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Thread: A Goat Story:

  1. Default A Goat Story:

    40 Days and 40 Nights Worth,
    Snowing to beat hell so may as well go out of the tree and anoint the dog house yet again...

    Scan0012 - Copy by squirrel2012, on Flickr

    I had just moved to Colorado and was young and full of ideas of what and how I was going to hunt in this vast and glorious mountain state. The applicant had to choose sheep or goat back then and I went with archery goat as it was a better chance to draw, and draw I did, on the very first try! My summer was spent endlessly tossing arrows into straw bales in anticipation. As fall approached I called a crusty old fart at the Division of Wildlife, named Nicely, and asked him if I might see a bear and should get a tag? “Hell boy” he said, “This is GOAT COUNTRY! Do you even know what you are letting yourself in for?” “Yes”, I lied, confidence trumped intelligence back then, I was 26 years old, 10 feet tall, and very bulletproof. He then told me why he gave out so many tags in that unit, as three quarters of the tag holders took the train ride, looked where they had to go and took the train home that afternoon. I assured him that would not be the case with me.
    I quit my job, and said goodbye to my cat, left in a forest service campground with a huge pile of cat chow in my camper and headed back into the Needles, full of confidence, energy and very little intelligence.
    It did not take long to encounter a problem, more like a lot of problems, I was carrying my bow and the hikers I met all wanted to kill me right then and there. I finally met a somewhat neutral fellow and he told me the story as to why all the hostility. There had been a group of goat hunters taken in by a local outfitter on horseback who had shot the tame goats the backpackers had been feeding all summer. They had been tame enough to hold a tape measure to their horns and then the hunters drew straws as to who got to shoot the first/biggest goat and all four shot them at daylight opening morning right in front of the Labor Day crowd of backpackers. From then on I hid my bow as I heard the people coming down the trail and had no more issues. When I got to the top of the drainage the mighty goat hunters were still there, toasting their prowess, and waiting for their ride back down to civilization. The next day their guide showed up and I had the basin more or less to myself, at least as far as hunters went, but there was a steady, if diminishing, flow of backpackers through the area.

    Scan0005 by squirrel2012, on Flickr

    So the hunters were gone (except for one) but so were the goats, and it seemed they were not inclined to come back any time soon. I climbed the nearby peaks daily looking for goats amongst the rocks, still hunting the cliffs as if I was stalking hardwood forests for whitetails back home. (I told you I was dumb!) There was of course some fresh sign around from the recently departed goats and once I took a goat trail, (I have always hated retracing my steps and always opt to see new country if possible).


    Scan0006 - Copy by squirrel2012, on Flickr




    Soon I was in over my head and lowering my day pack and bow by rope to ledges below me, couldn’t go back and scared to go on… I could see where the silly goats had jumped down the chimney using both sides and tiny ledges as a giant stairway. I dropped my gear and using my hands on one side and my feet on the other “walked” my way down, towards the bottom I was glad I wasn’t any shorter ‘cause I was stretched about as far as I could get when I finally got my feet on tundra grass and I was home free. I had a couple bent arrows and some severe confidence damage. But I had learned a crucial goat country lesson… do not follow goat trails!
    When I got back to my tent a group of backpackers told me they watched my descent and wanted to wager on my making it , or not, but nobody wanted to bet on me making it! I had several snow days of being cooped in my tent but kept on branching farther and farther in search of a goat. Instead of going to the adjacent peaks I went over and beyond to the next peak in several different directions. Looking for them miles away instead of hoping to run into one, I was learning how to hunt goats!
    One day I was two peaks away from home and finally saw some goats, I tried to go towards them by following some goat tracks down a sheer glacier. I was doing well kicking my heels in for traction walking down like a giant set of stairs when a moment’s carelessness led to my heel breaking loose in mid stride. In a split second I was flying down the ice face on my ass towards a rock field many hundreds of feet below. I rolled sideways to the edge of the ice and nice sharp rocks slowed me down, albeit at a severe price in both clothing and blood. I limped out of the bottom of the glacier only wanting to get home; shooting a goat wasn’t a priority any more on that day. I had to go through a 13,500 pass, across several miles of glacier, through a more brutal pass and way down to camp, all while leaving a blood trail. I was very glad to crawl into the sleeping bag after dark that night!


