Author Topic: Hunting adventures in the Rockies, thatís why I moved to BC!!  (Read 1334 times)

Call of the Wild

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Hunting adventures in the Rockies, thatís why I moved to BC!!
« on: September 13, 2011, 09:48:06 PM »
Well well where to start? I really enjoy this forum from the vast amount of information on various subject to the great hunting stories and the many friendly people. I decided to share my sheep and goat hunt with you guys this year since its fun to read mountain hunting stories all year and many members enjoy them also. I'm not trying to compete just sharing my adventure and if I can stimulate guys dreaming to hunt sheep to get out sheep hunting that would be great because that was my case for years.
 
A little of history first, back in the day in Ontario as a kid I dreamed from time to time of "one day" going hunting for wild sheep but I somewhat knew I was just dreaming. Then in 2005 I moved to Alberta with high hopes of hunting bighorn sheep eventually. My brother and hunting partner from the beginning, we don't come from a hunting family, joined me in the West in 2006 and we started to talk more about our dream to hunt in the mountains. The following years we started to hunt more game from whitetail deer, elk and moose also mule deer and black bear for me.
 
Eventually my brother moved to BC and became an official resident last year. We then decided it was time to realise our dream to go sheep hunting. Having a choice to either hunt in Alberta or BC we decided he would be the hunter and northern BC would be our hunting ground for a backpack hunt for stone sheep or mountain goat.
 
Having no experience hunting in the Rockies we had a lot to learn from the required backpacking gear to the food, plus a lot of research to educate ourselves on sheep and mountain goat. All that was unknown for us and we didn't know anyone to help/guide us in the proper direction for such an adventure. We were and still are very ambitious to learn everything related to mountain hunting and also enjoy every aspect of the preparation. Our home work paid off and we did have a successful hunting adventure and a very comfortable 12 day hunt without missing anything.  This year only minor modifications to our gear list was required to leave home the excess stuff, cut stuff we don't need and some improvement/upgrade.
 
I must admit I was hooked so bad, I had a feeling it would happen, I researched the hunting potential and differences of BC vs Alberta and finally decided to move from the Peace of Alberta to the Peace of BC this winter. Our hunt this year was an eleven day hunt from the end of August to early September and we both agreed I would be the first shooter.
 
 
August 27

My brother arrived at my place mid afternoon, both of us very excited and anxious for an other hunting adventure we left my house quickly.  We didnít bring all that food in the picture, probably three quarter of it.  Our backpacks weighted 63 and 61 pounds all loaded up and we had to camp by the highway that night. 
 


August 28

The noise of big trucks woke us up quite early. It was a great day to drive in the mountains and the scenery was breathtaking.  We saw a lot of wildlife along the highway in the mountains from a whitetail deer and a fox to mountain caribou and two bands of stone sheep ewes.
 






After our first creek crossing I noticed one of the caps for the scope dial was holding but on an angle.  Wondering if my scope was ok I fired a practice shot resting on a backpack at 100 yards.  I was very relieved to see that my shot was two inches high, which is perfect since the rifle is zeroed at 200 yards. 
 



After a good day of hiking we made a camp for the night.  My brother found a bear track in the sand by the creek.
 



August 29

After a quick glassing session during breakfast, we loaded the backpacks to complete our hike with more creek crossing and an old forest fire to cross.  What we didnít know at that time is how hard it would be to walk thru that forest fire and how much it would slow us down.
 




To our surprise the forest fire is all the way to where we planned to start our hunt.  With dead trees on the ground and new re growth some parts were dangerous but we still manage to keep going.  Exhausted we set up the tent on a light slope that night.


August 30

Even if we werenít where we planned to be at that point in the hunt our spirit was good, fog patches were present that morning and I managed to find a mountain goat in steep cliffs.  A young goat with horns about the length of the ears, it wasnít possible to determine if it was a male of female.  The mountain scenery was amazing with the fog moving around.



