July/August 2012 EBJ (Issue 72) - My 19-year-old energetic guide, Ben, and I traversed straight up from some no name lake to almost the top of a mountain. It was about a three-mile hike to get where we wanted to be and set up our camp. On the way up we spotted five goats, three of which were really nice billies that I’d be more than happy to go after. After three grueling hours of hiking through slippery, muddy, and thick wet brush in the drizzling rain, we finally arrived at the spot we’d be calling home for the next four to five days.
We were busy erecting the twoman tent, when Ben spotted a goat bedded about 350 to 400 yards from camp. He said that it was a billy. Luckily, we were in a depression, and the goat couldn’t see us. Ben pulled out his spotting scope and said the billy was an absolute toad. We quickly threw our unneeded gear from our packs into the tent. I told Ben I wanted to shoot a couple of arrows to make sure my sights were on since we went through some serious brush on the climb up the mountain.
After shooting a couple of arrows, my bow was still shooting spot on, so we grabbed our packs and started to climb farther up the mountain to get above the billy’s eyesight. After about 20 minutes or so, we figured the billy was straight below us. Slowly, we worked our way through the scrub brush and rocks. Upon reaching our target rock, we slowly peeked over and found no goat. Ben said to stay there, and that he was going to go back and see if he was where we had previously seen him. About 15 minutes later he came back and said that he hadn’t moved and that we were just a little left of the billy. We slowly and methodically moved to the right about 15 yards, and again peeked over a huge rock. We immediately spotted the top of the billy’s head and horns. He was still bedded, and had no clue danger lurked above him.
Hunting mountain goats has always been a dream of mine since I was a young hunter. I’ve applied in numerous states but could never get lucky enough to draw that coveted permit. I’ve always admired people who successfully harvested goats with a bow. For some reason I’ve always liked physically challenging hunts…the harder the better.
In 2008 after serving in the military for 25 plus years and retiring, I set a goal that I would go on a mountain goat hunt before my 50th birthday. I researched numerous websites and hunting forums looking for a highly successful archery outfitter that I might want to book my hunt with. I kept noticing one outfitter in particular, Bolen & Lewis. They had very high success rates with bowhunters and they were taking big goats. In the spring of 2009, I called and booked a hunt with them through Bowhunting Safari Consultants for September of 2010.
I shot my bow, trained physically all spring and summer, and felt like I was in the best shape of my life. On the day of my departure I checked my email one more time since my wife was on her way to pick me up from work and take me to the airport. I noticed there was an email from my outfitter and he said please call him immediately. I got on the phone and contacted him right away. He informed me that they had a dilemma. The guide assigned to me had a family emergency at home and they had to let him go. Three of their other hunters had already arrived. They were frantically scrambling looking for another guide but couldn’t find one and they didn’t want me to have a bad hunting experience with an unknown guide they weren’t familiar with. I totally agreed and asked if I could rebook for 2011. They were more than happy to and also guaranteed me a goat even if it took me numerous trips to get it done at no extra charge since I was so accommodating. I went through my usual preparation again in 2011. I shot my bow and prepared physically and made sure I had the best gear possible for my upcoming hunt.
For a full account of Craig's adventure, go to page 20 in the July/August 2012 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.