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Gypsy Skies

by meghan simpson

Helicopters Vs. Horses

This is a topic that can be tricky to start, but should be addressed from a person that has been around both and uses both to hunt. First of all, if you’ve only hunted with horses and don’t understand how much of an area you can utilize with a helicopter, then this is the blog for you!

While being around outfitting the past 28 years and using Super Cubs, float planes and horses, our Robinson R44 Helicopter has taken the place of all three. Our sheep age average has gone up from 9 years old to 11 years old, and our success rate is 100% unless of course there is a miss on part of the hunter’s behalf. No more building fixed wing strips or taking horses where horses should not be taken. The hardest part would be finding guides that are “horse” guides that are able to take care of the pack string and not sore up the animal. With the helicopter, you don’t have to “catch” your Stone Glacier backpack and can be up and in the hills within minutes. Sure there is always the benefit of having a wall tent and wood stove with proper food like bacon and eggs, but there is a mountain house that makes a mean scrambled eggs! In places like New Zealand where you can use a helicopter to hunt there is no grace period between flying and hunting, where in the Northwest Territories there is a 12 hr waiting period.

Most people are very fixed on thinking the helicopter will drop you off on top of the animal, but there are many bow hunts that still last the full 10 days. Yes the helicopter is an advantage but in this day and age most clients that can afford to hunt these animals don’t have the knees or hips to ride for a day from camp to camp.

On the other note, I do love bacon and eggs in the morning in that cast iron fry pan, sitting in the wall tent and drying out my Zamberlan hiking boots before putting them on in -15 degree weather. If you have ever done a late season Big Horn hunt in Alberta then you know exactly what I mean! Using horses is how it all started back in the day, and a lot of people want the experience of an old time pack trip. I cannot imagine not having my horses for my personal hunts, but when running a business you have to think about the big picture or the class of hunters you’re attracting. So instead of picking sides, think more of what fits your style of hunting.


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