August/September 2013 EHJ (Issue 138) - I always want to discover the mountain man in myself—to intimately know remote and intimidating high country. I want to be alone and content within the mountains and with myself. What better adventure, to help me realize those lessons than a Rocky Mountain goat hunt? Mountain goats are normally found well above the sheep, on the cliffs and rocky crags at the top of the world. I had always wanted that tag more than any other, as the experience is the trophy.
At the time I applied, the Crazy Mountain Range of Montana had an increasing Rocky Mountain goat population, the only increasing population in Montana. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks had been allocating more tags, perhaps to reduce the devastating possibility of disease. I drew my tag after 16 years of applying. Unfortunately, I would be hunting weekends only. This would be a tremendously daunting undertaking, given the miles and elevations that I needed to conquer on foot.
I knew The Crazy Mountains would be steep and rocky. I had never been exposed to such dramatic country. I sped through the low country of trees and creeks, feeling my way up the canyons and ridges, simply trying to get granite underfoot. The Rocky Mountain goat habitat is inarguably dangerous and I soon realized the gravity of the landscape, both literally and metaphorically.
Upon arrival, I knocked my binoculars off the ridge. They f lipped, crashed and flipped some more, only stopping when they hung up on a tree limb over 200 yards below me. I then spent twenty minutes considering how to get to them, and if it was even worth the risk. The landscape had already made an indelible impression on me.
The learning curve for this type of hunt is steep and the goats are awe-inspiring. I had researched all aspects of goat hunting, yet quickly realized that much of what I had learned would be proven wrong. The goats I encountered had obviously not read the script.
Finding goats was never a problem. Over nine days of scouting and hunting, I hiked more than 75 miles and counted more than 45 goats. On day three, I missed a magnificent billy. A golden eagle was the only witness, and somehow there was no place for frustration in my heart. I truly felt fulfilled by every experience, every day of every weekend.
For a full account of Peyton's adventure, go to page 28 in the August/September 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.