Joined: 31 Oct 2005 Posts: 1447 Location: Colorado
Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 9:15 am Post subject: The Lonesome Billy
As you may know, I booked a last-minute mountain goat hunt this summer with Ed Toribio of Primo Expeditions out of Ketchikan, AK. Ed has quite a track record of getting clients on Boone and Crockett billys, and from what I had heard, runs a first-rate operation. I couldn't pass up the opportunity.
I arrived at Ketchikan International on Sept. 30th, and was soon met by Ed and one of his packers, Kyle Berg. We left the airport and headed back across the Tongass Narrows in Ed's boat, to his seaside house in Ward Cove. Back at the house we found guides Todd Walton and Mark Chambers preparing gear to fly out for a father-son hunting team set to arrive the following day. The plan was for Todd and Mark to fly out today to set up base camp. Kyle would go along to help, and then would transfer over to my camp tomorrow. We helped them get the gear squared away and packed down to the dock, and soon Brad Schrepel of Pacific Airways showed up with his Beaver. We got them loaded up and on their way just before the wind picked up and the weather turned sour.
We spent the rest of the day and the following morning going through my gear and making sure I had brought everything I needed. That evening, Ed opened Google Earth to show me where we were heading in the morning. He had markers on the map labeled "Lonesome Billy", the name he had given to a large billy he had seen earlier in the year. Last year there had been two large billys together on the mountain, but only one was left, hence the name. Ed had never been to the top of this particular mountain, but had spent a lot of time looking at potential routes and thought we could make it. Unfortunately, the route was on the opposite side of the mountain from the low ridge where the billy had been spending his time. We hoped that he would move up closer to the top, where a nursery band was located in a small basin.
Packer Charlie Ratzat showed up to help on the morning of Oct. 1. By mid-day we had our gear gathered on the dock for our 12:30 scheduled pickup.
Ryan McCue of RdM Alaska Seaplane Tours arrived on time to ferry gear and hunters to the destination lake:
We were soon on our way. Here's a view of the Tongass Narrows, with Ketchikan International visible on the right. The "Road to Nowhere" is just out of sight on the far side of the airport :
Some scenery from SE Alaska goat country:
Me, Charlie, and Ryan, after landing at our base camp site. Notice my awesome goat hunting physique :
We found a nice spot to set up the wall tent and a couple of smaller tents for the packers and I. Ryan headed off to the other hunter camp to pick up Kyle and bring him over to my camp. When they returned, Ed headed back to town to pick up the other hunters, as well as the Zodiac and motor for us to get across the lake to the mountain we needed to climb. We were lucky to have one of the few short periods of no rain to set up base camp:
The cook tent, and Ed's sleeping quarters:
There was a nice inlet right behind our tents which looked like it should be full of fish. No dice...:
Great scenery around our lake:
Lonesome Billy Mountain, straight across from camp. It doesn't look that daunting, does it?
Ed flew in later in the afternoon with the Zodiac, and said he would be back the following day after dropping off the other two hunters at their camp. We woke up on the morning of Oct. 2nd to typical SE Alaska weather:
After a breakfast of sausage, eggs and toast, we loaded our packs and began ferrying gear across the lake in anticipation of Ed's arrival. Captain Kyle at the controls:
Ed arrived while we were moving gear, and by 12:30 we began the 2000' climb up the mountain. Of course it began raining almost immediately, and only got worse as we climbed. Let me tell you what...the amount of rain that country gets makes a climb with any sort of pitch interesting. The steeper and more vegetated, the more interesting. This climb was steep and vegetated. It was without a doubt the hardest 2000' I've ever climbed. About 2/3's of the way up, we encountered a band of rock that turned us back. We were extremely disappointed at the prospect of having to go all the way down and try another route.
Charlie spotted a place he thought we might be able to sneak up through, and although it was difficult, the alternative spurred us on to make it work:
By 5:30 we had gotten into "the zone" and began searching for a place flat enough for our tents with a supply of firewood nearby. Charlie soon found the spot, and as luck would have it, the rain stopped just long enough to get tents and a kitchen fly rigged up. No pictures of the setup, but here's one from a couple of days later:
The view back down to the lake:
It rained and blew all night, and was still fogged in and rainy the next morning. We stayed in our tents until the rain let up around noon, then got up, had some food and started a fire. Around 2:30 the clouds lifted enough to see the top of the mountain above us, so we grabbed our gear and hurried to the top. There was a great basin on top where the nursery group had been hanging out, and we found them immediately, bedded on a snow patch about 390 yards away. There was one long-horned nanny (probably 12"), two kids and one 2 year old billy. Another young billy that was known to hang out with this group was not seen.
The four goats are barely visible on the snow patch in the lower left of this photo:
We stayed hidden and searched in vain for the big billy. We figured he must still be over the other side of the mountain, and with a short day and goats nearby, we decided not to push our luck. The four goats soon got up and headed straight away from us, across the valley. As the sun sank low, we headed back to camp.
