After a couple years wait from the time I booked, my departure day had finally arrived. My first flight would depart Detroit with a scheduled layover in Chicago and then on to Vancouver where I had planned to stop at a family friend’s house to visit and have dinner. This overnight stop would give me time to catch dinner with friends and to make sure my bags made the trip for my final flight the next am to Smithers, BC. I also was hoping to be able to make a visit to their house where he has several animals mounted, including polar bear, brown bear and even a Marco Polo sheep.
It’s funny how hunting travel can connect you with a variety of other hunters. On my stop in Chicago I had an impromptu meeting with a guy I was “friends” with on FB since his flight got delayed. He was also traveling to Smithers and hunting mountain goat as well, but he was hunting with another outfitter. My flight was full to Vancouver, but he luckily was able to get on standby and we both were off to Vancouver. Once in Vancouver, he hurried thru Custom’s trying to catch his connecting flight and I headed to the hotel and then on to meeting up with my friends for dinner. After having dinner with my friends at a restaurant high on a mountain overlooking Vancouver, we went back to their house for a few hours checking out his mounts and listening to his hunting stories. My arrival timed well as he had just received his A/Y moose mount back from the B&C Awards show where it received a final score of 250 5/8. Boy, what a monster of a moose!
After the story telling ended, they dropped me back off at the hotel in the Vancouver airport so I would be ready to catch my 7:30 AM flight to Smither’s, BC. The flight up went relatively smooth and we had an on-time arrival in Smither’s.
Once I received my bags at the airport, Jack walked in and helped me with my baggage. I happened to be on the same plane as their other hunter who would be in camp this week. Angelo was from NYC and would be chasing Mountain goat and bear. After stopping for gas and propane in town, we headed out for the hour or so drive to the lodge where we would then settle in and sort out what gear we would take up the mountain the next day.
I think I could get used to hanging out in their lodge!!
Once in camp around 11:30 am, we met Matt and fellow Bowsiter Russell which were the hunters heading out of camp and finishing their goat hunts. Matt scored on the second day with his rifle and Russell wasn’t able to seal the deal with his bow, but he had some brutal weather and posted his story earlier. After getting the gear sorted out and settled in our respective cabins, Angelo and I headed to the range with Dave (a guide in training) to check the weapons to make sure the travel didn’t cause any problems.
Dave’s rifle was pretty well sighted in and I shot Jack’s rifle a couple times to makes sure I was somewhat familiar with it as I had a wolf tag. Once the bang sticks were settled, I shot my bow to check zero and my first shot hit about a foot right at 30 yards. A little weird until my second shot did exactly the same thing.
Upon closer inspection, the ride on the plane had bent my sight bar at least a ¼” causing the misses. I had to run back to the lodge to get my allen wrenches to see if I could make the adjustments to the site. I moved the sight, but it didn’t have enough travel, so I decided to bend the sight bar back to normal and see how that would work out. After an hour of tinkering, I was back shooting solid groups at 50 yards in a pretty steady cross wind.
After all of the weapons were sighted in, we decided to head out and drive the logging roads looking for black bears just to kill time since both of us had a bear tag in our pocket. We didn’t see any bears that were stalkable on our drive, so we finished up with a great homemade meal back at the lodge.
Officially Day 1 of the hunt! A two year wait is over…
We had a big breakfast at 6 AM that was prepared by Dede in the lodge. We were all planning on a 7am departure to head up the mountain. We loaded up the truck, trailer and ranger and then started heading towards our first mountain to hunt. Most of their mountains can be covered in a couple days, so we were only planning on a 3-4 day first leg.
These are the type of skies that you like to wake up to when you are heading up the mountain!!
And wouldn’t you know it, everywhere I go…, flat tires followed me all the way to BC as we got a flat tire driving down the well-developed dirt road. After pulling a sharp rock out of the tire, Jack pulled out one of his three air compressor/battery charging combos he had stashed in the truck or Ranger. After plugging and getting enough air in the tire to drive, we headed for the trailhead planning on dealing with the flat tire when we got back from hunting…
After a short ride in the Ranger, we made the trailhead at 10 am and began the hike to the top of the mountain. We had to cross a heavy stream right away using hip waders and then started the accent.
