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Thread: Goat Hunt Failure!

  1. #1
    Member Kay9Cop's Avatar
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    Default Goat Hunt Failure!

    Unfortunately, my story isn't one of those where I didn't get an animal but still had an awesome trip. No, this is a story of true failure. My story begins January 2012 when I tore my ACL and meniscus in a training accident. A couple weeks later I had a complete ACL replacement and a partial menisectomy. My recovery seemed to go well and I even completed the 5-mile Haul Road hike out, complete with packing a caribou back. I was pretty encouraged and when choosing my draw hunts I believed I would be physically fit enough for a mountain hunt.

    Draw results came out and I drew a coveted Mills Creek goat hunt. I was elated to say the least. These goats are some of the most accessible goats in Alaska, but they aren't a cake walk. You can easily see the goats from the road and this leads some to believe it's an easy hunt. I knew better and planned out a several month long conditioning and scouting program so that I could capitalize on my luck.

    Then disaster hit. I was told I would have to undergo another knee surgery for another tear in the same knee. This past spring I had the tear removed with another partial menisectomy and my recovery did not go as well. My muscles still hadn't completely recovered from the last surgery and this recovery started with a much more conservative approach to my healing. I did little to no activity for six weeks and my muscles atrophied even further.

    Instead of spending my summer training and scouting, I spent it going to physical therapy. I've spent almost twice as long in physical therapy as a normal recovery would take and there's still no light at the end of the tunnel.

    Things looked up when my doctor gave me the green light for the hunt and prescribed some anti-inflammatories in case things got bad. Unfortunately my scouting was almost non-existent. I spent several days glassing from the road over the summer, but never put actual boots on the ground.

    At this point I need to thank AGL4Now, AKHuntinFool, and 4merguide. All of them lent me a hand with information about the hunt. The information I got from 4merguide led me to a local Forest Service Ranger who gave me a couple routes up the mountain. Thanks guys!

    A lot of guys do this hunt in an up, kill, and back down in a 24 hour marathon day fashion. My doctor's advice was to go slow and take my time, which I took. I planned to spend an entire day getting up, camp for three to five days to kill my goat, and come back down on the final day.

    The day of the hunt came and things were looking pretty good. There was supposed to be a few good weather days in the middle that would help with spotting the goats. My path was going to take me over a half mile and 2,700 foot gain, then sideways along a gradually sloping ridgeline for a mile and a half to a nice spot with fresh water and a level spot to camp. My wife couldn't accompany me on this complete trip because she had to head back to the slope, but she came along on my climbing day to pack up my food and some other miscellaneous gear then head back down the same day.

    We made it a total of 900 vertical feet and about a quarter of a mile and I was done. My leg muscles were exhausted and my knee was starting to show signs of swelling from the muscles inability to stabilize the joint. I've had plenty of unsuccessful hunts, but they never felt like failure like this one did.

    So as I sit here disgusted at wasting a tag and debating if my mountain hunting is done, I wonder what the take away is. What lesson should I have learned? I don't know. But what I do know is there's a nice quiet stream outside of Yakutat with a nice cabin 100 yards off of it and a short walk to riffles packed with brown bears feasting on salmon. If I can get everything planned in the next couple of days I'm going to drown my sorrows over a dead bear.
    "Beware the man with only one gun; he may know how to use it."

  2. #2
    Member AKducks's Avatar
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    That sucks. I have two things to say (these are meant to be encouragement if they sound like I'm insulting remember that I know I could have made the same mistakes)

    First: my mom has had three hip replacements and for a long time thought that she couldn't walk right ever again, but then the after all the physical therapy she could walk easily around the block! Healing is a long process you will get better

    Second: same thing happened to my friend, his problem was he felt fine so he quit doing the therapy but the knee Hadn't built up the muscles all the way yet, so by pushing it he put more stress on that knee and re injured it. I would say keep doing the therapy make sure both knees are the same size before you really push it again.

    Hope you get up into the mountains again!

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    I see a few obvious takeaways from your trip:

    1) You gave it all you had and should be proud of that.
    2) You know how far you still need to go in rehab/PT.
    3) You have been blessed with an amazing wife.

    I also need to disagree, respectfully, with your overall assessment. This was NOT a failure. A failure would have been if you sat at home feeling sorry for yourself because your knee hurt.

    You have my utmost respect for your effort. Now get back in the gym work hard, and "DO IT!!! Plan a Kodiak goat hunt now and use it as motivation. Good luck.

  4. #4
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Not a wasted tag. You applied in good faith, did your homework and planned your hunt around your medical issue as best you could. Your knee vetoed your efforts. It happens.

    Rehab. Patience. Persistence.

    There will be other goat hunts.
    If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

  5. #5

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    Google teddy Roosevelt "man in the arena". You are the man in the arena today!

  6. #6

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    Sounds like a successful 101% effort, can't ask any more of yourself, or of another person.

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    The takeaway? You are human & sometimes things beyond our control happen. You gave it your best shot. It didn't work out. Enjoy the cabin & the bears & dream of next year. In the mean time you have an amazing & rare wife who was willing to haul some of your crap up the mountain & come down alone! a pretty rare find Sorry & good luck.
    Vance in AK.

