Horseback Hunting

Hunting on Horseback vs. ATV

March 15, 2022

Hunting is one the most beloved and oldest pastimes in the world.

Outdoor enthusiasts and survivalists have a unique connection with nature through tracking, hunting and gathering prey.

There are many reasons to hunt, but four of the most important are:

  • To be part of nature
  • To feel a connection to a place
  • To take responsibility for one’s own food
  • Recognize our kinship to wildlife

Hunting has been practiced since the beginning of time. In these modern times, however, a hunter can be seen as a hunter on his/her own or in a small group of hunters in camo suits stalking their game. However, this is not the only way to hunt. In the west, where it's required to travel long distances to first stalk the game, and then to bring the meat home, it's not the only option.

Man sitting on ATV in forest

Hunting with All Terrain Vehicles is a relatively new way to hunt.

Side-by-sides (SxS, UTV) and ATVs allow hunters to travel further and carry more gear than they can on foot. This allows them to hunt in remote areas and bring back larger prey, much like horses used to do.

There are many options for All Terrain Vehicles. They can be used for recreation or hardworking utility purposes. 

People around the globe use ATVs for both outdoor fun and transportation. Farmers trust off-road vehicles as their trusted companions. They use them to transport food and merchandise, and navigate large ranch paddocks. 

Construction and landscaping professionals use them to tow and transport items and plants. The majority of these ATVs and side by-sides can be used for hunting in several ways.

What are the advantages of hunting with an ATV or UTV?

Getting from Place to Place: Many hunting areas are difficult to access by larger vehicles. Your UTV/ATV will allow you to get from one place to another faster and more efficiently, allowing you to concentrate on your shot. Your UTV/ATV can handle any terrain or weather conditions that you may encounter on your hunt.

Transporting your Equipment: Hunting requires a lot of gear. To set up comfortable camp, you'll need more than just you and the other hunters. You will also need your weapons, ammunition and food. It can be difficult to carry all this equipment by foot. Save your energy and go on the hunt. Instead, pack your UTV/ATV with all your essentials.

Pack Animals with Ease: It can be exhausting to move a large animal, especially if you have to haul it down the mountain. Horses can become scared or stubborn if they smell the scent. A well-functioning UTV or ATV won't give you any problems when it comes time to return home with your trophy animal. A UTV or ATV can get you home much quicker.

What are the disadvantages of hunting with an ATV or UTV?

Noise and Smell: Wildlife can be scared by the sound and smell of an engine roaring. It can not only scare the animal you are stalking but also has the potential to disrupt other hunters and campers in the area.

Environmental Footprint: Hunting with an ATV or UTV can pose environmental problems. It can affect air quality, wildlife, plants, trails, and plant life. UTVs and ATVs are not allowed in certain areas due to these effects. Before you go on a hunt, ensure that your UTV/ATV is allowed to be used in the forest or ranch. Failing to comply with these requirements can lead to license suspension and fines that could ruin your current or future season.

Man on horseback

Let us now take a look at hunting off horseback

Horseback hunting is an ancient sport. Stone carvings found in Middle East ruins show that horses were used for royal lion hunts over 2,600 years ago. The fourth century AD saw Iran's kings create game parks that allowed hunters to stalk dangerous animals like wild boars, leopards, bears and leopards on horseback. Hunting large animals like this required strength, speed and courage.

Horseback hunting is an extremely common practice that has many benefits, with many believing that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. However, it's important to understand the basics of horseback hunting to avoid any problems.

What are the advantages of hunting on horseback?

Harder country is easier to access: Riding a horse allows you to cover more ground in a shorter time. This is especially helpful when you are stalking game in large hunting territories that require you to travel several miles per day to get a shot. A horse can go where wheeled vehicles cannot, making steeper or broken terrains easier and safer to navigate.

Stalking game on horseback is less threatening to the game: In fact, the sound of another four-legged animal approaching the area will be less suspicious than the sound made by humans or wheeled transport. Using a horse to stalk big game like a moose can be considered another form of camouflage, as often, lone bulls will come closer for a better look.

Easier in some situations to pack the meat out: A good horse can carry a full elk on its back, so it will make the journey home more pleasant and easier than if you have to kill a very large bull and pack out on your own back. If you are counting on only one horse, the meat must be packed and placed on the back of your horse and journey back to your camp site on foot. Allowing the horse to concentrate on carrying the packs instead of carrying you and the game, is the best possible option.

It is recommended to have at least two horses with you or one horse to ride and a mule to carry the packs, this will make things a lot easier because one horse or the mule will carry the game and the hunter can ride the other.

What are the disadvantages of hunting on horseback?

Inexperience can be very unsafe: The biggest disadvantage to hunting on horseback is if you are an inexperienced rider. Hunting can be difficult at the best of times even for the most seasoned hunter, let alone for someone that has little to no experience with horses.

You don't have to be a seasoned rider, but if you want to hunt on horseback, it is highly recommended that you take some lessons for some time first. You may be surprised to learn that riding lessons start with the care of the horse. 

Many city dwellers don't realize that horses are not machines. During long hikes of stalking game, the horses can become tired, scared, injured, lazy, excited, or anxious, possibly due to your unexpected movements or shouts. You want your horse to enjoy your ride.

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