Iíve always enjoyed coming on and reading through other hunting stories and looking at pictures and adventures, so with my first mountain goat hunt just being finished, I figured Iíd give it a shot this year and maybe bring along some folks via pics who arenít able to hit the mountains this year, and inspire those who are getting ready to head out.
Weíve hunted black bear for years on the edge of this tag area, and often see goats in the spring, so I started applying for this draw (DG360) a few years ago. Iíve been applying for piles of draw permits for 6 or 7 years and was super excited this spring to finally draw a permit for the first time, and being a mountain goat in a unit I know somewhat was an even bigger plus.
I made plans throughout the summer and got ready for the hunt, and a friend even took me on a flyover of the tag area a few days before the season opened. We flew the whole area, and found close to 100 goats between Grewingk Glacier and Bradley Lake. From the air at least, this goat population appears to be doing very well. We found several groups of 20-30 goats and dozens of other small groups and lone animals. I picked a group and area to aim for and got ready to hit the trail. My dad and brother, who Iíve gone with on several of their caribou draws, came along on this hunt.
Still working on getting the weight down and investing in light, quality gear, but I added a new sleeping bag this year, which helped and borrowed a few other lightweight items from friends. We planned to head in Monday, the 10th and spend the rest of the week hunting.
Due to storm warnings for the sea, we decided to head in early and crossed Kachemak Bay Sunday evening.
The trail we had planned on heading up (found the maps on the State Park website) obviously hadnít been maintained for quite a while. After plowing our way through extensive devilís club and fallen trees with packs and poles, the trail got lost in dense alders and overgrowth just about when it was getting dark. We finally found a patch of moss just big enough to set up the tent in-between treefall to spend the night.
We abandoned hope for this trail and made it back out to the beach at low tide in the morning to hike down and come up on Plan B. While still not under heavy use, this was a much better option.
We made decent progress up the hills a couple miles and above treeline. Now being the 10th, we were pretty excited to have spotted goats in the late afternoon. Being new to mountain goat hunting, Iím still practicing my long-range goat sex-identification. An obvious nanny and kid, there was also a noticeably larger-bodied goat with them, so we headed up for a closer look.
It took us an hour or two to make our way up a perpendicular ridge, and by the time we made it up, the goats had popped over the other side. We continued on our planned path: always higher and further into the mountains. We decided to spend night #2 a little lower, since we had a great snow-melt water source and spectacular campsite, and since we still had a clear view of the first ridge in case the 3 goats popped back over.
Sure enough, right about sunset, the goats popped back over at about 375 yards, and after watching for a few minutes, it was undeniably a billy hanging out with the nanny and kid. Having the only rifle, (my .270 with a Burris 2-7x) I decided to stalk in for a closer shot.
Whether they got good wind of me or just tired of the scenery, they wandered back down their comfortable drop-off before I was able to get a shot.
It was an exciting first day, and sitting on top of the world at sunset, after stalking a goat is a pretty great feeling. With a couple other hunters up above us, I decided to hang around this camp the following day (11th) in case this billy came back over the ridge, while my brother did a light day-hike scout further in.
Although it was another gorgeous day and quite relaxing, the goats never came back over, and when my brother came back having found a decent campsite further in, we decided to push in that evening.
The scenery is unbeatable in the mountains, and we hiked all the way in to about where I had originally planned for a base camp. The other group were on their way out with success as we were setting up camp for our 3rd night. And as the sun set again, we had spotted 8 goats with a couple nice billies on the other side of the valley.
My brother, Barnabas, had shot a ptarmigan earlier in the day, so he cooked it up that evening in Coca-Cola (that stuff is totally worth the pack-in when youíre on top of a mountain!) and we had another beautiful sunset.
I got up early the next morning to hike solo around the valleys and ridges to find a decent frost on the packs and a couple coyotes chasing rodents around the fields on top.
Getting up around 6:30, I was just in time to see 3 or 4 goats disappear around a ridge on the other side of the valley. After a little coffee and breakfast, I packed light and headed out.
At the head of the valley, it was fairly easy to make the descent, where I started hiking back down towards the ridge. About halfway down the valley, I came up over a little rock mound and stumbled on a goat bedded down at 25 yards. He didnít see me, so I backed up, took off my pack, got my rifle, chambered a round and poked my head back over the rocks. He'd heard me, and was looking up at me. He stood up and we watched each other for a minute as my beginning-goat-hunter-self confirmed that he was a billy. He turned around to remove any doubt, and then went broadside again. I got a good lung shot in and he took off running. I put another round through the shoulder at about 40 yards, which tumbled him about 25 yards down a little chute and I was pretty excited to tag my first goat!
August 12, 2015. 3-year-old, 8 5/8Ē billy
He was down by 8:45, and after hearing the two shots, my dad and brother headed over the ridge and down the valley. By the time they made it down with 2 more empty packs, I had him almost completely dressed out.
We loaded up and made our way slowly back up out of the valley.
We made it back to the camp by around 3:00, so we took it easy, packed up and headed back down to our 2nd night campsite.
We made it down taking it easy and making good time. Having a snow bank sure is nice for keeping meat cold! Another absolutely gorgeous day, and successfully getting a decent billy made my year!
We slept in on Thursday morning (13th) and headed out around 11:00. After coming home, I weighed my pack in at 103#.
Overall, we moved pretty quickly and made it out in better time than coming in. The bugs were pretty bad some of the way for the only day of the trip, which may have helped us move quick!
The berries were in abundance which was always nice for along the trail. We were back on the beach around 5:00, where I enjoyed my last coke and we kicked back to wait for our trip back across the bay.
I wasnít tracking our distance, so itís hard to say exactly. But working a bit with Google Maps after getting home, we got the goat about 7 miles in. Of course, we did some backtracking and re-routing, so Iím sure we put on quite a few more than 14 miles, but still it wasnít bad, and I was prepared to have to go in further. We were definitely blessed.
Iíve definitely enjoyed and been inspired by the stories on these forums, so thereís mine. I have tons more pictures; mountain hunting in Alaska is definitely one of the best experiences in Godís country. We were blessed with stunning weather and success which always helps make it even better. Good luck to everyone else in the field this season!
Iím hooked on the mountains, Dall sheep, youíre next!