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You don’t have to be a veteran mountain goat hunter to figure out real quick that they are not the brightest animals in the kingdom. Now their physical ability on the other hand, well, it’s second to none and the terrain they live in is unforgiving. The next issue with those white furry creatures is the fact that it can take several years to draw a tag. If you add the challenge of establishing a goat’s gender, size and age, you end up with one hell of a fun hunt. But it’s not all fun and games. Hunting at high altitude offers some unique challenges and requires specialized gear. Here’s what’s worked for me over the years (see the video from my last goat hunt here).
1) Always come in from above them when possible. They very rarely look up and even when they do see you they are more curious than scared when approached from above.
2) NEVER let them see you from below. If you want to see a big Billy climb into the cliffs in a matter of seconds, than this would be the way to do it.
3) Try and make your approach when the goat has bedded. This is not a must, but it won’t hurt either.
4) When you’re planning the route for your approach, try to get a good idea of the goats escape route. If you bump them a little they generally don’t go very far and you may be able to catch them with a little proactive movement.
5) NEVER shoot them in the cliffs! If they die in there, the chances of getting them out are not as good as you falling down. The other issue with the “cliff shot” is the good possibility that they will fall several hundred feet after the shot and break their horns or damage meat.
Avoid Altitude Sickness
1) When doing any type of cardio vascular training (after you’re at a decent fitness level), keep a fighters mouth piece in at all times. This is a very cheap and affective way to simulate the lack of oxygen you will be facing when at altitudes of 11,500 feet or higher (this is where the goats live). I know this seems a little overboard, but you will be thanking yourself for doing it when you’re on the side of the mountain. Using a snorkel works even better, but you get some funny looks when running on the treadmill.
2) Take a supplement like Wilderness Athlete Altitude Advantage. This will put you several steps up the ladder before you even get above sea level.
3) If you’re a flatlander, climb as many stairs as you possibly can. This is the closest thing your going to find to a 45 degree slope. As you gain ground on your cardio level, put on a backpack and add weight accordingly.
4) Drink as much water as you can before, during and after your hunt. This will help out greatly with your acclamation period and lesson the chances of altitude sickness and headaches.
5) Add supplements to your water like Wilderness Athlete Hydrate and Recover during your hunt. This will help replenish your electrolytes quicker and keep you from getting that sluggish feeling.
Here is the list of gear that I suggest when heading above the treeline for a backpack hunt.
Tent: Hilleberg Akto, Soulo or Kifaru Supertarp
Sleeping pad: Exped Synmat UL7 or Big Agnes Insulated Air Core
Sleeping bag: Marmot, Western Mountaineering, Kifaru (0-15 degree)
Backpack: Kifaru or Mystery Ranch (minimum of 4,000 cubic inches)
Stove: Jetboil SOL, SOTO OD 1-R
Knife: Havalon for caping and Benchmade for heavy work
Headlamp: Petzl Myo
Game bags: Kifaru, T.A.G.S, Caribou
Jacket: Cabelas Incline, Kuiu Guide
Vest: Camelas Incline vest, Kuiu Guide vest
Insulating Layer: Cabelas down synthetic, Kuiu Spindrift
Base layers: First Lite Llano or Kuiu 185
Pants: Cabelas Microtex, Kuiu Attack, FirstLite Kanab
Rain Gear: Kuiu Chugach, Cabelas Space Rain Gear
With footwear, it’s all about fit! Now for me, I have had great success with Hanwag boots from Lathrop and Sons. Their Mountain Lights are what I used for most of the season and they still look like new. The Hanwag Alaskan’s will go on when the weather gets cold, but you can’t go wrong with any of the Hanwags. Lowa and Crispi also offer some great boots for mountain hunting, but you need to make sure anything you use is broken in and has a proper fit.
Knee Pads: Arcteryx Knee Caps
Gators: Outdoor Research Crocodile gators, REI Running Gators
Walking sticks: Black Diamond Distance Z-Poles
Stay tuned for more posts on how to draw a trophy goat tag, how to glass in the high country and on how to identify mountain goat gender and estimate age.