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February 2024
Story by Caleb Hanneman
State: Oregon
Species: Mtn Goat

Being 152 miles as the crow flies from home seems like it should be less than a 10-hour drive, but that is where I would be wrong. My dad and I embarked on a 10-hour journey from home in Montana to the town of Imnaha, Oregon. This drive took us everywhere but in a straight line as we had to go around some of Idaho’s remote wilderness areas. We arrived right at dark and set up camp. After a quick meal and some situating, the place was ready for slumber.

I had beat the draw odds and drawn one of only two non- resident mountain goat tags in Oregon. I would like to take all the credit for drawing this tag, but since my dad has worked at Huntin’ Fool since I was three, he deserves all the credit for all the tags I have drawn over the years.

Early on the second morning, we were off for our first full day of scouting. We found 11 goats from our first glassing point and then decided to just drive around to learn the rest of the unit. We covered most of the unit and found three great billies, but they were all in unkillable locations. After a wonderful day of scouting, we had a plan of checking on the bigger goats each day and watching to see if they moved into a killable location.

Lucky for me, my family is good friends with Dan Blankenship and Calvin Halladay along with the rest of the guys at Sheep Mountain Outfitters. They guide in this unit and gave us a lot of great information and glassing point locations for the Hat Point unit. They also had been scouting the unit for bighorn sheep and kept track of the bigger billies in the unit for me.

The next day was the same as the first as the bigger goats were very content in the unreachable locations where they were living. The exciting news was that Calvin was going to arrive after dark to help us for opening day. Calvin is more like an uncle to me and my brothers as he and my dad have been hunting together for many years. Calvin had even joined my older brother, Connor, on his Washington mountain goat hunt in 2017.

Opening morning was full of happy hearts and excitement for this great opportunity to chase after one of God’s greatest creations, the mountain goat, or as I like to call them, “high altitude antelope.” This morning consisted of glassing for hours and spotting the same goats that we had scouted. With the warm sun hitting me, I soon fell asleep on a cliff high enough off the ground my mom would not have been happy with me. I was awoken by a peculiar sound and the feeling of something on my foot. This turned out to be a chucker standing on my boot, basking in the sun such as I was.

At the first movement I made, this beautiful bird took flight in a very helicopter-like whoosh of air and the sound of beating drums. This startled and woke me from a drowsy state and got me back to glassing. My dad and Calvin got a good laugh out of my chucker encounter.

Later in the afternoon, we met a group of guys who had the other goat tag. They were super friendly, and we had a discussion about goat hunting and then parted ways, wishing each other luck. We pulled off at another spot to glass when we were surprised by a large rattlesnake that Calvin quickly dispatched with a stick. That snake had eleven buttons on his rattler. After this snake encounter, we were off again glassing for goats.

That night, Calvin headed off the mountain and went back to work on the house he was building for his family. He did not want to leave but was in the middle of construction and needed to be there. My dad and I, however, enjoyed the warmth of our Peak Refuel meals and then headed off to bed.

Early the next morning, we were off again to check on our three big billies. As luck would have it, one of the big billies had bedded 20 feet below the top of the 500-foot cliff. From scouting, we knew there was a nice grassy slope on the backside of that cliff. We took a gamble and decided to drop three miles off the top and hope that billy would feed over onto the slope in the evening. Luckily, the trail went near the slope, and he hopefully would feed over. As we meandered our way down the 42 switchbacks, my dad nearly stepped on another rattlesnake. Luckily for my dad, the snake decided not to bite him. It was getting late, and the sun and temperature were dropping.

As we reached the spot across from the grassy slope, we set up in hopes of him feeding over. Depending on where he fed over, I would have a shot somewhere between 300-450 yards. We could not get any closer due to the roll of the mountain. Not five minutes after getting set up, I was excited to spot a white object come over the ridge directly behind the only tree on the ridge. This was it! This was the billy from the cliff, and as I stared in disbelief, my dad found him too. I immediately set up the rifle and got the crosshairs on him. My dad called out the yardage at 450, and I dialed the gun and squeezed off the shot at the biggest goat I had ever seen. My dad was the first to let me know I had dropped the goat as I was focused on finding him in my scope again like my dad had taught me.

Walking up on the goat, he grew with every step. It was an incredible moment I will always remember with my dad. We took care of the goat and hung half of it in a tree and took the other half back up the trail. It was a long hike up, but you could not wipe the smile off my face. After a good celebration with some good food, we went to sleep, tired, but happy. The next morning consisted of us packing the other half of the goat out of the canyon. It feels so great to be blessed with this Boone & Crockett goat. This hunt meant more to me than any other I have ever been on. Thanks, Dad!