Montana 316 Mountain Goat - 2022 Mountain Adventure

samuel_284Win

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 27, 2018
Messages
120
Location
Bozeman, MT
Day 2 of Hunting, Day 5 of Trip (Sept 2)

After we woke up at first light and had some breakfast we began to pack up camp and prepare for our trek into Lost Creek. We cached extra gear in an indiscriminate location near where we had camped, as we realized the previous day that there were items that we just didn’t need duplicates of such as each person carrying a tripod for binos, certain medical gear, etc…. Our goal for the day was to make it into Lost Creek, set up camp, and maybe relocate the big billy that had left the Wolverine creek area that we were so keen on killing.

We began by following the hunters' trail up to the saddle that sits on the park boundary just north of Wolverine Peak, gaining 600 ft. of elevation of the pass. Just before arriving at the saddle, we ran into a group of four guys, one of which was an older gentleman (68 years old I believe) that was a fellow tag holder and had killed a goat in Lost Creek on opening day. He took what looked to be a nice 6ish-year-old billy. Super cool to see someone that had applied for 35 years finally draw a goat tag and take a beautiful billy. I knew based on the time he killed and the time that the billy I was after went up and over into Lost Creek that his goat was not the same as the one I was after. My parents and I continued to the saddle and took our packs off for what we knew would be an “interesting” ridge walk toward the start of the Lost Creek drainage. The hunters' trail that runs the ridge from the Wolverine Peak saddle to the start of the Lost Creek drainage is not for the faint of heart, that is to say, I would never go day hike this ridge “just for fun”. We slowly began to work our way along the ridge. To say that I was not somewhat scared of that 1000 yards would be a lie. Being day 5 of the trip, the physical and mental fatigue was starting to creep up, but nothing that we couldn’t get through. Little did we know that the “sketchiest” parts of the ridge were the very first and last hilltop, so we began to sidehill the last 1/3 of the ridge, not knowing that we should have just continued on the hunters' trail, which was more of an actual goat trail as tracks and scat were fairly abundant throughout the entire 1000 yards.

We finally made it to the head of the Lost Creek drainage, which at this point we were all getting dehydrated, even though each of us has already gone through 2 liters of water since leaving our morning campsite. We picked our way down one of the finger ridges off the ridge towards Lost Creek to find a camp spot and filter liter upon liter of water. Once we made it to the water we dumped our packs, pulled our water kits and electrolyte packets, and began to quench our thirst. My gosh, that water tasted amazing!!! We spent probably a whole hour with our boots off sipping on water and regaining our strength. At this point, it is about 5 pm and we have about 2.5 hours of good glassing light so we found a good spot for the tipi and started to empty the gear of our packs. To be efficient with time, Tim and Regena stayed at the tipi for the rest of the legal light to establish camp and find a good spot to hang our food bags.

I took off with my rifle on the pack and carried our spotting scope on a tripod to the nearest finger ridge and gained about 250 ft. elevation and maybe 0.75 miles from camp to glass for the remainder of the evening. After working my way among and through the sea of deadfall I found a good spot where I could glass both sides of the drainage to Cuttoff Mtn, which is about 3 miles straight-line distance at this point. Within about 10 minutes of glassing, I find 3 goats about 0.75 miles away from me on the next prominent mountain. At this point I only have about 45ish minutes of legal light and knew right away I would never have enough time to make a play on these goats with the amount of deadfall and elevation I would have to navigate. I set up the spotting scope to see if there was a billy in this group, as maybe I already mentioned before but I had decided well before coming on the hunt that I would eat my tag before shooting a nanny, mostly based on the arguments and reasoning presented in ‘A Beast the Color of Winter’ by Douglas Chadwick.

I thought that I could make out that one of the goats was indeed a billy, but was not completely sure. So I watched them feed from left to right across a small gravel slope, feeding on small forbs, just above the tree line and they continued to feed around the curve of the mountain and out of sight. It's now past the legal shooting light so I work my way back to camp and inform my parents that there are possibly huntable goats not too far from camp. We decided that we would get up early and make our way back to the same glassing knob to try and relocate the group of goats I had just spotted this evening.
 
Last edited:

Bukfvr

New member
Joined
May 29, 2021
Messages
6
Fellow HT members,

Yesterday I was given a gift by MT FWP in the form of an MT Goat tag in Unit 316. The only species that I have so far dedicated myself to have been deer and elk (bow and rifle) and have never hunted any of the Big Three species. I welcome any and all information, tips, and tactics for pursuing mountain goats, especially if you have had the tag in this unit in previous years. I would like to create this thread into an ongoing story, much like @LopeHunter shared with us in 2020. As of right now, all options are on the table for me, from using stock to everything on my back and maybe even using snowmobiles.

If you have had this tag, or any goat tag, and live in the Bozeman, MT area, please reach out via direct message. I would love the opportunity to ask questions and share stories over a cold drink.

The gears in my mind have not stopped turning since I viewed my draw result yesterday. Looking forward to this experience and am ready to put in the work.

