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Mountain Goat Hunting in North America

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Mountain goats in Bella Coola, British Columbia, CanadaMountain goats are also known as the Rocky Mountain goat and they are found mainly in the western part of North America like the Yukon, Alaska, Alberta, and British Columbia. It is a large hoofed mammal, native only to this part of the continent. Although called the mountain goat it actually belongs to the antelope family. The interesting feature is that both males and females have beards and long black horns about 25 centimeters long curving at the tip, in females the curve is prominent at the tip while the males have a gradual curve. The males are popularly called ‘billies’ and females are called ‘nannies’. Wooly white inner and outer coats protect the goats from the harsh winter when the temperature falls to almost –40 degrees Celsius and wind speed reaches up to 160 km/h. In summer, the males and females shed their winter coat. The mountain goat is an expert climber and can pull itself up vertically on ledges and execute sharp turns on narrow platforms. Highly developed hooves with hard outer shells and concave suction cup like footpads give it the maneuverability to negotiate the steep mountainous terrain. There they forage on grasses, sedges, ferns, herbs, moss, twigs, and leaves of shrubs. Adult males weigh about 90 pounds and females weigh 60 pounds. Male goats are about a meter in height at the shoulder.

a Nanny mountain goat

The average life span of the mountain goat is 15 years. Breeding season is in late October and continues till December. Females give birth to a single kid on an isolated ledge after a gestation period of six months. Due to dwindling population, mountain goat hunting is regulated and hunting season usually starts in the middle of September and closes by the end of November. Unless hunting goats in British Columbia’s open seasons, only a few licenses are available for the numerous applications.

 Most outfitters fly their clients to base camps. From the base camp, the hunters then negotiate a steep terrain to a height of about 3000 feet to the spike camp before proceeding to locate and stalk the mountain goats.

Mountain goat hunting is most physically demanding as it involves dangerous situations with the animals or negotiating steep and rugged snow covered terrain and only the most physically fit hunters with good athletic ability can endure it. Physical fitness of level 4 is required to undertake this expedition. Mountain goats usually remain above the timberline on rocky bluffs, venturing to the lower elevation and forests only for short durations when the snowfall is heavy.

Traveling light with the best equipment is a must for a successful mission. A truly exceptional trophy will be a big billy with long undamaged hair. Most hunts are done in the traditional way on horseback or backpack on foot. Outfitters will guide you with choosing the right equipment and the clothing required. Mountain goat hunting is not day trip hunting. Hunters are typically required to carry a backpack, hike uphill 5-6 miles in the rugged steep terrain and stay overnight.

Travel light and carry the best equipment with you,if bowhunting your setup should have at least 40ft.lbs. of kinetic energy, a bow with a draw weight of 60 pounds and arrow weights of 400 grains will easily attain this. grizzlies and brown bear also inhabit this terrain so bear spray or a high caliber rifle is a must. Carrying the finest quality of rifle scopes, spotting scopes, and binoculars is recommended as a lot of time will be spent in glassing for the perfect trophy, pocket range finder, cooking stove, skinning knife, good quality insulated boots that offer traction on the steep slopes and gorges, multiple pairs of warm socks, camping boots, woolen shirts and pants, down filled parka with hood, jackets, rain suit, fire starting equipment, radio set, GPS kit, sleeping bag, first aid kit, water bottle, insect repellant, and bags to carry the trophy and hide.

Due to the rarity of these animals, in some regions a hunter will have to wait for almost seven years before applying for license again. Only a few lucky hunters experience this extreme and exhilarating hunt. Make sure to start training six weeks in advance to going on your goat hunting trip, here is a way to get into shape for goat hunting.

Posted November 30, -1 by Justin Ott

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