Mathews Inc.
Colorado G8 Recap
Mountain Goat
Contributors to this thread:
2xLung 07-Oct-19
2xLung 07-Oct-19
2xLung 07-Oct-19
2xLung 07-Oct-19
2xLung 07-Oct-19
2xLung 07-Oct-19
2xLung 07-Oct-19
2xLung 07-Oct-19
2xLung 07-Oct-19
2xLung 07-Oct-19
2xLung 07-Oct-19
2xLung 07-Oct-19
2xLung 07-Oct-19
2xLung 07-Oct-19
2xLung 07-Oct-19
2xLung 07-Oct-19
2xLung 07-Oct-19
2xLung 07-Oct-19
'Ike' (Phone) 07-Oct-19
Bowboy 07-Oct-19
CWeeks 07-Oct-19
iceman 07-Oct-19
Photohunter 07-Oct-19
goelk 07-Oct-19
sticksender 07-Oct-19
standswittaknife 07-Oct-19
IdyllwildArcher 07-Oct-19
Ucsdryder 07-Oct-19
bowhunter24 08-Oct-19
BOWNBIRDHNTR 08-Oct-19
Shiras42 08-Oct-19
Beav 08-Oct-19
Scoot 08-Oct-19
bohuntr 08-Oct-19
From: 2xLung
07-Oct-19

2xLung's embedded Photo
Dave with Cheyenne, Pete, and Mookie ready to head up the trail.
2xLung's embedded Photo
Dave with Cheyenne, Pete, and Mookie ready to head up the trail.
If you read my sheep hunt recap, you’ll recall I drew both my Colorado sheep and goat archery tags in 2019. I was very fortunate in August and tagged a nice 7/8 curl ram in S12 on the fifth day of the season. All my preseason effort had been put into the sheep hunt – multiple scouting trips, discussions with other sheep hunters, gear prep – all of it had been focused on arrowing a sheep. To get into my goat unit required a half-day’s travel and a seven-mile pack in with llamas or gear on my back. Goats are easy to spot, so why spend time in an area I knew from many years of backpacking and fishing with friends and family? Every past trip had seen great fishing and as many as 36 goats in the basin I planned to hunt. My goat tag was either sex and I wasn’t opposed to shooting a nanny without a kid. In my mind, getting close on a goat – any goat – would be a simpler task than getting close on a legal ram. Looking back, complacency, overconfidence, and the false assumption that intersecting a goat with my arrow would be a somewhat easily achieved event nearly prevented me from punching my tag. In the end, shooting my billy took three pack trips and 17 days in the back country before I put hands on horns. Two days before the opener found me packing in with an old Air Force buddy and three llamas headed to 12,000’ looking for fat cutthroats and a nice billy. Dave was coming from his current duty station on the east coast and was a year out from an Achilles rupture. Dave is a great athlete, but this would be the first real test of his new hoof after surgery.

From: 2xLung
07-Oct-19

2xLung's embedded Photo
The view from camp.
2xLung's embedded Photo
The view from camp.
The pack into the basin is relatively straight-forward. Slog your way up six and half miles and 2300’ vertical before cranking up 700 feet in the last half mile to almost 12,000’.

From: 2xLung
07-Oct-19
Dave’s tendon and legs held up well, but when we reached our camp he looked terrible. Altitude sickness had set in, and he felt nauseous, lethargic, and generally not well. We decided he would hydrate, eat, and rest and we would evaluate his condition in the morning. Worst case, we would pack out to a lower altitude and thicker air. Fortunately, he bounced back after a night’s rest and felt like his old self.

From: 2xLung
07-Oct-19

2xLung's embedded Photo
Dave (feeling like his old self) and me enjoying the high country!
2xLung's embedded Photo
Dave (feeling like his old self) and me enjoying the high country!
On the way in, me met two hikers headed down who told us another bowhunter was in the basin. We met up with Russ the next morning and immediately hit it off. Russ is a beast of a man, former professional athlete, and genuinely good soul. We spent time together this day, glassing up a small handful of goats miles away and sharing stories of past hunts, big fish and wilderness adventure. Russ guides trout and steelhead in Wyoming and Idaho when he’s not hunting. He makes incredible fishing nets in between all of this – you should check his work out at www.longdrawwoodworks.com. On opening day, the three of us climbed to 12,500’ to look over several basins. We spotted four goats. Two in our basin in an inaccessible spot and two nearly four miles away. As Russ was in the basin first, I gave him the option. He decided to relocate to this remote draw and try his luck there the next day. I envied his youth and strength and wished I could rewind 15 years and roll the odometer back on my body. We said farewell, wished each other luck and went about our hunts.

