Currently planning my first ever stone sheep hunt in northern BC. As I’m going through gear, I reminisce about where I got started in the mountains back in 2012. I had just moved to the town of Smithers British Columbia. I applied for mountain goats in basically the backyard. An hour drive I was at the trailhead.
I had never hunted the Smithers area before, let alone mountain goats. I wouldn’t have anyone to show me the ropes or tell me where to go. The area I applied was close, with good odds. Past experience with other animals, high odds meant difficult access or low success rate.
I had my application in, but wouldn’t know if I would have the draw for a couple more weeks. It wasn’t too early to start scouting though. June 3, 2012, I went for my first Sunday drive. Snow had kept me from the area until June 22. Even then it was tricky.
I made my way up a creek bed that was packed full of snow. Hiking up and avoiding the dead devil’s club stems that still retained their thorns, but had dropped their leaves 8 months earlier, was pretty easy going until I actually started going up the mountain.
The hill was steep and the snow was hard. I just had my film camera, day pack, a bottle of Gatorade and a tin of Copenhagen. Hiking poles would have been ideal at this point. However, I just had to kick my toes into the compact summer snow. Just as I was nearing the top, I cut some grizzly tracks.
“I best start bringing some sort of bear protection,” I thought to myself.
I got up the hill a couple more steps and my footing didn’t hold. My feet were sliding down the snow. I tried laying back on my pack to try and stop myself. No luck Charlie on this one. I was headed down the hill at a good clip. Riding this one out was my only option. I did manage to somewhat steer myself by digging my heels in. By the time I was able to stop, I had dodged the few trees in my path and was now back in the timber.
Even though a second run up the hill would be easier with my footholds already kicked in, it was getting later and I wasn’t prepared for an overnighter… So back home it was.
4 days later, June 26, 2012, I got an envelope in the mail saying I got my goat draw! August 1st opener that would run to the end of February. July 2nd would be the next time I would make it out.
Hunting forums didn’t have any info on my area. However… hiking and backcountry groups are not afraid to cough up info on anything and everything. One ski group talked about a trail going up one part of the mountain. The hiking club had a map to another trailhead.
I picked up the trailhead that the ski group was talking about. It wasn’t a bad hike. Steep, but relatively short. I got to the first flat area before the fog rolled in too much. I built up a small rock wall with attached firepit. Looked like a good spot to camp in the future. More I could get prepared now, the more it would save me for August 1. After I got my foundation set up for camp, the fog started to really roll back in. I made my way back to my vehicle
As scouting went on, I found out that my actual hunting time would be limited to weekends. Best friend’s wedding, trade shows for work, moose draw and a move were all going to take up time. On a side note… I’d much rather go goat hunting over moose hunting now!
So I only had a few weeks left before the opener. I wanted to see more countryside before then. So July 15 I got back up the mountain. Went to check out another new spot and do a trial run on some gear. First mountain hunt, I best make sure my gear would be up for the weekend warrior outings I would have. There’s nothing like trying new foods in the backcountry. In particular, Coleman freeze dried meals. I don’t like calling out products, but this is not backpacking food.
Stay tuned for more of the story and invaluable tips. Next up my rookie season part one.