By 11:30 am, we spotted our first mountain goats of my trip. I must admit that it was a bit weird leaving them behind and hiking up a gnarly mountain face to get to the top of a mountain on the opposite side of the canyon. Later on, I would realize that those goats might as well be on Jupiter unless they were moving, because we couldn’t reach them in the slightest.
However, they were pretty cool to look at thru the scope this early in the trip.
After a quick lunch of Peanut butter and Jam rolls, we start heading around the top of the mountain in search of a billy to stalk. We only make it a few hundred yards and spot a billy that is bedded on the top of a cliff only 200 yards away. We decided to pull the scope out and take a closer look.
After a close inspection, we decide that he is a shooter and we plan out our stalk as he is facing straight away. On the stalk down to the target billy, we bump into another smaller billy bedded in the trees on the edge of the cliffs. The second billy moves off without disturbing our main target. We make it to 150 yards of the target billy and decide to leave Dave and our packs to wait it out there.
There is another spruce tree about 50 yards closer, but it looks like cover is going to run out after that. Hopefully, the billy will get up and feed a bit closer or make a move allowing us to gain some more ground on him. Jack is really hoping he feeds out as he believes there are some really steep cliffs right on the other side of the billy and he doesn’t want him to make that steep drop after a shot.
Here’s our holding location on the billy and you can see him bedded on the edge of the cliffs in the background.
When we decided to move closer, I forgot to grab my puffy and with the wind and snow, I am absolutely shivering right now. Not so sure I could even shoot if offered a shot. So when the billy decides to turn, I try sneaking back to my pack, but he turns back and beds facing us again. Now we are caught in the open and I’m doing everything to keep warm and not move, a tough combination. We play cat and mouse with him as he lays in his bed, but there is no getting closer as he stands and works his way over the cliff edge unaware of our presence.
After he dropped over, we ran back grabbed my puffy and then headed over to the cliff edges to see if there was anything we could do. After circling above and around, we caught a glimpse of him, but not in any place that offered a shot.
As darkness was nearing, we headed back to our packs and decided it was time to setup camp before we had to do the hike in total darkness. After setting camp, we had some gourmet mountain house in the dark and immediately moved to the tents for sleep as the night air was dropping temperature steadily. So, Day 1 was in the books, but we were within 100 yards of a billy within only a couple hours of actual hunting.
We headed to the area down by the billy that we bumped first, hoping we could relocate either of them along the cliffs and began working our way around the top edge of the cliffs between the tree lined shelf and the rocky cliffs. Little by little, we worked the edges looking for any sign of the two billy’s. We would slowly peer over the edge every so often as we moved along.
Finally after covering nearly the entire cliff face, Jack spotted a goat all the way at the bottom. What appeared to be a billy was bedded on the bottom right next to a mountain stream that traversed down the canyon. It was in a very stalkable position, however it was nearly 1,000 feet below us…
So we moved along the cliff face, looking for the other billy to no avail. Around 10:30 am, we made it over to a high knoll that worked as a good glassing point and offered some pretty scenic views. From this location, we could see 15 or so goats on the far away rocky faces. We proceeded to head towards the distant mountain to get a closer look at some of the goats.
As we were closing in on the mountain, we had a small bear cross the meadow out in front of us. We slowly followed the bear looking to see if a chase was worthwhile, but we then spotted a “herd” of 15 Nannies and kids off in the distance. They were around 1,000 yards away and on the opposite side of the mountain top we were on. From this distance, we couldn’t decide if there were any billy’s in the bunch, but figured there may be one based on the sheer numbers of goats.
