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Thread: Kodiak goat hunt ends in a Medevac

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Default Kodiak goat hunt ends in a Medevac

    I always thought that goats where amazing creatures. As we all know they live their lives in the nastiest of places. Combine this with extreme weather and you can see why they are a difficult animal to harvest. Last year my wife and I tried but terrain and weather left the goats safe on the mountain. I wrote of our story and Alaska_lanche AKA “LUKE” read it and contacted me and suggested that Flor and I come goat hunting with him and Becca.

    Well Uncle Sam decided he needed Flor in South America so she could not come. Luke and Becca were gracious enough to still ask me to tag along. Luke and I agreed that Becca would be first shooter and I would get to back her up if the stalk was beyond her skills.

    Luke and I chatted several times and discussed our gear and our plan for the hunt.
    The fall was gone in a blink of an eye and before I knew it was time to meet them at the Anchorage Airport. It was great to meet such a wonderful young couple. We hit it off right away and where all excited to get to Kodiak.

    After a short plane ride we were in Kodiak with sunshine and fair skies. Andrews Air sent a driver and he picked us up and ran us around town so we could get some lunch and buy the few things we could not ship. Great service from those folks.

    We quickly repacked our gear and the ground crew loaded our gear up in the Beaver and we were off on our adventure. The weather was clear and the views alone were worth the cost of the ride. As we flew in we saw many goats, this only added to our excitement.



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    We landed on the salt and made a base camp. We were wise to use a bear fence, we later learned. We sorted out what we needed and headed up to our spike camp. The trail if you could really call it that, led up through grass, alders, and brush, to brush, grass and alders. Normal Kodiak terrain, we were in a valley with a bowl at the head and a ridge line on each side. As we made our way up we spotted 2 different brown bears walking the ridge tops. We reached our hunting area and Becca found a flat stop to camp. We spotted several goats on the ridge near camp and Luke got his spotter out to glass them. We were stoked to have five goats so near camp.


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    Well as Luke glassed them they turned out to be trophy ptarmigan. We all got a laugh and named them ptarm-a-goats. We chatted about our past adventures and made a nice camp. Becca was a pro at setting up camp and we were dinning on fine MH under their Go-Lite teepee in no time. As it began to get dark we spotted a nice looking Billy on the ridge to our left, we watched it feed around and bed down. Shortly after that a huge brown bear climbed up the ridge just under the goat and when over the ridge.
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    As darkness neared the temps dropped and we knew it was going to be a cold night. The water in our bladders was already freezing. We said goodnight and headed off to bed. I have to admit that I was envious of them and their double sleeping bag as I was trying to stay warm in my tent and wishing Flor could be there as well.



    We awoke to 15 degree temps and frozen boots. Luke spotted Becca’s Billy on the ridge and we ate a quick meal and gathered what we needed to get him back to camp and planned out our stalk. We worked our way up and soon were on short grass with a some what steep accent with solid footing.

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    The wind dictated that we circle around and approach from behind where we last saw him. As we got into the snow we could see were goats had been walking and bedding down. Before long I spotted him and we stopped and changed into our whites. We were now in the scree with snow on top and it was very noisy to walk on. We eased along the ridgeline peeking over all the spots that he could be.

    We had reached where we last saw him and could see a long way and could not find him. There was a small spur to my right and I decided to have a peek over it and we both locked eyes with each other at about 25 yards. He must have heard us walking above him. I dived back and whispered to them both that he was right there to get ready. The Billy was none to eager to be given a backpack ride and was showing us his dirty behind. Luke helped Becca get prepared for the shot and I used my trekking pole as a rest and was tracking the Billy ready to follow up Becca if necessary.

    It all happened so fast that she had very little time to get ready and had to try to fire offhand. Her first shot went high and I think she had a hard time on her first reload. After her first shot the Billy got more serious about leaving and started running faster. I heard a second shot and Luke yelled for me to take him.

    I under estimated his speed and hit him behind his last rib, he humped up and slowed down and my second shot broke his back and he started “2 wheeling “ down the mountain. I hit him again with a 3rd 200 grain Accubond and broke his left front leg. The tough old goat still was tying to go downhill. I fired a forth shot into the center of his back with my 325WSM and he finally stopped after he sucked up 800 grains of lead.

    I was running low on bear medicine “ammo” and wanted save what I had left so as Luke reached me and the goat, I used his 308 to finish him off as he was still alive. I did make the mistake of firing too near his neck and the muzzle flash burned away a 3 inch round patch of fur, lesson learned.

    There was hugs and high fives all around as both Becca and Luke were happy that we had got one and while Becca had not got her goat yet at least that one did not escape and I was lucky enough to harvest my first ever goat.
    We were all really jazzed to see that he was a fine Billy as well, thick coat and 9 1/8 inch horns. Rich from Brow-Tine taxidermy aged him at 7 today when I dropped him off to be half mounted.

    We set up the tripod and took some photos and got to work getting him ready to take back to spike camp. The work went quickly with all 3 of us helping out. While we worked it began to snow lightly. We finished up and got ready to head back to camp.


