Michael Wunnicke, Leupold Director of Marketing, sat down with Randy Newberg and Beau Baty at the 2018 BHA Rendezvous to chat about the latest trend in the hunting world: llamas. Randy, host of “Fresh Tracks” and the “On Your Own Adventures” TV series, recently brought Beau and some of his llamas on a hunt, seeing firsthand how beneficial backcountry hunting with llamas could be. As the founder and operations manager of Wilderness Ridge Trail Llamas, Beau explained what it’s like to breed, raise, and rent llamas out to serious hunters and hikers.
Beau grew up in Idaho as a horse outfitter. But he quickly realized he couldn’t sit still long enough to stay up on the animal, always wanting to get off and walk. He opted to leave the horses behind. When he shot an elk on his next hunt, he was reminded of how much he needed something to pack out his meat before it spoiled. After a few failed tests with both goats and burrows, he stumbled upon the idea of using llamas.
Beau and his wife were introduced to the concept of llamas after a trip to Argentina in 2006 where he learned about how the Incas bred and used llamas for packing purposes for roughly 6,000 years. When the animal reached 16 years old, they would kill them and eat the meat. Intrigued by this alternative, he started Wilderness Ridge Trail Llamas a few short years after.
Llamas can walk an average of 6-10 miles a day on a hunt, carrying 80 pounds in their packs. They generally have about 13 working years in them, being ready to hit the trail at about three years old. They are mild-mannered, easy to maintain creatures, and serve as a great benefit to hunters that need to pack in and pack out a substantial load. They spook less easily than horses, are quieter, and generally easier to train, as well.
Marcus the Llama, Randy’s newest addition named after Marcus Leupold, is three years old and will be hitting the trail soon to accompany Randy on his hunts. While llamas aren’t for everyone, it just goes to show what lengths serious hunters will go to in order to maximize each hunt.