We decided that we were going to skirt the cliff edges on our side of the mountain and then work our way over to the group of Nannies for a closer inspection. So once again, little by little we moved along the cliff edges looking for a billy bedded amongst the cliffs and this time we didn’t see anything. So we now decide to head closer to the group of nannies.
As we approach the groups last know location, we spot them back on the other side of the mountain, where we had just came from and had the encounter with the bear earlier. Since that group has moved, we decide to sit and glass the adjacent range for some more goats.
And not too much of a surprise, we spot three more goats bedded on the mountain side. One single and then a nanny and kid bedded a touch lower. We also spot a second bear, feeding on blueberries on top of the mountain about 2 miles away and back by camp. We pull out the spotting scope to get a closer look at the single goat bedded nearby and we spend a fair amount of time looking it over, but Jack finally decides that it’s a nanny.
It was legal being it was a single, but it was in a pretty tough spot to stalk to and it was getting pretty late in the day, so we decide to just hunt our way back to camp. While glassing, we discuss how we have nearly covered this entire mountain and have really only turned up two huntable billy’s and that it probably makes sense to head down tomorrow and try and find some billy’s on another mountain.
So on our way back, we cover the cliffs on the Southside of the mountain range. We bump into another nanny and kid along the way. Then, Jack notices two mature bears feeding at the bottom of the cliffs.
After watching the two bears interact, we continue along the cliff edges still working our way back to camp. Just before we make it to the only water source on top of the mountain, we bump into the group of 15 nannies and kids. This time we are close enough to get the scope on them and we confirm that they all are nannies and kids. We also are able to take a look at the mountain top bear still feeding on blueberries and only 4-500 yards away at this point.
Now the discussion gets a little more serious about shooting that bear. It’s getting late in the day, the bear is basically on our way to camp and we are planning on dumping off the mountain tomorrow anyways. Sounds like the perfect situation to go after a non-target animal to me and Jack concurred. So we work our way thru the spruce ridge that was separating us from the feeding bear. As we move thru the spruce and reach the meadow edge, Jack says bear 100 yards. I check the range finder and it’s at 113 yards.
We proceed to drop our packs, I take the lead and hand Jack my camera while Dave gets my phone. Hoping for a double angle video if we are lucky. The trees layout perfectly as the bear is feeding behind a large spruce and I have another in front of me for added cover.
Here’s the view when the final stalk basically starts.
Because of the decent cover, I quickly close the gap to 40 yards and set my slider to 32 yards, hoping to close the gap a few more yards before a shot. The bear is slowly feeding behind the spruce tree in the center of this pic that I ranged at 25 yards. I range the small tree back and to the right at 40 yards, so somewhere between 30 and 38 yards the bear should appear to the right of the tall spruce.
As the bear feeds out, I range it at 38 yards. A touch further than I have my sight set for, so I take a few steps forward, draw and then settle my pin just a touch high behind the shoulder. As the pin settles, the shot goes off and feels perfect. I watch the arrow fly on a perfect path, striking the bear right behind the shoulder. The bear snaps at the impact and sits on its butt, not knowing what just hit it. I drop to my knees using the small hill in front of me to shield me from the bears view. After a split second, it takes off behind the tree and stops, then runs another 20 yards before it piles up into the pines on the left and out of my sight. All I can hear is the death moan less than 10 seconds after the release of my arrow.
I sit and watch in the bear’s direction from my knees as Jack slowly works his way up to me. After a quick hug, I find out that both Jack and Dave were able to get the shot on film. While Jack and Dave both might need some help holding the camera still and the video might not be TV quality, it certainly works for me. Thanks for getting it on video guys!
After the bear was on the ground, we took the best trophy photos we could with the sun beating down and no trees to hide in. Also to note, I recovered the arrow nearly 35 yards behind the bear. I don't think the Slick Trick Mag touched a rib on either side, the blades were spotless upon recovery.
Then Jack and Dave started to work on the bear. It was apparent right away that they like to take very good care of a clients animal. I jumped in to help skin and put the only nicks in the hide and I’m also the only one that left any meat on the underside of the hide. To say they do a good job with the hides would be an understatement.
