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The 1st one is always the hardest...
It's been awhile since I've done a hunt recap on here so I figured since I returned a few days earlier than expected from a recent mountain goat hunt I'd go ahead and write one up.
I've been lucky to hunt goats several times here in Alaska. They usually all start out the same... I plan to bowhunt them, then something happens to my bow or I push the easy button and use a partners rifle. In 2014, my bowstring broke on the first day, used a rifle on the second. In 2015 while hunting the Chugach, the goat I wanted zigged when I thought he would zag, and I grabbed the rifle. In 2016, the snow was terribly deep and an archery shot just wouldn't come together. In 2017 I stuck with the bow, messed up on my first hunt and never got a shot but made progress in that I didn't grab the rifle. Later in 2017, I did everything right, got well within bow range and ended up finally arrowing a goat only to lose him in an impassible canyon... Earlier this year, in March, I took one with a rifle because it became painfully obvious I wasn't going to get into range with my recurve and I wanted a goat.
Just a few days ago I returned to the same place as 2017, the third time I've drawn this goat permit and here is that story...
I started out on Thursday evening from Fairbanks, headed south to Delta Junction in a blizzard where I spent the night with a buddy. We woke up early the next morning and drove south, through the Alaska Range and down to the central Chugach range. The weather was terrible on the drive, but I knew it would get better. I spent the evening glassing a few likely spots that I could find goats from the road with hopes of heading up after them first thing in the morning.
After a few hours, I laid eyes on what I assume was a Billy. He was a bit higher than the snow line which I'd guess was around 1500 feet, but I figured he'd come down. About an hour before dark, he headed down into the alder brush I've come to love... Perfect, we have a plan for the next few days! Once he got lower, two more Billy's popped out of the brush and we watched them feed until I could no longer see.
It gets dark early, but that was fine. I was exhausted from working the past few weeks and needed the rest so at around 7pm I hopped into the bed of my pickup, wrapped up in my sleeping bag and slept like a rock. Up at 730am, light out around 8am....packed my Kifaru and readied myself for the climb up.
The creek changed courses since the last time I was here so the gravel bed I usually walk on was now the main channel. Had to do a little brush pounding to get upstream, but that's to be expected... for it wouldn't be a goat hunt without a shit load of brush...
Came home early!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sure. I have heard that story before. Looking forward to the rest of the story. my best, Paul
I've been in here before, several times, we've had really good luck in this spot. I found a trail a few years ago, which makes things pretty damn nice. It's getting a little overgrown, which tells me there aren't any others (I'd guess) using it, which is also nice. Either way, we reached the top of the ridge and those snow covered boulders were a welcomed sight, getting closer to the top!
At this point, we had not yet laid eyes on the goats that we found the evening prior. I wasn't too worried as my plan was to get up top, turn them up and make a plan from there.
The top of the chute looking down on my friend working his way up.
The top of the chute looking down on my friend working his way up.
After the boulders, things get tricky. If we walk to the left around this rock face, we will likely spook goats as they like to hang out in that area. Can't really go up the wall, so after a long hard look a few years ago and some trial and error, I found a little chute that allows a guy to somewhat safely ascend to the first level of terraces on this mountain side. There's nothing easy about it, but it's the only way to do it. My buddy thought I was nuts at first, but he caught on and did just fine working his way up the chute.
Atta boy, go get um!
It's a good feeling once you're through the difficult parts. I told my buddy there wasn't anything else tooooo sketchy to deal with. I may have fibbed, but none of it was as rough as the wall.
There was a fair bit of fresh snow up on the terrace, it wasn't too deep, maybe 6" or so. Easy walking compared to coming in here earlier in the year when all the brush still has it's leaves. I glassed for a bit in this direction and located the lone Billy from the night before. He was bedded on a knoll just above the black rocks on the right side of this photo. I didn't bring my spotter up the mountain, just the binos. Goats can be hard to see in the snow, until you start looking for off white, almost a yellow color. Then they become a bit easier to see.
I decided that I wanted to work my way up the mountain and get on the same level or above the Billy. Knowing that there were likely two goats down this ridge and quite possibly below us, it was a decent plan to start towards the hardest one in case we messed it up. We headed off across the snow covered tundra, taking our time and glassing often.
The views while in the mountains rarely disappoint. I kept telling Mark that this is one of my favorite places to hunt goats. It's quite easy on the difficulty scale, all things considered. I've worked much harder in several other locations and assured him this would be a breeze.
Around 1pm, making good time really... I came across these. One set of tracks, fresher than all get out, headed down off the higher portions of this mountain and into an area I am very familiar with. I sat there for a few minutes, studied the tracks and weighed my options. The wind was perfect, the other goat was still bedded up high and would take a few hours to reach. I didn't need much convincing to follow the tracks but part of me thought there was a chance I'd follow them to some country I couldn't navigate and then have to start back up the mountain anyhow.