From: 2xLung
07-Oct-19

2xLung's embedded Photo
"Russ the Invincible" This guy can climb mountains and haul gear like no man should.
2xLung's embedded Photo
"Russ the Invincible" This guy can climb mountains and haul gear like no man should.
Dave and I decided to move across the basin and close in on the two goats in the hope they would move into a stalkable position. Early September was hot, and I quickly gassed out climbing up the south-facing slope. I was thankful Dave was there, feeling well and providing encouragement as we climbed higher. An hour later left us sweaty and goatless and we moved back to camp to cool down and catch fish. 90 minutes before the close of the day, we glassed a billy come into the basin across from us, move down off the cliffs and into the spot we had recently left. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” asked Dave. We quickly loaded up and headed back to the steeps.

From: 2xLung
07-Oct-19

2xLung's embedded Photo
The goat we hunted this evening came down the cliffs in the distance, near the center of the picture. We climbed the closer ridge (center of picture) to the top of the tree line to get a shot
2xLung's embedded Photo
The goat we hunted this evening came down the cliffs in the distance, near the center of the picture. We climbed the closer ridge (center of picture) to the top of the tree line to get a shot
Our one hour approach left us 200 vertical feet and 300 yards from the billy. We moved around the ridge, dropped our packs and quickly closed distance and elevation. With ten minutes left in the day, I peeked out from behind the last scrub pine and looked up the grade to see the billy standing broadside at 60 yards. Dave was leaving the next morning I felt like I should try to take a poke at this billy. I routinely shoot out to 70 yards accurately and felt I could pull this off. The steep uphill angle quickly showed me that 70 yards on the flat in my back yard and 60 yards on a steep uphill are two very different things. I let my arrow go and saw my lighted green nock fly toward the goat and pass inches below his chest. This green light then arced into the fading light like Tinker Bell looking for Peter Pan. The goat was gone, and we walked the long hour back to camp in the dark. I was thankful the miss was clean and hopeful we’d get another chance before Dave pulled out.

From: 2xLung
07-Oct-19

2xLung's embedded Photo
One of the goats in a pretty good position. Unfortunately this was the exception and not the norm.
2xLung's embedded Photo
One of the goats in a pretty good position. Unfortunately this was the exception and not the norm.
The next morning, we climbed to an upper set of lakes at sunrise, crested the bench and found five goats watering 90 yards away. Redemption! Unfortunately, the only thing between us and the goats was tundra and a handful of boulders. I tried to sneak in on the group but found that 90 yards was their comfort zone. We watched the group move with a purpose away from us and into no-man’s land. We returned to camp, Dave packed up and I was left solo for the next three days. I found myself in a similar position each day. Goats in unstalkable positions, waiting for them to move, watching them move to places I couldn’t get to and hiking back to camp. Each day found me climbing 1500’ and covering around three to four miles. Fishing was good during downtimes, and I had the entire basin to wander and explore. The pack out was uneventful, and although I missed the shot, I learned a lot watching the goats and planning for the next trip in ten days.

From: 2xLung
07-Oct-19

2xLung's embedded Photo
Some of the very difficult terrain on the left that goats moved in and out of throughout the hunt.
2xLung's embedded Photo
Some of the very difficult terrain on the left that goats moved in and out of throughout the hunt.

From: 2xLung
07-Oct-19

2xLung's embedded Photo
Goat in the center bottom third of the picture at 53 yards. This is the top of the "Basin of Failure". The shot angle and exposure was tough. 40% of my brain was on the shot and 60% was focused on not falling off the edge.
2xLung's embedded Photo
Goat in the center bottom third of the picture at 53 yards. This is the top of the "Basin of Failure". The shot angle and exposure was tough. 40% of my brain was on the shot and 60% was focused on not falling off the edge.
My second pack in was solo, again with three llamas to carry my gear. On the first day, I worked back to the basin where I had missed earlier and found another billy bedded at 12,400’ and in what looked like a position that would present a shot. I cranked up the ridge out of view and came in above him. I moved down to the last safe spot and found myself at 53 yards with a severe downhill shot. The goat was bedded facing away from me.

