Mountain Goat Hunting – Part 1 Getting Started
Mountain Goat Hunting isn’t for the faint of heart.
Mountain Goat Hunting requires mental toughness, physical fitness and just a hint of crazy. Hunting Mountain Goats in the awe inspiring mountains, cliffs and slides they call home is rugged, challenging and rewarding. If pursuing Mountain Goats is something you have thought about, I want to encourage you to go for it as no matter how tough the hunt, no matter if you are successful or not, it will imprint images, emotions and thoughts that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Life is short, so lets go hunt.
I think I am ultimately going to do this as a three-part series, so I can break it into digestible chunks and not bore you too much with my pedantic writing. I have been blessed to hunt Mountain Goats twice so far, and spend time in the places they call home many, many times, so my hope is to pass along some of what I have learned on my own as well as from Outfitters I know and respect. At the end of this series, I hope you will get a taste of what its like to hunt Mountain Goats, how to prepare and options to pursue your own Mountain Goat.
So you want to go Mountain Goat hunting:
Working as a professional hunting consultant and guide, I have the opportunity to speak to a lot of hunters. So inevitably, I have spoken to a lot of hunters who say they are interested in going on a Mountain Goat hunt. If you have ever pursued Mountain Goats, you know the challenges; physical, mental, weather, terrain and best we don’t forget the goats themselves. For those of you who have yet to experience the rigors and rewards of mountain hunting I hope I can help you gain some perspective about what its like and what it takes to successfully undertake a Mountain Goat hunt. I have found that many hunters who are looking at doing their first mountain hunt, are enthralled by the picturesque ideal of hunting mountain goats, and don’t quite grasp the grueling reality of what it really takes to hunt goats. The reality is that Mountain Hunting is flat out tough! Even “easy” goat hunts are extremely tough when compared to most of the hunting we generally have available to us.
I am not trying to scare anyone off, nor am I trying to build myself up as some kind of Mountain Hunting He Man. My goal is to help you understand what Mountain Goat Hunting is really like. So, why would I say that many hunters love the idea of mountain goat hunting as opposed to the reality of it? First off, most of us just don’t have access and opportunity to spend time in the places Mountain Goats call home. Secondly, until you can spend time, sweat and experience what the terrain is really like, it is hard to appreciate just how difficult it can be getting around, let alone making a stalk on a big Billy. So, the idea of Mountain Goat Hunting is only colored by pictures, videos and stories we have read, as compared to the reality of the blood, sweat, frustration, weather, mental challenges and more you will face on an actual hunt. So I think its safe to say we are all guilty of creating a fantasy of hunts we want to do, it doesn’t matter if its Elk in the rut, Grizzly hunting or even an African Safari. Once we experience those hunts the way we view them and think about them changes, but at the same time they become even more special to us because of the challenges and unknowns we faced. That is why I say the many hunters like the idea of a Mountain Goat hunt as opposed to the reality of it.
How to get started:
Getting started planning a Mountain Goat Hunt can be challenging as we have a very limited number of areas where you can hunt mountain goats, and even fewer still where you can hunt trophy goats. So, you say “I don’t care if I get a “Trophy Mountain Goat” because any goat is a trophy”, well you are right! But, once you have committed yourself to undertaking a Mountain Goat hunt you are still faced with how do you go about it, do you spend years and years building points in the lower 48, hope you get lucky in one of the raffles, buy a Conservation Auction Tag. Or, do you start looking at Canada and Alaska where you have the added cost of having to hunt with an Outfitter, but you have the benefit of over the counter tags and guides who know the country and the animals. Well there is a lot more to either approach than most people realize. Lets start with those of you who want to do it yourself and pursue a Tag through the state draws.
You are an experienced hunter, you are tough, smart and skilled and want to go Mountain Goat hunting all on your own. Where do you start? First, do you have the time to do the research and figure out where you want to apply? To decide where you want to apply you have to decide if you want the best odds to draw any old tag (which don’t get me wrong is still a challenge and if successful a great adventure), or if you are going to be patient and take the time to build points so you can focus on drawing a premiere Mountain Goat Tag where you have the chance to pursue 10”+ billies.
If you are serious about wanting to go Mountain Goat hunting, but don’t have time to spend researching units in multiple states, staying on top of units, hunt changes and draw deadlines then I would really encourage you to contact us and we can put you in touch with an excellent application service that will take great care of you. If you have the time and desire to handle all this yourself, its time for the homework to begin: Its time to start researching which state(s) like WA, ID, MT, OR, CO and UT you are going to focus your efforts on. Before you commit to a given state(s) you need to familiarize yourself with and consider how their respective application and draw systems work. Do they have preference points or bonus points, what are the draw costs (do you have to front your tag and license costs, what do they refund if you are unsuccessful, etc), unit draw odds, unit trophy potential, hunt dates, weather, what is the terrain like in a given area, what logistics will be required if you draw a tag, how far in is the hunt area, can you do it yourself or will you need help and on and on. These are all things you have to consider because each and every piece of information will impact how long it may take to draw, how much time, effort and money you will expend to draw, let alone what it will require if/when you do draw.
You drew a tag – Time to go Mountain Goat Hunting, now what?
Figuring out where to apply to go Mountain Goat Hunting is just the first step, after that it may be years and years, if ever before you draw a coveted tag, what then? Once you draw the tag you have to start thinking about how to prepare for the hunt (hopefully you have been doing some level of training for your other hunts) as first and foremost you need to be physically prepared. Many hunters call Mountain Goats the poor man’s sheep hunt. Well I have be blessed to hunt both sheep and goats, and I can honestly say that they are both incredibly demanding animals to hunt, but Mountain Goats are the Kings of the Mountain. They hands down take the cake when it comes to living in the steep and nasties, so when it comes to hunting goats there is no such thing as being in too good of shape. Next you need to be spending as much time in the field or on Google Earth and topo maps and marking them up with information you glean from wildlife biologists, game wardens and past hunters.
Once you have a good feeling for where you are going to hunt, you need to start figuring out real world logistics (gear, food, time, access). Then you can figure out what gear and equipment you need, (if you don’t have what you need then you will need to also be researching gear and equipment), purchasing gear and equipment you think you need, finding out you have too much gear and equipment, rethinking and repacking gear and equipment, because believe me every ounce matters when it is just you, your back and your two legs versus mother nature. You are not alone if you find this a little daunting and even overwhelming, especially if you are not an experienced backcountry/mountain hunter. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to discourage you, I just want you to be aware of what it takes to undertake a true backcountry mountain hunt.
I believe that anyone who is focused, disciplined and committed can successfully take on a mountain hunt, but most people who don’t live and hunt this type of terrain on a regular basis just don’t realize how much preparation goes into this type of hunting.
In the second installment of this article I will cover a little more detail about preparing for the hunt and Outfitted Hunts and in part 3 I will be looking at what to expect during the hunt and see if I can get a couple of other people to weigh in on tips and tactics. I hope this first installment has helped you understand some of the challenges that go into planning a Backcountry Mountain Hunt and in particular a Mountain Goat Hunt. So for those of you who have always dreamed of chasing these amazing animals, feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be thrilled to do what I can to help you figure out what the best option is for you and your adventure of a lifetime.