts up here.

    Just my humble and personal opinion.......
    Now just why in the hell do I have to press "1" for English???

  3. #3
    Member
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    Default That sounds like an interesting adventure.

    I know you love your dawgs, and this is not meant to be discouraging, but I would consider, at least the following questions.

    Would your dawgs be able to help pack meat out? (Meat is heavy. How much can they carry?)

    Would they get excited and scare the game away?

    Would they warn you of the presence of a Bear?

    Would they cause you trouble with a bear, or save your life. (From reading those Bear books again recently that could go either way, but you know your dawgs.) (You may not even see a Bear, or a Wolf, but reportedly Wolves like to eat dawgs.

    In other words would they be more of a help than a hindrance? (Maybe, you could take a shakedown trip, before the actual hunting trip.)
    Smitty of the North

  4. #4

    Default Take em!

    My lab can pack 10 days worth of her own food. When that diminishes I start cramming my gear in her pack. On day hikes, she packs my water bottle, camera, food, and whatever. I just have to bend over to get my "stuff" w/o taking my pack off! I see her as a asset and not a liability on my hunts. It's great, IF you have a well behaved dog. She has been on 3 sheep hunts, bou hunts on the north slope, a grizzly hunt, and many more to come. Last spring I spotted my grizz, took off my pack, made her a nice bed next to my pack, and off I went to close the distance on the bear. She was still sitting there after 45 minutes and I had got my bear. Yep, I am pretty proud of my huntin buddy. In my opinion dogs are the best bear alert system which can translate into defense system there is. We have 4 sled dogs (tied up) at my fish camp and believe me we know when a bear is around camp. Good luck with your hunting buddies.
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  5. #5

    Default about 7 months old on this hunt

    north slope bou hunt....
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  6. #6

    Default grizz hunt

    2006 grizzly hunt. Funny, she walked up to that dead grizz and didn't think anything of it! Kind of weird.
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  7. #7

    Default How it works...

    Thanks for the honest feedback...its appreciated. I guess I should have explained this a little better. The general rule of thumb is a dog can carry 25% of their bodyweight...and up to 30% if they are in good shape. I personally like to keep my dogs around 27...even though I think they are in excellent condition. On the last two hiking trips I've done with them...(3 days, 2 nights)...they carried my tent, sleeping pad, mess kit, stove and fuel, tripod for my spotting scope some small odds and ends, knives and so on in addition to their own food. We covered 14 miles in the Guadalupe mountains...7 in and 7 out...the whole time they either are at heel (at your side) or they will follow me in a line or I can make then go down the trail in front of me...kind of like a pack horse if you've ever used one...but a whole lot more responsive. We didn't run into any bears...just coyotes and bocats...they have seen them before and I knew that they knew they were there... they just stare at them...and when you tell them "lets go" we go...
    I didn't really intend on using them to pack much if any of the meat out...I had planned on packing it out myself...like most backpackers I know...they make a couple if not several trips to get it done...but yes...the dogs could carry "some"...at most around 39 pounds @ 25 % and 45 pounds at 30%...
    Our second trip we covered 9 miles in and 9 out...had a great fishing trip...no predators...just lots of deer and turkey. The turkeys sure caught thier attention...but their primary job is upland and waterfowl...packing is just something I've been working on for the past few months...and I'm wondering why I haven't done it earlier now! They don't bark except at night if they can't see what is coming in to the tent...like a buddy of mine..and a racoon...the animals don't seem to care about them or their smell anymore than they do about mine..so far anyway. Obviously I can't state that would alert me to a bear...but just from knowing them I'm confident that they would...Again, I really appreciate your comments. Hawk had some really good ones...But, I will try to do some actual hunting trips down here before I go back up to Alaska this summer. Lots of predator hunting/hog hunting down here that I can work on in lieu of other stuff for now...and their will still be some training options when I arrive up there. Not positive on where I'll be hunting just yet...I'm kind of a Rex trail guy myself... but that has mainly been for Moose and black bear in the past. This year I was thinking about looking into the broooks range area...any help would be appreciated with that as well. My best friend lives in Eagle River and we plan on working on some areas where he is at that I'm not familiar with just yet. Comments welcome!

  8. #8

    Default wolves

    she ain't afraid of wolves either!! Well o.k, this is a tame wolf (100%).
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  9. #9

    Default o.k.

    you get the picture. She goes where dad goes........
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  10. #10

    Default That is AWESOME

    Those are AWESOME pictures! Very encouraging by the way...So far the hardest part I've had is keeping their packs balanced...but it hasn't been bad...Again...those are really cool pictures...how old is your dog? And I agree about the discipline and obedience by the way...we've really worked on that.
    Dane

  11. #11

    Default pack balance

    yes, it's something you will have to work on. Tikka weighs 62 lbs and is now 3+ yrs old. Shoot, I took on her on a 10 mile (one way) bou hunt when she was about 7 months old. The bou were close to the tent, so I just left her in there while I went and shot one. On my sheep hunt, I dropped my frame pack and left her loosely tied to it while I made the final stalk.

    I can put 5 quart ziplocs on each side of her packs and that equals 10 meals. There is also room for her collapsible dog bowl. I figure if I pack the tent and the sleeping bag she can pack her own stuff and MINE on day hikes!

    You obviously have to have the right dog for these types of hunts or you will be eating you game tags!

