My good friend Brendan Burns, who manages KUIU...

My good friend Brendan Burns, who manages KUIU Professional Services, just returned from another epic hunt in Alaska. Hunting Mountain Goats in this section of the Chugach Range is darn near impossible as you will read below.  Putting gear through these types of conditions is what will continue to help raise the bar here at KUIU.  I asked Brendan to put together a photo essay for all of us to read.


This spring while on Kodiak Island glassing for bears I mentioned to Lance I wanted to hunt Mountain goat with my bow.   ” I got a goat hunt for you, but there is a great chance you dont get one. ” was his reply.
Throughout the summer Lance asked me several times ” Are you sure you want to do that hunt?  There are alot easier places to kill a goat.”
I was sure.  After waiting 23 years to have a goat tag in my pocket, any goat hunt was good enough.
It didn’t take a whole lot of convincing to talk my long time hunting buddy Matt True to join me on the hunt.
Always ready for a good adventure, this would be his first trip to Alaska. Lance only gave us one guarantee -it would be a tough hunt. After doing some research we found out the area we held  tags for had not given up a goat to a bowhunter in over a decade.  Not exactly the stats of a premier spot.   Long odds or not, we were going.
Our guide for the hunt was mountaineer and ice climber turned Freelance Oudoor Adventures goat specialist Bernie Babcock.(Nonresidents are legally required to have a guide to hunt Mountain Goat in Alaska). Not only can he pick a trail up a sheer face like no human Ive ever been around, he makes a pretty mean cup of coffee.

Our guide Bernie. As the beard indicates, 1/2 man 1/2 goat.

Headed for base camp


We initially concentrated on looking for a goat in a good place to stalk, but after thoroughly surveying the area and putting on a ton of miles in all directions, it was clear that was not going to happen. Goats were few and far between.

With a limited number of goats even remotely accessible, we set our sites on our only real option, a steep brush infested mountain on the opposite side of a glacial river. The only positive was there were at least two nice billies living on the mountain.

If our first plan failed, our next option was a two day hike across a glacier. There was no third option.Opportunities were going to be slim at best.

We put totherther a game plan that would put the odds in our favor. Logistically with 2-3 days travel between animals you are only going to get into goat country three or four times on a ten day hunt. With bad weather it may be less.

After making a decision on where we were going to concentrate our efforts, we set out at light for what was going to be an all day climb.   We crossed the glacial river early and for the next 8 hours we were either clawing our way up steep rock faces or sawing a tunnel through the alders. It quickly became apparent why no one wanted to hunt goats here.

At 4 pm we finally broke out of the alders and climbed a deep cut in the mountain to get above the goats. We had severely underestimated how long it would take us to up the mountain and there was no chance we could follow our path out in the dark.

One thing was clear, we were not making it back to camp. Win or lose on this stalk- we were here for the night.

There were two mature goats on the mountain. One was bedded on the edge of a snow field with a smaller two year old billy and the other was higher up the mountain bedded by himself. We worked across the slope and closed the distance on the closer billy.

Matt had first shot on this hunt.We snuck in to 134 yards and hunkered down to wait out his next move.

After holding tight for a couple of hours, the biggest billy left his bed crossed the snow field headed our way.  Matt and Bernie made a move down the mountain to cut him off. Matt caught the Goat just as he was leaving the chute and came to full draw as the Billy spotted him. Too late.

The shot was 46 yards straight down.   Matts arrow passed through the ten ring and clattered in the rocks below. Bernie and Matt both scrambled around the edge of the chute to keep an eye on the goat, but there was no need.

In less than 10 seconds the billy was tumbling end over end down the rock slide  before coming to rest against a big boulder. It was one of the toughest and best shots I’ve ever seen anyone make.

There was no time for me to celebrate Matt’s shot. With one more big goat above us and a confirmed night of work ahead, it was time to go for broke.

Matt’s goat went down so fast the higher billy didnt seem to know what he had just witnessed.  He slowly worked his way across the hillside away from us, alert to the danger below, but not spooked.

From glassing the mountain the day before I knew there was a large vertical rock face running a thousand feet a half a mile around the mountain.  I did my best to hustle across the steep slope in hopes he would hang up temporarily.

Running down a mountain goat from behind may not seem like much of a plan, but it was the best plan I had.

One hundred and twenty yards from the rock face I caught a quick glimpse of the billy disappearing into the chute. I ran up to the last place I had seen him and ranged the rock face in front of me.  Forty yards exactly.

Spooked from the bottom, the goat suddenly jumped up on the exact place I had ranged and stood broadside. Good luck for me, bad luck for him. I heard my arrow bounce off the rock wall as it passed through him. He bolted down the slope 50 yards, stopped to look back, and pitched over backwards coming to a stop on a small ledge below.

Just like that our hunt was over! I sat down stunned at what had just happened.

My goat where he died. A sight I wont forget!