After they get the hide taken care of, we load the hide in my pack. Dave takes a meat bag with one boned out quarter and then Jack loads up the other three unboned quarters and heads off for camp. We make it back to camp right at dark and none too soon for Jack since he sprained his ankle earlier in the year. A mountain house meal to end the day while watching the stars above.
Overall, we saw 30+ goats, 5 bears and 1 wolf today. Not bad for the second day in camp!
We awake again this morning to another frost as the sun rises above the horizon. As we were readying to start the morning hunt, a kid pops over the top of the hill adjacent to camp, but quickly retreats. Jack and I are going to hunt until mid-afternoon while Dave stays in camp to flesh the hide and finish boning out the bear meat.
Jack and I head to the same glassing spot as yesterday as it gives a pretty good view of the entire mountain top. We immediately spot two goats a mile away, but Jack can’t quite tell whether they are billy’s or nannies. At the same time Jack is glassing those two, a nanny and kid pop over the hill behind us at 200 yards and circle around towards camp.
After the glassing doesn’t turn up any more, we decide we are going to head back over and see if the first day billy has showed back up at the top. So we start to work around this end of the mountain face clockwise. We make it a couple hundred yards from our glassing spot and I notice a goat bedded 400 yards downhill in a pocket of tangle foot spruce. We glass to confirm billy or nannie and we determine that he is a small billy with decent hair, so the stalk is on.
We circle back to gain some cover from the spruce he is bedded in and work our way in. About 150 yards out we drop our packs and continue on with the stalk. We get to 100 yards out and he decides to stand and stretch. We freeze awaiting his next move. Unfortunately, it is towards the cliffs into the trees. We decide we are going to follow him into the trees not knowing what lies ahead cliff wise. As we are working thru, I spot another goat bedded on the next chute over, but it is unreachable at the moment. So we continue moving slowly thru the trees and the billy stands up 10 yards in front of us, but he is right on a serious cliff, so we don’t even make any attempt at him fearing a nasty fall after a shot. He retreats as we do.
We then head back to our pack and decide to climb back to the top of the mountain to go look for the other goat we spotted in the adjacent chute. After some time searching the cliffs, Jack locates the goat 500’ below us feeding amongst the trees. As we continue to watch, the goat decides to climb back up the chute and bed on a shelf amongst the trees about 115 yards below us. She gives us a good look with the scope and is a nice looking solo nanny, but she is safe for the day with no way to get down to her level.
As it is encroaching on 2:30 pm and we have basically covered this corner of the mountain, we decide we need to start our way towards camp and ready for the dive off the mountain. After breaking camp and loading up the gear and bear, we make our way for some water and then find a trail off the mountain. We wanted to search out a different trail than how we climbed as that one would be dangerous with loaded packs going downhill. We hit the trail at 3:30 pm and climb down thru a decent shale slide, but get cliffed out halfway down, so then we need to get into the trees which was a fun way to finish the trip down… We reach the logging road about 5:30 pm and with a pep in our step pushing it down the logging road, make it to the Ranger by 6:15 pm and cross back over the creek using the waders that we stashed in the trees.
Here’s a pic coming down. It doesn’t show how nasty the trees were very well, but it was nasty in a few spots.
After arriving back at the lodge, Jack, Dave and Shawn finish turning the hide and we get the bear meat in the freezer. We don’t get to bed until 11-11:30, but it’s a nice comfy bed.
Since we had a late night, we do breakfast at 8:30 am and then prepare to head up another mountain. The mountain we are planning on moving to will allow us to be a bit more mobile if we are lacking goats or just running into nannies and kids. With the added mobility, we are planning on having enough gear to stay 4 or 5 nights this trip.
We depart camp around 10:30 am with the Ranger in tow. We hit the trail head drop off around 11:30 am and hop on the Ranger to run the trails and trying to circle the mountain and get a visual on the goats from the ground. As we glass from the trail, we are contemplating which mountain we are going to ascent based on the goats locations.