From: 2xLung
07-Oct-19

2xLung's embedded Photo
Waiting for goats to move into a stalkable position. A good chunk of the day spent watching and waiting.
2xLung's embedded Photo
Waiting for goats to move into a stalkable position. A good chunk of the day spent watching and waiting.
I stood with 40 feet of air below me, drew my bow and let my arrow fly, only to watch it shatter on the rocks inches from where I aimed. He blew out, and again, I was humbled by the difficulty of extreme angle shots. Hiking back to camp I came across ptarmigan and two grouse but passed on both as I was focused on chasing goats. In the morning I found a nice billy in the cliffs in the same basin. I watched him for 8 hours when at 3pm he moved down the cliffs into the base of the canyon to browse on fresh greens and lay in the snow. At 5pm, he moved out of the bottom and bedded below a small ledge that would offer me a stalk. I worked up the ridge above him and located a path that would keep me hidden but allow an approach. I started to go back down the ridge to start my stalk, but decided I need to take a second look. During that second look at 90 yards, he caught my movement and moved back into the cliffs.

From: 2xLung
07-Oct-19

2xLung's embedded Photo
October has arrived with colder weather, long-haired goats, and golden leaves.
2xLung's embedded Photo
October has arrived with colder weather, long-haired goats, and golden leaves.
The next day, the billy followed the same routine exactly, moving down at 3pm, browsing and then bedding in the same spot. This time, I knew exactly how to approach him. I made my move and everything was going well until I was at 64 yards and the wind shifted. He caught scent and went back to the cliffs. Again, I was humbled. My spirits were up though, as my friend Sam came up that night to provide some company and encouragement for a day. I was grateful to have another person to talk to after being solo for several days. His friendship and encouragement was a great boost to my morale. Unbelievably, the goat did not move out of the draw the next day and started the same routine. This time I felt I had to get into his kitchen at the bottom of the draw where he browsed. His descent off the cliffs provided an opportunity where he couldn’t see me and I moved into a shooting position. This goat was smart, and he knew something was up. He came into view at 90 yards and bedded on a bench for 90 minutes, looking at the browsing area where I was tucked in behind trees. While I was motionless with good wind, something was not right in his mind and he moved back into the cliffs and out of my life. The next day and a half were filled with a handful of goats in inaccessible terrain and terrible, howling winds. I packed up my gear and headed out. I still had two weeks left in the season, but a wedding and my wife’s travels needed me at home to tend to our daughter and family life. This season would end in tag soup. I was proud of my efforts, but disappointed as I realized that at my age and the draw odds, this was my only reasonable chance to arrow a goat in Colorado. On the drive home, I made the phone calls to friends and family, told them I was done, and received condolences and words of encouragement of a job well attempted. As luck would have it, my wife talked with one of our close friends about my hunt, how she would be out of town, and I would be tending to family duties at home. Our friends Chris and Annie immediately offered to host our daughter for several days while my wife was away, giving me the opportunity to head back to altitude. One last chance! I called my llama outfitter Tom and while I planned to pack in on Tuesday, no llamas were available until Thursday. This meant two things: haul gear in on my back or lose two days of five days remaining in the season. My pack came in at 47 pounds and I left work late Tuesday afternoon, drove four hours and made it to camp in the dark at 10pm.

From: 2xLung
07-Oct-19

2xLung's embedded Photo
Goats moved from below me, across the scree and green and over the near ridge into the "Basin of Failure". The BOF looks close, but it's a hard grind down and up to get over there.
2xLung's embedded Photo
Goats moved from below me, across the scree and green and over the near ridge into the "Basin of Failure". The BOF looks close, but it's a hard grind down and up to get over there.
September was gone, and October had arrived with a cold, hard thud. The temperature dipped into the high teens that night and the wind howled. Wednesday morning was even colder as I sought shelter from the wind that still offered some vantage point to glass. From the knob at 12,200’where I sat, I watched four goats move from somewhere below me and back to what I’d now named “Basin of Failure”.

