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"Easy" Montana Mountain Goat Hunt

BigHornRam

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 15, 2004
Messages
9,198
Location
"Land of Giant Rams"
I have been truly blessed over the years drawing big 3 tags. My one and only goat tag came 20 years ago. At 57 years old and having dealt with some typical getting old health issues in the last couple years, this years draw strategy was easy. Put in for the low odds, "easy" goat unit. When FWP said I was successful, I was shocked!
Four hunts totaling 12 days, covering over 100 miles and approximately 23,000 feet of climbing. I pushed myself beyond anything I thought possible going into this hunt. Best of all I got to explore some fantastic new mountain territory in Southwest Montana.

One of several scouting trips this summer with my wife and dogs.
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Watching a big group of goats move easily through the rocks on my first hunt. Unknown to me at the time, the rocks in the upper right part of photo was going to be revisited later in the hunt.
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Dry conditions on second hunt made finding goats difficult. Picture from snowpatch in saddle compared to scouting photo. Water was almost none existent in the high country.
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Third hunt got some much needed precipitation but turned up zero goats.
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BigHornRam

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 15, 2004
Messages
9,198
Location
"Land of Giant Rams"
Hunt # 4

Got up early Saturday morning and made the trip over to my unit. A four plus hour drive from my Bitterroot home. Did some glassing from my truck while eating lunch. Afternoon I hiked up a trail a couple miles and worked up to a ridge to checkout a basin. Immediately spotted a goat on top of the mountain two miles away, and set up my spotting scope.
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Goat walked across the ridge top to another goat where a fight broke out. One goat pounded the other into the dirt, then chased it at full speed across the ridge then down the mountain to a small grass patch. Then they started feeding together like nothing ever happened. Too late and too far to get to them, I knew where I was going to be in the morning.

Got up early next, had breakfast, and started 6 mile hike in with headlamp. About 4 miles in, I passed a recent elk carcass, and a quarter mile later passed some fresh grizzly tracks. Great!
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A little further along and the trail petered out and the climbing started for real. Got to a snowy opening with fresh elk tracks everywhere, and the same day old grizzly track. Spotted two bucks up high, one appeared to be nice from a distance. No goats though.

Worked my way along the edge of the timber and the mountain, glassing everywhere. Finally located a goat bedded on a ridge about one mile away. He got up and started feeding his way down the ridge. He is skylined here in the middle of this picture.
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If I hustle, maybe can get to the ridge in front of him. Just before getting trough the last patch of timber, I catch a glimpse of a goat about 400 yards a head. Broke through the timber and nothing. Got to the ridge, and nothing but goat tracks in the snow. 20201101_113132.jpg
 

BigHornRam

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 15, 2004
Messages
9,198
Location
"Land of Giant Rams"
Sat down and started glassing, snacked on some cashews and dried fruit, then texted my wife to let her know how things were going. After awhile decided to move down the ridge a little from my pack to get a better view.
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Was glassing along the ridge looking at the goat tracks when suddenly my binocular glass was completely full of billie goat at 30 yards! Crap! My rifle was back at my pack!

Crawled back to get my rifle and the goat fed down out of sight in the dip in the ridge line. Crawled back towards the goat till I could finally see him. 50 yards away and feeding.

Decided I would shoot if I got a broadside shot when he was facing left towards the less steep side of the ridge. He turned and I shot.

Of course he wheeled around and walked out to the steep north side of the ridge, mortally wounded. He laid down then rolled out of sight. I moved up the ridge to see him hung up on a ledge, about 100 feet below. Called my wife and told her I shot a goat, but he's in a bad spot. I'm going to try to get down to him and will call you back when I do..
 

BigHornRam

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 15, 2004
Messages
9,198
Location
"Land of Giant Rams"
Worked my way down to the goat and accessed the situation. Not ideal!
20201101_131947.jpg
I started to break him down and several times, I thought him, me, or both of us was going off the cliff. I tossed the meat up on a little bigger ledge above me where I was going to have to pass on my way out. Carried the cape and made made my way up to that ledge where I could load my pack. The trip back up to ridge top was pucker factor 5 that's all I can say.

Getting my pack ready to get off the mountain and drinking the last of my water, I looked up the ridge to see 6 billies coming over to my side!
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Looked at them quickly, but only had an hour and a half of sunlight left to get off the mountain and down to the creek bottom. Made it to creek just in time, and then put on the headlamp to work my way down from there.

Passed the grizzly tracks from the morning and was so tired I thought he needs to come back and put me out of my misery! Still had a ways to go to get to running water and was running on empty. Finally got to water and by 8 pm had to stop.

Found a spot in the trees with some firewood. Built a fire, ate and rehydrated, and rested up. Think I even dozed a bit. Life is good again!
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By 4:30 I was ready to finish the last 3 plus miles out with help from the headlamp and an almost full moon. By 6:30 I was back at my truck and camp, a little over 24 hours since leaving.

Billie was 9 1/4" × 5 1/4" and 4 or 5 years old. Couldn't have asked for better hunt! Thank you Montana for giving me the opportunity!
 

MT_elk

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 2, 2012
Messages
2,690
Location
MT
Congrats! I believe the title may be a bit misleading! I don't think there is such a thing as an 'easy' mountain goat hunt! Glad you were able to score on a great goat and made it out safely!
 

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