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PWS Alaska Solo Goat Hunt

#1
I finally have some time to share my story and pictures from my goat hunt during the last week of September. This was a registration hunt in Prince William Sound area. My Dad and I took the 26' Osprey out and left the dock on the morning of 9/28. He stayed on the boat and I ended up renting 2 satellite phones to communicate, I also had my InReach which I was using as a GPS. I was very fortunate as the weather was cooperative for the entire trip, in that at least no days were completely lost to rain/fog for hunting.

Once we entered the area for this registration hunt, it was not hard to spot goats all the way down close to the shore. The issue isn't being able to spot them, the first consideration has to be where can I land the raft without flipping it and dumping myself at the beach (speaking from first hand experience). There were many nice goats down low I saw but the surf break was just too much and I knew it would not be smart to attempt a landing. It was tough to look at these nice billies just 100-200' above a rocky beach or one with large surf breaks. I had some thoughts to myself for next year about a goat hunt that involves a long board, thick wetsuit and just my rifle in the dry bag. But how are you supposed to get that animal back off the beach?! And the wild scheming for a surf trip/goat hunt ended there.

I have learned from experience that it does not take much more than about a 2' break in a 9’ raft to have water spill over the back where the motor is mounted. All my gear is in dry bags and clipped to the raft and I wear full Simms chest waders. I've also learned how to maneuver the raft best to land and also launch from the beach, it's all about timing it with the incoming waves.

I spent 2-3 hours driving around slow with my Dad glassing goats up high and assessing access points, trying to determine what areas would be the most huntable with multiple options for goats in the area. I spotted a large open alpine bowl which looked promising, not just steep terrain and jagged cliffs. I glassed at least 10+ goats in this area and knew it was what I was looking for. There were at least 3 lone goats also which told me it likely wasn’t just all nannies and kids, there were probably options for some nice billies up there. I had taken a smaller billy last year, and knew I wanted a mature billy this trip.

After I had my gear packed, we loaded it in the raft and paddled to the beach. Before I left the boat we tested the sat phones one more time, and discussed when I would call and check-in. This smaller bay was well protected, I could have almost just put on Xtratuffs instead of the waders for the beach landing! Dad dropped me off and I watched him paddle back to the boat and climb aboard before I turned and faced the valley and entered the jungle.

It took me about 3-4 hours on this first climb up to bust above the treeline. I took the most direct route I could manage, used all fours to climb when it got steep. I had trained hard this summer for my sheep hunt and this goat hunt so I still felt good after climbing up from the salt. Once I got above the treeline, I found a flat-ish area to set up camp, which was around 1600 ft. I dropped most of my gear then grabbed the spotter and my rifle and some snacks to use the remaining 1 hour of daylight to glass for those goats I had seen earlier from the boat. It did not take long once I set up to spot a group of 7-8, several nannies with kids and some I thought were billies. Promising! Also spotted a lone black bear up as high as the goats but further away. I have hunted this bay for bears before, but wanted nothing to do with them this time. I called to check-in with Dad, he was making good progress on The Hobbit and drinking wine. Back to my camp to cook dinner and hit the sack.
 
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#4









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I got an early start the next morning. I hadn’t started walking more than 20’ from my camp when I slipped on the wet grass and landed on my trekking pole and snapped the lower section. Thinking to myself, you’ve got to be freaking kidding me lol. Time to put the crampons on! After I left camp I glassed that same group of goats moving along the ridge. I headed straight for the ridge but had lost track of them as I moved closer to the base of the ridge. I ascended a very steep scree field to get on top of it. I could not have done this part and the entire hunt for that matter without those instep crampons, one of the most valuable pieces of gear I brought. Once on top, I glassed trying to spot them again. The only critter I saw was a black bear, nearly on top of the mountain next to me…well that’s not ideal. After a quick snack to recharge I started slowly working my way across this knife edge ridge. After a few minutes I glanced back and glassed behind me with the binos. Now that I had started working my way across the ridge, I was able to view more terrain behind me.

I spotted the group of goats bedded down just staring at me. Welp, busted…good thing these aren’t sheep! I’m sure they were thinking I am a very slow moving and funny looking bear. I turned around and dropped out of view and traversed back across the ridge and came up closer to them at about 200 yards at a level elevation. I got the spotter out and started looking for billys. I saw 2 nice billies together bedded down facing opposite directions. 1 slightly smaller billy was also up and feeding near them. Lots of other groups of nannies and kids in the vicinity. Both of the two larger billys were very similar in size. Whatever one would get me the best shot first would be the one I would take. I ranged them and was 180-190 yards away.

After waiting for about 30 minutes, one stood up and I sent a 168 grain Barnes TTSX round into him from my Tikka T3x Superlite .308. He stumbled and was shaky and likely on his way down but I sent a quick follow up shot into him again, this one ended up being a gut shot as he stumbled but he dropped. He fell about 400-500 ft before finally coming to rest in a boulder field on the other side of the ridge from the bay my Dad was anchored at and where my camp was. I made a quick call to my Dad to let him know I had a billy down! I was also briefly considering hiking him out a different route, just descend from where he lay into a different bay on the other side of the peninsula. While likely shorter, I ended up playing it safe and hiking him back up the ridge before descending again.
 
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Yellowknife

Well-known member
#5
I'm liking it.

Did a goat hunt down there myself this year. It ended up being more "interesting" than hoped (a re-occurring theme with my goat trips it seems) but I found the terrain unique compared to Kodiak or western Chugach goat country. Looking forward to the rest of the story.
 
#6









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To the left of this ridge was my camp and Dad back at the boat, to the right is the side where the goat was down.
 
#9


After I had him down, I hiked over to where he was shot and saw some of the others leaving the area. Not in any particular hurry.