After breakfast we climbed for the top of the mountain but we had to clear the tree line first and the small shrubs that like to anchor on your feet.  We were exhausted but knowing we only had half a day of hiking/climbing left to do was good news then. 

While climbing I spotted a mountain goat walking on a ridge at the top of the mountain, he bedded skyline.  We kept climbing and eventually it became very steep.  Hereís my brother taking a break in a steep spot while waiting for water to boil for our Mountain House Lasagna. 



I was ahead of my brother when I reached the summit of a cliff for a plateau, being exhausted I stop being cautious when I walked over the top and made too much noise in the shale rocks.  At that moment in some small coniferous trees close by I spotted something white bedded, it was the goat we spotted earlier and when I saw a head moving I drop low to move in a low spot.  When my brother reached the top I told him to join me quickly and explained him what just happened. 

We then decided to grab only our hunting gear and to go up higher to cut him off in the event he wanted to go for some cliffs where he was earlier.  We never saw him and decided to walk the edge of the area with trees in case we could spot him and also to set our self in a good spot to glass the mountain sides for sheep or goat. 

After so much hard work it was a pretty good feeling to have action right when we hit the alpine.  While glassing, a band of 8 female goats was feeding, being new to mountain hunting it was fun to watch.  Eventually we spotted a lonely goat on the other side of the valley, after analysing him we determined he was a mature male mountain goat. 

One thing we notice quickly once we were in the alpine was the presence of a large quantity of droppings and foot print in the rocks.  That was enough to cheer us up, not that we were negative but just very tired and exhausted at that point. 






August 31

This day will be one Iíll remember for the rest of my life.  We saw a lots of game and a day full of great emotions.

Itís a day that started very normally.  When I woke up my brother wanted to rest so he stayed for more sleep.  I couldnít stay put so I loaded what I needed for a hunt and since we were running very low on water I left without having breakfast.  What a mistake of my part, an energy bar would have been at least just enough but I had to rely on my ambition to fuel my body.  I was heading for one of the highest peak of our mountain to glass an other valley.

At first light I glassed a grassy slope and after an hour I carried on with my slow climb, of course careful to not skyline myself and looking around for game.  Eventually I found a group of mountain goat, Iím assuming it was the same group from the night before, and I also scared some ptarmigan.





Once close to the summit I found a snow patch that would become our water source since I had the intention to make that area our camp.  It was well located for a base camp to give us options to move around and glass the valleys in the area.  There was also some sheep or goat trail in the rocks in the area, an other good sign that sheep and/or goat live on that mountain. 





I found a low spot to sit in to glass the surroundings.  The scenery was amazing and I had a great view of the band of goat also.  I counted 9 goats, all female with their young one, bedded on the edge of a steep shale rock slope.  In the deep and wide valley in front of me I found a male mountain goat feeding on the edge of trees on a grassy slope.  Just as I was going to take a picture of him, he bedded behind a tree. 






Back to the tent around 10:30 am, we again found the male mountain goat across our valley, he was bedded in a very steep shale rock slide on a mountain side.  Since time was going by very fast and the fact it took us more days to reach our hunting area, I took the time to study him carefully before deciding to go hunt him. 





I finally told my brother he was worth to harvest since he meets my criteria by being a male and I was confident he was mature.  So we loaded our backpacks with just what we needed for the day, including hunting gear plus the rain gear and warm clothes in the event we wouldnít make it to camp for the night.  This way we were light and efficient in our travel.

After discussing and analysing what was the best approach to the goat according to the wind and the land, we decided to climb part of the steep rocky mountain up to where thereís some vegetation on top of the rugged rocks, on the left side of the next picture, then once on top of those rocks walk to the island of similar rock toward the goat.  This way there was no way he could smell us if the wind stayed put, I would have been about 200 yards of him with a straight shot instead of an angled shot and he would roll in the shale rocks most likely down to the creek plateau bellow.  This way the damage to the meat, hide and horns would be minimal for a mountain goat. 



Often events in life donít go as plan and for this hunt again things went not according to our plan.  Iím still amazed on how the following events happened.