Here is a view of the mountain from the truck as we are driving towards it.
After glassing well over 30 goats, we decide which mountain we are going to climb up. Luckily, it is actually one of the easier mountains to climb and there is a single goat bedded in what looks to be a very stalkable position.
We head to the trail for the mountain we are going to begin our climb. And here is the view from the trail road.
We start the climb at 12:15 pm by going thru a block timber cut for a couple hundred yards, then it turns into a trail that Jack and Lloyd have trimmed back with a chainsaw and marked out. It’s a pretty decent trail and not any steeper than you would climb elk hunting. After about two hours, we make the summit and I’m really glad they cut the trail in, because the last of the climb was thru a bunch of tangle foot and would’ve been a bear if it wasn’t trimmed back.
We only take a short break before we start hunting, as we are pretty close to where that lone goat was bedded. Jack and I leave the packs with Dave and we head over to check on the bedded goat. As we are almost at the target goat’s location, we spot a nanny and young billy walking a small cliff above us. It’s funny, we actually just walked on the top of that same cliff trying to make sure we didn’t have any goats below us…
Now these two have us pinned down in the wide open as they bed down 150-200 yards above us. So we are just lying on the hillside looking straight up at them hoping they move off. After an hour of feeding, bedding and feeding some more, they decide to move off.
We immediately make a bee line to check on our target billy. It doesn’t take Jack long to find him still in the bed we spotted him in several hours earlier. Jack pulls out the spotting scope and climbs to the edge of the cliff to get a good look at him. I joke with him to make sure he doesn’t let the 30-40 mph winds blow MY spotting scope off the side of the mountain. I let him do the cliff hanging, I’m a bit more comfortable a few feet back.
Here’s a view of the valley floor from this glassing spot.
As a side note and this ties in to what Pyrannah brought up above, I knew I wasn’t a huge fan of heights as I’m on the roof of skyscrapers and other tall buildings pretty regular for my 9-5er. I’ve never had a problem elk hunting, but since this is my first alpine hunt, I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to handle the cliffs or long high slopes. I found that the slopes didn’t bother me in the slightest, but I still don’t want anything to do with hanging on the edge of a cliff…
After Jack gets him in the scope, it doesn’t take him long to decide he is a shooter. We watch him for a little while as we discuss our options. It is around 4 pm now and Jack mentions that we need to move on him if he doesn’t move by 6:30. I immediately suggest that we make a move on him now so we can at least close the gap and get within bow range before he moves. I think we can get down to the shelf area he is bedded on and then decide if we can get close enough to his bed or just wait him out in an ambush spot.
I mention a relatively gentle route down to Jack and he looks at another route that I thought may be too steep. After a quick discussion, I trust Jack’s instinct and follow him down the more direct and well hidden chute. As we descend the 150-200 vertical feet, I notice that the slope is actually pretty solid and I’m not even remotely uncomfortable.
Once down to the goats level, I make a move for an ambush point that should give me a clear shot to his only way uphill. As I’m sitting at the point only 50 yards from the goats location, I can see fresh tracks 10 yards to my right where a goat moved around the cliff edge. There is enough tangle foot and trees around where the goat is bedded, that it doesn’t look like I’d be able to get to his bed for a shot, so the wait is on.
After an hour and half wait, I look back at Jack who is hidden 20 yards behind me to see if he has seen anything yet. He doesn’t appear to have seen anything and motions that we need to wait. I try to remind him that I’m a Midwest whitetail guy and am used to sitting hours in a tree stand, so this is gravy.
Almost immediately after the exchange, the goat appears next to his bed almost like he knew we were getting anxious. The only problem is he moves behind a large spruce tree almost immediately and stands looking over the cliff. I have been ranging several trees scattered on the slope to help set up a shot if it’s presented. At this point, I’m ready for any shot if he heads our way!
