I speak to a lot of people who say they want to hunt mountain goats, but I think quite often they like the idea of hunting them more so than the reality. Why do I say that? Well first off, you have a limited number of places you can hunt mountain goats, and even fewer where you can hunt trophy goats with great coats, so even if you don’t care about getting a trophy class goat you are still faced with playing the lottery in the lower 48 or you are paying a fairly substantial amount to go on a guided hunt in Canada or Alaska. So you want to do it yourself and put in for the draws? First you have to decide if you just want to draw any old tag, or if you want to have a chance at a mature billy, let alone an area that may have trophy goats. Then you have to start researching states like WA, ID, MT, CO and UT to figure out how much its going to cost you to play the draws, what the draw odds are for the different hunts, what the trophy potential is of the different hunts, what is the terrain like in a given area, what logistics will be required if you draw a tag, how far in is the hunt area, and on and on.
These are all things you have to consider because each and every piece of information and decision you make will determine how long it may take to draw, how much time, effort and money you will expend if you do draw. But, this is just trying to figure out where to apply, it may be years and years before you draw a coveted tag, what then? Now you have to worry about physical preparation (people call goats the poor man’s sheep hunt, well I have hunted sheep and goats and I can honestly say that they are both incredibly demanding, but Goats definitely take the cake for living in rougher terrain, so when hunting goats there is no such thing as being in too good of shape), pouring over topo maps-google earth, talking to wildlife biologists, game wardens, past hunters, figuring out logistics, scouting, figuring out what gear and equipment you need, researching gear and equipment, purchasing gear and equipment, finding out you have too much gear and equipment, etc, etc. This can be overwhelming to a lot of people, especially if you are not an experienced backcountry/mountain hunter. Don’t get me wrong, I think anyone who is focused and committed can successfully take on a mountain hunt, but most people who don’t live and hunt this type of terrain on a regular basis just don’t realize how much preparation goes into this type of hunting.
I can and probably will write a more detailed article about mountain hunting in the future, but my goal here is to help you understand the challenges that go along with Mountain Hunting and Mountain Goat Hunting in particular so you can figure out what the best option is for you.
So on to option 2, hiring an outfitter. This can be just as overwhelming and nerve wracking as trying to do it on your own, you are trading out some risks (like logistics, scouting, talking to biologists, etc) for other risks, mainly spending a goodly amount of your hard earned money to end up on a hunt that doesn’t live up to expectations or worse that just flat sucks. So instead of having to research hunt units, draw odds, etc, you will need to research outfitters, what kind of animals are they taking, what style of hunts do they provide (horseback, back pack, vessel based), what kind of accommodations (lodge, boat, cabins, tent, spike tent), what time of year do they hunt, what is the total cost of the hunt, what is included, what isn’t included, don’t forget to check with the Outfitters Association to see whether or not they have any violations (if they even disclose that information), how do you reserve your hunt, what happens if you have to cancel, and on and on. So now you have a hunt booked, well now it is time to prepare, just like above, physical, gear, travel, etc.
So as you can see either way you go there can be a lot of stress, time, effort and cost that goes into chasing a hunt of lifetime like Mountain Goat. However, there are a couple of things you can do to make things somewhat easier on yourself. If you are looking to draw a tag and do it yourself, more power to you, but you may want to look at using a resource like Eastman’s Hunting Journal and their MSR hunt research, or Garth Carter and the Hunting Fool or look to sites like www.al2itudeoutdoors.com. These guys spend a ton of time and effort breaking down the different draw units, draw odds, and a service like the Hunting Fool or a site like al2itude can usually get you in touch with prior hunters, packers, etc to help you more quickly prepare in the event you draw a tag.
If you are more inclined to go the guided hunt route, one of the best ways to find great outfitters and take a lot of the stress out of booking a great hunt is to use a high quality Adventure/Hunting Consultant like Outdoors International and a few others. Companies like Outdoors International spend tens of thousands of dollars and thousands of hours researching outfitters, vetting them and making sure that when they book you on that hunt of a lifetime it will be just that.
So if you are looking for the Mountain Goat hunt of a lifetime, give us a call, we are here to help.