December/January 2012 EHJ (Issue 128) - Ahhhhh, May 8th. The day where everyone waits anxiously to log on to the Game and Fish website to check their draw results. I started work early and had to call my mom so she could check my results. While day dreaming about a sheep tag, the tag I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember, my phone rang – it was my mom. With high hopes, she said, "Unsuccessful for moose and sheep, but…”, there was a but! She then went on to say that I had drawn an area three mountain goat tag - I was speechless.
I instantly called my wife with the news. She was thrilled, but not thrilled at the same time. With a newborn at home and limited family time before her schooling started in August, I could tell she was a little hesitant. After I got off the phone, I ran around the job-site telling everyone the news. I was thrilled to get this tag at the age of 24, when guys I know have been putting in for this tag for over 30 years and still no luck.
Scouting was not going to be in my favor this year due to the record amount of snowfall throughout the previous months. I wanted to start scouting areas immediately, but with the record snowfall, the roads were opening later than usual. I found myself waiting until July. Countless amounts of people told me where to scout and I knew one area was going to be promising, so I figured I would save it for last and try other areas for a backup plan.
Even in July, my areas were very limited. Snow was still on trails and crossing the rivers was completely out of the question. I was told that if you find the goats in one area during pre-season, they wouldn’t be there during hunting season - this was one bad advantage for scouting early in the summer.
My time scouting in July became very successful. The good news was we found eight goats. The bad news was they were up at 11.000 feet. I just glassed the mountaintops trying to figure out how a man could get to the top. Scouting time also turned out to be a good time spent with friends, and also my number one hunting fan, my dad. My father and I have shared many hunts together, and I was always the one to tag out on the biggest animal. Having him by my side was very important, because I knew this hunt was going to challenge for us physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Mid-August was here before we knew it, which also meant the archery season opener. My dad and I decided to go into an area that held several goats. The trail was littered with down fall and had extremely steep switchbacks. One part of the trail was full of loose dirt and sharp jagged rocks. I quickly lost my footing, busted my butt, and landed on my bow. I looked over my bow over and noticed one limb had a slight splinter in it. The damage wasn’t horrible, but I was leery about shooting it.
We pushed on and it took us five hours to top out on the trail. We learned quickly that we needed to locate a better way up because that was a horrible hike. The trail tested every ounce of muscle in our bodies. At the top, we located 16 goats, which included several billies and nannies - one billy stood out from all the others. His size took our breath away! However, a huge nanny did the same - she didn’t have any kids, and we figured her horns were right at 11 inches long. For being a nanny, her horns were very thick. Everyone thinks you need to hold out for a billy, but this nanny was worth a second and third look.
After watching the goats for a couple of hours, we figured out their pattern. There was a trail across a face of rocks and a beaten path led from one side of mountain to the other. The band of goats was slowly making their way across. Out of nowhere, all of the goats decided it was time to bed down and take a snooze. So it was now going to turn into a waiting game. To watch a mountain goat sleep is a pretty cool experience. They would sleep with their heads hanging off a cliff and the kids would get up and play around on the cliffs. While watching the goats, the huge billy appeared - he stood with pride as he looked over his basin. He had big, thick horns, with more than impressive length for a billy - it was the perfect combination for a monster goat!
For a full account of Michael's adventure, go to page 14 in the December/January 2012 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.