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Nearly 8,000 folks play the odds each year...and only 11 of them come away with the once in a lifetime opportunity to chase Rocky Mountain Goats in Oregon. After checking the draw results that June day, Lucas learned that 2012 would be his year for goats, drawing both his pronghorn antelope and Rocky Mountain goat tags. After several scouting trips and numerous dreams, hunting season had arrived. After killing a monster speed goat (see this thread: http://www.ifish.net/board/showthread.php?t=419285 ), the focus quickly became September 8th. What would normally be a week to chase screaming bulls was now about chasing Oregon's most prized big game animal.

With their habitat topping 8,000 feet in elevation and near vertical terrain, much of the excitement comes from simply getting there. Hunting these critters on their turf, or cliff rather, is a serious undertaking with any weapon, let alone a stick and string. Only one mountain goat had ever been taken with a bow in the state of Oregon, and as soon as Lucas drew the coveted tag, his goal was to join that rank.

I can still recall our first conversation. Hesitant to admit to his insanity, Lucas first asked how much time I could take off, followed with, "I think I wanna try to get one with my bow." Being the tag along cameraman, I of course said, "Sweet man, let's do it!" All the while thinking we would waste a couple days chasing goats before getting serious with the boomstick!

After weeks of mental and physical preparation, phone calls, research and gathering gear, the time had come to put it all to the test. Lucas' Dad and friend, Kevin, were along on the hunt, as well as David and I to film. At first light, the morning before the hunt, we began our 6.5 mile ascent. Climbing nearly 3,000 feet, we set up base camp a half mile short of the basin we would concentrate on during the hunt. With tents pitched and camp organized, we headed out to catch a glimpse of what opening day might have in store, as if we needed reason to lose even more sleep! Cresting the ridge to our vantage point, we took in the most gorgeous sunset as elk bugled a thousand feet below with goats out in every direction. In that moment, that hour, the adventure became a reality that most only dream of. A sleepless night to remember lay ahead.

After some Mountain House goodness and rest that night, the long awaited and once in a lifetime opening day was upon us. We hurried our way back to the ridge top, in hopes of locating the goat we'd seen on our side of the basin the previous evening. We immediately picked out a couple smaller goats, but not the one we were after. We searched the better part of the morning from different vantage points to try and find him, all the while watching numerous goats on the opposite side of the basin a mile or more away. By the time we'd given up our search that afternoon, the three and a half mile hike around to the other side of the canyon seemed like a day two excursion. Not that we couldn't get there in time, but getting a goat down, getting to it, and getting it off the cliffs before dark would be nearly impossible. Besides, it wasn't as if there were numerous hunters after "our herd." We decided to sit tight and see if our mystery goat would show himself before day one came to an end. We were serenaded by more bugles at dusk and took in another perfect sunset before heading back to camp after a day of patterning the goats we'd be after the very next morning.

We left camp at first light Sunday morning, making the long trek to the area we'd watched numerous goats for the past day and a half. After checking several overlooks along the way, and taking a lengthy detour to get a closer look at a goat that didn't meet our spec, we arrived at our destination a little later than anticipated. Knowing goats were close, we eased our way out to a rock point with a good view into the nook we'd been seeing the most goat activity. With our naked eye, we began picking out goats scattered amongst the cliffs...some high, some low, and some certainly unseen. After closer inspection, one goat stood out, and after an hour or so, it began to feed toward a grassy flat above its crag. This was the perfect scenario for an attempt with a bow...game ON!

We quickly employed the goat suit tactic we'd been secretly hoping to test. Lucas and I whipped out our $8.00 paper thin "goat suits" and pulled them over our Sitka Gear (ironic, right?), while the others set up to film and watch from the opposite side of the ravine. Lucas and I scurried through the timbered ridge top to get in place before any goats made it on top and into view. 200 yards later, we crept around one last fir tree to see our goat already locked onto us...doh! We were busted...or were we? Lucas ranged it at 58 yards, then leaned back to converse about a strategy. A few seconds later he peeked back out, and quickly looked back with eyes wide and whispered, "IT'S COMING CLOSER! 38 YARDS!" We sat back and readied ourselves for a point blank shot. One last peek and our goat was broadside at 20 yards, but not coming any closer. Hoping the goat would stay curious, Lucas drew back and we slid out together for the shot. Juuuust as we stepped into the clear, the goat bolted to our right behind the trees. We shuffled to the other side of our tree and and as quickly as we did, out stepped our goat! Broadside, 10 YARDS.....................................THUMP!


[ CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO SHORT ]


The jubilation in that moment was one for the books! 10+ miles into the wilderness, over 8,000 feet on elevation, peering into near vertical canyons, and we had just arrowed a Rocky Mountain goat at 10 yards!!! After the celebratory whisper yells and fist pumps, we ran up to the edge and watched our goat head for "safety in the cliffs," as they say. Just as a fish heads for the weed beds, Roosevelt elk head for the Devil's Club infested creek bottoms, so the goats head for the impassable rock walls to expire.

We skirted the rim to follow the goat and watch its every move. Many say that Rocky Mountain goats are the toughest big game animal in North America to bring down, and our experience confirms that statement. Blood poured from right near the heart on the entry side, but the exit seemed a little far back for the angle we'd shot at. The goat bedded within 100 yards of where we'd shot, but because of the particular location it was fixing to roll, we tried to get it up and to a better spot to expire. It made it's way to the top, but still had enough left to crest the top and head down into an equally gnarly location and bedded again. After a super sketchy 200 yard descent, we put another arrow into this goat at under 10 yards. We then watched what was inevitable, and bittersweet, as our quarry rolled another 300 yards down the near vertical rock face...at 6:00pm...4 miles from camp. Ugh.

The "goat down" celebration was overshadowed by doubt and worry. Doubting our ability to even get to the goat, and worrying that we would lose meat if not...a position they warn you about in the orientation class, but one you never really expect to be in. We climbed back up to the top and ran through the options as a group, ultimately deciding to attempt a retrieval right away. If we could get to him before dark (less than an hour away now), we could climb back up in the dark much easier than going down. So down we went...and while I've been in some precarious positions before, this was the worst. I've never questioned whether or not I could get to a downed animal, I don't know that any of us had, so this was a new sort of anticipation for all of us. We nervously took each step, zig zagging our way through the bluffs and rock slides, uncertain of whether or not we'd reach a truly impassible spot along the way. It was a hair-raising maze, but we finally found a way to the tiny ledge our goat was on. One more roll and it would have gone another 300 yards to very bottom!

Darkness set in right as we reached the goat's final resting place. We snapped some quick pics of the not so pretty goat (after that fall), and saved most of the photos for the next day with a cleaned up cape and a much flatter location. We tied the goat off to a rock with para cord and began piecing him out, careful of every step as we did. Turns out, the first arrow ricocheted off the abnormally close and thick ribs (one of the "tough" attributes of a mountain goat) and sent the arrow exiting too far back for a quicker kill. The next arrow did the trick for good. As the night wore on and headlamps lit our work area, we caped the full goat and quartered the meat, divvied it up among our four packs, then thanked the Lord and asked for His guidance as we climbed the rock ladder back to the top of the basin. Under the MOST amazing star lit sky, we reached the top by 10pm, and the 4 miles back to camp by 2am! And you know what, the glow of a campfire was the best surprise ever that night! Lucas' dad had made it back to camp long before us and stayed up to welcome the goat hunter with a congratulations and warm fire! He even had a surprise for me...an ash carved log with our slogan...not many adventures can define "Seeking the One" quite like this one...




Lucas and his dad...




The crew...




Only the second Rocky Mountain goat ever taken with a bow in Oregon, and the first on film! It green scored just over 40" which would qualify for P&Y!




May we all take the time to attribute the good in life to the God of life...creator and sustainer of all things...







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Now that is a teaser!!! Sounds like a great hunt, spooky retrieval.
 

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Awesome stuff.....may as well put me on the yearly mailing list for those dvds at this rate....:applause::applause:
 
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