A few years back I made my first attempt at a MTN Goat out of Homer. We had seen 3, but none were in an area that I was comfortable with recovering.
Goats 1 - Sully 0
A few years went by while I had been away from Alaska, and I always had wondered "What if". Upon my return, I was DETERMINED to get the "monkey" off my back. I first went to Sitka in Sept and the weather was horrible. The night before I was to head up the mtn there was a nice waterfall which was a reference point where I would go up. Then next morning, and 3 inches of rain later, I woke up to 10 waterfalls coming down the mtn. I waited for the rain to at least slow down and made an attempt. When I finally got to the top, the wind was ripping so I had to back down. When that finally subsided the clouds dropped down and the vis was zero.
Goats 2 - Sully 0
In Juneau, I walked in an area where goats had been harvested by others. When I reached the top I didn't see anything. Spent 2 days looking before I became discouraged.
Goats 3 - Sully 0
Ketchikan in October. Walked in 6 miles in the rain and wind, hoping the weatherman was correct. It was forecasted for wind and rain with it clearing the next day. When we reached the top, it was SNOW and 50 mph wind. We set up camp and held on for the evening. With everything soaked we weathered the night. The next morning the wind stopped but had 30 feet of vis for the next 6 hours.
Goats 4 - Sully 0
Nov in Endicott. I woke up to start spotting the mtns looking for this mysterious animal that has plagued me for several years. Right away we spot a big billy that silouetted on the skyline. Hastily, we go up after him. The first 2000 ft went extremely well, then the snow came. In white out conditions we continued on our quest for the magnificant animal. I knew which direction I had to go, UP, UP, UP. Then my nemesis came into play. Alders & devils club. It was so thick and the snow was getting deeper and deeper the higher we went. Mentally I was determined to summit, but the rate of ascent was grinding to a halt. By 1 pm we realized that we weren't making the progress needed to make a stalk and be able to get off the mtn with enough safe light. Thank god for my partner because I had a serious case of tunnel vision. We regretfully came down the mtn and dried off. During a nice dinner of Moose I realized that we were safe and did the right thing and that I am thankful to have had the pleasure of seeing my prey and engage in the chess match with natures bounty.
Goats 5 - Sully 0
The next morning we decided to stay in the same area, but approach from a draw on the other side. During the skiff ride to the beach we spotted 2 goats on the mtn about half way up. The snow had pushed them down. The excitement quickly took over and we came up with a game plan. Once on the beach at about 500 ft we came upon tracks. Old, but tracks. We continued up to the old growth and had some nice climbing abscent from snow. It was steep but we could get a good foot hold in the moss and dirt. At about 1000 ft we came across fresh beds and a goat super highway. We followed the track up. Realizing that we were in the heart of goat country we shed our packs and went up fast & light. My partner & I always went up when we could. When in doubt, go up. We went up to the end of the old growth forest and the snow was about 8-10 inches at the upper edge. We followed the edge until we got to the shear rock faces and looked out to where we thought the goats would be. It was a magnificant day and I was ready to triumph. I stuck my head out to take a look and much to my dissmay, no goats. I was shocked. What am I to do. The wind was good, my physical condition is good, my gear is right and my gun shoots straight. This should be it. We back up and decide to go HIGHER. Since I won the coin toss and I shoot the first goat, I lead the way. Within 5 minutes, it all changes. I look up and there on a ledge stands this majestic BILLY looking right at us. I drop to my stomach and signal for my partner to get down. He crawls up next to me and says "take him". I dig in my pocket to get out my new toy - rangefinder. Before I get the rangefinder out my partner tells me to shoot him or he will and that the rangefinder will not make a bit of difference at this range. I was so nervous that I wasn't even thinking. I put my scope on him and couldn't get settled. I shift by body and put my elbow on my knee and squeeze off the shot. The goat didn't go down. After another shot he drops out of sight. Now the anxiety starts. What couldn't I see. Did he drop in his tracks? Go over the cliff? I immediately started up to find him. I marked my position with tape and I look to see a goat about 30 yards to the left. I KNOW THIS ISN'T MY GOAT. I get my partners attention and point. He can't see him. I finally get him on target and he launches a beautiful double lung shot that drops it where it stood. We walk up and look at his goat and there 30 yards (rangefinder) to the right is my goat. I am blown away. After the initial excitement, an erie sense of calm comes over me and I sit down next to my animal and take in the scenery and how magnificant the time is. An enormous sense of accomplishment is my immediate feeling followed by a little emptyness. I crossed the finish line. All my attempts, fitness training, reading, fact gathering, obsessing, are now gone. Another wave of emotions then comes over me. We just shot 2 goats. I am so happy that we got 2. My friend and I both shared and succeeded in this endeavor. I tell my friend to get out his camera so we can take pictures and his jaw drops. His camera is in his pack, halfway down the mtn. Not wanting to leave anything to chance, we drag the goats down to the tree line because we see some weather coming in and didn't want to be faced with navigating ice and snow. We leave our animals and proceed 1/2 way down the mtn to retrieve our packs (I will never do that again). We get back to our animals, do what we needed to do, packed out everything (brutal) and get back to the boat. Mission accomplished!!!!
Goats 5 - Sully 1
That one run is one of the best scores I have ever had. My billy measured out at 9 1/2. A truly magnificant animal