My second BC trip of the year began with a flight from Texas to Montana, and then a drive north to Toad River through
Kootenay, Banff and Jasper Parks – some of the most awesome
country that God created. Though I’d made the drive before and have hundreds of
scenery pictures, I couldn't resist taking a few more.
After spending a night
at Folding Mountain Outfitters’ lodge, the outfitter Dale Drinkall transported
me to base camp. I felt extremely fortunate to be matched up with Blair Miller
as my guide, whose awesomeness was only surpassed by his lovely wife Rebecca. Blair
and Becca were amazing people and competent guides with great attitudes. The
morning after my arrival, they were packed, saddled and ready to head out.
After a two-hour horse
ride up the Toad River, Blair and I started a four-hour hike to get into
prospective goat country. Our packs were loaded with camp and four days of
food. Though not particularly steep terrain, the vegetation was extremely thick
with willow and timber blow-downs. The high country, where the goats were
hanging out, was a different story – rocky shale with the word “steep” as an
Right away, Blair picked
out several billies with his spotting scope. Though we’d been going all
day and had less than three hours until dark, Blair figured we should make a go
of it. We pitched the tent, unloaded unnecessary gear and started climbing. We were
able to make it to within a couple hundred yards of the bedded billies, but
there wasn’t an approach for a bow shot. We were forced to back out and, after
a long first day, we turned in early. We had high hopes for the following day
knowing that several goats were bedded above us.
As light came the next morning, we confirmed the
goats’ location and began another climb up the mountain. Again, the terrain
offered extremely difficult stalking conditions, and we were only able to sneak
within 200 yards of our quarry. The four billies had a lookout in every
direction. We tried to close the distance, but ended up blowing them up the
As the weather deteriorated we found our sixth
billy of the day, bedded on a sliver of rock. With less than four hours
of daylight remaining our plan was simple; drop our packs and go. If we could
get below him without being seen and climb into the cliffs through a 42-50
degree chute (as later confirmed by our inclination range finder) we might have
The stalk was perfect. I climbed through a notch in
the cliffs and onto an ice-covered rock ledge no wider than 18 inches. I tried
not to think about the several hundred-foot drop off on either side of me as I
ranged the goat. 45 yards. I drew my bow and carefully walked the last few feet
from behind the rock to expose the goat. The billy was still bedded and looking
straight at me. Though I’d made that shot a thousand times before, perhaps the
severity of the situation got to me. I watched in horror as my arrow flew underneath him. We safely
descended to our tent to complete another full day.
The next morning, we
spotted two billies from our snow-covered tent. At about 270 yards, I could
have shot them with a rifle without getting out of my sleeping bag. But with bow
in hand, we took off up the mountain. Unfortunately, we only ended up having a brief
encounter with one of the goats before, again, sending them up and over. Seeing
ten billes in the area, it wouldn’t have been a problem to take any of them
with a rifle. However, we only managed a single archery opportunity, which I
managed to blow.
After spooking all the goats out of the immediate
area and the weather looking bad, we decided to break camp, pack up and head
back to base camp. Our focus would shift to moose hunting for the next few
The brush-busting hike was much easier coming
out, though Becca didn’t receive our sat phone message in time leaving us without
horses for 12 of the 20 river crossings. Again, my hat is off to Becca. She saddled up three horses and loaded pack boxes on the fourth and came
to meet us without any help. I tied a nylon cord around the bottom of my
Stormfront pants and never got a drop of water in my boots while wading the
As we rounded a corner
on the trail near the river, we spotted a small bull. We noticed a larger bull with a cow in the timber so we dropped our packs and I
readied my bow. As we attempted to push the small bull out of the way, he
approached us coming as close as ten yards. Blair threw a rock at him
and he tried to hook the rock with his antlers. Finally, he moved out of the
way and we proceeded to evaluate the other bull. Though the large bull was approachable, he wasn’t legal due to the three brow tine rule. It was
a spectacle to watch the 165’’ class bull court and even mount his cow.
After one of Becca’s big breakfasts the following
morning, we set out to find a shooter moose. Though we found plenty of cows and
bulls on the surrounding mountainsides, none met the three brow tine/ten point
criteria that makes a bull legal to harvest in BC. Finally, late in the day, we located a
bull off in the distance. Though he was at least two miles away, we could tell
he was worth spiking out for.
The next day, we climbed above where we had last seen the bull the day before. We spotted the bull and cow he was with at about 150 yards. Blair let loose a
cow call. The bull disappeared into the willows and I focused on a shooting
lane that would leave a 40-yard shot.
Then, without warning, the wind hit the back of
my neck. The cow caught our scent and took off. We started down through
the willows with Blair making bull grunts as we went. By the time we saw
the bull again he was 200 yards out, moving across an opening.
Blair shoved his 300 Win Mag in my direction
and I put my bow down. A lot went through my mind in a split second. Though I’d
always wanted to take a Canadian Moose with my bow, we had seen only two legal
bulls thus far. To add more pressure, I wanted to get back to goat country and
redeem myself. Blair cow-called and the bull stopped giving me a narrow
shooting window between spruce trees. Standing in the
waist high willows, I free-handed two shots and the bull went down.
With the help of Becca and the horse team, the pack out only took one full day. I was thrilled with taking a 50” Canadian Moose and the coming opportunity for mountain goat redemption.