Hunt of a Lifetime - 2010 Mountain Goat
My friend Charlie and I planned a mountain goat hunt about 18 months earlier and the time finally came to make the 2 ½ day drive to British Columbia, Canada. We arrived in camp on Wednesday, September 21, 2010. Beaverfoot Outfitters ran their operation out of a group of chalets nestled at the base of the Canadian Rockies near Golden, BC, Canada.
It was a nice sunny day, the first in over a week. Our arrival had been preceded by rain and lots of it. The outfitter’s wife, Claire greeted us and showed us to our chalet. It was a nice cabin with two bedrooms and baths as well as a kitchen. Of course we wouldn’t need the kitchen as Claire would be preparing our meals.
Claire turned out to be quite the cook; nothing gourmet or fancy, just home-cooked, made from scratch and hearty. The plentiful food was just what hunters need to fuel them for strenuous hunting in the mountains. My favorite was the lunch meal featuring a sandwich consisting of Canadian ham or summer sausage and cheese between two thick slices of homemade bread.
Breakfast was at 6 am and soon after it, Troy my guide and I headed out. We drove the mountain roads to a spot at about 5,000 feet in elevation. Donning our packs we then headed up. We climbed through thick brush and over rocky steep terrain for over two hours to get above the timberline. This got us close to where the goats lived. It gave us a vantage point to begin glassing for goats.
The trees ran out at about 7,500 feet. It gave us a clear view of the mountain peaks around us. It also gave us a magnificent view into the valley below. The clouds rolled in after we got to the top and it was spectacular.
We hiked, stopping to glass, along the mountain ridge. My guide spotted a legal mule deer buck. Mule deer have to have at least four points on one side to be legal. This was a 4 x 3 young buck that despite being legal wasn’t a shooter for me. My focus was on mountain goat and it would take an exceptional mule deer for me to deviate from my plans to take a mountain goat first.
The following picture was taken the second day from another mountain. We were right at the base of the tall peak on the first day.
We pressed on looking for goats. After lunch we topped a ridge and scanned the next peak for goats. I couldn’t pick up the two specks, but the guide did. Once pointed out to me, I could view a nanny and kid through my binos. They were resting on a ledge across from us. Not sure if it were a billy if I could have taken him. Probably could have gotten close enough for a shot, but not sure how we would have recovered him.
To get to the next spot we had to cross a loose, snow covered shale field. The footing without the snow would have been treacherous, but the snow greatly added to the danger; at least from my perspective. Troy had no problem crossing it, but the steepness and uncertainty of footing made slow going for me.
I trained for the trip, but my thighs were cramping from using muscles that only the mountain could find.
I would put the angle of the mountainside there at about 70 degrees. It was so steep I struggled to stay upright. It wanted to pull me into the mountain. Carrying a backpack and rifle just added to the difficulty. I was actually scared, but I did it.
After the shale slide, we had to cross a boulder slide which was actually easy in comparison.
We didn’t see anything else that day and headed back to camp for dinner. Dinner was at 7:30
I don’t recall what we ate, but it was good. I worked up an appetite that day. I was joined by my friend Charlie, a young hunter from Texas, Travis and a young doctor from Denmark who was in the country for a conference and decided to make it into a black bear hunt.
After dinner there was just enough time to clean up and get some sleep before breakfast the next day.
The next day was Friday and we headed out with a pack horse Smokey. I was a long easy ascent to the cabin. On the way we spotted a black bear. I told the guide that I wanted to focus on mountain goat, but he was insistent that we take a closer look. It was a really nice black bear so I went along, but when we got to the spot where the bear “was” he was nowhere to be found.
So we continued onto the cabin. After unpacking the horse and putting our gear into the cabin we headed out up a valley. It was a couple hour hike to where we started spotting for goats. Troy found two billies at the top of a mountain bedded down. It was around 2 pm and we decided to wait to see if they would get up and feed. There were about 600 yards away and it was steep.
We waited until 4pm and they didn’t show any sign of moving so we decided to move closer to be prepared for a shot. It took a while of staying in the timber and belly crawling to find a spot that was close enough. We got to 271 yards, but it was steep. It was so steep that I kept sliding down from my shooting spot; about a foot or two each time.
I set up in the prone position on Troy’s backpack and waited for them to move closer. We waited and we waited but they didn’t move much closer – maybe 250 - 260. The angle was almost straight up so I had to calculate the actual distance (guess really). I held on the bigger of the two’s shoulder for about 225 and squeezed the trigger when I got the okay.
The goat dropped instantly and then fell off the bench. He rolled down the mountain flipping over and over for 50 yards. We then had to climb up to retrieve him.
It was grueling, straight up and rocky. I was relieved to find that he had both horns with just a small chip out of one when we arrived an half-hour later. It was so steep we had to tie him to a tree to keep him from falling down the mountain when we tried to position him for pictures.
The goat was huge weighing in at about 300 pounds with 9 1/2 inch horns. He was later aged by the official Canadian inspector at 9 years old. Troy began the task of skinning him after pictures. It took until about 8:30 for him to finish and then we had to pack the hide and meat down the mountain to the cabin in the dark.
My pack probably weighed around 50 – 60 pounds and it was heavy. Going down a mountain is a little easier than going up, but it has its own challenges like tripping or losing your footing and tumbling down. We got to the cabin about 11 pm and it was not a minute too soon. I was dehydrated and in desperate need of something to drink. Fortunately I had a hydration drink waiting for me.
After a Molson beer and a dinner of moose chili we hit the sack.
This hunt is by far the most challenging hunt I’ve done. It challenged me physically and mentally.
I have the goat meat in the freezer and will do a life-size mount of the goat. But most of all, I have a sense of accomplishment for pushing past my limits.