I took off my pack, put on my whites, attached my release and began carrying my bow in hand. I had no idea where the tracks would lead, but had a sneaking suspicion I'd catch up with him at one point or another.
We slowly followed the tracks, always scanning ahead to ensure we didn't get busted. He weaved through alders and other brush on a few occassions and I slowly crept through as well. Then he went into some rocks and side hilled where I wasn't comfortable walking so I had to take another route, ended up finding his tracks coming out of the rocks and he was headed directly for a nice bench that I usually camp on. As I peered over the little ridge and down onto the bench, I could see where he paced back and forth, then all of a sudden I saw movement. He popped out on the edge of this ridge, just to the right of the close pine tree.
About 20 minutes earlier, while going through a hell hole of brush, I put my bow back on my backpack... so here I am... goat at 40 yards, knows I am there, luckily I am wearing white. I hit the deck, removed my pack, removed my bow, knocked an arrow and popped up to range him. He was peering off the ledge at the country below him, quartered away slightly. I drew back and as I shot he moved slightly to his left which now made him facing nearly straight away...the arrow sailed by the right side of his body.
At this point, I am calling myself a moron. All this work, the opportunity is here and now and miss... But, as I was telling myself that I was also readying another arrow. He hadn't moved much other than offering a broadside shot at the same distance. So I drew back and shot again, this arrow hit him right in his chest, pretty much exactly where I had wanted it. He took off in a hurry along the side hill, out of sight.
Mark finally pops out of the brush behind me and I tell him I just shot a goat. He can't believe it, but that's what happened.
We sit there for a bit and after about 15 minutes I decide to try and see if we can lay eyes on him or find blood where he was standing when I shot. I walk down the hill and look to my right and can see him standing on all 4's through the brush. I wave to Mark and have him stop in place as I crept around the brush. He's 20 yards, I shoot again and hit him in behind the last rib on his left side and the arrow exits on the front shoulder. This is great I think.... This one isn't getting away from me.
He barely can walk, makes it 10 yards or so and beds down. I have two arrows left and want to end this quickly. So I sneak around to get a good angle, he stands up and is broadside. I shoot again, this shot was maybe 8 yards, arrow hits behind the shoulder. He's struggling but won't give up the ghost. I have one arrow left, a mechanical that kept in my quiver just in case I'd see a bear that I wanted to shoot. I knock it and shoot. The arrow did not penetrate even an inch, literally just bounced off. I have no arrows left but surely he will die. He bedded down and I sat there for what seemed like an eternity, maybe 10 minutes in total only. He'd raise his head, then lower it... I know the look, he's getting close and I hope it's over soon. Finally, he tries like hell to stand and soon as he got his back feet under him, ass over tea kettle off the cliff and dead 30 feet below. Wow. It happened. I'm relieved.
I walk back to my backpack and Mark. Tell him what happened and we head back down the side hill to the goat. I am a fast hiker, Mark is not. I get to where he died and fell over the cliff and look up to my right. Here, coming as fast as a damn train is a black bear. I am wearing whites, no arrow (wish I had that damn mechanical!), blood all over the ground and a dead goat below me. I grab my Glock from the holster and fire two rounds into the ground below his face at 15 yards and he stops, turns and hauls ass up the mountain. Wow. Did that just happen? Mark comes around the rock and I say "Did you just see that?!"... I tell him what happened and settle down a bit. Then climb down to my goat.
Of course he died in an absolute hole. We pull him up a bit and soak in the feeling of success.
I've lost count of how many days I've hunted mountain goats. I usually get one, but there's been several trips where I've returned with nothing. One year I hunted them 3 separate times, for a week or more each go. They are one of my favorite and I've found they are always earned. As Frank Noska told me a few years ago, Goat hunting is hard work. There is no simpler way to put it. I love hunting them and getting this monkey off my back sure felt good.
I hope you enjoyed the short story, this hunt ended much sooner than I thought it would but I am not complaining!
Great story Nick...Congrats again...
Thanks for sharing......hell of a rodeo !!
Awesome story!!! Congrats on the goat.
Nice job, Nick, and congratulations.
Congrats on well deserved trophy. Really enjoyed the story.
Great story, congrats on a super goat
Great job! I was hoping for a good ending when you said you were back early. How big was the bear?
Really nice Billy!
Great write up, way to go, Nick!
Congrats Nick on a hard earned mountain goat!
Congrats Nick. That's a beauty right there!
Nick, congratulations on an outstanding hunt and post.
Chasing down a goat. Unreal.