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    The Billy had descended about 500 feet so we had to side hill across the scree to reach the grass to start down. I was in the lead and had only walked out about 10 yards onto the grass when both my feet went into the air. I landed on my pack and backside and began an uncontrolled decent. At first I was not terribly concerned, however as I went down it got steeper and I was soon speeding down the side and was heading for a rock filled gully. I knew I was in deep trouble and was terrified, I tried to roll over onto my stomach so I could try to arrest my decent. This sent me cart-wheeling like a crash test dummy down the slope. During all this the goat head had come out of my pack and is also beating me about the head.

    I carry my rifle in a Kifaru gun bearer, it holds my rifle in front of me and attaches to my pack. This may have saved my life as my rifle barrel became stuck to the stock into the side of the hill. As the gun bearer broke away from my pack the force straightened me out and I was able to use one of my trekking poles to stop, or maybe the lord reached down and lent a hand. Either way I’m grateful as I was surely asking for his help on the way down.

    I was scuffed up and was trying to see if I was still in one piece when I heard Becca screaming. I knew instantly that she was hurt badly by the tone of her screams. She was clearly in horrible pain. I used my trekking pole to reached her stopping to pull my rifle from the ground and sling it over my shoulder and picked up my other now bent trekking pole.

    Luke was at her side when I got there and she was in such horrible pain that she about passed out. I examined her leg and tried to gently feel for a break, she said that she heard it break. I could see it was deformed above the boot and when she tried to move the leg the foot did not. To add to our torment the ceilings dropped and we were in the clouds. This frightened me more than anything else, as I knew 2 things right there. The first was we could never get her to the salt alone and second, with us fogged in there would be no chopper.

    We got her something for the pain from our first-aid kit and I told Luke that I was going to get my sat phone from my pack. On my way down I considered our situation and tried to figure out a plan. The thought of a night on the side of the steep, slick slope with temps under 15 degrees was not my plan A for sure.
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    I got my phone and struggled to get a signal in the valley surrounded my high ground. I made the mistake of leaving my emergency phone numbers in the hard case at camp and had to call home for the Troopers number and got routed around to the Kodiak PD and finally to the Coast Guard.

    The phone calls played out the next hour or so. I went back up and decided to splint her broke leg to her good one and used the end of my trekking pole as a splint. I tried it off with an ace bandage and a rain jacket. I have a background in aviation and knew we had to get her below the ceiling. I called on the combat life-saver training I had in the service to both assess the injury and to prevent further damage.

    Luke put on his crampon and I used Becca’s, with me under her and Luke above her we agonizingly lowered her inch by inch down the slick frozen slope. When she could take no more I would try to call again to update the Coast Guard. As darkness approached we were able to get her down about 1500 feet. Once I was sure they had weather, I called the Coast Guard and updated them, I was afraid she might go into shock and possibly get hypothermic as the night wore on.

    The Coast Guard at first want us to try to reach the salt so a skiff could pick her up, I told him right away that was not even a possibility. There was no way we could get her through the alders. I made sure the dispatcher knew this was the real deal and dust off was necessary. When we got her as low as we could, I called one last time. The dispatcher told me the chopper was in the air and should be on site in 20 minutes.

    It was bitter cold and we were all stressed and exhausted. We huddled together to try to keep her warm while we waited. After about 30 minutes we heard the answer to our prayers as the Med-Evac chopper came blasting over the ridge. They made a circle out to sea and headed towards us. Luke used his headlamp to signal the chopper and they blinked their landing light to let us know they had our position.

    They hovered for about 10 minutes looking the area over, there really was no safe place to land and by now it was completely dark. I saw the swimmer lower down on the cable and went to meet him. The poor fellow did not see me approach and when I tapped his shoulder I gave him a terrible fright. He told me he was getting the basket lowered and then we would move to Becca.

    He and I carried the basket up and the swimmer quickly got her strapped in. Luke and I gathered up the loose gear to keep it from getting into the rotors and moved away as the chopper moved into position. Luke gave Becca a big kiss and told her he loved her and she was up into the air to the safety of the chopper. The swimmer was up next and they roared off into the night.

    Link to the Coast Guard Story.
    http://coastguardnews.com/coast-guar...nd/2010/10/12/
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    Luke and I found our selves alone in the dark shivering from the cold and the stress. It felt like someone took a car off my chest, as I was so relieved that she was safe. Like 2 beat dogs we battled our way through the dark back to camp. We knew we had at least 2 days of work ahead of us before we could leave. We made some dinner and drank as much water as we could and crashed for the night.
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    Geez Steve, quite a story, reading this as you post, hows she doing?
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    We awoke the next morning to clear skies and cold weather. Luke used Becca’s binos to check our pack and see if the bears had got them. They were where we left them, so we eat a hot meal and got ready to go get them. We made good time getting up making sure to use the crampons this time. Once we reached my pack Luke could see how close he came to being alone with 2 casualties, as my pack was right at the boulder field. Once we had our packs we ever so carefully descended and made for camp.

