One day, one of my hunting magazines came in the mail and one of the articles featured a young woman that had taken a mountain goat with her bow. Rose thought it was super cool and wanted to do the same. So I did what I could and started planning for a Kodiak goat hunt.
We decided on early September with the hopes that weather wouldn't be too bad and it worked better with our work schedules as well. It was actually a pretty easy hunt to plan for, I already had all my gear from my sheep hunt pretty much all ready and it didn't require a whole lot extra.
A third person was along for this hunt, someone I hadn't hunted with prior but ended up working out fantastically. Rose and I both had concerns about safety and bears on the island and I felt more comfortable having a third person along in case something happened to me. I originally had the slot filled but they backed out early on due to some other obligations. While talking about it with a co-worker friend of mine, he suggested his nephew and said he thought it'd be a good match up.
We all three got together and decided things would work out and it wasn't long and we were all three flying to Kodiak! We arrived early in the morning and with high winds, the air service was backed up a bit and they didn't think they'd be able to get us where we wanted to go, a high lake I had picked out. So we were trying to come up with some plan B's and C's only to have those shut down as well. With most all the southern end of the island locked down we headed out in the plane and we tried to get into some spots but weather apparently was too bad to set down. We looked at one lake I didn't want to go to as the hunting pressure is really high and the terrain isn't really conducive for a bow hunt. Lots of really steep open terrain, even the biologist didn't suggest it as a bow hunt and he's a bowhunter. But that was pretty much our only option unless we wanted to beat the brush up from the saltwater.
I looked back at the Rose and Randy and said what do you think? We all knew that it was this or set down and work our tails off beating through the alders just trying to get up on the mountain. So we set down on the lake and worked on getting camp set up. We did see a couple goats on a nearby hillside so the plan was to head that way in the morning.
With our packs loaded for the next day, I glassed up a goat that quickly disappeared over the ridge about a mile and a half from us. I thought we should chase him as the terrain looked good. We made our way along and after a couple hours of slinking from one little ridge to the next looking for him we were unable to locate him. Randy held back and let us move ahead and he ended up moving up the ridge doing his own thing that morning.
Me pointing to where the billy had been.
Rose and I kept moving around the mountain looking as we went. I was looking at my footing and took two steps and then back ahead again and there's this darn billy looking at me. Shoot!!! I lose focus for two steps and I get caught! So we're frozen as this billy stares us down and he finally moves off over the ridge. We drop our packs, Rose grabs her bow and I grab the rifle. We move quick to the little edge he went over and I fully expect him to be right there.
But he's not... he's almost 400 yards straight up this chute at the top of the mountain and moves out of sight. Our hearts sank for a bit before running back to our packs and loading back up. We got back to the chute and there he is, he had doubled back and was working out the top of the ridge line. He was tired as I noticed his tongue hanging out as he was walking.
As soon as he was out of sight, we moved up the hill, a gruelingly steep climb. This time though, I expected him to be down the ridge line a ways. But instead, as we neared the top, I lift my head and he's standing there at 80 yards broadside. This goat couldn't figure out where he wanted to go, he'd go one way and then double back and then back again.
The chase continues and as we crest over onto the ridge line looking down, there he is at 330 yards. Rose finally said, you take him with the rifle. We were never going to get within bow range of this billy and Rose wanted one with her bow, as did I, but I didn't know how many opportunities we'd get so I decided to take myself out of the equation and just get one on the ground.
I laid down, rifle on the pack, the billy turned broadside at 330 yards. I line up and squeeze...WHOP! The sound of a bullet hitting it's target. The billy whirled and was hit good, a couple follow up shots and I very quickly worked my way down to this goat. These animals are like Sherman Tanks, they just won't go down.
The process of processing the goat began and now I was really wishing I knew where Randy was, I could really use his help packing this goat out. I had about half the goat done when I heard a gun shot. I knew it was him and he was looking for us as he'd heard the shots. I fired one round and a half-hour later he found us. Thank goodness as I really could use a hand!
It took us about 6 hours to make it the nearly 5 miles back to camp. The terrain was very challenging with ravines and steep side-hilling. But we finally strolled into camp at about 8:30 just before dark.
Ravines like this made it very difficult getting back to camp with heavy packs.
The next day was spent resting and taking care of meat. But when we saw 6 goats appear on the top of the mountain about 2 miles above camp, we decided to go after them. They were in a little bowl and we worked up a chute that would put us just above or at their level and hopefully less that 200 yards. We arrived at the top and I was getting the rangefinder and rifle ready while Rose was getting her bow. The three of us were ready to move up the edge about 40 yards away when Rose says, "there they are"!
Two goats appeared above us and I ranged them at 204 yards. Rose quickly readied herself with the rifle across the pack and I told her to shoot when she was ready. At the shot, the goat didn't flinch and then took off running, disappearing over the top. I told her she'd missed and about that time three more goats began moving across from where the first ones came from. Rose got ready again and this time, at the shot, we heard the unmistakable WHOP sound. I said, "you got him"!
The goat seemed somewhat un-phased and Rose got back on him and hit him again. This time the goat came stumbling and falling down towards us. One final round was needed and Rose had her billy.
We worked our way over to her goat and found that the second shot hit the goat at the base of the horn and took it off. We were both instantly bummed but we traced the goats trail back up the mountain and I found the horn which wasn't too badly damaged and were able to place it back on for some photos.
Rose was really excited even though it wasn't the bow kill she was looking for but she admitted she didn't know how she could get one of these goats in this kind of open terrain. The goats get hit hard on this lake and I'm not saying it's not possible but it'd be very tough.
A brown bear skeleton that we found, pretty cool stumbling across this!
After several days of rain and fog, we finally got out after a goat for Randy. We knew of three goats that had been bedding way up high and dropping down to feed at about 6pm. So we worked our way over and spotted them bedded and just waited them out. One by one, they got up and moved down onto a bench to feed. It was stormy, 60+ MPH gusts and sideways rain. We crawled our way to the top of a little rise and spotted two of the billies but where was the third? We backed down and came around to get a different view and he was off by himself feeding at just over 300 yards. The other two goats were at about 220.
Without being able to discern much of a difference between the three, he opted for the closer shot. Randy's billy dropped and it was mission accomplished. Three billies down and we were to fly out the next day! We quickly got on the billy and began processing him and at 8:30 we began our trek back to camp about 1.5 miles away. It was wet and windy and we had to guide our way in buy GPS once it got dark.
Goat tenderloin, mashed potatoes, and mac'n cheese!
Randy is a member here on AOD as well and I'll let him post his pics if he wants to. Kodiak is a cool place and if you're after a hunting adventure, I highly recommend it.