Here descending our mountain side for the mountain side the goat was located on.

Walk down





Walk/climb up




Every experienced mountain hunter knows the landscape of the land changes once youíre in it.  Even knowing about that and some experience related to it, we completely forgot to turn toward the goat.  We were so focused on our safety in this dangerous cliff that we kept climbing and forgot we were there to hunt.
Shoot straight or eat track soup.

Call of the Wild

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Re: Hunting adventures in the Rockies, thatís why I moved to BC!!
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2011, 09:49:15 PM »
Eventually when we were very high without really realising it, I looked down our cliff and hereís what I saw where we were an hour earlier.





Oh Ya a big fat grizzly sow with two cubs.  I instantly told my brother to look down and I took some pictures, then we had to find a spot to drop our backpacks so they wouldnít roll down and get ready in the event she would charge.  All that in a spot where both of us were not very stable on our feet.  When the sow crossed our tracks she became very nervous and turned back to where she came from.  Seeing a grizzly bear with two cubs in their natural environment is a highlight moment of our hunting adventure.  The two of us were really happy that didnít ruin our hunt.

Less than half an hour later we were on some flat land again.  This time on top of the mountain we tough, earlier at the tent, was not possible to climb.  So we stopped for a Mountain House supper, enjoyed the wonderful view of the surrounding peaks and valleys.  Not long after reaching the top, we found the mountain goat we spotted on August 30 right by our tent.  We suspect he saw the grizzlies as well and at that point didnít find his hiding hole very good any more.  He walked right by our tent to cross the mountain side we faced, a great opportunity to observe how easily a mountain goat moves in alpine country.

The tent and the mountain goat




After supper I spotted a mountain caribou very far on a snow peak.  We then decided to walk the ridge of our new mountain to see some new country while we were there and eventually I found our goat bellow feeding by the creek.



Eventually we started to walk down half way the mountain to be equal to the goat and walk toward where the goat liked to go bed in the cliffs.  My brother was leading and spotted the goat, so we found a place to take off our backpacks and to get ready for a final approach.  The goat was bedded and facing away from us at 300 yards in the shale rocks, half way between him and us was a patch of solid rocks.  Our goal was to reach that and then wait for him to stand up for a shot at about 150 yards.   





After 10 minutes of slowly moving toward the goat, he turned around to bed facing us.  The following fifteen minutes were somewhat long since we couldnít move anymore.  There was a big rock beside me blocking the view of the goat, so I started to glass the surroundings, the first goat we tried to hunt was again visible feeding and an other goat was now skyline on the other side of the mountain plus two mountain caribou were feeding up high by the creekís head. 

Eventually our goat walked down to the creek to feed again.  At one point he was 270 yards on some flat ground but at an angle of about 50 degree and since I had nothing to stabilise myself, I passed that opportunity.  My brother suggested that we should keep moving and get closer to where he always went back to bed after feeding.  We again worked together to cover some ground, one was glassing and saying "Go go" or "Stop" depending if the goat had view of our area while feeding.  The water in the creek was making a lot of noise and we knew our noise in the shale rocks would be covered by it.  Our strategy worked for quite a long time and eventually we got detected without stressing him, he kept feeding but climbing away and also looking in our direction often.  I ranged him at 325 yards and slightly higher than us.  It was impossible to rest on the solid rocks where I was so I climbed 15 yards to check if I could find a good rest with the same result.

So I decided to sit down and rest my elbows on my knees, which was not easy with the distance, the excitement and the fact I was in a slope.  The hunt is on video but I only have internet with my phone right now, when I can Iíll add the video to the story.

I took two quick shots that hit right by his hooves without knowing it.  Then I fired a third shot that totally missed him and I saw the impact in the rocks.  A fourth shot and the goat was still standing and climbing, I started to think that I was hitting too low.  After a few seconds I fired a fifth shot and the goat started to run right away.  Then I put the second magazine in and told myself "thatís your last shot, focus and relax that one must count or itís over", so I aimed for 400 yards in the scope and fired a sixth and last shot.

