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Finally settled back into the real world, and have another week before heading north for a last ditch effort for Caribou. I figured there was no time like the present to share the story of last month's DIY Kodiak Goat hunt.
The moment had finally arrived. We were headed for the airport here in Anchorage for a smooth trip (yeah right). I panic as I fail to find my tags in my carry on (I'd have bet you my truck they were in there as it was the last thing I gathered before bed). We turn around for home, reprint all my licenses, bow cert, permits, etc. Head back for airport and after a fiasco of checking rifles finally boarded the plane with seconds to spare. Arriving in Kodiak, we were greeted with the typical blowing 25 and pouring rain. No flying today. off to the Shelikof for a room and a bar tab.
That face you make when it is now day 3 of your 8 day trip and you still aren't entirely sure the winds will allow you to fly in that day. Weather days are to be expected up here, it's just always so much harder to deal with them on the front end vs the back. I kept reminding my partner if it's socked in that bad out there, sitting at a bar is more enjoyable than in a tent anyway :).
By early afternoon the weather broke and we were loading the plane to head for the mountains. Can't say enough good words about Taj Shoemaker and Island Air. Great guy, great pilot. Flying in a cub on floats is a unique opportunity on Kodiak, allowing you to reach some high alpine lakes unaccessible by other planes. I would fly with Taj directly to our destination of choice, while Preston would join a second group being staged halfway down the island for a quicker shuttle into the field.
By mid afternoon I was officially in the field, and being within eyesight of 40+ goats leaves little doubt in a confident bowhunter's mind on his chances. Expectations were soaring as decent weather was expected the next two days. You can't hunt the same day you fly in Alaska, so I leisurely set up camp and picked apart the adjoining mountainside studying the goats and their feeding habits.
While you have to be weight conscientious flying in a cub, there was zero chance I was heading to Kodiak without a bigger base camp tent. I spent 14 days sheep hunting in the Brooks in August with about 4 hours of actual good visibility. 14 days in a 2 man tent with another guy equal in size to you is about all a man can handle. 6 Man Cabelas Guide tent would be making this trip, as well as the Kuiu Stormstar for a spike camp when needed.
I spend an hour or two watching the goats before Preston is able to join me. By this point it is clear, finding goats on Kodiak is not the problem. Finding goats in a spot you can get to within bow range without dying on the stalk OR the recovery is the problem.
We organize gear and strategize for the next day's hunt. The adjoining mountainside was too steep/cliffed out for an ascent from any direction except one. We would loop around and climb to the top with 2 days of food and spike camp gear, once above the goats we would wait for the right opportunity. Kick back for a nice mountain house sunset.
Wake up and glass the goats over breakfast as we gather our gear. I would be up to bat first since I let Preston get first crack at a gorgeous Brown Bear on my baits this past spring.
BINGO. Goat bedded in a VERY killable spot over on the route we would be taking up the mountain anyway (about 3/4 the way up). Further glassing showed it was a young billy, but I had already made it clear with 2 goat tags in my pocket, I was NOT being picky. The first legal animal was getting an arrow, should I be so lucky. We strap on the boots finally and leave camp around 915am.
By 11 we are above the crevice I marked as where I thought we would see him bedded. Just like he read the playbook, there he is... two thin horns and white fluffy ears poking over the horizon. I shed my pack and boots, and begin to crawl down into position (currently around 200 yards above the goat).
20 minutes later I'm sitting at 28 yards, trying not to second guess my peep site. While unloading the plane, I noticed my peep had come COMPLETELY out of my string during the loading process. Not wanting to resign to a rifle hunt just yet, I used a field point to wedge between the strands and pry the peep back into place. a dozen practice shots later sliding the peep up/down to get it back in place, and all was well.
After a 15 minute wait, he finally stood offering a quartering away shot. I drew as he stood, and seconds later I had a complete pass through that I couldn't have placed better if I tried. He trots 20 yards down the hill towards the edge, and tumbles over. I look back up the hill at Preston who is fist pumping 200 yards away.
Preston drops down the hill to join me, and I crawl to the edge to point out the 3 goats 180 yards below us. They are cliffed out, looking down the creek at what we presumed to be my goat. After some discussion, I convince Preston that a goat in the hand is worth a dozen more in the hills. Preston is active duty Army and leaving the state next year so who knows if/when he can do this hunt again. He breaks out my Tika and makes quick work of the biggest of the 3. It tumbles less than 100 feet and out of sheer luck dies within 50 yards of mine. Only difference was, mine had to fall about 7-800 feet to reach his resting place.
By 12 noon we had 2 dead goats, less than 3 hours into our first day of hunting.
We sit down for lunch and to settle the nerves, next step is figuring out the easiest way to our goats. Going down was NOT an option. We finally elected to go back down the route we took up all the way to the bottom creek. We side hill around in the alders to the drain our goats died in, and begin the ascent up to them essentially boulder hopping up through the waterfalls.
Finally we reach my goat, the lower of the two. It tumbled into a big hole, or else it likely would have went even further downhill.
We take pictures and climb up to his to repeat the process. I want to soak in the moment, but prior experience tells me we better get to moving if we want to have these butchered and off the mountain by night fall (no way I'd EVER attempt that descent by headlamp). All my planning and hard work finally came to fruition, and I was holding my first archery mountain goat.
Come On... Type Faster:))
Preston's goat was a long nanny with a great hide on her already for early October. Two great trophies and a lot of delicious meals in our future. Close your eyes purists, this one was a rifle kill.
