Nine and a half days into a ten day hunt my guide and I were making a vertical climb to a ridge high above us when we spotted an honest to goodness ten inch Billy bedded on a shelf about 250 yards across from us. As this was the first day of rifle season he was sure I would take this great goat. He laughed and told me I was crazy when I said I wouldn't shoot him because he wasn't the "Bush Billy". The "Bush Billy" was the only goat I decided I would shoot with a rifle. I had 3 close encounters with him and my bow previously and had spent hours in pursuit of him. It was him or nothing...Up the hill we went.
As soon as I booked this hunt I went into a steady workout plan training for the mountains and carefully selected the gear I thought would give me the best chance for a successful and enjoyable hunt. One of the first things I selected was a pair of boots that would stand up to the abuse of this hunt. I looked for a pair of boots recommended for rocky steep terrain. There are lots of great choices from companies like Danner, Kennetrek, and Meindel. Next I put these boots through living hell to both break them in and know they wouldn't let me down. This was put to the test on one particular boulder strewn creek bed we followed out of the mountains numerous times during my hunt. We would cross this creek 85 to 90 times over the course of 3 miles of slip and sliding along with a heavy pack. I wont say my feet took no little amount of abuse but I made it up the mountain everyday and hunted hard. Without the proper boots there is no reason to even try a hunt of this caliber.
On our first 3 day bivy hunt we saw numerous Billies and I had several close encounters. None of these was more exciting than my first encounter with the "Bush Billy". We spotted him far off and in what appeared to be low grass/brush from where we were at. I decided he looked big enough to go after even though I knew dropping into the canyon after him meant not going back to spike camp that night. I slipped into within 50 yards of him when I ran out of options. The cover that looked slim from above was actually ten foot high spruce mixed in with head high brush. I couldn't move closer without making noise and I had lost my rangefinder earlier and wouldn't shoot unless he was point blank. The wind shifted and he blew out of there leaving us nothing but a long hard hike out to look forward to.
The next morning we repacked our packs and headed back up the mountain to our spike camp. On each of these trips up I kept my pack as close to 50 pounds as possible. I would carry 2 complete outfits of lightweight, breathable, quick drying clothing. This way one could stay in camp well I hunted in the other. This ensured I would always have a dry set of clothes to hunt in. If I had to do it again I would get more of the specialty clothing available to hunters now. I try to pick up some new high tech clothes for each hunt a little at a time so eventually I can have a full set up. Some of the new stuff by Sitka and Core 4 Element is high on my list. These new materials are far superior to what I used just several years ago.
Once at camp I reduced my pack down to about 25 lbs for the days hunt and headed up the mountain in search of my Billy. I like to hunt with a pack that is reasonably light to ensure I an as nimble as possible in the high country. You never know when you might be climbing vertical rock or scrambling across a scree field.
Several days later I finally spotted the "Bush Billy" again. He had taken up residence in another small pocket on that same mountain. I talked the guide into letting me go down after him one more time. I slipped down in with what I thought was a perfect stalk only to find the spot empty. Minutes later I watched the "Bush Billy" climb straight up a vertical face for hundreds of yards. Watching him go I was amazed how much he looked like a big Gorilla with that hump back. I told the guide "I bet he's closer to ten years old than two". Seeing what a big mature billy he was made me want him so much more. All we could do was head down the same blasted creek bed that had battered my feet just days before. I was having the time of my life in Beautiful British Columbia.
Back in camp I got a warm shower and could barely even walk when I got out. I got my pack restocked and ready for the mountain and went to bed. I used a bare framepack with multiple smaller bags lashed on with bungees. This system worked alright but would be easier with a pack frame that has a bag already attached. I believe a 4000 - 5000 cubic inch pack would be about right.
Heading back up the creek bed the next morning I knew this would be my last chance for a goat. I was down to my last 3 days and only wanted the "Bush Billy". Around 9 am we arrived at spike camp and headed up to look for goats. We saw nice goats the next two days but never saw the goat I was after. With only one day left to hunt, which happened to be opening day of rifle season, we headed up the mountain several thousand feet to a ridge which would look down into the basin the "Bush Billy" lived in. Half way up we saw the goat from the beginning of the article. My guide said I was crazy and I just smiled and kept climbing. It was well after noon when we finally hit the ridge top. I knew within an hour I would be looking down into the valley he lived in. When we got to where we had spotted him from before I took out my 10x binocs and searched and searched until I saw the "Bush Billy" feed out into an opening. I was still over a mile away but had no doubts I could close within rifle range. We covered the terrain quickly and slowed down for the final stalk. I was still hoping to finish with the bow if possible but when I got close and saw where he was I knew I would have to use the gun. At 100 yards he stood statue still looking away from me and offered me a perfect shot. The rifle roared and the goat I had dreamed about for days crumpled before me. We ran down and admired this awesome animal. The "Bush Billy" ended up being 10.5 years old and sported a set of horns anyone could be proud of.
If you're thinking of going on a hardcore mountain hunt don't wait. You will never be any younger. Go out and train hard, get the best gear you can afford, and live life to the fullest!