I worked my way back around the mountain to Matt and Bernie to let them know the good and bad news. The good news was we would not have to climb up the mountian again.  The bad news was we had two goats down, two hours of light left, and more work ahead of us than we could imagine.
We decided to enjoy the moment and photograph both goats before dark.  The backdrop would be hard to beat.
Both goats turned out bigger than we could have hoped for.  Matt’s billy was 7 years old and measured 9-3/8.  Mine was 6 and measured 9-2/8.   Both have great hair and will score about 45 inches.
When you experience luck like we had, eventually you are going to pay the piper. As the sun went down it started to rain. Knowing we had a long night ahead of us, we skinned an deboned my goat and packed it back to Matt’s kill site. By 2am we had both goats ready for the pack out.
With the rain coming down harder and harder we made the decesion to drop down a couple of hundred feet, dig a flat spot out of the mountain, and attempt to get some sleep. The next morning couldn’t come fast enough.
I will spare you the pack out details, but it should suffice to say it capped off the toughest 30 hours of my life. Heavy packs, steep wet brush, and a rain swollen river didnt make it any easier.
By 6 pm we had both goats back to camp. Truly a mountain hunting adventure none of us will ever forget. I will have a full breakdown of the gear we used on the trip including some of the specialty we needed for climbing.

I would like to thank Freelance Outdoor Adventures for a first class operation. Lance and his team of guides always give 100 percent no matter the hunt or location.  They excel in some of the toughest areas of Alaska through preparation and effort.
Brendan Burns
Professional Services

This article has 46 comment(s)

  1. Tony Bynum

    Fantastic outing with all the toppings! Great story, you guys did good! Keep at it!

  2. Shane Close

    Sounds amazing! What a hunt! Congratulations on the successful hunt!

  3. Cory Benge

    Awesome job guys! BB, Now its my turn so no need to unpack, I’ll pick you up at 1:39. LOL

    • Brendan Burns

      Thanks Cory,
      Good luck filling that tag. Im sure you will turn a good one up.

  4. Smithhammer

    Holy crap, that’s bad ass. Well done, gents.

  5. Dave

    To say you guys are studs would be an understatement.

    • Brendan Burns

      Tony, Cory, Smith and Dave,
      Glad you liked the photos. THere was certainly a good amount of luck involved. Makes it all the better when it works out that way.


  6. Jérôme C

    Congratulations !!!

    What a great bowhunting, thanks to share whith us.
    I live in French Alps near chamonix, my favorite hunt is the Chamois with a bow. Mountain Goat bowhunt is my dream, i don’t know if that dream could become true…
    The bowhunting in France is about to start, Sunday

    Ps : I m sorry, my english is bad, i wanted to leave a reply for this awesome bowhunting and theses fantastic animals. I have much appreciate your story.
    Jérôme C

    • Brendan Burns

      Thanks for all the comments guys. It really was an awesome trip in an amazing setting. The goats were icing on the cake.

    • Brendan Burns

      Thanks for the reply. Good luck on the Chamois. Your english is better than my french!
      Mountain goats are certainly an underrated game animal. Hopefully you get the chance to chase them one day.

    • Missy Campeau

      Well you did a great again MR. B Glad to see your still helping out your friends . You all look to have had a GREAT time. You will remember this for a lifetime. Way to go Matt. and Bernie. I taught him all he knows about butchering . MOM

  7. Kevin

    Outstanding. You guys made it sound easy though! Two stalks, two big billies, all on day one!! Congrats on a couple great trophies and an awesome Alaskan adventure. Looking forward to the gear review.


  8. Craig Germond

    Congrats to both of you! What an accomplishment! I archery hunted dall sheep in the Chugachs last fall it brings back lots of memories.

    In 13 days I’ll be hunting mountain goats in BC but will not experience anything like you both did! My hats of to you both!

    • Brendan Burns

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. The Chugach is as tough as it gets but well worth the effort.

      Good luck on your goat hunt.

  9. Steve Ameral

    Great hunt guys.
    Looks like being in “goat shape” is worse than hunting sheep. Great goats and beautiful scenery.
    In the one picture of you guys trying to sleep you can see the water beading up on your gear. How did all your gear work out?

    • Brendan Burns

      The gear performed fantastic. The Chugach rain gear is amazing. Beaded rain on the last day as well as the first. The full system worked exactly as Jason designed it. Cant say enough good about it.

  10. Stephen Hand

    Great story. Almost like being there with you. Congratulations and thanks for sharing the experience.

  11. Rob B

    Hell of a hunt boys. Congrats. Lot of sweat equity.

  12. Doug Helgerson

    Unreal! What an adventure! Thank you so much for the write up!

  13. Larry Schwartz

    Which ICON pack did you guys use, and how did it work out for you?

    • Brendan Burns

      Larry ,
      We both used the ICON 6000. Worked great. The pack was designed for this type of a hunt and it showed. Carries a bow better than any pack ive ever used and handled the big load coming out great.

      • Larry Schwartz


        I started a thread on the forum about how people use the pockets on their ICON 6000’s. I’d appreciate it if you could add your thoughts to it.


  14. Curt Cabrera

    Awesome Brendan, You certainly overcame the odds on this fantastic hunt!