The weather that night was clear, and we got up early the following morning, Oct. 4th, to a high overcast. We quickly ate breakfast and headed up the mountain to take advantage of the weather. When we arrived at our observation point from the previous evening, Kyle immediately spotted a single goat bedded on the far skyline, above the large yellow patch on the far ridge in the following photo. We got a scope on him and were disappointed to find a young billy. This goat was soon joined by 4 others...the nanny and two kids, and the other young billy. They all worked their way down through the timbered draw in the photo, and then up the ridge and over the top, into the timber on the skyline of the middle ridge. We began to work our way around the upper side of the basin, mindful of the wind which continued to blow dangerously close to the direction of the goats.
We had no sooner started across when it began to rain. We stopped to don our raingear, but made the mistake of stopping in the open. Ed looked up and spotted a lone goat on the skyline of the far left ridge, just to the right of the high point. We were pinned down and couldn't get a scope on him, but we didn't think it was one of the same goats we had just seen go out of sight over the middle ridge. He fed across the top of the ridge and soon went out of sight behind the high point.
We quickly made our way around the basin to a point just above the timbered draw, near where it goes out of sight between the two ridges. We immediately spotted the nursery band bedded on the opposite ridge. They had evidently circled around after going out of our sight and returned to the ridge we had originally spotted them on. They now had us pinned to our location, and the wind was blowing almost straight to them. We hunkered in to wait them out.
The lone goat which we suspected may be the Lonesome Billy had fed out of sight through the notch near the high point in the following picture, which was about 280 yards away. The nursery group was bedded on the same ridge, just out of the frame on the right, also about 280 yards away:
No sooner had we gotten settled in for a wait, but the long-horned nanny quickly rose to her feet, bringing the rest of the herd to attention. They had obviously caught our wind, but thankfully bailed off the far side of the ridge, away from where the lone goat had went out of sight. We quickly picked up and crossed through the deep ravine, and soon were standing in the notch where the goat had fed out of sight over an hour earlier.
I took my rifle in hand as we began to traverse slowly along the opposite side of the ridgeline. Large clumps of brush reduced visibility to less than 30 yards in most places. As we eased along with Ed in the lead, me following, and the other two behind, I glanced down to my right and spotted a white patch of hair behind a bush about 30 feet away! I hissed at Ed and pointed, and he instructed me to shoot quickly, in words I won't repeat here. I chambered a round, but all I could see of the bedded goat from my position was the hind quarters and a strip of his back line. I raised my rifle and waited, but it didn't take long.
The goat knew something was up and stood, exposing the top of his shoulder. He was down and instant later, and rolling down the hill. Luckily, he was stopped by a tree on a narrow bench a short distance down the hill. I finished him off and we all stood in amazement at what had transpired over the last minute.
We climbed down to the goat and I was stunned when I got a good look at the horns. They looked long and extremely massive...bigger than I knew goats grew! He was far more than I ever expected. We took a few photos where he was laying:
There was no room to move on the small ledge where he had stopped, so we lowered him by rope to a larger ledge below. Unfortunately, he got pretty muddy and bloody in the move. We had room for some better photos, though.
The posse shot:
Those things have amazing feet:
The clouds and rain settled in on us as soon as we started the cutting. We were amazed at our extremely good fortune to have found the billy and completed the stalk during our short weather window. With four of us working, we had the billy skinned life-size and de-boned in no time. It was nice to have hard-working Kyle and Charlie along for the pack back to spike camp. Everyone was in good spirits, even when the trail was steep and wet:
Back at spike camp, we made some dinner and got a good fire going to help us dry out. Charlie admires a large set of goat horns:
More rain, but coffee, campfire and a big bag of goat meat had folks in a good mood:
It wasn't raining the following morning, so we leisurely had breakfast and coffee before packing up camp. We began the descent to the lake by 11:00. Stopping for a break on the way down:
Slick, steep trail. And oh yeah...rain:
We made the lake in a little over 3 hours. We ferried people and gear across the lake, built a fire in the wood stove and fired up big cheeseburgers and cold beverages:
The following photos are for those who don't know what Devil's club is:
The following morning (Oct 6th), we had breakfast of egg and sausage sandwiches, then packed up base camp for our scheduled pickup at 1:30.
Waiting for a ride:
Kyle enjoying the last beer. Well-earned...:
The ride arrives:
Ryan laments the fact that it wasn't him up on the mountain chasing the Lonesome Billy:
Heading home in a Beaver loaded to the gills. Poor Kyle was just about buried:
One last look at base camp:
I don't have the nerve to fly in those cloudy mountains on a daily basis like the pilots do:
A nursery band we spotted on the way out:
A small amount of logging occurring:
We made it back to Ed's and got the plane unpacked. Charlie headed home to his family and Kyle got on the computer to change his flight to the next one leaving town, two hours later! He had a date with a deer in Washington (not a dear).