I continue to glass bits and pieces of him as he stands behind the tree for several minutes. Then he disappears… After a few more minutes of intense glassing trying to figure out what he did, I motion Jack to come join me. We discuss the situation quickly and decide to give chase and follow him down to the cliff edge.
So now we have to quietly cross the shale and grass covered chute. After making it half way across the chute, I spot him heading away and up a small chute not 75 yards ahead of us. We stop our crossing as he is in plain view. We sit or I should say lay on the side of the mountain and glass trying to figure out his plan. He stops on the next ridge top amongst a bunch of trees and looks back our way. We have decent cover between us to provide cover, but the billy acts as he knows something is behind him.
He checks us, then turns to look over the cliff for a minute, then turns to check us and then back to the cliffs. He checked both ways several times, but he never busts. The winds have been gusting 30+ mph all day and was providing great sound cover and they were in a great angle for giving chase.
We know we couldn’t follow him thru the next chute as it was covered with tangle foot and would surely blow our cover. So as this cat and mouse game played out, we were looking to climb up our current chute and use the trees he was bedded in as our cover. Finally he bedded on the edge of the cliff looking out over the mountain valley.
Great! We have an opening to move, so we started to climb up the chute only to see him looking thru another opening after no more than 20 yards into our climb. Dang it! Now we were busted for sure…but the standoff ensued. After several minutes of remaining motionless on the slide, we watched him go back to chewing his cud. This gave us an opportunity to drop down the chute and out of his sight line. We now decided to head back to the original chute that we climbed down and make the 100 or so vertical feet climb up.
After we get to the spot this pic was taken from, we climb the rest of the way to the top and we side hill over to the spot I marked on the pic below.
As we started to get close, I asked Jack if we were heading to the right spot as I thought we were heading slightly off, but Jack was confident that we were headed to the right ridge. It’s funny how easy your perspective can get thrown off just by making a circle around the top.
We continue along our route about another 100 yards and as Jack crests a small rise in front of us, he immediately drops back saying “Billy 40 yards!” and we hit the ground on the wide open hill side. I quickly knock an arrow as Jack is telling me he only saw the top of its head. I’m contemplating my next move…
The first thing that comes to mind is, that I’m going to stand and ease my way to the top and get ready for a shot. However, we don’t get the chance as the billy comes to the top of the rise right in front of us.
Jack whispers 20 yards as the billy is ¼ facing us trying to figure out what these two funny rocks are laying in the wide open on the side slope. The billy doesn’t seem overly nervous, but I haven’t been able to draw yet. Then the billy turns walking broadside a few steps and I draw. As I come full draw, the wind blows my arrow off my rest into the side of my riser. So now I’m sitting on my butt somehow, at full draw and I’m trying to get my arrow back on my rest properly. I manage to somehow do this just as Jack “Baaahhh’s” at the goat and I immediately settle my 30 yard pin on him. Don’t forget this little point…
When Jack “Baaahhh’s” at the goat, he didn’t stop, he turned and walked right towards us. So, I continue to hold my 30 yard pin on him and it is just sitting rock solid on his vitals. I watch, I wait, I hold and then the shot just naturally goes off as I’m mentally drilling a hole through the vitals and my pin is holding rock steady. The instant the shot goes off, I don’t even think the arrow was out of the bow yet and I yell that it’s way too high! In the rush of everything, I locked on to “billy at 40 yards”, billy walks to top of hill, so 30 yards…Jack says 28 yards or so I thought, when all along the goat really was only 15-17 yards away from us at the point of the shot. That’s part of the reason the pin was so steady…
I continue to watch the arrows path and it hits the billy to high, but you never know if you are going to get an artery or maybe get into a high lung situation. As the billy retreats, we give chase trying to keep him in sight and maybe try for a follow up shot. I do my best to keep up with him and take off on a full sprint straight uphill. After a bit, I stop to let Jack catch up and he is laughing at me and saying I must be on one heck of an adrenaline rush because I was flying after that goat.
