Once the cornerstone of human transportation, horse packing is now considered an activity for the adventurous. For several years now Daniel and a group of friends travel with horses, gear and hunting equipment to a wilderness area and spend a few days living off the land and what they pack in their saddle bags. This year, Daniel was joined by Cody, Greg and Bo. The four of them explored the South Fork area of the Upper Sisquoc River in Northern Santa Barbara County. They went looking to bag a deer.
The travelers together with their horses and gear planned for and accomplished packing over twenty one steep miles. It was a long ride and water was hard to come by. The men and horses camped under the stars and cooked their meals over an open fire. The hunter’s favorite cut of deer meat is the tenderloin. One morning they enjoyed eggs and fried onions for breakfast. The Grieb Ranch horses were all employed to complete this year’s adventure. Bob (the horse), Fifty, Mr. T and on his first packing trip, Joe, who is the latest addition to the Grieb Ranch string. Joe is being worked and trained to become Payson’s horse.
Grandpa Carl is the go-to guy for packing tips, experience and even the best place to search for a buck. He has been instrumental in giving Daniel experience and in helping Daniel prepare for these annual trips. Papa Carl and JR Jennings have taught Daniel how to obtain good horses and pack balanced loads. As the days and miles progress the loads change and shift. Proper hitches on the ropes holding the packs to the saddles and closed are crucial. Daniel uses three types of hitches, a double diamond, a box hitch and a one man diamond. Which hitch is used depends on the size and shape of the pack.
Well Papa Carl’s keen knowledge of the area paid off as Daniel secured a nice buck for meat for the freezer. He captured this buck right where Papa told him to search. This was a highlight for Daniel as it was his first buck bagged on public land found using information from his Papa. The antlers were carried home on the back of Bob (the horse). Tex was surely missed this year as the best horse carries the meat and beverage cooler. Without Tex to carry this important load the job was passed on to Fifty who carried it with dignity.
To learn more about the adventure and art of horse packing Daniel recommends the book, “Packin’ in on Mules and Horses” by Smoke Elser.