From: 2xLung
07-Oct-19

2xLung's embedded Photo
Goats under my nose. They moved from the top tree area at the base of the scree field toward me and out of sight and back several times a day. 16 goats were hidden in here for at least two days.
2xLung's embedded Photo
Goats under my nose. They moved from the top tree area at the base of the scree field toward me and out of sight and back several times a day. 16 goats were hidden in here for at least two days.
I waited for them to cross the ridge out of sight and then moved the half mile to them. A half mile doesn’t sound too bad, but that included a 600’ descent followed by a 700’ climb through deadfall, avalanche debris fields, and talus. Like the week before, I found myself at the bottom of the draw waiting for a billy to move down from the cliffs to browse. This goat didn’t play by the rules and I found myself at a loss. Moving to a different position to find sun to warm my fingers and shelter from the wind, I spotted another billy on my side of the draw, bedded in a perfect position. He was 300 feet above me resting at the base of a ledge. At the top of ledge was a single pine tree, two feet tall marking a shooting spot 20 yards from the goat. The game was back on! Again, I worked up the all too familiar ridge to find myself 211 yards from the pine tree. As I looked down at the terrain between me and the lone pine, doubt crept over me. The approach was mostly safe, but sketchy the first 100 yards. Once I got through that terrain, it was a relatively easy, but potentially noisy during the final stalk. I swallowed hard and started down a dirty, crumbly chute toward the goat. I cleared the most dangerous section relatively well and was 80 yards from the pine. Between me and the tree was several small cliffs and dirty washes filled with small, loose rock. I had 50 minutes before it got dark and knew things had to move somewhat quickly. Impatience got the best of me 12 yards from the pine as I kicked loose a rock the size of a golf ball that tumbled in slow motion down, down, down and rolled over the ledge next to the pine. The rock probably hit the goat on the head and I watched him blow out of the basin and into the cliffs. The next 20 minutes found me hand over fist, picking my way out of this nasty draw headed back to camp. Once reaching safety, I looked back toward my camp a mile away and saw 16 goats browsing and bedding in the timber and cliff edges 400 yards from my tent. Goats for tomorrow!! I figured the goats would bed in the same area for the night and allow me an opportunity to sneak in undetected in the darkness, wait until sunup and then make a final approach. I did just this Thursday morning only to find the goats had moved to the bottom of the basin, 500’ below me. I watched from the cliff edge as the goats browsed 60 yards from the trail into the basin, move along the edge of the talus and into the timber for the morning. I’ve never seen goats in this basin do this and it explained why I’d not seen this group until now. I was constantly looking high and this large herd was right under my nose.

From: 2xLung
07-Oct-19
I marked the spot where they disappeared into the timber, moved down the trail to the lower flats and into cover of the trees. While marking their location from on high was simple, trying to find this spot in the pines was not. After 20 minutes, I realized that my efforts would only result in blowing the goats out and I moved back up the draw 300’ above the flats. From this location, I watched as all 16 goats moved toward me out of the timber to the same spot they were this morning. They spent the next two hours browsing and walking along the well-worn path that led to my camp. At 1:30pm, something startled them and the ran out of the green grass and into the talus. I thought they would move back up the cliffs to where they were the night before. I raced up the hill and set up. After an hour, no goats showed up. I moved to the edge of the cliff to find the goats had broken into two groups. 9 were bedded in the talus and 7 were back in the grass. I watched the 7 moved back into the timber where they were in the morning and the remaining 9 moved down the talus to a little pocket bordered by the cliff below me, the talus field and the valley trail. I went back down the trail and stopped 80 yards from the goats. From here, I moved into the cover of a creek bed, worked below them and down wind. I needed to get closer to the talus field where I felt they would eventually walk their way back to the cover of the timber. At this point I was on day 16 in the back country chasing these darn things. Fatigue was becoming a factor. I crawled on my hands and knees for about 60 yards getting closer to the goats to what I felt was good cover. To be honest, my knees hurt from crawling and I was impatient with my slow progress. I thought I had good enough cover to stand and cover the remaining 20 yards behind a stand of trees to position myself for a shot. Immediately after standing, one goat caught a glimpse of movement and we had a stare-off for the next five minutes. He knew something was up and he slowly moved into the talus and into the cliffs, with all his buddies in tow. By this point, I’d stopped counting my screw ups. Bad wind, bad stalks, sloppiness, and fatigue had all resulted in failure. I had a decision to make. I could pursue the goats I’d just busted or wait out the other seven that were hidden in the trees below me. The wind and terrain didn’t offer a chance to go high after the group of nine, so I decided to wait out the gang of seven. At this point it was 3:30 in the afternoon and I told myself I’d wait until dark to see if the goats presented themselves. I posted up 44 yards behind some willows and a single 9’ tall pine from where I’d seen them in the morning and waited. Standing for two hours in a swampy bog waiting for goats that may or may not show up is mentally draining. At 5:30pm, I recalibrated my estimate and told myself that if they didn’t show by 6:30pm, I’d hike back up the hill to camp and try something new in the morning. Just as this though came into my head, I caught a glimpse of white in the timber 140 yards to my left. They were headed back! Three goats were working toward me quickly. They disappeared behind the willows and almost immediately, a billy hopped onto a dirt mound 44 yards from me, broadside. As I raised and drew my bow, he looked over his right shoulder in my direction. Everything came into focus and I felt like I was in my backyard shooting targets. My 40-yard pin settled just above his shoulder and I released my arrow. The green nock flew in a perfect line and plowed into the goat center high right behind his shoulder. The billy turned and ran to the safety of the talus, but he was hurt severely and made it only 60 yards before falling dead.