We follow him across a couple chutes, but he is still a ways ahead of us and we watch him climb a hill ahead of us at 190 yards. We can see that he is still carrying the arrow and there is a ton of blood, but he’s now made it a pretty good distance and doesn’t seem to be slowing.
About a half mile from the shot location, I finally spot the goat again moving thru some trees at the bottom edge of the mountain. His coat is now completely covered with blood on his left side, but he’s still on his feet. I try heading to his escape cliffs looking for a follow up and actually beat him there. However, he somehow makes it by me in the bottom and I don’t see him after a 15 minute wait. So I head back to the area in the trees thinking I may have actually clipped an artery and he is down in the trees as he was moving really slow. Meanwhile, Jack is up high looking for a visual on the goat. Jack then goes to check the last drainage one more time while I watch the trees where we last saw him. After a few minutes, Jack yells over that the billy is on the other side of this drainage, probably 300 yards away. So I head over and set up the spotting scope to get a good look as darkness nearly has settled in now. Thru the scope, there is no question that this is my goat. Luckily, he has slowed way down and actually looks like he is struggling while he is trying to climb a small shelf to lay down. We continue to watch for a bit longer, but we still have an hour hike back to Dave and our packs plus we have to set camp up tonight.
So we begin the long tough hike back and I replay the whole sequence over and over in my head. How did I mess up on the yardage? Should have I waited longer? Did I just mess up on the shot or was it a clean shot? All questions I could ask, but not really know the outcomes…And really it was too late at this point to do anything about it.
Finally we make it back to camp and I choke down a Mountain House. Tonight happens to be one of the warmest nights we’ve had despite the wind, so I lay there on the mountain just thinking and watching the stars and satellites in the sky. As Jack goes to retire for the night, he jokingly asks me if I brought my sleeping pills along… I chuckle a bit and call it an evening as well.
As the sun rises, I break out of the tent hoping that we can relocate the goat today and realize that putting a second arrow in him is likely out of the question. However, I’m certainly taking the bow along just in case he beds in an area that allows me the opportunity. Jack will be carrying his rifle today…
With this sunrise in one direction and the rain showers in the other, I was hoping to find a dead goat at the end of this rainbow!
We decide to climb to the top of the mountain and hunt for my goat from above in lieu of down below where we last saw him. As we neared the top, I looked back and took this pick looking back towards camp.
We have had some really great weather so far on this hunt, but today starts out looking like it is going to fog us in at some point. Hopefully that isn’t the case as visibility is going to be our friend today.
As we approach the top of the chute where we left my billy last night, we slow the pace down and gingerly look over the edges. We immediately spot a billy bedded right above where we left my goat last night. Jack instantly ranges him and says 400 yards as I pull out the spotting scope to take a closer look. He is bedded with his left side down, so we can’t really tell anything at this point. Then he stands up, stretches and turns around almost on que! Nothing!! Wild, a very similar sized billy bedded in the same spot we left mine last night. Good thing we looked closer!
So we decide that we need to drop down to the bottom of this chute and try to find blood and see if we can get a direction of travel. Jack and I move downward while Dave waits up top with a view. 45 minutes later, we are down in the bottom looking for last blood. It doesn’t take us long and we find blood and he has climbed the edge and is skirting the bottom of the mountain heading deeper for more cliffs. We skirt the bottom constantly glassing back up into the cliffs spotting only the same billy we found this morning as he has moved in our same direction.
As we continue to side hill and cover more ground, we are starting to look for a spot to cross over to the other side so we can hopefully get a better view. We are really beginning to start wondering if we will be able to relocate the billy again or not.
This is the mountain on the other side that would offer us a great view of our side.