    Luke below where Becca got hurt.


    Dangerous, but beautiful place.
    P0621.jpg[/IMG]

    Where we were heading!!!!


    The water bladder that slipped away from us.
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    Heck of a story. I don't know either of you but I hope both you and Becca are healing well.

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    It takes allot of guts to know when you need help. Kudos to you guys!! I wish Becca speedy recovery. Nice job on the field trauma work. It's tough with allot of pain, crazy circumstances and little to work with. Nice job on getting down low to an accessible area. You guys were super smart about it.
    If you don't mind, A big shout out to the Coast Guard! It's reassuring to know they are out there.

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    Wow, what a story. His brother informed me about what happened but wasn't sure of the details. I don't know Becca but have the honor to work with Luke. Becca will be in my prayers. It's horrible to see things like this happen. I hope for a speedy recovery to put her back on the trail as I know she enjoys it as much as Luke does. Luke if your reading this call me and fill me in on how she's doing....

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    Wow, sounds like a tough trip. Glad you had the sat phone with you as I usually leave it in the tent. Hope you are feeling better & prayers for a speedy recovery for Becca.

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    Back at camp we ate and repacked and started down to base camp with the first load. Luke hauled an impressive 134lbs down. It took us all day, as we neared camp I spotted 2 brown bears right by our camp. I started yelling and they moved off. As we got closer there was another bear right by the tent, 3 total within 50 yards of the tent. I yelled and walked along the coast to allow my scent to be blown in their direction.




    I made us some dinner and we enjoyed a warming fire as we discussed the events of the last couple days. Luke and Becca both are incredible people and I was honored to share a fire with such great young folks. Even with his bride in the hospital Luke kept a great spirit and did the Lion’s share of the work to recover my goat and our gear. We really enjoyed the extra warmth of the base camp and the extra sleeping bags we had brought. Plus the lantern helped keep the chill off as well.
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    Our last morning greeted us with more great weather the freezing temps made keeping the meat easy and I stashed it high in a tree. We ate a hearty breakfast and made really to return to spike camp to recover the last of our gear. We made good time up with only one near empty pack .

    It seemed that it was only getting colder and when we got to spike camp and packed up the last of the gear we had no choice but to pack down our frozen water bladders full because they were frozen. We made it back to base camp at 4:30pm and called Andrews, I had called the day before and filled them in on our situation and they said to call as soon as we were ready and they would come. True to their word they showed up 45 minutes after our call.

    We loaded up the Beaver and returned to Kodiak. By now Becca had made her way back to Anchorage and had surgery to set and repair her leg. Andrews gave us a ride to the hotel and we changed our tickets to fly out the next morning. I rented a car and we headed to town for a hot meal after we washed off all the goat stink from us.


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    We were up early our last morning on Kodiak and headed over to check in and to send our extra gear back air cargo. In the airport we met a fellow forum Brother "Chris" that was a great help in getting our gear straight. Luke and I shared the flight to Anchorage and said our goodbyes there as he headed off to see Becca.
    I reflected back on my time with Luke and Becca, even though we faced some hardship we still shared an adventure of a lifetime. Every time I look at “Dale in the shale” as Luke named our goat I will remember the bond the 3 of us shared on the mountain. That Becca is an awesome Huntress in training, Luke better buy a bigger house for all the trophies they will both bring home in the future. I simply can’t find the words to express how much it meant to me to share their hunt and thank them enough for allowing me an opportunity to harvest such a magnificent trophy. I wish Becca a speedy recovery. I invited her and Luke for a bear hunt this spring so I sincerely pray that she is up and dancing in no time at all.

    I say a very special thanks to the Coast Guard, and all those that answer a call in need, God Bless them for what they do. You call they haul, that’s for sure!!! I never take that for granted. Thanks to Trooper Powel, The Kodiak PD, and to Mr Townsend the CG dispatcher. God bless you all.

    Steve
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    Thumbs up thru thick and thin

    Great hunt report, pictures, and story. Looking forward to more updates on Becca's progress. I too had heard of her chopper ride and had been looking forward to hearing the details on here. Its a small world.

    Some hunts it hits the fan; no way around it. Your experience was to support each other and literally save a hunting partner's life. Brings back memories - good ones - Thanks.

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    Member STEELHED's Avatar
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    I hope Becca is recovering. Sounds like quite an adventure. Way to be prepared and you did what you had to do to get her to safety.
    Kuddos to the "coasties" also for doing what they do better than anyone!!! I hope I never meet any of you!!!

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    You three should be very proud of yourselves. You can't handle that situation any better. I hope she has a speedy return to the goat mountains. Thank goodness you did not cripple yourself up when you fell.
    I can't imagine the feeling of seeing your wife/friend lifted away into the darkness.... I can't believe the attitudes you guys seemed to keep through the trip. I am seriously impressed and give you much respect.
    Cheers
    Jason

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