The goat was perfectly still and broadside looking in our direction when fired with confidence.  This time I hit the goat exactly where I was aiming, right in the shoulder to drop him in his tracks.  He instantly felt down and started to roll down for a short distance without moving again.  I was very happy even if my first shots werenít good.  I ranged him after and he was now at 376 yards and the video shows the whole hunt very well and how excited we were afterward. 

After the fact I think for my two first shots, the goat might have been farther than what I ranged or I didnít used the proper lines in my scope for 325 yards.  What ever the case is my shots were too low and they would have been ok if I had the proper elevation.  I was calm and concentrated for my last shot and I also aimed higher. 




We back track to our backpacks before going to the goat.  I harvested my goat at 7:45 pm and we were at the goat at 9:00 pm, there wasnít much light for good pictures then.  Now beside the goat we understood why we got busted, we probably didnít blend in anymore in the shale rocks but it must have been impossible for him to find us in the shale rocks that are mixed with big solid rocks.  Then it was time to gut him and darkness came quickly, we were on our guards since we knew three grizzlies were in the area and my brother was singing some funny songs for the purpose.  I guess thatís what happens when youíre on a happy mood!!!  We were on high alert for the walk down to the creek to wash my hands and back to the tent.  We went to sleep tired at 1am.


September 1

After a good sleep, we woke up to some snow around us and had a hot breakfast.  We knew it would be a work day if the grizzlies didnít find an easy meal.  Happy to find the goat we took some pictures and the work started to pack the meat.  Back at the tent we had a great meal of mountain goat tenderloins with Montrťal Spice and a Mickey of spice rum with ice tea.









September 2 & 3

We decided to leave even if we still had two days of hunting left.  We manage to get out somewhat faster but it was still a very hard hike with heavy backpacks. 





September 6

After the compulsory inspection of the goat we stop at my taxidermist.  I had the opportunity to explain some sheep horns features to my brother and look at horns and antlers in the shop, you know how that goes.

My goat is a 5Ĺ year old billy with horns 8 1/8 long, Iím very happy with our hunt.  We hunted hard, we never had a taught of stopping instead we kept going even when difficult situations came up, saw a lot of game, learned a lot again for the next hunt and harvested a good billy mountain goat. 



We didnít see any sheep during our hunt even if we were in an area with good sheep population.  We mostly stayed in the same valley once we reached the summit and with the amount of time spent glassing the only sign of sheep we saw was droppings and game tracks in the rocks which canít be identified between sheep and mountain goat.

I want to finish my story by thanking first my brother, we get along so well and he's a great partner.  Canít wait to go out hunting again for sheep this time bud.  Also every experienced sheep hunters I discussed with from this forum and other sources, you guys are an excellent source of inspiration and I appreciated the knowledge you shared.

Thanks for reading my story, I hope you enjoyed it.
Shoot straight or eat track soup.

sheepguide

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Re: Hunting adventures in the Rockies, thatís why I moved to BC!!
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2011, 10:03:08 PM »
Great report!!!   And a great trophy, thanks for sharing your adventure. Its also cool seeing spots a guy can reconize in the pics, I probably saw your vehicle along the way when we moved.
SG
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badback

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Re: Hunting adventures in the Rockies, thatís why I moved to BC!!
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2011, 07:11:27 AM »
Wow...great story, pics and adventure...Thanks for sharing it!!!
Treat each day as your last; one day you will be right.

Paul

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Re: Hunting adventures in the Rockies, thatís why I moved to BC!!
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2011, 10:27:57 AM »
Great story and photos COTW, thanks for sharing that with our members.

wildmeat

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Re: Hunting adventures in the Rockies, thatís why I moved to BC!!
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2011, 11:00:28 AM »
agreed... there are some great pictures in there and thanks for the read

hayseed

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Re: Hunting adventures in the Rockies, thatís why I moved to BC!!
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2011, 02:12:01 PM »
Great story and hunt!!  Congrats!!