This crap was steep, wet, slippery, and no ideal place to be teaching someone the basics of butchering an animal. With Preston's help positioning the carcass, we had his quartered and in game bags within an hour. We caped both animals for a half body mount. Looking at the time, I knew we would be pushing it. I elect to send Preston back to our gear stash (we dropped everything from our packs before coming up to the animals). He heads off with half of his goat to retrieve or camp gear and meet me at the bottom of the drain by nightfall to set up spike camp in the alders. The easiest way to deal with bears on Kodiak is to not think about them :). I break my goat down solo, and take the rest of his goat with half of mine down the hill. I am spent. My back aches, and I knew we were only getting started.
I get to the bottom creek to see Preston setting up the spike tent on a relatively flat shale slide. We stage the meat several hundred yards away, feast on a mountain house, and crash into our sleeping bags.
The next morning we wake up and slip back into our cold, damp clothes. Our good weather turned on us and it begins to start misting rain. We decide to take all the meat and half the gear up our mountain to base camp on the lake first. about an hour later we finally drop packs and I chug two nalgenes of water (rationing up to this point as I forgot the filter at base camp). 30 minute breather and we bale back off the mountain, then back up the other side to retrieve the last of the meat from my goat (staged away from the carcass under an emergency poncho to keep it dry and out of sight from the dang magpies). We drop back down to the spike camp in the alders, gather the capes and the remaining gear and once more ascend to base camp.
I won't even attempt to put into words how steep/wet the vegetation can get on Kodiak. If you have been before, you know. It's like walking up a brick wall through a chest high thicket all the while someone is spraying you in the face with a garden hose. Gotta love it :). By early afternoon we are back to base camp with all the meat and gear. Success. We crack open a bottle of fireball, and nap/enjoy our afternoon lakeside so we could rest our legs.
congrats! excellent story!
By the next morning it is already Thursday. I'm scheduled to be back to work Sunday, so we call for a weather update from the pilot. Today is good, tomorrow is 50/50, no chance of flying until probably Monday after that. My heart was broken but my legs rejoiced as I knew the smart move was to not go after a second goat and instead elect to take advantage of a window and get flown out. We tell Taj to come get us if he has time, but even a meat haul is better than nothing. The winds are progressively picking up (this is the risk you run hunting these higher lakes), but he makes it to us and after several test runs finally drops down on the lake. He said he didn't like it, and that he would take the meat and large gear but would need us to go to THAT lake (pointing back across the valley at the other mountainside 3 miles away) for a pickup. We agreed, and after watching him buzz away, we strap on our packs and head that way. I keep the pace up wanting to beat the weather and actually surprise Taj when I call saying we are already there. He comes back in a Beaver to get both of us and by nightfall we are back in the metropolis of Kodiak. A Kodiak Inn shower and fresh nachos hit the spot. Somewhat disappointed with our shortened window of hunting opportunity, I felt very thankful we were able to capitalize and make the best of it. We reschedule our flight for Friday back to Anchorage, and after careful packing had 8 luggage items between 45-50 lbs to include capes, frozen meat, and all the gear.
And I thought Goat hunting was supposed to be easy:/ LOL! Good Goats, Good Read! Thank you for sharing!
Love it T. Can't wait until next year!! Congratulations again!! Hunt
Saturday we have a meat grinding party. Light on the tunes, heavy on the whiskey. Roasts, steaks, and bacon burger all vacuum sealed and labeled ready for the winter ahead. Can't put a price on good friends when it comes to these hunting trips.
Simply killing a goat is easy. Getting to them and having the restraint to only kill one in a recoverable spot is the hard part. My second tag is already starting to burn a hole in my pocket though. I may fly back down for a February or March trip if my musk ox plans don't work out.
One last shout out to my pseudo sponsor, Patagonia. I've always heard they are anti hunting but I must admit, they make one hell of a decoy line of clothing. :)
Congratulations on the goats. Awesome report.
Congrats. Excellent adventure
Outstanding... congratulations Trevor. Ed F
Congrats! Thanks for sharing.
Good stuff! Congrats Trevor! Next November can't come soon eough
Congrats Trevor on a great Kodiak adventure and goat! It is one of my favorite places on earth
Three hours ???? Man, that goat hunting is easy ! :)
Good job guys, and looks like the scenery was great too.
congrats - thanks for sharing. Way different than my goat hunt earlier this year.
Congratulations! Nice goats and thanks for sharing!
Congrats on a great hunt! Thanks for posting.
Congrats Trevor, nice work!
Great job, great write up, and great pictures, thanks for sharing!!!!!!
Congrats man!!!!! God Bless
Great job with the story's telling (and goat)!
Thanks for sharing
Good luck, Robb
Wow......what an amazing trip! CONGRATS!!!
Awesome story and great pics! Thanks for sharing! Congrats!
Congrats on an incredible adventure, I know because I got a Goat on Kodiak Oct 6. Goodluck on that second tag. Mike
Congrats on your success and a great adventure as well! Thanks for taking us along.
Congrats! Great story and pictures! Thanks for sharing it with us!
Awesome thread and well done sir!
Well done!! It's mid-late January. How about an update regarding that second goat tag that was burning a hole in your pocket?
I've got two Jake, headed down in 11 days! Hope Trevor can make it too!
Just now seeing your post Jake. I took off work to go down for 7 days the last week of February. Got word a few weeks ago however that this week also coincides with my Girlfriend returning home from a 6 month deployment two weeks early. Needless to say, goat hunting can wait until next fall. Thanks for all the kind words fellas.
Congratulations! I hope to get to this point some day. My current screen saver is a Mountain Goat. I see sheep and goat hunts in my future within the next 5 years.