    I stayed a little closer to home the next couple days healing up and getting my bravery built back up by taking on some easier basins to the south, long hikes but not so life threatening, and no sign of goats either. This entire hunt I had been making the acquaintance of serious backpackers and quizzing them up about their gear and its use, ice axes, crampons, ropes/carabiners/rappelling gear, stuff I had read about but never seen and certainly never used nor needed, I was developing quite a shopping list for if, and when, I ever survived goat country and made it back to civilization… I made friends with two hard core guys who wanted to do a through trip rather than up and back on the same trail, so I helped them rope their gear down the pass I had marked with my blood trail earlier, as I watched them traverse the glacier with crampons I realized if I was to get a goat I had to cover vastly more ground as there seemed to be a large radius around my camp that was goat free. I had to move two basins (or more) away and start over.

    Scan0002 - Copy by squirrel2012, on Flickr
    Bestowing wisdom and moral purity, even on the unworthy and unwilling... especially upon them.

    An ignore list??? Wouldn't that defeat the whole purpose?

  2. Default

    Scan0001 - Copy by squirrel2012, on Flickr


    Scan0004 - Copy by squirrel2012, on Flickr


    Scan0004 (2) by squirrel2012, on Flickr

    It was now early October and snowing all too frequently, and starting to stay on the northern sides of the rocks, I was low on food, even eating marmot and ptarmigan when I could get them, had more bent arrows than straight ones, shredded clothing, and had noticed that I no longer stunk even after four weeks without a bath. (This turned out to be not exactly true)
    I retreated to the low country for some more food from my stash, a 20 mile round trip day, and packed up for covering more remote basins. I roped my way down through the saddle and headed off to where I had seen the goats a week earlier. My tent was shredded from the winds so I had to drop into the highest bushes in the basin and lash it into place as best I could for some shelter. I was now camped in new country I had only glassed before and able to glass even more new stuff in all directions. On about the third or fourth day I found some goats in a next door basin and resolved to get after them the next day.
    I got an early start and they had disappeared on me when I got to where I could see where they had been. Feeling depressed I glassed from there and saw a big solo goat on the other side of the basin. I dropped 1000 feet down and back up and started approaching where he had been bedded but found nothing but where he had been wallowing. As I poked around he stood up out of a hidden bed about 75 yards away and tried to climb a ledge to get away, he couldn’t do it and I realized I was standing in his only way out of his crevice. He figured this out a bit later and ran right past me at 15 yards! Finally after a month I had been within archery range of a goat! This was getting exciting, now if I could just close the deal.

    Scan0005 - Copy by squirrel2012, on Flickr


    Scan0007 - Copy by squirrel2012, on Flickr

    Scan0009 by squirrel2012, on Flickr
    Bestowing wisdom and moral purity, even on the unworthy and unwilling... especially upon them.

    An ignore list??? Wouldn't that defeat the whole purpose?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Missoula, MT
    Posts
    589

    Default

    Liking this one - keep it coming please.

  4. Default

    Scan0011 - Copy by squirrel2012, on Flickr

    He was gone for good, of course, but glassing over where I had come from earlier I saw another solo goat bedded in some rocks, this goat hunting, where there were actually some goats, was a lot of fun! All jacked up from my close encounter, I did the same 1000 foot drop/climb for the second time that day and made my approach on goat #2. I got cliffed out a couple times and eventually had to traverse a scree field above him in the open about 50-75 yards away from him. I took my boots and socks off to be quiet on the rocks and only moved when his eyes would close as he dozed in the sun. After what seemed forever I made it and had a completely concealed approach to with ten yards of his bed, crept up over the rocks and he was gone! Instant depression set in and I made an error, I stood up… he was just 5 feet away from his bed stretched out pissing. I came to full draw in an instant and buried one of my last straight arrows right behind his shoulder. He spun and ran down the scree chute with my arrow out both sides of him in a perfect lung shot location. I was, quite literally and figuratively on top of the world at that given moment, barefoot jumping up and down in the rocks at my sudden turn of good fortune.
    How I wish my story ended right there. I looked off down the valley and saw right away why he had gotten out of his bed. I had been so focused on him I had not seen a wall of black coming up the mountain at breakneck speed.
    I went as fast as I could to my boots but before I could get them laced up visibility was 50 yards and closing and there was an inch on the ground. This was no fall precursor, winter had showed up.
    I went down the gulley in a panic, sometimes with just a few feet of visibility, in just moments it was several inches deep, and I was officially done… Oh I searched until dead dark hoping and praying to literally stumble upon him, but with every inch of accumulation it was more futile, and the reality of it hit me at dark.


