The Great Goat Hunt 2004

Packing in the first evening - Bill Bailey is our horseman

Hay, this isn't all that bad (Carl)

Our camp is just left of the center of the picture

9,000 ft Sphinx Pass on a beautiful sunny morning

We spent the morning at Helmet spotting the west slope of Sphinx

We take a break after watching a nanny and kid high up on the cliff

Aaa, smoked oysters

Shooting the .44 mag after a little liquid refreshment

Phil, Bill, and Tim ready to hit the trail

A final look back at Sphinx




The Great Goat Hunt 2003
Three of the pictures can be enlarged, 2, 7, & 9. Click on them to enlarge.

Scott had drawn the coveted Goat Tag this year. He and his wife Dawn had taken some food and equipment up to the camp the week before. They had noticed considerable grizzly bear sign in the area and so took all precautions with the food.

The forecasts were for a rather cold spell, and they were not wrong. So we all took winter clothing. The trail in, is 3 miles with a rise of 2200 ft 2-3 hours. Tim and Scott headed in on Saturday, followed by Dawn and Karl Sunday. I wondered in on Monday just as Dawn was returning. The camp was set up at 8300 ft, just under Helmet Peak with a stunning view that peak towering 2000 ft above us.

It had been snowing ever since Tim and Scott arrived and I plodded through a few inches of fresh white stuff. Tim and Scott had been hunting each day, but had not seen any goats-huge herds of elk, many deer, and much bear sign, but no goats.
There wasn't any water in that area, but plenty of snow. So there was always a kettle on the fire melting snow. Because of the food Dawn and Scott had brought in earlier, we had great meals. After dinner there were many hunting stories and then to bed.

Tuesday the gang decided they had to go around the south side of Sphinxes Peak-that had to be where the goats were hiding. It was going to be a long day. They left at 9:30 and did not expect to be back until dark. I was not interested in that tough a hike and went up on the pass between the two peaks for some easier hiking. Though it snowed a lot that day the scenery was breathtaking. In all directions were rugged peaks. To the north was the Big Sky Ski area

At one point I tracked a large bear (not Grizzly) and saw where he had torn out and large area of a bank looking for food (or maybe making a den).

Later I headed back to camp and made up a nice dinner. Only problem was, no one came to eat it. Not by eight or even nine. By 10: 00 pm I knew they were not returning. It was too steep to walk those hillside after dark. Either they had decided to bivwac it, or they had a goat and went out another way. So I would spend the night alone, just the bears and me. I put the pepper spray and the loaded .44 mag pistol right by my sleeping bag and went to sleep. Well sort of sleep. There were a lot more strange noises that night than I ever remember hearing when others are around. About 3 am a couple of coyotes decided serenade me from right out in our field. They kept that up for about five minutes.
The next morning was clear and gorgeous. I had breakfast and decided to climb up on the mountain to a place were I could see the trail in, and the trail to the south side of the mountain. I would be able to see them coming either way. The day was so beautiful I took many pictures. Later I decided to call and see if I could locate them. The first time I only heard silence, but a few minutes later I called and sure enough I got an answer. They were coming up the trail!

When they got there, they had many adventures to tell about. At 2:30 Scott had shot a fine goat. It had been bedded on a small ledge and had to die in its track or fall far down a cliff-a neck shot did the trick. They skinned and boned it on the 4 ft diameter ledge, hoping not to fall off while working. They put the meat in two packs and Scoot took the head and hide. Then they had to go down and down and down over little cliffs and through dry streambeds. Their goal was to be on a trail by dark and they were. Problem was, they were still 5 miles from the cars and over a 1000 ft pass. They got to the camper at 11 PM totally exhausted.

Well, we spent the rest of that day taking camp down and packing to out. We all headed out our various way that evening.