This hunt has been a few years coming, this was the second attempt at a mountain goat with a bow. The 1st happening the year before COVID, long story short we sat in a tent for much of the hunt because of weather and I never got an opportunity. The border being closed for a year one thing after another, I dreamed of this opportunity. I’ve been hunting whitetails with only bow since I was fourteen, so I like to think of myself as a whitetail hunter primarily. There are two types of people that come off the mountain once they finish their first hunt in that environment. The first being the type that enjoyed it glad they did it once but won’t really care to go back because it’s too hard, wet, cold, dangerous, or combination of the aforementioned. Humans are creatures of habit by nature, and they love the spoils of life that we are afforded in today’s world. The second type realizes they just experienced a life changing event. It becomes what you dream about in the offseason. There aren’t too many experiences you can go through in life that sets you back 100 years like a back country mountain hunt.
We took a float plane from Whitehorse back into Northwest British Columbia (BC) arrived at base camp around 11 AM, got our packs loaded up and wasted no time getting up to where we were going to be hunting.
I was accompanied by Timber Lewis and Luke Whist, two young guys that were built from twisted steel, I think. We had eyes on goats around 3pm that first afternoon all of them pretty much unreachable which most of the time is the case when hunting mountain goats. They call home to some nasty terrain which is why it’s considered one of if not the most dangerous species to hunt in North America. Hunters often put themselves into precarious situations trying to get into range of these magnificent animals. After finding a good flat area on top for the night to camp at, we setup our tents and glassed the remainder of the evening. We even had a group of nannies, kids, and a young billy work their way into camp and got some decent pictures of them.
Mountain goats are nothing like whitetails they are very lazy animals. There is no rush in the morning time to get up before daylight and get eyes on them at first light. Most of the time the goats you pick up the evening before will be in that same general area the next morning, so you aren’t in a huge rush to wake up early to begin glassing. The goats primarily hang out and bed down in the nasty steep cliffs because they know nothing can approach them or get them in that type of terrain. At some point throughout the day, they will obviously meander around and feed and sometimes work their way up out of the bad stuff where there is more vegetation to choose from.
We were sitting outside our tents glassing and low and behold about 200-300 yards behind there were two goats working up to our elevation. We haven’t even put our boots on, we were still in our crocs, grabbed the bow and took off after them to try and cut them off. The smaller one of the two fed just out of sight down in a drainage but the bigger one was still in an approachable spot. We snuck down a little bit using some bushes and small trees for cover, got to 35 yards of the goat. Yes, we were 35 yards from it, but the angle was probably close to 40 degrees, it appeared like the animal was 60-65 yards from us. Right before I drew back the goat turned his head as soon as it saw us it bolted back down into the cliffs out of harm’s way. We had some close encounters with some young billies (one at five yards), we ate a little lunch, and lounged around glassing for a few hours. Mid-day normally is a lull period, the goats lay down for most of the day not really moving much, if at all.
Time rolled on into the early afternoon and Timber spotted two goats starting to work their way up several hundred yards back towards our tents. We hustled back down the ridgeline hoping to beat them to where they were going to pop up, but we just missed them, they were already on top when we got to them. We sat about one hundred to one hundred and fifty yards from them as they browsed around at their incredibly slow speed. Mountain goats look like they are in slow motion all the time until they get startled. They picked us up creeping through what little cover we had, then we had their attention. Timber unfolded his collapsible decoy, and we got in line with one another as we possibly could and slowly creeped up to about 100 yards and parked ourselves beside a brushy tree. They one hundred percent knew we were there, looking at their body language, it appeared they were about skedaddle, but we sat there for what seemed like 15 minutes and they calmed back down too an extent. We were still sitting at about 80-100 yards from them, I do practice shooting at long distances but being the second day knowing were going to get some more opportunities I wasn’t wild on the idea of shooting from that distance. Timber still had his decoy out so we decided to see if they would allow us to get any closer, keep in mind they know we are there. We eased up got behind the decoy and slowly eased up and got to about 65 from the bigger one of the two. That was one hundred percent the closest we were going to get; the bigger goat was up and alert and appeared to be getting more nervous while facing us. We stayed put for a touch longer and the smaller of the two worked down off the knob a little the bigger one walked around in the same general area for a minute or two, turned broadside, I ranged it at 54, eased out to the side on my knees, drew my bow, settled my pin, and let it fly. The arrow hit just a touch high but on immediate impact, blood came out of the cavity I knew it wasn’t going far. As goats do though, when they are in danger they dive back off in the steep stuff to safety. We immediately hustled right behind it to the edge looking, in hopes of not losing sight of it.
It took us about 5 minutes, but I had my binos on it about ¾ of the way down the ridge and it was expired. It was about 200 vertical feet above the creek thankfully it didn’t fall any further. That’s another thing with mountain goat hunting is once they run to safety sometimes you just absolutely can’t safely get to them. The goat appeared to be in a gettable spot, but we only had a few ounces of drinking water left between the both of us. The creek just below the goat wasn’t an option to drink out of due to the number of beavers on that creek and fears of getting giardia. It was around 5:30 in the afternoon so we elected to leave the goat overnight return to the river, and we actually boated back upriver and went back to base camp for the night.
After a night in a wall tent in a sleeping bag that was equivalent to sleeping a convection oven, we made our trip back up to where the goat laid in waiting. I obviously haven’t been goat hunting a ton, but I would imagine on just about every goat hunt there is a moment when you have some sketchy terrain to navigate through. We did have ice axes and ropes with us, which are almost essentials when hunting goats. Thankfully most of the ground was sandy on the way down, we did have to work around some rocky areas but eventually we did get down to it. We were unsure how far the goat actually fell after expiring, but I am betting it was a pretty good ways, the face was banged up pretty good, with horns still intact. The terrain was a little sketchy where the goat was laying, we were extremely lucky that there was a tree about 40-50 feet above us, Timber pulled his rope out to tie it up and it was just a touch short. Luckily, I had 50’ of paracord in my bag to give us enough to tie it off while we processed it. We took our ice axes out and dug shelves out to give us better footing as well as somewhere to put the meat on. After finishing up the goat we began our ascent back up and I will say climb up feels a lot safer than going down and thankfully we had our axes with us they make for something to hold on to when working up. I wouldn’t say they were a lifesaver, but I won’t be going back goat hunting without one. Timber guessed that morning that we would make it back down to the boat at 3pm and I’ll be damned if it wasn’t 2:50 when we walked up to the shoreline.
A truly unforgettable adventure and I am absolutely positive that is not the last goat hunt that I’ll be going on in my life.
Levi Madden - Cypress Creak Creative