    Not a goat taken by an archer in 10yrs., and you guys get 2 in one afternoon….absolutely incredible all around my friend!

    Hats off to everyone involved…

    • Brendan Burns

      Thanks Curt
      Still cant stop smiling over the results.

  15. Tony Mudd

    Brendan CONGRATULATIONS!! Having bow hunted the Chugach Mountains I know exactly what it’s like when you say the toughest 30 hours of your life!! Beautiful goats and well deserved!! You left out one thing the “Devils Club” you had to have grabbed it at least once!! 😉 Or maybe you forgot it for a reason!!?? 😉

    • Brendan Burns

      Thanks Tony,
      Plenty of Devils Club. Cant believe I forgot to mention that. Maybe I am trying to forget! Just dug one out of my arm today..
      Hope you fall is going well.

  16. peter iacavazzi

    Nice work BB!

  17. Darryn


    After having killed a goat with a rifle last year in northern B.C., I can only imagine adding the extra challenge and hardships that you were exposed to. Great on you guys for being disciplined enough to take the excellent field photos when there are so many more life impacting tasks to care for in this harsh environment. Thanks for sharing!

    • Brendan Burns

      Thanks for the feedback. Although it takes a little extra effort, taking a lot of pictures really documents the whole experience. Glad you like the pics.

  18. Kevin Paulson

    It is hunts like this that keep me motivated to continue working out and planning my own trips to the high country. Great story Brendan and great pictures. I am looking forward to seeing your gear post for this hunt.

    • Brendan Burns

      Thanks for taking a look. Good luck in the high country.

  19. Edwin Gordon

    Awesome hunt! Thanks for sharing. The pictures are great! Need to ask what camera you were lugging. Having packed a Nikon with a big telephoto into the mountains, looking for alternatives. Any suggestions?

    • Brendan Burns

      The camera I am using is the Sony NEX 5. Its a hybrid SLR that is about the size of a point and shoot. It does more than I could ever need and more importantly it is small so I have it out all the time. It also takes HD video. Really user friendly. The only knock is the battery life. About 350 pics per battery.

      Hope that helps.


  20. Rick Seymour

    If there is a better word for the story, the photo’s, the men, the GOAT then the word AWESOME, please tell me what that word is. Congrats X10

  21. Ed Gordon


    Thanks, saves me lugging the extra weight. Your Chugach is a trip I hope to do, with a bow!.


  22. brant mcgee

    I met Matt on my wedding day while we were both waiting for friends at the airport in Anchorage. I knew he would be successful. He obviously had the grit and determination so essential to tough endeavors. I’m pleased to see that they pulled it off.

    • M True

      Hi Brant. By the sounds of it you pulled it off as well. Glad to hear you had a great wedding. What a trip it was in AK. You’re lucky to live there. That was my first visit but I’ll be back. You can bet on that!
      Matt True

  23. Cade Powell

    BB – Awesome hunt. Congrats – obviously well deserved! One of my ‘dream hunts’. One day……………………

  24. Scotty Kendrix


    Fantastic, mate! I could hear your excitement over the phone before this hunt.. I can now see why.. You guys smoked a couple of hammer billies!!

    Congrats to the both of you guys.. You def earned those goats.

    I hope I can ride your coat tails of success. I have one more month until my turn at a big BC billy.

    Tucson, AZ

  25. Chris Foster

    What a great chess match of maneuvering into position for those Mt. Goat. You guys were very, very smart to cut trail. Thats an often overlooked detail thats really helpful. Built well enough with flagging you can navigate it in the dark. Although after that epic day rest was in order. Congrats on those Heavy trophies. You guys had to be hauling huge loads coming off that hill. I’ve hauled three 9 yr olds and an 8 yr old off the hills and my meat bags were hovering at 90Ibs boned out! If there is a test for your trick frame thats it. Good thing someone brought a Barneys. Mega hearty congrats on some super trophies.

  26. Bo Bonner

    Bendan, I am currently working on booking a goat hunt with Lance and would like to pick your brain. Looking to hunt in 2013 or 2014. Would appreciate it if I could have a minute of your time. Let me know how to contact you if I may. Bo

    • Brendan Burns

      You can shoot me an E mail at or call the office at 855-367-5848 or 855-for-KUIU. Talk to you soon.

  27. Shane Close

    Hey Brendan, I was just wondering what boots you wore for this hunt. Have you worn the Schnees Beartooth or Granite? How does the eVent liner stack up to Gor-tex? I was in the Powder Horn last week with my Guide Jacket and the guys were all checking it out there. They said you talk about the gear all the time, but they hadn’t seen any of it. You’re bull that’s hanging up is awesome!

  28. Clementine Hobbins

    Great information 🙂

  29. Jim Eeckhout

    Great job guys. 2 great goats. There is nothing better than hunting Mountain Goats with Archery Gear. Congrats.

  30. Preston

    Absolutely incredible! What an amazing accomplishment in the must rugged beautiful country I’ve ever seen pictures of!dream hunt. Fantastic work.