So my dad was born and raised in Alaska. Grew up in the 60s hunting the Nowitna when no one else did with my Grandpa and shot 60"+ moose nearly every year leaving the antlers on the bank as all they cared about was hauling the meat back to the village. Ok I lied they did haul a 72" moose back but thats an exception I'm willing to forgive them for.
So my dad has shot more moose than he cares to remember growing up here in AK. But not a lot of mountain hunting. I think he went sheep hunting in the Brooks once like 20 years ago and helped a guy haul out a decent sheep but thats it. So I've made it my mission to get him in the mountains before he gets too old. Part of this mission has been getting him geared up through every holiday excuse to buy him gear. Christmas....solid mountain hunting boots. Father's Day....Arcteryx Bora 80 backpack...Birthday......base layers and mountain pants. He's a little guy (5' even and 120 lbs) so finding gear that fits him is a CHORE!!!!
So last December I put him in for some tags that I'd like to be along to hunt on (I know selfish). This included some goat tags. Turns out he drew a 2% goat tag!!! Found out in January. Called him up....."Hey Dad, um ya won a goat permit!!!" Dad said "A goat permit huh????? I've never hunted goats have you??" "Nope, but all I know is you better be getting in shape" So he took it upon himself to get his little 50+ year old body in shape for the trip.
My wife and I scouted out a decent way up the mountain in July as I REALLY wanted to help my dad bag a goat. Found a SWEET little game trail through all the devils clubs and alders (thanks to MARC TAYLOR) in July, but didn't see any goats, just goat hair EVERYWHERE.
August 15th rolls around. Still sore after the 18 miles of packing out a caribou 3 days prior we find ourselves leaving the truck at 11;30 am. My dad with about 25 lbs in the pack, my wife with 50 lbs, and myself with 75 lbs. Did I mention I REALLY wanted to get my dad up the mountain?
We are on the top of the moutain 3,000' higher and 2.5 miles from the road at 3:30 PM with camp setup. We began hiking towards an area we knew held goats. 20 minutes after leaving camp we are looking at 8+ goats at 700 yrds away or less. No kids just billies and nannys. Decided to drop out of sight and hike another 1/2 mile and 700' higher in elevation. Now were are looking over 6 goats all bedded down at 280 yrds and closer.
Problem is all the goats are bedded on some nasty cliffs (like goats like to do) except for two. One that was facing us and one that was broadside.
Dad lines up his Tikka .308 (freshly duracoated by my bro) on the top of the bedded broadside goat's back and makes a perfect shot. My wife was able to video the whole thing. The goat gets up walks around some rocks falls over and stops. Then kicks its hind legs a little and it begins to slide....then roll....then tumble....out of sight. All the wishing of it to stop didn't help. Now its 4:45 pm.
We walk back to the packs. Unload everything out that we don't need except for some snacks, water, gamebags, and a knife. Leave my wife at the packs in our little GoLite shelter to wait for us to get back out of the wind and rain as she's not all about climbing down the cliffs to find the goat. This begins our 2 hour decent to find out way down to where the goat went. As we begin going down the ridge where the goat was last seen at 4,000' the fog rolls in to less than 150 yrds of visibilty and ends up staying that way for the next 24 hours. Atleast really makes it easier to find the missing goat though right?? After a few sketchy places were I slipped fell 8 to 10' then climb back up and help my dad down a little more controlled as he tossed my pack down to me and I was able to reach up and have in stand on my hands and lower him down. Anyways 7:30 we finally find the goat....at 3,000'.
Horns are broken off and cape not worth salvaging, but the meat appeared ok. Knowing that we couldn't go back up the way we came and that it'll be getting dark in a couple hours we made quick work of quartering it, but my dad was spent after hiking to get up to camp and then the hunt to the goats and hike down to it. So I just took half the goat out that night and we were able to clammer our way back to my wife and then camp about 10:00. At which point my well rested wife hooked my dad and I up with some ever so tasty mountain house dinners, hot tea, and a dessert. YUMMY!!! Went to bed and sleep came easily.
Woke up the next morning still fogged in and raining and knowing we had to go back down the sketchy crags to get the 2nd half of the goat out. Left the tent at 10 AM back to the tent at 2:30 PM with the rest of the goat. Had some warm instant potatoes and took a nap. Got up at 3:30 packed up our camp and was at the truck at 8:10 PM when with a wall of water coming down. With heavy packs, being soaking wet, and tired bodies we were glad to be heading back home. My dad was convinced he was being guided on this hunt. In fact when we got back to the truck and he tried to load my pack (100+ pounds) into the bed he said that between me packing and my wife cooking for him this trip was guided and complete with a "sherpa and a chef"
Next day got the goat processed, and we all got our first ever taste of mountain goat that my wife cooked up for us for dinner. Great stuff despite the fall. Although the hunt didn't pan out like I had envisioned with the fall and horns breaking off, it was still a trip of a lifetime and just glad to be able to share the experience with my dad.