With Tranquilizer’s successful hunt out of the way, it was my turn.
I geared up for a light hike to check an area I haven’t really been in, but have been keeping my eye on. A couple of members on a local hunting forum both basically said: “go here”. One was even kind enough to pinpoint on a map the exact spot I should look. So I packed a spotting scope, rifle, knife, tin of Copenhagen and a bottle of Gatorade, and I was off.
I took a look at a canyon to the east of me that ran north-south. There was timber on the east side of it and the west side. I guess the goats hang out in the timber there. But just to the west of that is some alders and then a big granite face. The granite has some small runoff creeks going through it. It also has a huge gorge running east-west along the bottom of it. If one was to fall in this gorge, James Franco wouldn’t have a movie to star in. Maybe Michelle Joyner would have a part or that raccoon from Ace Ventura.
I head up the alders just west of the canyon. The fog was rolling in and out. I was starting to get closer to the snow line and I happened to look to the far west side of the granite slope. I caught something that just didn’t look right and busted out the spotting scope. There was a goat looking over at me. I tried to make out if it was a billy or a nanny, but was too far away to say for sure. It was a do-or-die weekend for me, so I figured I at least had to get closer. As the fog rolled in again, I packed everything up and made my approach.
I used the fog and creeks for cover while going across the granite. When the fog lifted I got low in a little creek hollow and pulled out my spotting scope to take a look. The goat was in the same spot looking at me, head on still. It was still too far to say for sure if it was a billy or nanny, but it started to look promising. The fog rolled in again and, once again, I packed up and started working the creeks hoping they would cover my sound.
About 15 minutes later the fog lifted, again and again, I hunkered down. I peeked over the top and the goat was still there looking at me. Spotting scope up and now I was a little more sure that I could make the shot. Looking at the goat head on, I was sure it was a billy, but not 100%. On top of that, I didn’t really have a good angle on it. So I waited for the fog to roll in again.
It didn’t take long until I had my cover and I was off up the hill again. The fog lifted unexpectedly, and I dropped behind some cover. I looked around but I couldn’t see a goat. Then I caught some movement behind some alders. I grabbed Vanessa (browning x-bolt 325wsm) out of my pack and ditched the pack. I needed my hands and feet to get up a little higher than the goat. The goat started to move out from behind the alders. I found a flatter rock I could sort of lean against, as I didn’t have my pack or anything for a good rest.
The goat was just now clearing the alders and I was lined up. As it came out it was broadside and I was sure it was a billy. I lined up and sent a 200-grain accubond down range.
The goat hobbled a bit but was still standing so I lined up and fired again. This time there was a big thud. The goat took two steps back behind the alders and fell over. I sat there for a few moments and watched it and then went back and gathered the rest of my gear. By this time it was 1 pm.
I had to head back down and over to the east side of the granite, then up to the top, across to the west side, down a bit and back up. This took me an hour. But during this time I started to replay what went down in my head. Then doubt of whether it was a billy or not started to creep in. Everything I read about judging goats and all the goats I’ve watched said it was a billy. Wide bases, gradually curved horns, dirty patch on his rump, big shoulder told me it was a billy; but the horns seemed a little long. Maybe the bases weren’t as heavy as I thought. Maybe it was a nanny. I just wanted to get to the goat and make sure.
I found the blood trail in the snow and looked up to see a goat face looking at me. All I could think was “Sully, you son of a…”. The goat was only 10 yards away through alders. I climbed up a little higher, with my rifle in hand to get a better view. Just as I got a clear line of sight, the goat jumped up. At the same time, I got my rifle up and put the last round into it.
I finally got to put my hands on my first billy goat gruff. He wasn’t in an ideal spot to work on, though. I unhooked him from the alders and he went sliding down the hill. Almost slid down behind him, but I held on to the vegetation. I got back to my feet and climbed down to him. He still wasn’t in a great spot, and letting gravity pack him off the mountain seemed a lot better than hiking him down. So I carefully played Goat-Plinko down the hill until he ended up out of the snow. Then I had my photo session around 4:00 pm.
With only a little daylight left, I had to get off the mountain because I was not equipped for an overnight. I deboned him as best/quick as I could. Loaded up some meat and started my way down via headlamp. I didn’t really want to leave the cape and skull behind – or at least near the rest of the carcass – but it was my only option.
I grabbed some string and ran it along the length of the horn and cut it to length. Then I wrapped a piece around the base and cut it to length. I put the two pieces of string in my pocket and left the skull and cape behind.
By now it was pitch black and the fog had moved in. I had to travel five feet at a time. I also knew below me somewhere -not very far- was a big death gorge. So I slowly picked my way over to some alders. Climbed down those until I ran out. Every step was calculated and I made sure it wasn’t more than two feet down to my next step. When I ran out of alders, I’d go up the other side until I could cross over to more alders.
At the one point, I ran out of alders, there was only another granite face about 10 feet wide. On the other side, I could see cedar trees. I held onto the alders and reached out with my leg and found a footing. Couldn’t reach the cedar branch on the far side. I couldn’t reach back to the alders either. I also didn’t know what was below me. At this point, I was getting pretty tempted to hit the SOS on my Spot.
I could almost reach the cedar branch. So I made a big leap of faith to try and grab the branch. I got a hold of it but couldn’t hang on. Slipped off and down I went. I slid maybe 10 feet into vegetation again. Vegetation that ended up being at the bottom of the hill I was trying to get off of. I didn’t even try to find the trail out. Just made a straight beeline through the trees back to the road and came out 20 yards from the vehicle around 10 PM.
I saw the measuring tape in the cup holder and remembered about the string in my pocket. Put them against the tape; 10-inch length and 5.5-inch base. Obviously not official, but bigger than anything I hoped for.
Beat up from the initial pack, I went back in the daylight and packed out the skull and cape. After I got home, Al, who pointed me where to go, came over and helped me cape out the skull. We put a tape to the horns – went conservative with the measurements – and got a final score being 53 4/8 inches! I got my goat!