Thank you all in advance!
Get a hold of Tessa Fowler on Facebook. She spends a lot of time in that country photographing goats and sheep. She seems to be a great person and enjoys helping hunters.
I had a goat tag last year and one thing I can say is don't expect them to be in the same place one day to the next!! They move around a lot more than I expected. I would find goats in the evenings and think I could locate them the next day or a couple of days later, only to not be able to. Also, they will use both sides of a ridge in good weather but once a good snow hits they will concentrate on a West facing side.
Didn't read the threads so hopefully you already got a goat. If not, good luck!!
 

samuel_284Win

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 27, 2018
Messages
120
Location
Bozeman, MT
Day 3 of Hunting, Day 6 of Trip (Sept 3)

With a game plan in place, we set out for the glassing knob, arriving just after first light. From the position that I had glassed the evening prior we could not be for sure that the group of three goats was not just further up the half-moon bowl that curves towards YNP. (The ridge line to our compass south is the boundary between YNP and FS wilderness) We worked our way through deadfall hell another 350 yards from my evening glassing spot and found a somewhat level spot to glass from and enjoy a morning cup of coffee with our personally preferred Quest or Cliff Bar. After a bit of glassing, we could make out nanny/kid pairs scattered about the north-facing slopes about 1 mile from Cutoff Mtn, which was encouraging but not what we were hoping for in such a prime spot given my conversations with others and FWP biologists. We continued to glass, tinker with gear, snack and make another cup of coffee. I got up to reposition myself about 6ft to my left to get a different glassing angle (really just burning time at this point and trying to keep myself occupied and keep my head in the game) and moved my foam butt pad to a deadfall log and sat down to glass more. Within minutes of changing my glassing position, I see the same group of goats from the evening prior working their way around the mountain back to their gravel slide, exactly the reverse path of how they fed away in the evening. We quickly packed up our gear in case there was indeed a billy. We moved the spotting scope to study the goat that I thought was a billy. After a couple of minutes of watching, I determined that I was 90% sure it was a billy but needed to get closer.

IMG_2053.jpg
Waiting for the goats to come back to their gravel slide that I had spotted them on the previous evening.

On go the packs, trekking poles at the ready, here we go down the runoff chute to close the distance! We descended 200 ft. elevation in a matter of minutes. Many times it was a controlled ski/slide maneuver as I was jacked up to finally be making a play on a mountain goat! Once we got to the bottom of the chute we crested a small roll in the finger ridge and eased our way up to the next burm, which should be about 200 yards from the goats. We took our packs off about 15 yards from the top, ear plugs in, range finder out, and my Howa 1500 @Big Fin edition in 300 WinMag in hand. I stuffed my puffy in an FHF gear bag for a front shooting bag and had my RuggedRidge rear bipod for rear support. I eased to the top of the burm first to locate the goats and setup prone for a shot. At first, I did not see the goats as they had moved up the slope slightly from where I last spotted them just before diving off the chute. The big nanny spotted me and returned to feeding with the other two goats. I then rolled to my left about 6-8 ft. to a small piece of deadfall to set up my shooting position. I placed my FHF bag on the deadfall, which provided a perfect front rest, and then set up my rear support. Tim moved into position to my right about 10 ft. with the spotting scope to get digiscope footage of the goats and the shot. Regena moved to the tree just behind me to also film.

I ranged the group of goats at 180 yards. I dialed my elevation turret to the MOA hash for 200 yards. Through the scope on 10x power I confirmed that yes, the goat I thought was a billy from the glassing knob is indeed a billy! At this point, I had given up on trying to relocate the big billy that possessed us for the first half of this trip. Who knows, he might already be in YNP, hanging out with his other goat friends. So here I am, on day 6 of the trip, knowing that we have 1.5 days of food left and that whatever happens, we have to be making our way back to the truck probably tomorrow evening or the following morning. Did I want to make a return trip here with an ever-increasing chance of less-than-desirable weather? No, not really! Alright, here we go.

I took my time to control my breathing and I dry-fired twice as the billy stood broadside feeding with the old nanny and a sub-adult nanny. Now it is for real. Back comes the bolt and in goes a 180-grain Federal. I wait 10-15 seconds for the billy to clear the small nanny. He stops to continue feeding and turns broadside. Boom! He is still standing. Did I miss or did he just soak up that round? The goats are alert but they think a rock just explodes off the mountain on the gravel slide behind them. (Turns out that I must have missed just ~ 2inches high, most likely due to the angle and the illusion that his top line is higher than it is because of the tall hair that runs down his back, should have dialed to 150 yds to compensate for the angle, oops)

Out of habit and quality instruction at the range from Jake and Josh (shooting instructors with the Montana Master Hunter program), another round is already in the chamber and I am still locked in and steady in my prone position. The billy is now facing directly at me, a full-on frontal shot. I am comfortable and I don’t know if he is already hit, so following the direction of other goat hunters, Boom and Smack! Down goes the billy! He rolls about 15 yards down the slope, gives a couple of kicks, and rolls another 15 yards into a small evergreen, dead. I stay on him just in case he decides to get up but he was probably already dead by the time he rolled into the tree. Let's go!!!!! After grinding it out, having a big billy give us the slip, and contending with some serious terrain my first mountain goat is down. Celebration ensues and high-fives are given. This is a really special moment.

