Yesterday I spent the day hunting mountain goats with Gregg. We hiked up Friday night and did our usual pre hunt camp out. On the way up it was raining and we were soaked so a blazing woodstove proved its worth drying out all our gear. In the morning since we were hunting goats we slept in a bit. For deer you have to be glassing at dawn because they bed down early and get difficult to find. But goats are white and generally easy to find. Hence we did not feel the need to start hiking in the dark. Still we did get up at 5:30 and were hiking by 7 AM.
Beautiful country and lots of goats - we saw 3 different herds and maybe 75 goats total. But the country was also VERY scary with lots of cliffs and very steep, slippery slopes - often with cliffs at the bottom. We did a lot of side-hilling on slopes where you did NOT want to fall down. I was glad I had brought some crampons for my Xtra Tuffs.
Anyway we found a herd of goats in an accessible spot and snuck up on them perfectly. It was a beautiful spot. And that's where the goat hunt went bad. I made a poor shot on the goat and he ran around the corner and into some ravines and cliffs - not an ideal spot. But we had to follow him and to do so we had to leave my 'comfort zone' in terms of steep slopes and cliffs.
We finally got to him and cut him up on a very steep slope. We braced him on the slope by wedging rocks under his downslope side. And then came the hike home. It was so bad that I did not even take any photos. With the hide and camping gear my pack was in the 140 pound range. Normally it takes a while for a pack to start weighing on you - but that pack was awful pretty much right away (I probably should have dumped the hide).
At first we tried going directly downslope and it was looking good until we ran into a band of cliffs. No way down - so we had to go back upslope and back home the way we came. This entailed a REALLY scary sidehill on a steep slope above a cliff. Soon after that we got back to where we originally had shot at the goat. We figure the side excursion cost us 3 hours of extra labor.
From there the hiking was exhausting but not life threatening. Lots of sidehills and steep slopes. It was a long way to the car. We finally stumbled to the truck at just about dusk. I had the goat chilling out in the freezer by 11 PM.
On the hike home Gregg and I ruminated on how often goat hunts do 'go bad'. I think from now on I am only going to attempt 'easy' goat hunts. Patrick