    Matthew 6:33
    "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

  8. #8
    Member shimano 33's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vance in AK View Post
    The takeaway? You are human & sometimes things beyond our control happen. You gave it your best shot. It didn't work out. Enjoy the cabin & the bears & dream of next year. In the mean time you have an amazing & rare wife who was willing to haul some of your crap up the mountain & come down alone! a pretty rare find Sorry & good luck.
    +1 on the wife! I can barely get mine to make me a grilled cheese these days..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vance in AK View Post
    The takeaway? You are human & sometimes things beyond our control happen. You gave it your best shot. It didn't work out. Enjoy the cabin & the bears & dream of next year. In the mean time you have an amazing & rare wife who was willing to haul some of your crap up the mountain & come down alone! a pretty rare find Sorry & good luck.
    Pretty much sums up what I was thinking. Your human, some things happen out of your control and there isn't necessarily a takeaway, other than to perhaps learn to cope with the reality that your human...

  10. #10
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    Boy can I identify- I'm 35 and have had my right knee done twice. Completely tore my acl and had a partial menisectomy when I was 30. 4 years later I partially tore the new acl while skiing and had to do it again. Keep training and brace up, you'll be back to new in no time. I've climbed Mckinley (to 19,000), been on 3 goat hunts, 4 sheep hunts, 5 moose hunts, deer hunts and bear hunts over this time. This year I packed an entire 60+" bull almost a mile by myself-- knee feels great. I'm always mentally aware that I've had work done but I feel as good as ever. Mason did my work. Good luck to you in your full recovery
    Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes. ~Wilde

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    Member Matt M's Avatar
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    A year from now you will look back and have less regrets than today. Hey, you tried your best and that is all any of us can do. I know the frustration portion of this is the worst...like your knee it too will heal with time.

    Go kill a brown bear and apply again next year.

    Matt

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    I have had my left acl replaced twice as well as my medial meniscus worked on. And my right acl once. I'm looking at a second meniscal repair next month. It suck. My best advice is work ALL the upper and lower leg muscles and stabilize that leg. Dan Marino tore his ACL 5 years before his retirement and never had it fixed. Stationary bike. Is your best friend.

  13. #13
    Member akrstabout's Avatar
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    Can you proxy it out? Well, I actually have wasted a lot of good tags back in the day when I had no idea what I was doing and no gear, but drew awesome tags atleast 3 times and never set foot on them! So cheer up a bit! Go bear hunt! Geesh man, you had major surgery twice, keep up the PT and let it heal so you don't regret it the rest of your life, instead of failing a hunt, which didn't really happen!!!

  14. #14
    Member Kay9Cop's Avatar
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    Going the proxy route was something I looked into earlier in the summer. It requires a doctor to certify you are 70% disabled. I'm not considered disabled at all because I have what the medical field considers full range of motion and can perform normal daily tasks. I'm completely incapable of completing the hunt, but considered normal by medical definitions.
    "Beware the man with only one gun; he may know how to use it."

  15. #15
    Member Roger45's Avatar
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    Success is knowing when to stop and turn around. Trying is what is important. Dying on the hill, or calling in a rescue is not what I call success. If you had shot a goat, how would you have gotten it out with your knee the way it is? You did good IMHO, and you will be out again, just going to have to modifying your normal way of doing things. May want to look into a good external brace...
    "...and then Jack chopped down the beanstock, adding murder and ecological vandalism to the theft, enticement and vandalism charges already mentioned, but he got away with it and lived happily ever after without so much as a guilty twinge about what he had done. Which proves that you can be excused just about anything if you're a hero, because no one asks the inconvenient questions." Terry Pratchett's The Hogfather

  16. #16

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    Doesn't seem like a failed trip at all. You did what your body would allow and you were smart enough to call it off and not damage your knee any further. Hopefully you'll be able to get back at it sooner than later!

  17. #17
    Member AMMO JAY's Avatar
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    I know how you feel brotha! Had shoulder surgery in 2010 that took almost 2 years to get back to normal. Then in 2012, I was ready to hunt and I tore my meniscus. Finally, this year my buddy and I were trying to reach to up 3500-4000 ft to get to a ridge and glass above the tree line. Unfortunately, I didn't make it there but we did make it up almost 2000 ft before the knee was done and that was a year later. Youve had multiple surgeries within a 2 yr period so you should consider what you did a success. Your body will heal but will also let you know your limits. Listen to it. My sheep hunt will be 2 yrs after the knee surgery so Im using black bears on berries as practice this year as my physical therapy. Work hard but within your limits and you'll be up there next year. Good luck bro!

  18. #18
    Member Kodiakfly's Avatar
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    Not a failure in any sense.

    I've been there. Though not for a hunt, but for an entire muskie season. I destroyed my left fibula three days before season opened and three surgeries later I was still barely able to stand in my boat, let alone launch it and handle it in big water. I made it out literally the last week of the season with stiches in my leg and managed to get exactly ONE fish that year. But that one fish was more of a success than all but one other muskie I've caught. I gave that one fish more effort than any other fish.

    Point is, "success" is relative. Sounds to me like you busted your butt and put in more effort than 90% of the people in the world would have. No goat? I know guys here on Kodiak that didn't get a goat in their first few hours out and gave up because it was too hard. I still limp and hobble around sometimes and my leg and ankle get stiff and sore, and I myself have issues with mountains, so again I understand your frustration. Three years later, I'm still feeling the effects but it does get better and I can now keep up (maybe not set the lead, but at least keep up!) with others and am comfortable hunting at elevation on my own. There'll be other goats and other hunts and when they come, you'll know by then you're more than ready.

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