Until a man has emptied his Quiver he knows not the feeling. I’ve done it a few times too many:) Way to get it done! It’s not over til it’s over! Congrats! C
Well done! Congrats again Nick!
Good job, buddy! Well earned trophy.
Hell of a hunt, Nick! Just don’t get no better than that! Congratulations on a great looking goat!
Hopefully get out this week to chase them down here before the next storm.
AWESOME! Many congrats to you, Nick!
Nice job Nick! Congrats. He looks like he has a great coat. I'm sure he'll look good once he's all cleaned up and mounted.
Shiras, the bear was around 6 foot or so, nice looking too, wish I had an arrow!
Quinn, no more goat mounts in my future, the hide on this one was incredible though!
Didn’t even read it yet... and I’ll still say outstanding!! Congratulations
Congrads Nick, what a great coat that Goat has (kind of dirty and full of Holes but you got it done) :-). A friend of mine always said that is what taxidermists are for (fixing all the holes). When this story began I was thinking, I hope you have some snow camo with you. Goats are one of the toughest animals out there for absorbing arrows and living a long time from all the stories I have heard from others.
I have been real luck or fortunate in the both of my Goats where shot once and died with about 60 yards without the need to sweat it getting to them.
Hell of a story Nick! Congrats!
Way to get it done, Nick!! Congrats!!
Two thumbs way up congratulations.
@ Rock, I wonder if that's from just crappy shooting? I know they're tough, but I've been on a few goat hunts and when shot where they were supposed to, dead quick just like anything else. The issue is like any animal, any kicks or last second movement on a cliff has dramatic consequences unlike level ground critters. The trick is to hunt in brushy areas like Nick.
Congratulations again Nick results like this come through hard work and determination!
Great story Nick! Keep them arrows in the air until all movement ceases! Love it.
Thanks for sharing
Great hunt Nick! It’s amazing how long even small whitetails can live on a double lung shot if they don’t sprint off
Enjoyed your write up Nick!
This was such a pleasure to read and I am so happy that you were successful in your quest! I really enjoyed your story, and I wish you many more successful endeavors!
Nick, you did the work and it paid off in spades. Nicely done. my best, Paul
I thought it may have gotten a little western when you sent the pic the other day and I only saw one arrow in the quiver ;) Love those hunts when the quiver ends up almost empty! But not too empty ;)
Everyone likes a good goat roping !! Love it buddy and keep living the dream !! Hunt
Excellent write up Nick! Congrats on a fine goat!
Congrats man. Goats are such a blast to hunt. They're so tough to make dead.
Awesome goat nick!! Congrats
Great goat, Great story....Congrats!!
Well done Nick! Enjoyed it
Awesome stuff Nick, as usual. Congrats on a great goat hunt. Between reading this thread and about Trial's woodland caribou adventure, now I'm back on the search for outfitters for mtn goat and woodland bou.
Fun story. Great job. Congrats!
Awesome! Always a good hunt when you run outta arrows.
Fantastic end!..good job dude,,
Way to go Muche, awesome!
Great story Nick, and beautiful big billy! Congrats buddy.
Great pics, write up, AND goat, Nick! Congrats! You guys in Alaska are truly blessed to have all of the hunting and fishing opportunities available to you!
Any ideas why you got such minimal penetration with the mechanical?
Troy, the folks up here, most you never hear from, love the life! The opportunities we have are out of this world. This particular hunt costed me 5$ for a draw permit and 110$ in gas. Alaska is Heaven for a big game hunter, rifle or bow and I plan to take advantage of these opportunities until I can no longer walk.
As far as the mechanical... I found a crack in one of his ribs, 3rd from the front, where it hit. It really did bounce off. It was a Schwacker. I’ve killed many animals with one but had no intentions of using it on a long haired Billy....until I had to. Had I missed the ribs I’d guess it would have been fine. Either way, the amount of hair on a later season goat is pretty incredible compared to August. Luckily he just laid down and expired after that anyhow.
Outfrikenstanding.... congratulations Nick. You're living my dreams. Ed F
Fantastic Nick......great hunt and story. Like Jimmy Dugan told Dottie in the movie “A League of Their Own”, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard....is what makes it great.”
Way to go Nick! Turning a monkey on your back into a billy on the wall is a great way to end a hunt!! How old is he?
I'm heading out into the snowy goat mountains tomorrow for a few days. Not sure you've inspired me or made me want to stay home!
He’s 6 1/2 years old Rod, mature Billy and while I’ve killed bigger, he’s one I’ll surely never forget. Good luck on your hunt!!
Sweet read Nick
Good luck, Robb
Great story and hunt brother, someday over a beer or ten I'll tell you about an "empty quiver and a goat" story of my own ;)
I think I can speak for many here...jealous of your situation up there, but love to see your success!