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#10


This is looking down the side of the ridge where my billy lay.



As I started descending down to my billy, the other larger one appeared for a few minutes. Almost to say, I may be around next year if you dare challenge yourself again... Kind of a cool moment to look back up at him.




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#12


He ended up measuring 9 7/8”. One of the tips on his horns had cracked during the tumble but was still attached.






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#13
I was only able to take off the 4 quarters and backstraps before I left with my first load back to camp. I did not want to be descending that steep ridge with just a headlamp, also knowing a bear was in the area. I covered the rest of the meat in game bags with large rocks that I wasn’t packing out and the carcass to hopefully deter the ravens a bit.

It took an hour to climb up the ridge then another back down with a loaded pack. Again, could not have done this without crampons, it was too steep and I would have definitely slipped.

Here I am headed back down the steep ridge towards camp. I arrived just as it was getting dark and called Dad again. Stashed the game bags under giant boulders to keep it cool and out of any potential rain.



 
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#14
The next morning I woke up early to head back to finish skinning him and packing him out.




This is looking back up what I needed to hike over to get on the other side of the ridge. Pictures never seem to do it justice in regards to steepness.


Back at camp for the evening with 2/3 loads (all the meat) with me. The hide is back up near a snowfield under a giant boulder on my side of the ridge.


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#15


Dad helping clean out the game bags and tidying up after I had brought back load 2/3.




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Another lesson learned for goat hunting worth sharing; just because you can ascend with a lighter pack containing your gear, does not mean that same route is safe for descending loaded heavy with meat. I took a similar route as my first trip in the morning to drop off some meat at the boat. I worked myself into some sketchy areas, down in a steep rocky ravine with a small creek where I had to lower the pack down with some rope. This was a little more excitement than I would have liked on a solo trip. For the next load down from my camp, I picked a longer but more gradual route and made sure to pay attention to my GPS to avoid the steeper dangerous terrain.

Once I was down from the steeper terrain and into the flatter areas, I had begun following a creek. I was forced to cross the stream over a downed log or turn back and find a different path. I knew I was within about 1/2 mile of the beach. I got this, not big deal…wrong move!!! I still had my crampons on, and it was a lot harder to keep my balance with the pack and crampons. I ended up face down in the creek which was probably about mid-thigh high. I was able to push myself up and get across. A quick dose reality to not take unnecessary risks on a solo trip like this. To add to thrill of the morning, I walked up on a smaller black bear about 30 ft away who was making his way up the stream. I was shouting out or singing some metal jams the whole time I was in the jungle so I don’t think I surprised him at least. He didn’t want anything to do with me and kept moving upstream. Finally got to the beach about 20 min after dunking myself. Dad was waiting at the beach for me. I had lunch in the boat, changed into a spare set of clothes and boots and warmed up. Turned down his offer of beer for some electrolyte mix, still have work to do. The food and warm clothes recharged me. After about an hour break on the boat where I filled him in on the days adventures, I headed back to the beach to go climb up and bring back load #2 of the rest of the meat and my camp. I made it back down to the beach before dark. With each trip up and down, I was finding more efficient routes up and down and marking them on my GPS. I was feeling pretty beat, it was nice to have dinner and relax on the boat. I took him up on his offer of two beers.

The next morning I made the hike back up to go get the hide stashed higher than where my camp was at. When I got to my old camp location, I used my binos to glass a bit. I saw some more goats, sweet. But what I saw next was very worrisome. Another black bear was on a steep grassy slope not too far above where the hide was stashed. It was right at the edge of a snowfield and I placed it under a giant boulder and surrounded it with smaller ones. All I could do was hope he hadn’t gotten into it and ripped it up earlier.

I kept hauling and by the time I got near, the bear had worked his way even higher. Hide was untouched! Time to load up and GTFO! That last load was my lightest, I think I made it back to the boat in about 2.5 hours. All together I shuttled everything out in three loads. I think to push it and only take two loads would have been unsafe given the steepness and difficulty of the terrain. When I was walking in the jungle, some of the foliage was taller than me and you can’t see where you’re feet will land. Any heavier than what I hauled and it would have been much easier to twist/break a knee or ankle. I also had to crawl under or climb over a lot of deadfall. The first two loads were maybe 70-80 lbs and the last one around 50ish, if I recall correctly.

I had my billy down late Saturday morning. I arrived at the beach with my last load at about 3pm on Tuesday. Immediately cracked another beer and started eating a ton. I was very thankful my Dad waited those days patiently for me but I could tell he too was ready to get back.

I was thinking it’s finally over, I can relax. Nope! As we left the sheltered bay and made our way into unprotected waters, the waves and wind start picking up. It did not take long before we were in 12-14 foot waves and a small craft advisory. The pucker factor here was higher than anything I had been in previously out fishing. The swells were pushing the boat around causing it to bank hard and my Dad did a great job of steering and counter steering along with them. The prop would come out of the water at times and you could hear the engine cavitate. We did not expect the forecast to improve within the next day or two, no point in turning back. Might as well just keep trucking. I was talking to him and we both agreed it was definitely hair raising but nothing that the boat likely couldn’t handle and downright dangerous. Just another experience to help make this hunt memorable. When we finally entered protected waters again I could relax and smile thinking back at what an awesome adventure this was and a huge accomplishment for me as my first solo billy. Well, solo with a patient Father and Captain ;)
 

MallardMaster

Well-known member
#16
Whoa doggy!!! Not that there is a fantastic tale of your hunt. Thanks a ton for sharing this with us. For us flatlanders that might never get the chance to go on a goat hunt, it is always pretty cool when you share your stories with us. Thanks again!
 

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