So You Want To Hunt Mountain Goats? Part 2 – By Shad Wheeler and Nick Hammond
So a few weeks back I did a piece on things to think about and some resources to help make a decision about going on Mountain Goat Hunt. Now I want to talk a bit about what to do once you have made the decision to go on a Mountain Goat hunt.
I know sheep and sheep hunting get all the glory, which I totally understand. There is definitely something surreal and spiritual about sheep hunting. That moment when you see a big majestic ram cresting a ridgeline just as the sun is breaking over the horizon. the sky is on fire, colors are almost exploding they are so vibrant and then you look around and it really hits home that you are truly in some of the most remote and pristine country left on this planet. Some of my most vivid memories have been from the remote Mountain Hunts I have been blessed to go on. Just knowing that you are standing in a place that very few other people ever have, or will ever even see, experience or appreciate is very humbling.
Well guess what, chasing the king of the Crags, the wild and wooly Mountain Goat is much the same, but in most cases it can be done for a fraction of the cost of sheep hunting. They live in incredibly rugged and wild terrain, they are absolutely awe inspiring as they dance with death leaping with absolute abandon around the cliffs, crags and ledges they call home, not to mention the majestic mountain views, the amazing colors, the smells and the sounds of the wilderness that stir the mountain man and dare I say the predator in all of us. You will push yourself, your skills and your equipment to the limit and beyond pursuing these amazing and iconic animals. Just like sheep hunting, if not more so, you better have your A game on: physically, mentally and emotionally, and your gear better be dialed in, as the terrain is unforgiving, the winds fickle and the opportunities few. In the world of mountain hunting one wrong move can put even the most skilled of hunters in a life or death situation. Our goal is to give you some practical information you can use to help you be as prepared as possible and keep your dream hunt from turning into a nightmare.
So now that you have done your homework, you have researched areas, spoke with game biologists and other hunters, figured out where to put in, and have been informed by Fish and Game that the luck of the Irish is upon you, or you have gone the other route and researched outfitters, spoke with clients and or used a reputable consultant and have the hunt of a lifetime booked. What do you do next?
Well in my experience, the two most important things you as a hunter have direct control over are your physical fitness and your proficiency with your weapon of choice. I have found that the more physically prepared I am and the more confident I am in mine and my equipment’s abilities the stronger I am mentally and the more prepared I am to deal with the emotional roller coaster that is Mountain Hunting Being a die-hard bowhunter, more times than not I put myself through all of this knowing that I may not even get a shot, so it is vitally important to be as prepared as possible so when I do get my chance I can make the most of it. So lets start off with Physical Fitness. I am by no means an expert on physical fitness (rather I am blessed to live in an area with lots of mountains to climb and elevation to make my legs go to rubber and my lungs scream), which is why I asked Nick the Trainer Dude to help out and teach all of us how to do a better job of making fitness and being hunt fit a part of our everyday lives. So you know Nick happens to work with Cameron Hanes who as many of you know is probably one of the most fit hunters on the planet, and as a result of that Nick firmly believes that fitness is one of the most important tools in a !hunters arsenal and the key to becoming the best hunters we can be. So if there is one thing you get out of this article, I would hope it comes from this next section, as being hunt fit not only helps us be better hunters, but it can help us be better role models, husbands, wives, mothers and fathers. So out of everything in this article I would really pay attention to this, as Nick is an incredible trainer, a hardcore hunter and a truly inspirational person who is committed to creating positive change in all of our lives, not to mention he has some truly great insight on how to prepare for a hunt like this.
Thank you Shad for your kind words, I appreciate it man!
I want to share the most effective way to achieve better Cardio Endurance to tackle the mountains. Cardio training should start at least 90 days before the hunt to ensure that you have enough time to get yourself prepared. The biggest benefit of doing interval training is that it’s a high-intensity workout so it requires less time to burn more fat and to make more overall progress.
Easy running/jogging is good as well on the days you don’t do interval training because rest is just as important as training is but easy running/cardio keeps your heart rate at the same level for the extent of the run. As we hike up steep mountains and ridges (at least for me!) my heart rate spikes and my breathing gets heavy as I progress through my hike. What better way to prepare for the mountains than to create our own intervals as a way of practicing for our hunts?
*Warming up for 5-10 minutes, and 5-10 minutes of stretching prior to intervals is strongly advised*
Day 1-15: 30 seconds ON/2 minutes OFF/Repeat 10X (5 minutes of high-intensity)
Day 15-30: 1 minute ON/2 minutes OFF/Repeat 7-10X (7-10 minutes of high-intensity)
Day 30-45: 1 minute ON/1 minute OFF/ Repeat 10-15X (10-15 minutes of high-intensity)
Day 45-60: (Incorporate Hills) 2 minutes ON/1 minute OFF/Repeat 10-15X (20-30 minutes of high-intensity)
Day 60-75: (Incorporate Hills) 3 minutes ON/90 seconds OFF, 2 minutes ON/1 minute OFF, 1 minute ON/30 seconds OFF/Repeat 4X (24 minutes high-intensity) (Rest 3 minutes in between each set)
Day 75-90: (Incorporate Hills) 3 minutes ON/90 seconds OFF, 2 minutes ON/1 minute OFF, 1 minute ON/30 seconds OFF/Repeat 4X with 6X OF 30 seconds ON/30 seconds OFF on the last set. (30 minutes of high-intensity training) (Rest 3 minutes in between each set)
A couple of things to remember when interval training: Intervals are high-intensity and should consist of 80% effort during the “ON” times. Keeping in mind that we have high-intensity days that will also mean we have low-intensity days where we take a day off, or go for a light jog. Interval training should not exceed 3 times per week. Also remember that intervals can be done anywhere, even in the gym on different types of cardio equipment. Intervals can be done around a track, on a bike, on an elliptical, treadmill, stair-stepper, etc. You don’t ever have to feel like you are limited by the equipment you do or do not have.
