October/November 2013 EHJ (Issue 139) -
Every hunter has been a part of discussions about what an animal will score, was it taken legally with fair chase, etc. There are good reasons to have scoring systems in place. They honor the hard work hunters put in to take these magnificent animals and they describe and honor the animals as well. But there is more to hunting and a lot more to the animals we harvest than the final numbers.
We always read about guys checking the mail, checking the web and getting calls from buddies saying they drew that great tag. This past spring found me doing the same, but nothing prepared me for what I saw – a true once-in-a-lifetime mountain goat license AND a Bighorn sheep permit - both in the same year!
I spent countless hours talking to folks on the Eastmans’ website forums, speaking with biologists and wardens and spoke to several different outfitters. Ultimately the questions that kept coming up were, how am I going to get both of these tags filled, and when am I going to hunt each animal? With a unique sheep permit that allowed me to hunt two different areas in the month of October, the decision became clearer. I planned to hunt the mountain goat on my own in September and then focus on the sheep, using Wind River Mountain Outfitters.
The summer months crept by. September 7th finally arrived and with it the first weekend of hunting. I spent the next few days hunting with my brothers and father in some extremely rugged and dangerous terrain. The possibility of injuring myself and others hunting with me or creating a mess out of a trophy was very real. We ended that trip with very sore legs, bruised egos and memories that will last a lifetime.
The next Friday found me back on the highway going to camp with my good friend Shawn. We eagerly got up the next morning and glassed for several hours but saw only a couple nannies and kids. We decided to check out a new area I looked at briefly in August.
Shawn and I hiked in about three miles and sat down and star ted glas sing. We immediately found a herd of elk with bulls bugling nonstop. What a treat it was to see all of these elk at nearly 11,000 feet. We decided again to move and glass some cliffs above a lake.
Almost instantly Shawn said, "I’ve got two goats laying in the shade.”
Finding them through the spotting scope, I could tell both were billies. We went around the big basin leading into the lake, and as we made our way around, the landscape looked totally different. I told Shawn to go on ahead and keep looking for a place to shimmy around while I kept my eye out for the goats.
While Shawn was trying to get around a rock face I looked straight up the ledge and saw a goat looking down at us. A quick glance through the binoculars showed a billy. At a mere 80 yards it was too good an opportunity to pass. I knelt down, put the crosshairs on his chest, and squeezed.
For a full account of Chris's adventure, go to page 22 in the October/November 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.