The trip to Utah was a success in many ways. First and foremost, we all made it up the mountain and back down alive with everything intact. This hunt was the most physically demanding hunt I have been on to date. As you know, I had been working out daily and posting my progress, however even doing what I did, this hunt was grueling but well worth it. I can honestly say that if I hadn't worked out like I did, I wouldn’t have been able to physically complete this hunt and truly wish I would have prepared more. Now that I am in this routine, I do plan on staying on track and staying more physically fit.
Day 1: We basically got fogged out and had to leave the hunt early but did come up with a game plan for the morning.
Day 2: We hiked the top of the mountain and out to the peak at just below 10,000 ft. We worked our way through the shale banks and cliffs, which weren’t too bad. Up top, Brad passed a couple small nannies. Once to the peak, Brad had three billies in the cross hairs, however, with only a nannie tag we had to just watch and admire these amazing animals. We made our way back to the truck seeing lots of other goats but they were either impossible to get to or not what we were looking for.
Day 3: Our plan was to start low and glass for goats up high while making plans to go around the top and drop in on them or to hike up from the bottom. Once daylight broke, we found the nannie we were looking for and made our game plan. Unfortunately, there was no way to come in from the top which meant we had to hike up from the bottom and try and get around them to drop in on them from the backside. We all loaded our packs for the long trek and headed up the mountain. Approximately two hours later, we had made it through the cliffs, up the shale banks and back through the cliffs. We were now sitting approximately 3000 vertical ft. from where we started and 2.5 miles from the truck, but only 100 yards and closing from the goats. As I readied the camera, we slowly made our way to within 30 yards of the goats. Unfortunately, we didn’t know exactly where they were and they saw us as we saw them. I told Brad "30 yards to the left - she’s right there through the sage brush." I snapped a couple photos as she started to hike higher. Soon she was back in view and Brad dropped the hammer making a great shot ensuring she didn’t go far. We celebrated briefly, then started to plan how to get her off this treacherous mountain. We radioed down to our spotter Craig who was also videoing the entire thing from down low. We talked a bit, then went to work on photos, caping and cutting up the meat for the trip down the mountain. In the meantime, our spotter Craig so wanted to join in the celebration on the mountain that he made the long trek up to help us out. We waited, took a breather and did what we could before he arrived. Once he made it, we finished up with photos and took care of the rest of the caping and meat work. Once done we all loaded up our packs and headed back down the mountain.
I want to say a few last things:
First, congrats to Brad on an awesome goat and also thank you for inviting me and letting me be a part of this entire adventure.
Second, I want to say thank you to some new friends: Stefan and Jennie. Stefan, your help and work through this entire thing from scouting to helping to packing was just incredible. You are a very unselfish person who took time off from work and your daily life just to help with no other gains except to be part of a hunt with some guys your barely knew. You had only met Brad once and we had never even talked personally before except through Brad. My hat is off to you, sir. You are one of few - a truly a great guy.
Jennie what can I say about you? You brought us into your home like we had all been friends forever. The day Brad shot his goat, you were right there with us on top of that mountain. You also are truly a great person. As I told you, I have seen many men and women talk the talk but couldn’t walk the walk in the end. But you, “Princess”, can definitely walk the walk.
Last but not least Craig:
I left Craig as the last person to talk about for a reason. Craig, like Brad and I, had never been on a mountain goat hunt but was a good friend of Stefan’s and really wanted to go along to help out. Getting to know Craig on that mountain made me realize I was on this mountain with my new hero- an American hero. Craig had done his time across seas serving with the 204th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade with the Utah National Guard. He is now retired at the young age of 60. If any of you have ever mountain goat hunted before, you know this is a very grueling hunt on your body at any age and although 60 is not old by any means it is starting to push the limits on a hunt like this. Craig hung in there on days 1 and 2. Once back to the truck he told us he would go along and spot on day three but he was worn out, tired and his feet were not doing so good. We all agreed it would be great to have a spotter anyway. Craig had already earned my respect from serving our country and what he/we had already done on this hunt but on day 3 he became the man and my new hero. Craig wanted to be part of this celebration. He really wanted to be more than just the spotter down below (which actually was a big help in the success of this hunt). After this goat was on the ground, through all his pain, sore feet and tiredness, Craig made the long trek up that mountain to be with us and celebrate. To this day and forever I will respect the drive, courage and will of this man. You deserved to be on top of that mountain with us and I am glad you made it, my friend.
Again, Brad, congrats to you, my friend, on a well-deserved goat after a hard long hunt. Thank you to Stefan, Jennie and Craig for everything you did to make us feel at home and for all the help on the mountain.
Brad submitted his Utah Mountain Goat story to Huntin' Fool magazine (photos by Art). It was selected as the October 2014 Member's Choice Winner.
Art & Michelle Helin have enjoyed the outdoors their entire lives. Here, they share their passion with you.
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