I don’t have the time to cover every aspect of this hunt from the planning to the end so I will start with from when we left. Due to some issues at work my hunting partner and I left Anchorage at 01:00 on Thursday morning and drove all night to arrive on time at our 1st destination. Our 1st stop was at a small town airport where we would get on a commuter plane and take a short flight to a village where we would meet our local transporter. The plane arrived around 09:30. After unloading the plane and reloading our gear into a pickup were on our way to the drop off point. After driving down a remote trail for some time we picked a good place to stop and set up base camp close to where we wanted to hunt. We decided where we wanted to hunt by studying topo maps and google earth.
When we stopped the pickup my buddy Charlie said there’s a goat RIGHT THERE! Sure enough just under 1000 yards was a nice billy standing on a peak. After he left we unloaded, set up a base camp, ate lunch and packed our spike camp gear we headed for the top of a knob that would put us close to a high mountain pass between 2 peaks. After fighting alders, devils club and spruce thickets along with some typical uphill goat terrain for some time we made it to the top of the first hump. We had to be careful not to push ourselves too hard in order to NOT sweat. We were upper teen and lower 20 degree temperatures with heavy winds and the last thing you need is to be wet from the inside. The terms “Cotton kills” and “The cheap stuff will kill you” apply here. Fleece, polyester, goose down and Gore-Tex are your best friends here.
After resting for a few minutes we headed for the pass. As we got closer to the pass I saw another billy standing on a ridge top in the distance. What a sight to behold! A mature billy goat standing on the skyline in the cold crisp air in the sun light with the bright blue winter sky behind him is truly a breath taking image. These are the sights that keep me going! After viewing him through the Swarovski’s I watched him head down the mountain on the face we would be looking at when we reached the pass. What seemed like forever passed before we reached that pass. When we got near the top we dropped our packs and crawled over to the edge. We glassed high and low for that billy but could never find him.
Charlie decided that I would shoot the first and if need be the only goat if there was one to be had as he had taken goats in the past and that he also bagged 3 nice critters this year where as I had not taken a goat nor any critters this year. Sometime later either the same billy or another billy appeared on the sky line again. I could not believe it. We watched him for a while cruise up and down the ridge. He would come into view and disappear. Over and over he would do this. He slowly worked his way down a ridge that would put him in close proximity of us. When I first ranged him he was 771 yards. I didn’t even contemplate a shot due to the high winds (20-25 mph) which was at our location and at his location which was evident by his long winter fur waving in the wind like wheat in a windy field. A few minutes later he was 650 yards. As he got closer I desired to get a really good look at him with the spotting scope which was 50 yards down the mountain. I had to face the slope while I descended and kick toe holds into the compacted snow on the slope to keep from sliding down. I would keep an eye on the goat while I advanced towards my pack to get my scope. Before I could get my scope out he was within 540 yards. I opted to forget the scope and get into position for a shot. Every time I would think about moving to get to a spot I could shoot from he would look our way. About the time I felt I could move he would come into view facing us again! This went on for about 30 minutes. Before I knew it he was 275 yards, then 200, then 175, then 150. He was so close and I would have been totally exposed if I stood up and couldn’t move. Charlie was looking at me in frustration as he felt I should have shot this goat by now. As the goat got within less than 150 yards he was hidden by a small mound. Charlie motioned for me to come up by him. When I go to the top I peaked over and saw him below. I dint range him as we were scary close! I dialed the knob for 100 yards and had to stand up to get the shot. I slowly stood up and the goat turned to run. He trotted a few yards and stopped briefly to analyze which way he should go. It was now or never. I took aim and torched off a round. As I was coming off the recoil I could tell he was hit. After about 10 yards he just flopped over and didn’t move a muscle. The 300 grain pill did the deed! Later I would learn that the bullet ripped square through the heart and loosed it from whatever it attaches to. I waited there for a few minutes to ensure he didn’t get up and then we jumped up and celebrated. There was something magical about laying my hand on those nice black horns and that thick heavy winter fur. All that long range practice only to have to have a 133 yard shot! We have yet to 'score' him but his horns are 9-3/8" and 9-1/4" long. I had initially decided to take my 308 (Jenny) but Charlie talked me into taking my 338 due to the very tough and spirited nature of mountain goats.
We moved him a few yards to get him away from the bloody mess in the snow for some quality photos. After the photo session we took off the whole cape head to hoof and quartered him up. We packed down out of the pass to the 1st knob we made it up to so that we could bivy for the night. We had to use crampons to safely negotiate the slopes down to the knob. We cut some fire wood, made a big fire and cooked goat tenderloin over the coals. Wow! I always heard goat meat was nasty. Oh wait, on second thought, yeah it’s pretty bad. You may not ever want to go harvest one!
That night would prove to snow all night. Despite the cold, wind and snow we stayed warm and dry all night. We had to work hard to through out the days and night to stay warm but we did. It wouldn’t be an Alaskan adventure if we didn’t work for it.
Avril gets it done
Looking from the pass to an ocean bay.
My buddy Charlie with the cape.
You aint going anywhere without these!
More pix in the next post