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.
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.