From: 2xLung
07-Oct-19

2xLung's embedded Photo
This blood trail was short and easy to follow. I was fortunate to have a solid shot.
2xLung's embedded Photo
This blood trail was short and easy to follow. I was fortunate to have a solid shot.

From: 2xLung
07-Oct-19

2xLung's embedded Photo
Finally. Thankful that it all came together after a long hunt. I got him bagged and tagged on this terrible rock. The whole process took about 2.5 hours and finished at 8:30pm.
2xLung's embedded Photo
Finally. Thankful that it all came together after a long hunt. I got him bagged and tagged on this terrible rock. The whole process took about 2.5 hours and finished at 8:30pm.
Elation and a bit of sadness came over me. I’d been an active participant with goats for over two weeks and I felt a little bad that I’d just ended the life of one of these amazing animals. I said my thanks and scrambled up the rocks put hands on my goat. Skinning ad cutting up a goat on a crumbly talus field is not fun and I was especially careful not to drop any gear into the dark voids or to slip and injure myself. The job was completed 90 minutes after nightfall under a headlamp and I got back to my camp by 9:30 pm.

From: 2xLung
07-Oct-19

2xLung's embedded Photo
Lil' Red (front) and Mookie headed up the trail to haul out my goat. These boys did great as the pack out was about 11 miles round trip and gained around 2300'.
2xLung's embedded Photo
Lil' Red (front) and Mookie headed up the trail to haul out my goat. These boys did great as the pack out was about 11 miles round trip and gained around 2300'.
I sent a sat message to “Llama Tom” and told him I’d be to Salida around noon to pickup two animals to help with the pack out. On Friday, I humped my gear back to my truck by 10:30am, drove to Salida, left Tom’s by 12:45 and was back to the trailhead at 3pm. Lil’ Red, Mookie and I headed back up to my goat and reached him at 6:10pm. We were loaded up and headed back down the hill by 6:20pm. By 9:40pm everyone was spent. I’d covered 17 miles that day, hauled gear and goat, fell in a creek, and missed dinner. I loaded up the llamas, dropped them in Salida at midnight and was home at 2am the following morning.

From: 2xLung
07-Oct-19
17 days, around 100 miles, at least 28,000’ of ups resulted in a fine young billy. I lost 8 pounds on my sheep hunt and another 12 pounds on the goat hunt. This was without a doubt the most grueling and mentally taxing hunt I’ve ever been on. If you ever get the chance to goat hunt, jump in with both feet and put it all out there. It is worth it.

07-Oct-19
Amazing season and hunt...

From: Bowboy
07-Oct-19
Awesome adventure. Congrats!

From: CWeeks
07-Oct-19
Great write up, this is the reason I get on bowsite, you made us feel like we were right there with you, guessing you wish some of us were there for that pack out:)

From: iceman
07-Oct-19
Congratulations! Truly a once in a lifetime season for you

From: Photohunter
07-Oct-19
Thanks for sharing your great story and season. Those are some pretty good friends. A big congrats to you!

From: goelk
07-Oct-19
great story and congratulations well done.

From: sticksender
07-Oct-19
Thanks for taking the time to do this write-up. You've sure had a great season. Goat hunts are so much fun. Congrats again on getting it done.

07-Oct-19
great hunt...congrats...

07-Oct-19
Great story. Grats

From: Ucsdryder
07-Oct-19
Wow!!!!! Great story and to be honest you make me question my desire to hunt goats. Your mental strength is impressive!

From: bowhunter24
08-Oct-19
Thank you for the story and pics I really enjoyed your hunt!

From: BOWNBIRDHNTR
08-Oct-19
Congratulations, that was a terrific hunt to follow. Enjoyed every word.

From: Shiras42
08-Oct-19
Congratulations and thank you for sharing!

From: Beav
08-Oct-19
What a great recap! Well done and way to stick with it.

From: Scoot
08-Oct-19
Outstanding- congrats!

From: bohuntr
08-Oct-19
Awesome hunt, thanks for sharing!

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