A Stalemate with Big Billies

By Marvin Kwiatkowski
British Columbia, DIY, Public Land
A Stalemate with Big BilliesApr/May 2011 EHJ (Issue 124) - The feeling of déjà vu was overwhelming as we approached the downed billies. Mere days had passed since the last teenage hunter had brought home a B&C goat; only this time, it was two goats and two hunters! On the rebound from one momentous mountain hunt, I found myself immersed in another.

Mountain goat hunting has all the elements to make most people cringe while others come back for more, year after year. Sharing these high country adventures with the next generation adds a special memory to the hunt. While my son at three years of age exhibits great potential, my 17-year-old nephew is “ripe” for such adventure. Over the years, I used a variety of baiting methods to lure Dustin and at last he was ready to apply for a group limited entry hunt draw.

The hunt was booked for late August to maximize the alpine experience and better our chances for decent coastal weather. On a muggy, bug-infested July day, Todd, my “go-to” hunting partner and I ventured out for some preseason scouting. After encountering a myriad of cliffs and gnarly brush, we soon realized that the area I was planning to take Dustin was perhaps too great a challenge. Two other hunting commitments prior to my nephew’s arrival reduced my scouting time to zero, but some 11thhour homework resulted in another favorable route being selected.

A successful goat hunt for the firsttime mountain hunter is somewhat a rite of passage and can set the standard for all other hunts. This was Dustin’s first mountain hunt and he had few expectations other than to hike, to see goats, and to harvest one! While seeing goats is usually not a problem, harvesting a trophy billy typically requires the stars to align. To prepare Dustin for the trip, I offered him some advice about training hard for the hunt and followed up with a simple training program.

In goat hunting standards, the first trip up the mountain was reasonable. By early afternoon we climbed over 2,500 feet and searched for the ideal base camp with all the amenities - level ground, crystal clear water, snow, and breathtaking views. With a little effort, we found the spot and dropped the weight off our sweaty backs. Within ten minutes we crested the mountain and peered into a magnificent bowl ideally suited for the cliff dwellers.

Without warning, six goats appeared at 70 yards. I looked toward Dustin and told him to get down. Over the next two hours, numerous stalks as close as 15 yards were made on the herd as they wandered about the mountaintop feeding and bedding. Although this group contained billies, Dustin felt that it was too early in the hunt to settle for an average goat. I respected his decision, given the temptation to harvest an “easy” goat near camp. Day one provided Dustin with a warm-up to the world of goat hunting and left us with optimism.

That evening we went to bed early and at 5 a.m. the alarm sounded. Another cloudless day beckoned and the plan was to put in a solid effort and go deep into the range. Upon crossing a hair-raising razorback ridge, we spotted a group of 19 nannies, kids, and immature billies in a bowl. It was an opportune time for a rest with the goats in view and scenery worthy of a painting - lush green alpine meadows, an abundance of mountain streams, glaciers, and richly colored rock formations all framed against a deep blue sky. After a short break, we pressed forward.

Marvin Kwiatkowski

For a full account of Marvin's adventure, go to page 40 in the April/May 2011 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.