    Thanks and best of luck.

  12. #12

    Default Dogs Hunting

    Make sure that you take booties for the dogs. Rocks chew the living daylights out of their feet.

    Also Dogs can climb extremely well but they have a heck of a time going down hill. They will follow you everywhere you can go but they will have more spills than you if you are going after mt. goats and sheep. Just remember that some dogs are afraid of heights and can have problems so make sure that you do a summer exploration before you go during season.
    Also you have to have them trained so that they don't bark at parka squirrels and Marmots and be aware that dogs get skylined easily.

    It is fun though.

  13. #13
    Member dwhunter's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BigDawgDane View Post
    Hi all,
    I'm doing a backpack hunting trip this fall for Caribou, Goat and Dall sheep I'm going with my two most trusted companions...My german Shorthaired Pointer and my Black Lab... They have their own packs (Wolfpacks). I was just wondering if anyone had ever done anything like that before? Did you have any problems? So far, we've been walking 4-6 miles with fully loaded packs 4-5 times a week trying to get in shape and to make sure there aren't any problems with the packs. I got the idea from watching an old Gordon Eastman show in the McKenzie moutains...they used the dogs to get up in the high country and stay there. They are carrying their own food, 4-days worth...could be streched to 5 pretty easy if needed. They are already broke on chasing game...and they have their basics down pat...sit, stay, and come. We had some deer and turkeys run by us tonight...and they listened with no problems when I gave them the sit/whoa/stay commands...then I sneaked up on the deer like I was going to shoot them...to see how the dogs would react...no problems what so ever... Anyhow, I still have about 3 months of prep time if anyone has any suggestions or ideas on things that I might need to think about or maybe work on.
    Thanks,
    Dane

    It sounds as though you are a non resident of Alaska?

    If so have you covered this with your guide as one is required by law to hunt your Mtn goat and Dall sheep.


    Doug

  14. #14

    Default Residency

    I'm a resident of Alaska...I'm just stuck working in Texas until the end of June...

  15. #15
    Member RainGull's Avatar
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    Default

    Great photos and story! Very few posted here make me envious, your's did.

  16. #16
    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
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    Default Lab as a hunting partner

    I have a lab that weighs in at 110lbs and she goes everywhere w/me. We've taken moose and a bear while she was at my heels hunting. The beauty is her nose and ears will often alert you to game that you might night see otherwise. I've trained her to stay immediately behind me while still hunting and stop when I stop, move only when I do. Haven't had her pack anything cause she loves the water and I have been leery that she would take a swim with my stuff in her pack. (Nothing a ziplock couldn't cure I suppose.)
    As I mentioned though, she picks up on smells especially well and has alerted us to moose back in the brush, two years ago she clued me in on one that I shot and probably would have walked by w/out her indicating it was there.
    Again, being able to control them and spending lots of time w/your dog is the key.
    BK

  17. #17
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    Default Adding to Smitty of the North

    I have no experience with using dogs for big game hunts. However, I do know of several friends who live in Michigan that use dogs to hunt black bears. The wolf population in the Upper Peninsula is getting to be so great that this year the lost I believe it was 3 dogs to the wolves.

    Just something to think about.

    If they were well trained and stuck right around you it may not be a problem. Just be prepared to protect yourself and your dogs.

  18. #18
    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    Isn't it illegal to hunt with dogs for big game except black bear with a permit?
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

  19. #19
    Member Rick P's Avatar
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    Default

    Get your dogs used to the noise of the fierarm you'll be huntting with. Gun shyness was my St. Barnards biggest problem until I gave her some scraps from a moose rib camp dinner. Now she thinks all moose are for eating, now, dont wait till Dads shot it just eat it! Of course her hips have gone bad so she stays at home and plays rug while I hunt. Sure was nice to haul out meat with her instead of on my back, but we all get older and need to accept our limitations. She's earned her retierment.

    Only had one bear in sight of us while huntting with my dog and the bear was scared to death! He took one look at my Saint and hightailed it outa there. Limmitted experiance I know but I sleep better at night with my dogs with me.

    Powder monkey the dogs in this case are only actting as compainions, he's not running game with them. Although it might not be a bad idea to call fish and game before you head out.

    Just one Alaskans opinion.

  20. #20
    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Greatdawgdane,

    Good to see more hunters who like to be in the field with their dogs and have the ability to train them well. Used to do more packing with dogs; big sled dogs. Most of my problems were packs getting hung up in thick forest/willow/alder, and the dog getting stuck. The balance is sometimes hard to get too depending on what terrain you cover; sometimes there is a lot of adjusting of the pack going on. With the dog just carrying dog food it isn't so hard to equalize it, and makes for a soft load too.

    Only thing I'd recommend is a good vet kit for your working dog. Hemostats for pulling porcupine quills, and for suturing, a bit of suture thread, some dog booties as has been recommended, and some nexoban or other "super glue" type skin-suture stuff.

    To my mind, for those who worry about bears in the middle of the night, or encountering one in the field, there is no better peace of mind than a dog, or dogs in camp. Of course they have to be well-trained dogs who heel, on a tether at night or even in your tent with you. Nice early-warning system all the way around.

    Good luck to you and show us some pics sometime. And jpost, love what you are doing with your lab, very cool and that is quite a dog you have!
    Best,

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