My son's 2023 caribou and Kodiak Goat!

Joined
Aug 21, 2018
Messages
303
Location
Palmer, Alaska
My son turned 12 years old last December and was wanting to take the next step hunting with Dad. He was tired of seeing big game animals die and not being the one who pulled the trigger. So he took some action and managed to get his hunters education certification completed and under his belt. Last November’s draw hunt entry got more expensive as I put him in for plenty of tags. I hadn’t won a tag myself in about four years and when the results came up in February I excitedly checked my son’s name’s first…..no dice for either. Bummed for them and without high hopes for myself, I checked my name. I won an interior caribou tag and a Kodiak mountain goat tag! I had won the same goat tag back in 2012 and was beyond excited to revisit the island. First thing first, when August came around – I was going to take my son on his first chance at a big game animal with just his uncle and I on wheelers to the back country and chase some caribou. Since he had hunter’s education and is my son, he is allowed to take animals on my behalf for draw tags I won. I was curious to see how he would like it.
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Thank goodness I had a caribou draw tag that didn’t get shut down this year. We got into the hunt area and saw a decent amount of animals right away. We spotted a group a few miles away and managed to use the limited cover to get within 400 yards away from them feeding. But we were stuck behind a tundra hump without any cover to get closer without being seen. I set him up prone and calmed his breathing down, he was nervous! After a few minutes of regulated breathing and dry fires, he said he was ready and slowly squeezed one off. HIT! Down it went and he got to experience the tundra slog in rubber boots 1.75 miles back to get the wheelers. I kept reminding him, “At least you don’t have a pack of meat on your back!”
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He had a blast the rest of the trip shooting ptarmigan and camping in the high caribou hills learning back country tricks of the trade. We cooked his caribou's heart over a fire. This made me start to think about him coming to Kodiak with me and shooting at a goat. I explained to him the terrain and tried to compare the ‘suck’ of Kodiak to some other trips we have done in the past, then asked him if he would like to come with and shoot my goat for me. He was all in! After school started he entered a comp basketball league and got his cardio and conditioning back, I wish I could say the same, but after moose season packing half a bull a mile out on my back I was feeling solid again and kept walking in my hiking boots until the trip in October.
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We flew to Kodiak and proceeded to our hunting area, I’ll spare the details on all of that, but I brought along my longtime friend that helped me harvest my first goat on this exact tag a decade ago. I also brought my brother in law that went on the caribou hunt with us in August. It was a beautiful day when we started our ascent. With packs on, facing the base of the mountain from sea level, I pointed to a bowl at about 1000 ft. elevation where we would set up camp. I asked my son, “That doesn’t look too bad, does it?” He smirked and said, “Not at all!” I knew what he was in for though, and off the four of us charged. After about an hour of the long grass and brown sticks we hit the alders proper, then the alders mixed with ladder steep hillside/long grass/brown sticks. Lots of breaks, and I am sure lots of instant regret on his part. But he did not utter one complaint, just some groans here and there like the rest of us, lol.
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OP
SaltySailor
Joined
Aug 21, 2018
Messages
303
Location
Palmer, Alaska
One last push through the suck and we popped up on the ridge to flat land where we would camp. I was still catching my breath and excited to rip my pack off when my bro pointed and whispered, “Is that a deer?!” We all looked and it was! Just standing there staring at us at 160yds. After some quick confusion and ripping his gun out we hissed, SHOOT HIM! We hadn’t really discussed who would be first to shoot a deer if the opportunity arose and he was hesitant to not let his nephew take it. I quickly assured him the boy would have a chance to shoot one of those white dots on the side of the mountain we were climbing and to go for the deer. We both have suppressed rifles and he popped one off, the goats didn’t even look up from what I could see but that deer dropped. Although my buddy has killed a ton of deer on Kodiak, it was the first deer my bro and I had ever seen killed - we grew up interior Alaskan kids, no deer there. We were pumped!
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We broke the deer down and set up camp. Goats all over the peaks beyond us kept our hopes high for success the next day. We spotted what we assumed was a good sized billy in the group as we enjoyed a beautiful sunset. Cooked some dinner and racked out after getting a tarp set up over the deer meat and the skull trimmed up.
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The next day the weather was partly sunny and cool, somehow I had been in Kodiak for 36 hours and hadn’t put on my rain jacket or crampons yet, a stark difference from my first experience with the island years ago. We strapped up and gained about 500 feet of elevation in the alpine, no brush or alders, just steep. Broke out onto a ridge line and there they were, about ½ a mile away and another 400 feet up, with zero cover between us and them – just a ridge allowing a straight line approach out in the open. We hunkered down a few feet out of sight and watched them feed, hoping they would feed up and over the horizon out of sight so we could close some distance and make a play on them. Nope. They were comfy where they were and bedded down on their grassy peak, with some randomly getting up at times and milling around.
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OP
SaltySailor
Joined
Aug 21, 2018
Messages
303
Location
Palmer, Alaska
After a few hours and some more layers of clothing, one goat wandered away from the rest and came down slightly, then laid down by itself broadside to us. There was no wind, and the top of the ridge juuuust above us was completely flat. I have a .300 win mag and hot loads that we have taken reliably out to beyond 1200 yards, she is a heavy girl at 12 lbs, but I hauled it up there for this exact situation. We decided to crawl up on the ridge and see how the goat reacted, slowly crawling forward to a beautiful flat spot, and set up the bipod and squeeze bag. The goat was staring right at us, but stayed still. Range – 775 yards. Used my app to calculate ballistics and dialed the appropriate mils on the scope and then we also configured the backup rifle for a quick follow up shot if needed. I got the boy in the rifle and told him to get comfy, he was pretty calm this time, and he proceeded to dry fire over and over again. We watched him for flinch and his eyes to make sure they stayed open with each pull. He was flawless at the end of the sequence and I instructed him to load a round, then told him to do exactly what he was just doing again – and got myself ready for whatever was about to happen.

