Took the boat out after goat again last weekend. Between the weather, the terrain and the amount of daylight the odds are stacked against us.
We left Seward well before dawn on Saturday. The marine weather was calling (again) for small craft advisories everywhere. The buoy I was watching had been at 1 foot for over 24 hours. I started thinking it was broken. So, once again we headed out to see for ourselves how it looked.
It looked good on the Gulf so we kicked her up a few RPMs and went to the hunting grounds.
Pulling into the first bay of the unit we saw goat right away. Nannies and kids. The few billies that we saw were on top of the ridge, safe from us. An hour after daybreak we spotted a couple of animals that looked accessible. An hour after that we discovered they both had kids. A couple of wasted stalks like that and the day is going fast.
About 2 o'clock I watched a small group crossing a gully. Not far behind them was a billy following the same trail. We took the Zodiac to the beach and started glassing again. By the time I scrambled up the gully all of the goats were feeding on the top of the ridge. The big boy was behind rocks and looking my way. He was less than 200 yards away so I told my buddy I was going to take him when the shot presented itself. At the shot he said it looked low. The goat walked behind the rocks and never came out as his companions had. After 15 minutes I knew I had to keep climbing to check it out.
The view from the top was awesome. The storms out on the Gulf were interspersed with sunbeams hitting the water. It was good to be alive and on the hunt. As I was climbing an ice covered rock slope I spotted him. I quickly got to a place where I could let go of the mtn and threw the scope on him. He was head down laying under an alder. Boy I got excited, thinking I had him. As I climbed further I kept looking at him thru the scope and he never moved. For 20 minutes he didn't flick an ear.
At one scary spot I was hanging on for dear life when my partner (who had proceeded down the beach) shot at something. I looked over at "my" goat and he was UP! Crap! I couldn't let go or I would have tumbled down the rock chute clear to the beach. I had to watch him walk on over the ridge. I got a real good look at him and he wasn't hit. I just kept praying that he would stop and feed again, but no, he walked on out of sight. I crawled up to where I could sit down and hope for another chance. No luck.
After the hair raising slip slide down the mtn I hiked down to see what he had been shooting at. He had taken a long shot at a lone goat 300+ yards away. Boy, was I disappointed in him. He was still watching the goat as it fed along a higher ridge. After a bit of watching we decided he was unhurt and impossible to get to.
I decided to see if my gun (a borrowed .270) was still on. It hit a foot low at 100 yards. Double ddam! I thought of our exciting beach evacuations and pictured us throwing ourselves on the guns and packs to get off the beach. It had to be the reason for the scope being off as I had been at the range earlier and it was good then.
With twilight setting in we decided to get back to the boat and noticed the surf was building. Oh boy! After 4 tries and getting thrown back on the beach We were getting concerned. I noticed there is not one piece of firewood on the beach and told my buddy we have to get off NOW. As we hit the breaking surf he decided to abort the attempt. I wish he would have told me because when he spun the raft about he knocked me off balance. As the next surge came in I was windmilling backwards and could feel the sand washing out from under my one foot that was still on the ground. I did a slow motion fall backwards into 3 foot of very Cold water. I couldn't breath and was gasping for air, sitting up to my chest in the surf. (Are we having fun yet?)
Being a bit testy now and wet I told him to get in the boat and I would push us out past the breakers. We did get off and the kicker fired up, delivering us to the boat. Once in the cabin I quit shivering and calmed down and figured we had another 40 minutes of daylight left. I convinced the other 2 that I was ok to check out another cove on the way home. There was a nice big goat 50 yards above the beach and I idled over that way. We watched thru the binocs for 20 minutes and decided this was an easy one. Just then a kid raised his head from behind the goat and ended our days hunt.
The day was far from over as we were about to find out. The seas on the Gulf were swells to about 3 feet. As soon as we got to the Narrows it kicked up fast. It was dark and cloudy and the seas were bad. One guy was a commercial fisherman and had never been seasick. He can't say that anymore, he spent a miserable hour out on the deck puking. The waves were close together and running between 6 and 8 feet. The occasional wave broke over the top of the cabin. It was a 3 hour run (walk is more like it, we were making 2-4 knots) into Seward from the Cape. The stress and constant adjusting had me feeling a white hot knife between my shoulder blades. We thought we would never get there.
We got to the dock early enough to run up to the Breeze for a hot meal and grab a room. We all wanted to stay and see how it looked in the morning. It looked crappy. Gale warnings and freezing spray. Sure didn't want to white feather it, but common sense prevailed and we headed the boat to the ramp by the coal belt. It hadn't been plowed and we had to find a shovel and clear it ourselves. It took 2 tries but we got out of the water.
So ends another no game hunting post. I could look at my buddies and know they are hunters to the core. Who else would do this week after week, harvest nothing and still be laughing and having fun? We are not yet goat getters, but we are goat hunters and loving it!
I wasn't going to post another adventure story, but being Thanksgiving, I want to say I am thankful to live where we do this kind of thing for the fun of it, regardless of the outcome. (And you guys need something to read, if for no other reason than to say, ' I'm glad that wasn't me.")
One weekend left and here's hoping for it to lay down just a little more.