"In North America there is one large animal that belongs almost entirely to the realm of towering rock and unmelting snow. Pressing hard against the upper limit of life's possibilities, it exists higher and steeper throughout the year than any other big beast on the continent. It is possibly the best and most complete mountaineer that ever existed on any continent. Oreamnos americanus is its scientific name. Its common name is mountain goat." -Douglas H. Chadwick
Solo Goat Hunting Seward, Alaska By :: Kristoffer Ocel
I moved to the great state of Alaska in January of 2013. We have lived in three different towns. First, Big Lake, then, Wasilla, and we bought a home in Soldotna, on the Kenai Peninsula. Lots of big life changes first settling into our home and then being blessed with a son in January. Due to all the moving around and my work schedule, the first two years I really haven’t had a chance to hunt Alaska. In December, I applied for the 2015 drawing and to my surprise I drew two very coveted tags. Both had a 2% odds of attaining. I drew a Peninsula goat permit and a Kodiak fall bear permit. This year was going to be the first time I would be able to attempt goat hunting. Foolishly, I assumed with only 2% odds of drawing that this goat tag would be a slam dunk. (Huge Mistake on my part). My area was right out of the town of Seward. I did a little research and figured I would take my drift boat across Resurrection Bay 12 miles and simply hike up the mountain and kill a goat! If it were only that easy! August 12th a coworker and I took the boat across the bay and failed! We found the billies, but we could not find a single one we could reach in the cliffs! We did get within range of several nanys, but no luck on a billy!
I work a 14-day on 14-day off schedule. My next opportunity would be in September. This time as a solo hunter! Now I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge and actually take pride in how much misery I can put myself through! I’m no super fit hunting athlete. I’m the average joe that is more overweight then I should be. BUT, I know that life is nothing more then a mental game! Mentally, I’m ironman! This next trip found me in the mountains just north of Seward. It was an area a friend told me of. He said he had occasionally seen goats in this area, but, I’d have to do some serious bushwhacking through the alders to access the area (Alders Suck). Talk about misery! I got a break in the weather and away I went! The only problem was I could only find one day weather windows. So a day trip it was. I would leave the truck at 300-feet above sea level and bushwack my way through the Devils club to 3400-feet. I saw lots and lots of goats, but now the billies are on the wrong side! With all the rain crossing, the creek was way too dangerous! Unfortunately my second and third attempts were failures as well.
Here we are now in October and season closes on the 15th! I pull up the forecast on my phone and it shows one day without rain! There’s my window for a day trip. I leave my home at 4:30am on the 5th and I’m hiking up through the jungle an hour before daylight! I researched a route through the timber on google earth, but this time on the other side of the creek. Now it’s October and freezing up on the glacier at night. The level of the creek has dropped dramatically. I had a little run in with a brownie after daybreak, but other then that, things were going well! I hit goat country by 10am and just knew today was the day! At noon, I spotted this guy and decided he was the one I wanted.
He was about 1200-yards out, but the county I was hunting was impossibly steep and thick! It took me four hours to close that distance and sure enough, he was gone by the time I got there. I knew that I needed to turn around if I wanted to get out that night, but my stubbornness said different. Like a fool, I kept going and it wasn’t long before I spotted him again. This time he was about 500-yards out. So away I went and at 6pm, I arrived, and you guessed it, he was nowhere to be seen. I was beaten. No goat for me! I wrote my wife on my InReach and said that I’d failed it catch up with him and I was going to try and get out of there that night, but doubted that I would. I figured I would try one more avalanche shoot and if he wasn’t in there I would hike straight up and hope I could summit. You can make good time if you can walk the ridge spines.
As I walked through some alders I looked up and he appeared at 250-yards straight across from me. It was a head on shot, but I was determined to make it happen. I dropped to a prone position and settled the crosshairs on his chest and squeezed the trigger. I heard the bullet impact and he jumped off the little pinnacle he was on. I was able to get two other shots at him before he disappeared, but he didn’t react to either. I stood there and listened, but nothing. Now I should be hearing him tumbling 2000-feet down a shale slide, but all was quiet. I was scared that if I couldn’t hear him rolling, then he must be going up. I couldn’t help but wonder how I was going to follow him! 30-minutes later, I was on the little pinnacle where he had stood. I didn’t look for blood right away. I wanted to see what was on the other side. As I crossed it there he was hung up on and alder bush. That wonderful bush was all that kept him from rolling down the the bottom.
Imagine this, I’ve got some weather that’s due to move in and I’m 10-hours into goat country with a goat down. Not that smart, but what the heck, right? I had and hour of light left to break the goat down. I actually hit him all three times. Once through both shoulders (their tough animals). I estimated his weight at 300lbs on the hoof. I actually had to gut him so I could move him for pictures. I spent the night in a goat bed up on the pinnacle that I originally shot the goat on. (FYI) space blankets aren’t warm! Lol. The pack out was brutal! My pack weighed 160-170. I wasn’t strong enough to go uphill with that load so I would hopscotch the load on the steep up hills. It seemed as all I did was load and unload that dang pack. Thanks to my friend who met me up on the hill at 5pm after work. We split the load and used the 200-feet of rope I carry to descend 2000′ down a Avalanche shoot to the creek bottom and got out of there at 8:30pm. It was the longest day trip of my life, but well worth it!
My Billy isn’t the biggest, but I’m proud of him. He’s 9 1/2″ long and aged at 8 years old.