I have hunted elk in the Southern Kootenai area just North of Cranbrook, British Columbia for the last two seasons. While on those hunts I saw many, many mountain goats. It has always been a dream of mine to hunt a BC mountain goat.
On this trip I was a little further North of where I had hunted previously because I had heard about the tremendous Boone and Crockett potential quality that comes from this rugged country. I heard it was a little rougher and as I drove into the area felt like the words “little rougher” were an understatement. I actually felt intimidated on the way in. I had a client coming along as well, I think we both were a little bug-eyed as we wound our way into the lodge.
Evening one found us on a “little stroll” to glass for goats (I think the outfitter was placating my “lets get out there ways” request). Of course, we spot a goat. He was especially, and unusually low, and the hunt was on. My plan was to take my goat with a bow and after fighting alders and scaling up through a few shoots I wondered what I was thinking having a bow in my hands. The guide was packing a rifle for bear protection; they can’t carry pistols, (what a silly-ass Canadian law). In the back of my mind I knew I had a back up plan if I had a goat that I couldn’t get into bow range. Long story short on evening one, we got cliffed out and just couldn’t get to him in time. We had a two hour “wake up call” climb.
I thought, because I have spent so much time in the country, I knew what I was getting myself into, but honestly, I didn’t. You just don’t know what it’s like walking where mountain goats live until you walk in their tracks.
Day two, was a full assault on the goat we had seen the night before. We went in a route that would take us above him as he seemed to be feeding his way up into a upper basin. It took about 4 hrs to get up there and was steep, but manageable because we took our time. We came prepared to stay overnight, with camp and food, at elevation. The plan worked perfectly but instead of coming in above him, we came in below his bedding spot (and spooked him), on an insane, cliff knob, where he quickly made us look like fools in our feeble attempt to follow. My camera man, Bryce and I both called a halt to the climb after him, because we had both about poo’d ourselves on our first look back over our shoulder looking how far we would fall if our holds broke loose.
We stayed the night to look again the next day, but never saw him again. On our hike out, we got four inches of new snow. We took our time and made our way down and back down to the lodge where we rested up and made a game plan for the next day. So now were were on day four of day seven and starting to feel the pressure to be successful. We packed camp into a remote basin where we could glass the tops for goats. We got in there around 10 am and set up camp. We then hiked in deeper and set up to glass. After a few hours I spotted a goat very near the top (of course). By the time we saw him good enough to tell he was a billy (which is f’n hard from a mile), and knew where he was going to feed for the afternoon, it was 2 pm.
On day four, we started up the mountain for our third time. I knew this was the trip where I was going to get it done, rifle or bow…at this point it was about packing a goat back down off the mountain. It took us just short of three hours to get into his bowl and once we got there Tom, our guide relocated him. He was about 350 yards and we needed to close the additional 50 for a good shot angle. We dropped all our extra stuff (including the bow) to make our way in. He was feeding in an area where archery seemed impossible. We snuck in the last 50 yards to 300 and set up to shoot. He moved in behind a small scrub patch in the the bowl and bedded. We needed to get closer to see around the cover he was bedded in. We worked closer, and closer and closer, and by the time we were getting ready to peek over our last rock I thought about my bow laying 200+ yards down the mountain. As I poked over I saw the goat and he was about 70-80 yards away, and he saw us….CRAP! We quickly got the camera into position and I dropped three hunks of lead though his vitals in a flash. I reminded myself of a panicked 13 year old shooting his first deer.
My goat started rolling. and when it finally stopped I yelled at the top of my lungs in victory, feeling like I had truly tested myself to a level I didn’t know was possible.
My client who was there with me stated that this was the best hunt of his life… and his goat did go Boone and Crockett! I would have to agree for me it was definitely up there, on my list as well.