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April 2023
Story by Patrick Gavin
State: Idaho
Species: Mtn Goat

I was fortunate to draw a 2022 once-in-a-lifetime Idaho mountain goat tag in the Sawtooth wilderness area 36-1. Preparations began with me making numerous calls to the Idaho Fish and Game. I talked to many biologists and game wardens. Their help was enormous, giving us numerous ideas and places to scout. My son also contacted Huntin’ Fool and got suggestions from them.

It all began with a scouting trip with my son and my nine-year-old grandson in August of 2022. It soon became a three-generation scouting trip for us, and I was very blessed to have them along. There were many people who made this happen. Special thanks to my daughter who provided necessary camping gear, my wife who allowed me to go for many days on this special hunt, and Idaho Fish and Wildlife for their great support and info about the area. I can’t thank my son enough for his wonderful eyes and prolific scouting and spotting. Without him, it would not have been possible. Being a disabled 75-year-old hunter, the altitude soon became a problem for me. My son said, “One step at a time, Dad. You can do it.”

Our scouting trip was a pleasure with my grandson as he was able to catch fish and slide down waterfalls. The scenery was truly amazing. Unfortunately, we only found one goat on our scouting trip and then were informed three days before the hunt that the area was closed due to a wildfire. We had to pick a new area. With the help of an Idaho biologist, we were soon on our way to our new hunting destination. Thus began a father and son self-guided hunt.

I soon realized that our six-mile hike for the first night was brutal. Not only was it very steep and rugged, but it was very hard on an old man. I definitely did as my son said, “One step at a time.” We arrived just before dark and in time to set up our first camp. Nick, my son, went to find a water source, and I tried to set up camp. We were blessed to hear elk bugling that evening, making for an easy sleep.

Morning arrived, and we were off on our next hike. Blowdowns made it a little difficult, but we were rewarded. After rounding a corner, we entered what we called “The Garden of Eden.” There were beautiful mountains, streams, and crystal blue lakes. We set up camp near a lake and immediately began scouting. After scouting for most of the day and climbing numerous peaks, my son spotted a billy about 1,500 yards away. After a lot of talking and figuring out the best route, I went back to my original scouting spot.

Nick called and asked if I saw the goat. I replied “No.”

He said, “Dad, it just stood up. Do you see him?” I immediately saw the billy 350 yards down the hill. Still on the phone, Nick said, “Wait. I’ll be right over.” We had a rule of 11 to 3. He arrived and said, “Don’t shoot. It’s too late.” We waited and watched. It was then bed for the night.

We awoke to rain and snow. We hiked back to our spot and didn’t see the billy at first. Sure enough, he came out from behind some trees. He was at 354 yards. I set up and shot. We heard a loud thump as he went behind the trees. We headed out, hoping to find the goat in the snow, rain, and fog. Two hours later, we found hair and some blood. We started tracking down a steep incline. Nick spotted the billy about 40 yards away. One shot to the neck ended the hunt. After hugs and congrats, the work began. My son did an amazing job of skinning and caping the billy. There was only one more thing to do – hike up the steep, rugged mountain in the clouds and fog back to camp. We finally made it back.

With the weather deteriorating, we headed out at first light the next morning. We were blessed to be carrying heavy packs out through the fog. This was truly a hunt-of-a-lifetime, especially having my son and grandson along. It is something I will never forget, an amazing hunt for three generations enjoying the great outdoors!