Lastly, it is hard for some people to look at a 90-day plan and not try to jump ahead on days that they feel good or strong, but keep in mind that it is a progressive plan to keep you injury free and help your body adjust to the changes it will surely be going through.
Wow! Following up after Nick is a pretty tall order, especially when I feel like the stuff I am sharing isn’t ground breaking and I am sure many of you have read this before or even know this from first-hand experience. So if you already know all of this feel free to stop reading here, but for those of you who haven’t had the chance to do much mountain hunting I hope the following will help you be better prepared.
Shooting: Whether you will be using a rifle or a bow I recommend that you consider the following:
- Practice, Practice, Practice – make sure that the act of shooting is second nature to you, don’t just pick up your rifle or bow a couple of weeks before your hunt and spend a few hours shooting and call it good. When you are huffing and puffing, adrenaline pumping, wind blowing and you are on a 45 degree slope, you don’t want to be worrying about whether or not you can make the shot, you want to know without doubt that you have the skills and the ability to make that shot!
- Stretch your distance – practice at distances beyond your comfort zone, it will make you a better shot and it will give you the confidence you need to make an ethical shot in tough conditions. So if you are a rifle hunter and you normally shoot out to 300 yards, force yourself to practice at 400 and 500 yards, or if you’re a bowhunter and are comfortable out to 45, practice at 70, 80, 90 and even 100 and you will start to find that you don’t even have to think when you are taking a 50 or 60 yard shot. The reality of mountain hunting is that sometimes no matter what you do you just can’t close the distance for the ideal 200 yd rifle shot or the 35 yd bow shot, so the more comfortable you are at distance the more your odds of success will increase.
- Work the angles – practice shooting steep uphill and downhill shots, get a range finder that will help you compensate for the angle and practice guessing shot yardage versus line of site because you may not always have time to use your range finder.
- Be uncomfortable – practice shooting from awkward positions, crouched, lying on a steep hillside, the more you can get used to shooting from unorthodox positions the more confident, comfortable and successful you will be when the moment of truth shows up
Gear: I am not going to go into to much detail on gear as there are a number of places where you can find gear lists to help you figure out what all you really need to get started, but if you are like me, you develop your own style when it comes to gear you like and what is essential for you and how you hunt.
- Boots, Boots, Boots – when it comes to mountain hunting, your feet are your best friend and your worst enemy. So invest in the best boots you can afford and spend as much time as possible walking, hiking and carrying loads in them. I am pretty lucky as I am not prone to getting blisters, but I still remember the one time I got blisters so badly that my boots were completely full of blood and the agony and pain of each step that turned what should have been a 2 hr hike back to the truck into about a 3 ½ hour ordeal all because I was confident I could take a brand new pair of boots out for what I thought was an easy hunt.
- Layering – Invest in a good layering system, there are a number of really good systems out there, I personally like Kuiu and Kryptek, but there are other great ones like Sitka and First Lite as well. A full layering system allows you to tackle all kinds of weather with the least amount of overall clothing. Don’t skimp, think of it as an investment, and one you will be very grateful for if you get caught in some nasty weather.
- Optics – buy the best you can afford. You will be spending a lot of time behind your optics and cheap glass makes it difficult to spot animals and will give you headaches. I don’t think you can go wrong with Swarovski, Leica, Higher end Nikon or Vortex.
- Packs – Packs are a very personal thing because it really comes down to finding a style that fits you really well and that allows you to comfortably carry a load yet doesn’t impair your ability to shoot. I very rarely take my pack off when I am hunting, so I practice shooting in all kinds of positions with my pack on, that way if something happens fast I am not scrambling trying to get my pack off just so I can shoot. When it comes to packs I have used Mystery Ranch, Tenzing, Barney’s and am really looking forward to trying out the new Kuiu and Exo 3500.
In closing, practice shooting with the gear you will be using on your hunt, hike with the load you will be carrying on your hunt, and if you are doing a backpack hunt be it DIY or Guided, pay attention to weight and focus on what you really need as every ounce counts. I would like to thank Nick the Trainer Dude again for his willingness to help out on this article.
I have 3 beautiful daughters and a son on the way. My true passions are fitness and bow hunting because I love the challenges that come with each. I worked as a personal trainer for many years and now train professional bow hunter Cameron Hanes, and recently was able to open up my own personal training studio in Springfield, Oregon. I love working with bow hunters all over the world to help them achieve their fitness goals.
I am happily married to my best friend (and soon to be hunting partner), a dad to two incredible little girls, a hopelessly addicted bowhunter, Professional Guide, and Adventure Consultant for Outdoors International www.gothunts.com . I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to hunt all over the Western US, Alaska and Canada and experience adventures of a lifetime. Shad@gothunts.com