Matt with Timmy and Haggy on a snowy elk hunt in southwestern Montana.
On the Montana episode of MeatEater, you’re going to meet three pack llamas owned by my brother, Matt. When most people hear about Matt’s llamas—Timmy, Haggy, and Magel—the first thing they usually say is this: “Llamas? Don’t they spit?”
They certainly do, though “spit” isn’t the best word for it. Matt has likened the smell and texture to “when you gut a deer improperly.” But for the uninitiated, it’s helpful to think of a llama’s spit as being like a bag of lawnmower trimmings moistened with the vomit of a person who had way too much to drink.
So why would anyone risk getting sniped by fermented vegetation in order to have a gang of llamas around? There are lots of reasons. For one thing, getting spit at by a llama is definitely better than getting your knee cap shattered by an angry mule. And hauling six gallons of drinking water into dry country on a llama’s back is better than hauling it on your own back. And hauling out fifty pounds of meat a llama’s back is better than hauling it out on your own back. And having a critter that notifies you about late night visitors, such as bears, is better than learning about such visitors once they clamp down on your head. And, for a solo backcountry hunter like my brother, having a little animal company is better than no company at all.
But perhaps the best reason is that it’s simply just a pleasure to watch llamas move across the country. They’ve got long necks that remind me of coconut palms, and long legs that remind me of something you’d see in a Dali painting. What’s more, they’ve got heart. They’ll go most anywhere, endure most anything, and they almost never get pissed off about it. I wish I could say as much about every person that I’ve ever hunted with. To meet Matt’s llamas, and see them in action, be sure to tune into the Montana episode of MeatEater. You’ll like it. –Steven Rinella