As we continue deeper into the track trying to locate the billy, Jack mentions to me that there is no way to get to the top of the cliffs he is heading for. The back side of the mountain is also unclimbable shear cliffs, so I know at this point any opportunity to finish him off is going to have to be done with Jack’s rifle. Then it happens, we come out from behind a cliff and I spot a goat bedded on a perfect observation point backed up to the steep cliffs only 150-200 yards uphill from our location. I whisper “Goat” to Jack and he looks up where I’m pointing. We both have stopped no more than 10 yards into the goat’s sightline. We make a move backwards a few steps to grab the scope for a closer look and the billy bolts from his bed. In an instant both of us can tell with the naked eye that this is my goat. Jack takes off running around the bottom of the mountain trying to open up the face for a better shot. I follow along trying to get my pack off in the process all the while, the goat is going straight up the rock slide. Jack drops his pack, hands me the gun and I struggle to get the billy in the scope as I can’t get enough angle uphill. Finally after moving the pack around a bit, I get the billy in the scope and he is walking straight away. Then he turns and Jack says put it on top of his back. Which I follow his lead and slowly begin squeezing the trigger. The shot surprises me when it goes off and I watch the billy drop when the recoil is over. Jack yells “You got your goat!” While I feel this warm sensation running down my nose…
And then Jack had to take a pic of me after the shot!
After a few conversations at the shot location, we grab our packs and make the climb up to where the goat lied on the mountain side. It is now about 11:45 am and even though it didn’t finish up how I wanted, I now am able to put my hands on my first alpine animal!
After watching Jack skin the bear out, I knew all I was doing at this point was wait for him to get it skinned out and then help with the meat. So I helped him hold a leg back a time or two, but he did just about everything else.
Finally after getting everything processed out, we loaded up my pack with the cape and head while Jack loaded the deboned meat in his and began the 2.5 hour hike back towards camp hoping we would get back in time to break camp and then get off the mountain before dark settled in.
We made camp on-time, so we loaded up the camping gear and started the one hour hike off the mountain, making it to the ranger with 30 minutes of daylight remaining. A couple hours later, back at the lodge we grab some quick food and leave the cape for morning after getting the meat in the freezer.
Here’s my pack coming off the mountain with my gear, the cape and head.
With a bear and goat down, today is a lazy day around the lodge. We had breakfast at 8:30 and then Jack and Shawn get to work on my goat cape getting it prepared for the ride home. While they were working on the cape, I was working on getting my flights changed to head home early. After a few phone calls, I got my flights arranged to head home late tomorrow night and then we headed out for a little fishing.
I caught two sockeye and had a couple knockoffs, but I mostly just enjoyed the calm boat ride and scenery.
And Cory you are correct! The Hooper's are great people and run a very smooth operation. They are meticulous about every step of the process.
I hesitated rebooking before I left only because I can potentially add a goat onto my hunts the next couple years, but if it weren't for that, I would've rebooked and made sure I made a better shot next time...
Thanks Guys! I can’t argue with the adventure part, I was able to see some really cool country and was fortunate enough that I had great weather as well. This hunt has given me some much needed spot and stalk experience on two different species. Every trip I learn something new and I think that is part of the adventure in my book.
My only complaint is that everything happened so quick, I feel like I didn’t have time to really sit back and enjoy the hunting process. It’s hard to complain about that though…
To that Brett, the thought of staying was definitely intriguing, but by moving my flights around I was able to have dinner with my wife and young kids Saturday night and then spend all day Sunday at home with them before they all headed back to school on Monday.
Also, never know when a last minute opportunity might come up and I have to leave the next day, so some additional brownie points won't hurt in the future.
"To that Brett, the thought of staying was definitely intriguing, but by moving my flights around I was able to have dinner with my wife and young kids Saturday night and then spend all day Sunday at home with them before they all headed back to school on Monday."
Don't blame you one bit. It's always hard for me to be away from the wife and kids. I guess my 2nd trip to Babine was a little easier since the wife was with me and the kids were on their own little vacation with grandparents.
Huntmaster I'd love to touch base with you some day if you've got the time, as I mentioned above I'll be hunting with Babine for goats in August 2017 so I'd love to pick your brain on some gear choices and just in general. Thanks for the awesome story and pics.