Goat misadventures 2019

slatty

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2018
Messages
169
Location
British Columbia
Here's a goat story for anyone who's bored these days and wants to read one.

I was lucky to draw a limited entry goat tag in 2019 and hunted the archery season. It was my first goat hunt. Two overnight scouting trips, one in july, one in august, got me into goat country. I was basically plagued by bad weather with minimal time behind optics due to fog / rain / sleet / snow. This was a recurring theme. My scouting experiences motivated me to switch from feathers to vanes, looking for a setup with better wind stability and weather resistance. My bow for the hunt was a 50# bear takedown recurve with 560gr arrows and 4-fletch tradvanes at the back.

Opening day had me start my hike in on a forestry road at daybreak. It's about a 6km hike in through burn then mostly boulder fields. I try not to think too much about grizzlies hiking through their country with just my bow and some bear spray, but it is what it is, just gotta go for it. Plenty of water close to where I chose to camp, tucked away down and off to the side of my chosen basin.
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I was looking to be more comfortable and stay sane on this solo adventure so brought along the floorless shelter. Hard to find flat ground in that country so I took what I could get, although the ground was a little softer than I would have liked. Weather forecast looked clear for the next few days so I thought I would be ok.
I was able to get into a couple billies right away. I had glassed over a billy with my 10x binos on a tripod several times, and throwing up my spotter saw him right away. He was on a really light background in the full sun and just didn't pop out for me with the binos. There was a second billy up above him on a cliff. They were both bedded on this cliff up above a really sharp ridge that ran north-south.
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I watched them both for most of the day and as the day wound down decided I would try a stalk as that's what I was there to do. It was a really hot day with strong thermals. I was able to get within 150 yards of the goats on the ridge but it was open country past that. In order to get to bow range I had to back out and drop down almost to the basin bottom, then come back up approaching the ridge from the east right below the cliff. Here's where I took a gamble (a more experienced and less excited hunter may have waited for another day). I was climbing up to this steep ridge from the east with the wind at my back. I took a gamble that the other side of the ridge which was in the full afternoon sun on the west side would have a stronger thermal that would keep away any scent coming from my side. That turned out to be the case.
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I walked up to the ridge to within about 40 yards as the sun was touching the horizon on the other side of the ridge. As i'm told they often do, both billies came down off the cliff and fed on a meadow at the bottom of the cliff. The billy that was higher on the cliff fed in my direction and bedded on the edge of the ridge closer to me, about 40 yards away. The best term for the creature that I watched for a while is "mountain pig". He rolled and pawed at the dirt and everytime he snorted there was a spray of spit and dirt that went up in the air and wafted in my direction (bingo on the wind call). The boots came off and I slowly started getting closer to him. I was on a steep scree slope and with every step I slid down a bit and it was loud. I decided to just wait until he pawed the ground or rolled, and every time he did, I took a step. I was able to get to about 20 yards. At 25 he stood up and I had a clear shot but with the steep angle I decided to try to get closer. He bedded back down. As I got to 20 yards he must have heard me because I could tell he stopped moving and was on alert (I couldn't see his body, just his horns and his feet up in the air when he rolled).
He stood up and came over the ridge and walked a few steps on a trail above me, walking on alert. At this point he was 8-10 yards and as he swung his leg forward I let an arrow go. I hit him higher than I would have liked and he was on a steep angle above me. I believe I hit the onside lung and the arrow passed under the spine and hit great vessels before coming out the other side. I probably miscalculated and hit him high due to the steep uphill angle. He initially dropped and stumbled then took off on a dead run through a scree field. The last I saw him he was about 150 yards away making gasping and gurgling sounds with a palm-sized blood spot on his side, before he went over a ridge which went over a small cliff into a vast boulder field. It's a huge basin full of cliffs and boulders of varying sizes. I sat down and listened to the silence of the basin, retrieved my gear, and after 20 minutes went to where I last saw him. There wasn't a spot of blood that I could find, which I would expect given the high lung shot and thick fur. It was dark by this point and after searching for an hour I decided to give him the night.
The walk back to camp and the night were anxious and sleepless. It was a hot night and didn't cool down very much. Up by daybreak I located his buddy in the same spot on the cliff. I spent a couple days alternating between gridding the basin on foot, and gridding the basin with my spotting scope from various points. His buddy billy stayed on the same cliff the whole time and his friend never reappeared. I never saw eagles or any scavengers. I never found that goat. His buddy was equally killable in that spot especially given the time to formulate a plan, but my tag was punched as far as I was concerned, I had killed my goat.

On my final night in there a lightning storm hit at about 9pm. Heavy rain, lightning and winds progressively picked up to the point where my tent pole was bending over and I expected that probably the shelter would fail me (or more accurately my setup of the shelter would fail me). Just as I was lacing up my first boot wanting to be prepared, the tent came down. Immediate chaos. I was able to get my rain gear on, stuff what I could in my pack, cover what I could with my tent and weight it down, and head up into the cliffs with my headlamp. I had previously seen a cave / cleft not too far above camp and I spent about 6 hours in there until daybreak, hunkered under an old woobie. That thing was awesome.

I planned to come back a week or two later with a rifle and either shoot a wounded goat or find scavengers on the carcass. Unfortunately due to the terrain I really needed a stretch of clear weather. Shortly after bow season snow came in to that country and I couldn't line up time off work with clear weather, so I never made it back in.

Lessons learned? I put this in the category of "shit happens when you send pointy things at big animals in the mountains". A better placed arrow would have been great. A spotter down below in the basin would have helped. Lessons learned about shelter setup and placement as well. Really this was a great hunt and a great experience. In hunting, unlike in most other things I do, it's amazing how an inch here or there in any decision you make can have such consequences.

Wishing you successful goat hunts. Thanks for reading.
 

mtnrunner260

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 6, 2012
Messages
1,149
Location
Utah
Thanks for the write up.
You did a 1000 things right to get into a position for a shot and an inch or two at then end made the difference.
That's Why we spend time in the mountains.
 

Wapiti1

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2017
Messages
1,608
Location
Indiana
Props to you. The story could be all about you killing the other goat and we wouldn't know the difference.

You put it right. Shit happens and weather happens. Live, learn, and hunt on.

Jeremy
 

hikenhunt

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2013
Messages
199
Location
WA
Thanks for sharing. Not every hunt ends up the way you want. You put in the effort to find him, you did it right.
 

tater

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2012
Messages
288
Location
BC
Tough hunt in a tough unit.
Your ethics make me proud to call you my hunting partner.

You'll get it done on that next OTC tag on the river.
 

twdjr

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2020
Messages
111
Location
TX
Great write up and unfortunately things don't always work out as hoped.
 

AK Troutbum

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2012
Messages
5,433
Location
Chugiak, Alaska
Hey, thanks for the story and sorry that you weren't able to recover the goat, but it did make for a very good read. A little off topic, but what exactly happened with the shelter failure? Did the stakes come free or pole break? Anyway, just curious, and thanks again for the story.
 
OP
slatty

slatty

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2018
Messages
169
Location
British Columbia
Re: shelter failure, stakes came free. Really it was too big a footprint for that country, the only flat ground that could accommodate it was a runoff gravel bed that was a bit too soft.
 
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