My buddy was watching in the spotting scope. The boy pulled the trigger and a second later the goats head dropped to the dirt and he flopped over twice - and didn’t make a twitch. “Oh my gosh!” my buddy hollered, “He’s dead, dead!” Now - in my first goat experience, I chased a goat all over the mountain after I hit it for a few hours before I got it down, so this was a shock and a pleasant surprise. We at least figured he may do the ‘goat kick’ and throw himself downhill a bit or something, but no – he was dead in the nicest spot one could ask for! We followed a lovely goat trail along the ridge line right up to it, took some pics and enjoyed the moment, then started breaking it down. His shot was a little high and forward as he ended up blowing right through the spine in its neck, but one can’t argue with the result. He measured 9 5/8” on his right side and 9 1/2” on his left with 5 ¼” bases.
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It was an uneventful pack out to the camp with plenty of daylight left, which was also nice, and we got the meat spread out under the tarp and cooled the cape. The next morning I boned out the meat and we made the death march back down through the alder/brown stick hell with all our camp, the goat, and deer in one trip. We agreed it was worth killing ourselves to get out in one trip than slug back up that hill for a second load.

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Very proud of the kid. He has the hunting bug now and is already bothering me about draw tags this November. Blessed this went as smooth as it did and nobody got hurt, which is always a distinct possibility on that island. We can’t wait to get back someday.
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Geewhiz

WKR
Joined
Aug 6, 2020
Messages
2,071
Location
SW MT
Wow that's fantastic! Says alot about you to give up your goat tag. Congrats on a successful hunt in every way imaginable.
 

gerry35

WKR
Joined
Jan 16, 2021
Messages
617
Location
Skeena Valley B.C.
Congrats to your boy and you on his caribou and goat and your brother for his first deer! Very nice billy, nothing quite like a goat with it's winter coat.
 
OP
SaltySailor
Joined
Aug 21, 2018
Messages
303
Location
Palmer, Alaska
Thanks guys! I've shot a bunch of caribou so that one was easy to let him fill. If this was my first shot at a goat I'd of probably grasped that tag pretty tight, lol. Who knows what will happen to him in life: work, school, moving out of state? I figured it was his best chance at a shot for an animal not very many people get a crack at. I'm just glad he got it done!
 

The Guide

WKR
Joined
Aug 20, 2023
Messages
349
Location
Montana
I wish other areas allowed you to let blood related family members use your tags. I'd let my kids fill mine for my too!

Jay
 
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