Congrats Nick! Mountain goats are tough!
CONGRATS Nick!!! Sounds like a great hunt,,,I know the empty quiver feeling.....I hear ya..
Well earned trophy for sure! Congrats Nick!
Congrats Nick! I know first hand how tough goats can be. 2 archery hunts and 2 goats needed finished up with rifles.
Congrats on the goat, sounds like an exciting hunt!
Having lost the goat I arrowed two years ago to the cliffs, I know exactly the anguish that comes with pouring your mind and body into the hunt, doing more or less everything "right", only to not recover your animal. I totally get the feeling of relief and accomplishment you are feeling right now as well. Congrats on a helluva goat Nick!
Awesome hunt, I cant believe how big those things are! congrats
Congrats! Great write up, thanks for sharing.
Heck of a recap bud!!! We always hope they are short, but usually end up longer than expected, congrats again. Cool hunt.
Grats Nick, heck of a story.
It's amazing how tough mountain goats are. My 2017 goat also took 3 arrows to the chest and kept on plugging and had to be finished with a Havalon. I've talked with a couple AK bowhunters since and the stories are all the same, that these things will keep going after taking arrows that would drop anything else and then some.
My next goat I'm definitely sawing the ribs off so I can get an idea of where the big vessels really sit, because I think you have to bleed them... just putting holes in the lungs doesn't seem to bring them down.
I have a buddy who put a big 2-blade into a goat at mid-body right in the crease quartered away and the BH stuck in the offside shoulder blade and that goat was alive 5 days later. That shouldn't even be possible. I've hit several deer/elk in that exact spot and they all went down in sight.
I'm curious if you dug into his chest at all to see what your arrows took out? And how was the blood on the way to where he finally stopped? Was his chest full of blood?
Chest was full of blood and he left a pretty good blood trail in the snow. The three fixed blade heads all hit where I was aiming, two in the chest and one on a hard quartering away. I clipped the back of the lung with one broadside shot, missed the lung high with the other and the hard quartering shot missed the lung low but the arrow came out the front right shoulder. I have no idea what I'd do different and like Caz said above, it may have been shitty shooting but my arrows hit where I wanted them to. I am sure if any of them went right through both lungs he would have expired much sooner. It would be beneficial for anyone hunting goats to really look at their anatomy prior to going, it should help.
Several years ago three of us arrowed three billies in the same trip. Goat #1took a broadside pass through on both lungs. He trudged a hundred yards out onto an open rock slide. With no follow up opportunities, we waited a full twenty minutes for it to die.
Goat #2 took the same shot and walked about one hundred and fifty yards in the open, then flopped dead. Less than two minutes.
Goat #3 took a double lung, ran forty yards to a ledge, toppled then went six hundred feet straight down, bouncing twice on small outcroppings. Needless to say he was DOA.
Awesome. Way to go! That’s legit
Congrats Nick- You really are living the life. Great recap.
Great story. Out of arrows and with a goat like that is a good thing.
Great story. Out of arrows and with a goat like that is a good thing.
Very nice and congrats! Thanks for the posts.
Congrats Nick and thanks for sharing!! Beautiful goat!!
Great job Nick and awesome write up and photo’s! Congratulations
Hate I missed it and was working buddy. Love that area and can’t wait til I finally draw so you can come pack mine out! Congrats again on a long plan in the making!
Congrats, Nick! Great story!
Congrats Nick, great story!
Congrats, great pictures and story, that is fantastic.
Nice work man! Knew it would come together sooner or later.
Bravo sir! Fine animal indeed!!!
Congrats Nick, been waiting to read through this one when I had time to go through the whole thing! amazing the will to live on some critters. Awesome story and beautiful goat! Well deserved.
Congrats! Thanks for sharing the story and takin' us along, it's more work than you make it look. On many levels....
Maybe just me or maybe that's a big bodied billy, but those goats look huge compared to some of the lower 48 I've seen?
"1st one is the hardest" and "over quick"..... An old Norwegian friend in his classic accent popped into my head, he told me once "sometimes it lasts two minutes..... and sometimes it's really fast....."
Atta boy! Congrats. Great story. Made me think about my one and only goat hunt several years ago. Thanks for the memories.
Wow, great hunt Nick! Thanks for sharing it! Question.....your thoughts on the mechanical situation?
Steve, wouldn’t use a mech on a long haired Billy. Just my opinion.
About to dive into this backstrap, the first one was damn good and I’d guess this one will be too!
Nick, would you consider him a coastal goat?
I did get out for a few days. Got some nice scenery pics :(
Ambush, 30ish road miles from the coast but certainly coastal weather in the southern Chugach.
Congrats nick, thanks for sharing!
Empty the quiver! Awesome buddy