The next morning was the best weather yet, giving Ed and I a chance to unpack and clean up gear:
I have nothing but good things to say for my experience on this hunt. Ed runs a top-notch outfit. He uses quality gear and throws a lot of time and manpower into his hunts to make them as enjoyable as possible. His three priorities are, in this order: 1) safety of everyone on the mountain, 2) a fun experience for the hunter, and 3) a quality billy for the hunter. Ed was constantly stressing safety while we were in the field. Some of the terrain can be very dangerous if you are not careful to plan every move. He made sure everyone came off the mountain in good shape.
A lot of what makes good hunt is enjoying the overall experience of the hunt. Depending on what you are looking for in a goat hunt, I would not hesitate to recommend Ed's outfit. If you don't mind the wet weather, and are looking for a fly-in hunt, this is the one for you. Some people might prefer to hunt goats in the drier glacier country of the Chugach, or maybe a horseback hunt in B.C., which is understandable. They are all completely different experiences. Ed's hunts are enjoyable, and will likely give you good odds of shooting a trophy-quality billy. I'd recommend you book early and often.
I also had the good fortune of meeting Johnnie Laird of Muskeg Excursions while there. Johnnie is a wealth of information on deer and bear hunting on POW. I tried plying him with alcohol to learn as much as I could about the deer hunting, but I think he caught on to me after the second beer. If you are looking for a guided POW hunt for deer or bear, I would suggest looking into his outfit. Local rumors suggest that Johnnie can actually speak Sitka blacktail....
Essential gear for this hunt: caulked boots, good rain gear (pvc), a good pack and a walking stick.
My goat has a long horn of 11 4/8", with the other side broomed to 10 6/8". The bases are 6 2/8" and his gross green score is 55. If unbroomed, he would green net 55 6/8! Far more than I ever expected when I booked my hunt. He turned out to be only 5.5 years old. With horns intact and another 4 years to grow, he would have been a contender....
Last edited by Oak on Thu Apr 29, 2010 9:41 am; edited 1 time in total
Joined: 09 Aug 2005 Posts: 2880 Location: Northern California
Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 9:49 am Post subject:
Oak I am always enthralled by your narratives of your hunts. The photos are second to none. I never realized how big a mountain goat was until I saw the picture of his hoof in your hand.
Congrats on a well earned billy. I look forward to seeing the taxidermy work when completed. With a white Dall and a white mtn. goat, you have a lot of dusting in your future my friend! _________________ Sometimes when you think the deck is totally stacked against you and that elk hunting is the stupidest activity on earth, remember that there are thousands of people out there who would love to be miserable like you right now...
Joined: 09 Aug 2005 Posts: 2880 Location: Northern California
Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 4:42 pm Post subject:
I think you know you have a book goat there. 47 for awards 50 for All time...
When i looked up the World Record it gave me chills....Dang...You were close!
World record goat
SCORE: 56 6/8
LOCATION: Bella Coola, BC
HUNTER: G. Wober & L. Michalchuk
OWNER: Gernot Wober
Length of horn: Right 11 7/8 - Left 10 6/8
Circumference of base: Right 6 4/8 - Left 6 4/8
Circumference at 3rd quarter: Right 2 1/8 - Left 2 1/8
Greatest Spread: 8 7/8
Tip to tip spread: 8 2/8 _________________ Sometimes when you think the deck is totally stacked against you and that elk hunting is the stupidest activity on earth, remember that there are thousands of people out there who would love to be miserable like you right now...
Joined: 31 Oct 2005 Posts: 1447 Location: Colorado
Posted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 8:32 am Post subject:
Thanks for all of the comments. I enjoy putting threads like this together.
2rocky, yep, that billy was close. Amazing thing is, looking at his horn growth after two year, he was a 10" record book goat. He definitely had some good genetics.
Greg, I shoot a Panasonic Lumix. It's an older model, the FZ20. Some of the photos in this thread were taken with my outfitter's camera, a Pentax Optio W10.
huntem, I haven't decided yet on a mount, because I can't afford it right now. I considered a laying down pose because I have a large plant shelf above part of my living room. However, I don't think the laying pose shows off the hair as well.
Lots great animals being taken on the forum this year. I'm sure I missed responding to a few while I was gone, but it wasn't intentional. Congrats to all that get out there and chase them this year, successful or not.
Joined: 07 Mar 2006 Posts: 383 Location: Lake Mathews, Ca
Posted: Sun Oct 26, 2008 10:03 am Post subject:
Without a doubt, hands down... one of the best photo essay's of a hunt on the internet. Oak, You are living my dream. Thanks and congrats on a smoking billy. Ed F _________________ http://community.webshots.com/user/bowuntr
^What they all said. Your stories and pics effect me like I'm right there. From the scene of the float plane (I can still hear the loud roar from my ride a year and a half ago) to the scenes of cold, damp air. Great read and what an incredible trophy! You da man! _________________ Don't tell me there are limits when there are footprints on the moon!
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