IMG_0382.JPEG

IMG_6946.jpg
A couple of minutes after the shot, getting my things back in order and soaking in the moment that my first goat is less than 200 yards away.

IMG_6964.jpg
IMG_6967.jpg
IMG_6969.jpg
IMG_6994.jpg

We get our packs and make our way down off the other side of the burm and up the gravel slide to the little patch of trees he rolled into. We moved him down the slope about 25 yards to a nice boulder for the required pictures and to notch my tag. A patch of 10 ft. tall evergreens paired with the afternoon shade of the mountain made a workable spot to carry out the full-body skinning process and quartering. We had a gentle afternoon breeze that quickly cooled the meat and hides. While letting the hide continue to cool in the shade we made short work of de-boning all quarters to lessen the load for the pack out. We strapped on the quarters and loaded up the hide into our packs and slowly picked our way back through deadfall hell. We rigged up some paracord to hang all the game bags from over Lost Creek to keep everything cool for the night.

Time to celebrate some. The remaining airplane bottles of bourbon are opened up after consuming one of the highest-calorie Peak Refuel meals after splitting some Mountain House lasagna as an appetizer. We went to bed with full bellies and full hearts.
 

Attachments

  • IMG_6972.jpg
    IMG_6972.jpg
    1.2 MB · Views: 24
Last edited:

BigHornRam

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 15, 2004
Messages
11,930
Location
"Land of Giant Rams"
Congrats on your goat! Getting to do a hunt like that with your parents is pretty neat. "Deadfall hell" is a great description for much of that country.🙂
 

samuel_284Win

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 27, 2018
Messages
120
Location
Bozeman, MT
Day 7 of Trip, The Packout (Sept 4)

We started our day at 5 am to break down camp, retrieve the meat and hide from our paracord system over Lost Creek, load up the game bags, and get somewhat up the drainage before the sun started to warm everything up. Even though we didn’t have a long trek to get past all the deadfall, damn it sure was a mental game of embracing the suck for all of us, especially with a goat enjoying a scenic ride in the pack. We picked our way up one of the finger ridges (gaining about 600 to 800 ft. of elevation from our campsite) to the head of Lost Creek drainage. When we got to the ridge we ran into a fellow tag holder. We spoke for about 10 minutes and then went our separate ways. We took a break before navigating the 1000-yard “ridge of death” goat trail back to Wolverine Peak saddle and the hunter's trail.

After learning to stick exactly to the goat trail on the ridge from our pack-in to Lost Creek our pack-out was much easier than expected but still sketchy. My OnX tracker said we navigated the ridge line at about 0.5 mph, which made sense as there were sections we sat on our butt and used our hands and feet to crawl across the scary parts. Ahhh, at last, the Wolverine Peak saddle! The last difficult thing to do is descend about 600 ft. of elevation down the primitive hunter's trail to Wolverine Pass (which FYI is filled with ultra crap rock and would be borderline dangerous to walk if wet or snow was present). We make it back down to our gear cache and take a final pack-off break to filter some water and eat a snack before hiking the final miles to the trucks. Crossing the final creek about 50 yards from the trucks after living in the wilderness for a whole week and coming back with a goat on our backs was one of the most satisfying things I have done yet.

After dealing with meat bags and the hide, jump-starting a truck, and changing into fresh clothes we opened up a 4/5ths pint bottle of House of Lords blended scotch that was bottled in the late 1960s that a friend had given me this spring, which I saved as the killing bottle for this trip. We all took big swigs straight out of the bottle, then promptly realized we hadn’t eaten much that day as the whiskey went straight to our heads.

We drove down Daisy pass road and went straight to the Soda Butte creek day-use area, fired up the portable propane grill, slapped on some burgers, and cracked a Rainer. We all ate 3 cheeseburgers a piece and the first beer didn’t last long. After relaxing for a bit, we got on the road and drove the Chief Joseph Hwy over the mountain to get us back to Montana. The next day we relaxed near a feeder stream that dumps into the Gallatin with our camp chairs in the water, smoked cigars, drank some red ale, and enjoyed more cheeseburgers. What a wonderful way to rest the body and finish off my first mountain goat trip.

Thank you to @LopeHunter @EYJONAS! @Gerald Martin for sharing information and things to consider when hunting goats. Thank you to fellow HT members for following this story. Hopefully, I have broken the 316 goat story curse for those of you that have been deprived of 316 stories in the past. I look forward to my next goat hunt and the opportunities I get to help others fill such a special tag.

Never lose the ridgeline” – Tim Koeshall

IMG_6997.jpg IMG_6998.JPEG IMG_7002.jpg 68341415591__FCEE8C9E-1705-4C80-9975-3D7CDE3D26D7.jpg
 

ZMT588

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 1, 2019
Messages
595
Location
Mt
Congratulations on the goat! Beautiful country up there!
 

Forum statistics

Threads
104,665
Messages
1,730,380
Members
32,718
Latest member
curhunter
Top