MT Mountain Goat

MTClacka

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 10, 2012
Messages
98
Location
Montana
I wasn't sure if I was going to post about my goat hunt, but after reading through the other goat thread thought that this place could use some positive vibes. Just to get it out of the way, my tent remained unshanked for the duration of the hunt...

I was fortunate to draw a unit in the Beartooth's that was fairly close to home, and that I was a little familiar with. Although I had never looked for goats up there, I have hiked and fished some of the trail systems, and had a decent idea of where to start. A couple of buddies shared some intel that confirmed my ideas, so I narrowed down the area that I would plan to scout and hunt.

I made a total of 4 scouting trips into the unit this summer with most of those being perched on a ledge behind the glass for hours on end. I'm pretty sure I saw just about every animal that lives in that unit except for a mountain goat. In fact, the only goats that were seen in those 4 trips happened to be residing in Wyoming. It was still neat to watch them, and one thing I learned was just how easily they can disappear in the rocks.
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I saw sheep every time I went up there, but never laid eyes on a ram.
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Some more scouting pics. This one might be a dead giveaway...

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I decided pretty early on that I would hunt the opener on September 15. I knew waiting would improve the hair situation, but I already had obligations for the end of the month that I really didn't want to have to miss. On top of that, I didn't want to risk the potential of getting weathered out. All of the areas I was planning to hunt were at or above 10k, and at the time felt that waiting past Oct 1 could be a gamble. My 2 priorities were to have a great experience, and to not screw up and shoot a nanny.

My buddy and I went up 2 days before the opener, and planned to spend 6 days to find a billy.

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We get to our first glassing point that evening, and within a minute my buddy picks up 2 goats... I couldn't believe it! I had glassed that same drainage several times throughout the summer, even the week before, and it was void of goats. Now we are looking at 2, which right away seem like they are billies. 1 is up feeding in the rocks, and the other is several hundred yards away bedded on a flat.

The image quality sucks because they are about 2 miles away at this point.

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The next morning we head up to get closer to the goats and set up camp. I picked up this Argali Absaroka for this hunt, and am super impressed with it. Incredibly light and simple to set up.

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Once camp is set, we hike another mile or so to a point that overlooks the drainage the 2 goats were in. Right away we pick up both goats relatively close to where we left them the night before. At this distance I can quickly identify both as billies. One of the billies I recognize from my summer "Instagram" scouting. This goat was quite photogenic when he was spending the summer on the Wyoming side, and very easy to recognize. The other billy moved up and over the top of the rim within a couple minutes of us getting set up, so I didn't get any pics of him. One thing we both agreed on was that the other billy looked larger bodied than the broken horn goat.

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We watched the broken horn goat until an hour or so before dark. He seemed pretty content in the cliffs, which isn't surprising. No predators could get to him in that spot, including me. We were both low on water, so we took advantage of the only water we could find and filled up a couple days worth out of the rocks.

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Back at camp that night, we tried to come up with a game plan since the next morning was opening day. We decided to go back to the same glassing point and find both goats. If they were in the cliffs, we would basically watch them to see if they work their way out to the top. Killing a goat in the cliffs wouldn't be a problem, but retrieving it, or should I say retrieving the pieces left, would be. The other thing is that we were looking at 2 completely different looking goats. Do you pursue the goofy unique billy, or the classic looking goat? As cool and unique as the broken horn goat was, I had decided that depending on the opportunity given, I would probably go for the normal looking goat. Either way, I was stoked to have found 2 billies, and to have basically put them to bed before the opener. Sleep didn't come easy that night...

Opening morning we're up eating some freeze dried and drinking instant mexican espresso. I wasn't in a huge hurry because to get to our point, we would have to cross an open flat that the disappearing goat from the night before would've went across. I wanted to wait until daylight so we could glass all of that ahead of time in case he was still in that area. We threw our packs on, and started hiking. About 50 yards into the hike, my buddy grabs my pack and about takes me off my feet. I turn around, and it's obvious he either sees a goat, or we're about to be munched on by a grizz. I turn where he's looking and there's the billy from the night before bedded about 500 yards from us. The billy sees us, but there's enough vegetation and distance between us, he isn't immediately alarmed. We back up into the trees to get out of view and get the spotter on him to make sure he's a he.

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I couldn't believe how the situation unfolded. This billy had worked his way from the gnarly cliffy terrain he was in the day before, and ended up in a grassy, totally accessible drainage about 500 yards from our tent. I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity. We waited until he moved out of sight, and I was able to sneak up along a brush line at the top of the drainage until I was 260 yards away. I had to wait a few minutes as he slowly worked his way down the rocks and slope.

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He finally turned broadside, and I put one in his shoulder. He basically launched off the rock he was on and ran down the hill a short ways before rolling out of sight. It was 8am on opening morning, and I had just punched my goat tag.
 
There is nothing like when a hunt comes together so perfect. The abrupt end is always a whirlwind though. Looks like an Awesome goat!
 
After the dust settled, we decided to head back to camp and pack it all up. The last I saw of the goat, he was rolling pretty quickly, and I realized the slope was a lot steeper than I thought. I was thinking he likely rolled quite a ways down, and it would be easier for us to hike our camp down to the bottom of the drainage, dump our packs, then hike up to the goat. So that's what we did. Here we are dumping our packs with damn near everything we brought in with us. Didn't expect it to end so quickly.

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Heading back up the drainage, and I honestly expected to find the goat right near the tree line.

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Turns out he had held up on a slightly flatter spot, maybe 20 yards from where I last saw him tumbling. So much for hoping he rolled all the way to the bottom. He's that white spot just under the rocks.

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4 hours after pulling the trigger, we made it to the goat. First thing's first.

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We took a few pictures, then got to work. He's a 4.5 year old billy that to be honest, I misjudged a bit as I thought he was older. They are incredibly difficult to judge, that's for sure. With that said, I am extremely thankful for this goat, and the opportunity to be able to hunt them so close to home and in that incredible wilderness. I wouldn't change any part of it. Well, maybe would've made the hunt last a couple extra days so I could've burned through all the food we ultimately had to pack back out.

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Excellent, congratulations on the tag and a short but sweet hunt!
 
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