    Scan0007 by squirrel2012, on Flickr

    Scan0010 - Copy by squirrel2012, on Flickr
    I was several miles and several thousand vertical feet from my tent, already exhausted, wet, cold, and probably most important, falling into deep depression. It was the longest hike I have ever made, due to the mental state I was in. The wind was to my back, thankfully, and so strong you could lean back against it to rest, if you have never been in goat country it is hard to envision what a storm like this is truly like. It pushed me somehow up through the pass and down the other side to my flat tent and soggy sleeping bag. The one the army /navy store guy had told me several years before was way too much bag for anybody to need (in Pennsylvania). Well it was just what this exhausted goat less hunter needed at that moment; I was beyond shivering, couldn’t find my food, and soaked. I was young and dumb but I knew I was in trouble.
    To be honest I was more than a little surprised when I woke up the next dawn, stiff and freezing, smothering from two feet of snow on top of my flat tent, the next five days were brutal, with high winds and heavy snow further destroying my tent, trying to keep warm and as dry as I could, with nothing to eat but dry uncooked ramen noodles chased with snow. On the fifth day with no food left at all and a lull in the storm, I packed up everything I could find from the waist deep snow and headed down the basin I was in, not sure if it was passable, nor where it would take me.
    Several miles and several thousand feet lower I was in a different world of several inches of snow and intermittent sunshine poking through the clouds, strangely enough this was depressing, as soon as I began to realize I was going to live I started to think about my goat up there under the snow…


    Scan0008 by squirrel2012, on Flickr

    When I caught the train that afternoon, on damp ground with sunny skies, one straight arrow left, gear destroyed, clothing shredded to the point of indecent exposure being a real possibility, all I could think about was regrouping and going back up there to find my goat. But when farther away so I could look back and see the high country you could not see a thing, just a white fog, the fog of winter in the Needles, it was a very long train ride.
    My education at Goat Hunter University was not quite over though; the campground where my car/camper/cat awaited was a five mile uphill slog in 8-10 inches of snow from where I could hitchhike to. I got there about 3am to one very ecstatic kitty cat, which let me know what he thought about going 40 days and 40 nights without being petted. Technically I had been gone only 38 days, but it just doesn’t have the same ring to it…
    Part of me wanted to re-group and head back in and retrieve my goat, but looking from 15 miles away nixed that idea, it was pure white at 14,000 feet. A bigger part of me wanted to slink off and lick my wounds and never do anything like that again, much as Mr. Nicely had told me most do. Almost all of my gear was either destroyed or had been inappropriate in the first place. While I had definitely killed a goat, I had not technically “harvested” a goat, meaning I did not have to suffer the five year penalty from applying.
    After several months my stiff muscles had healed up, the order of cool new toys had arrived from “Campmor”, and I had convinced myself that I was older, wiser, and tougher than I had been. Those white woolies would never see me coming… where is that application booklet?
    Bestowing wisdom and moral purity, even on the unworthy and unwilling... especially upon them.

    An ignore list??? Wouldn't that defeat the whole purpose?

  5. Default

    It was only a 38 day hunt but 38 just doesn't have the biblical pizzazz as 40 days and 40 nights, call it "based on a true story"
    Bestowing wisdom and moral purity, even on the unworthy and unwilling... especially upon them.

    An ignore list??? Wouldn't that defeat the whole purpose?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    West Slope, CO
    Posts
    4,351

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    Cool story squirrel. I hunted goat in the same basin a few years ago. Fun hunt. Can't believe some of the stuff we did trying to get a billy.

  7. #7

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    Awesome story. Thanks for taking the time to share!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    Bozeman, MT
    Posts
    12,267

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    Dang, that's an adventures, even if it was "only" 38 days. Thanks for sharing.
    My name is Randy Newberg and I approved this post. What is written is my opinion, and my opinion only.

    "Hunt when you can. You're gonna run outta health before you run outta money."

  9. #9

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    Man, sounds like quite the adventure!!!!!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Newhartford Iowa
    Posts
    1,779

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    Awsome adventure. I think its a little more than I am willing to take on.

  11. #11

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    Awesome adventure it is amazing the chances we take when we are young and dumb. Goat is the one animal that is on top of my to do list right now. Have apps in four state's this year so hopefully tag gods smile on me.

  12. Default

    Wow! I like goat hunting, but have certainly never done anything that extreme!

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