Mountain Goat Hunting near Ketchikan, Alaska
Game Management Subunits 1A and 1B
Webmasters note: This information is from an Alaska Department of Fish and Game publication dated 11/94. Information regarding goat hunting in this area is subject to change. Hunters should obtain current hunting regulations and current local information before finalizing hunting plans.
The following information has been compiled to assist hunters who are planning to hunt mountain goats in the Ketchikan area (Game Management Subunits 1A and southern 1B). Additional information is available in the state's hunting regulation booklet, available at Alaska Department of Fish and Game offices and most sporting goods stores.
The Subunit 1A and 1B goat hunting season runs from August 1 - December 31. Two goats may be taken by registration permit. In Subunit 1A (other than on Revillagigedo Island) and 1B south of Bradfield Canal, 2 goats may be taken during the same trip. On Revillagigedo Island, goats may only be hunted east of Carroll Inlet and the Carroll River drainage, and hunters are restricted to one goat. There are no sex or age restrictions in Subunit 1A or 1B, but hunters are encouraged to harvest billies if presented with a choice.
All non-resident hunters, regardless of age, must purchase a hunting license and a mountain goat tag. Hunting licenses cost $85 and tags cost $300 per goat. Licenses and tags are available at most sporting goads stores. Hunters must also obtain registration permits prior to hunting goats. These are available free of charge by mail or in person from Fish and Game offices in Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg, or Ketchikan .
Resident hunters who are 16 years of age or older must purchase a hunting license and obtain a registration permit from ADF&G. Residents who are under 16 are not required to purchase a hunting license, but must still obtain a registration permit. Residents who are over 60 years of age may obtain free, permanent hunting licenses through ADF&G Licensing in Juneau (465-2376).
All nonresident goat hunters must be accompanied by a registered guide or a relative within the second- degree-of-kindred. Relatives which qualify under this definition include mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, spouses, grandparents, grandchildren, sons- or daughters-in-law, fathers- or mothers-in-law, step-fathers, step-mothers, step-sisters, step-brothers, step-sons, or step-daughters. A list of registered guides and general information about guide/outfitting are available for $5.00 from the Division of Occupational Licensing (907/465-2543).
Registration permits obtained by goat hunters include a mandatory hunt report that provides biologists with harvest information used in managing goats in southern Southeast. Successful hunters must complete and mail their reports within 10 days of their kill date, and unsuccessful hunters must return their reports within 15 days of the close of the season.
Weather plays a significant role in determining the enjoyment and success of your goat hunt. The best weather generally occurs during August and early September, and generally deteriorates into increasec rain, fog, and wind as the season progresses. Snow can fall as early as late September and will likely! fall during October. High alpine lakes can freeze in late October and November, creating serious problems for drop-offs and pick-ups. Most ail charter companies avoid taking hunters into high lakes after mid October.
Goat hunters must choose between trophy quality and weather conditions. By hunting early, hunters recognize that they are more likely to experience good weather, but will have to settle for bagging short-haired goats. Hunters who elect to hunt during October, November, or December, on the other hand, know that the goats they encounter will have longer hair and make better trophies than early goats, but they also know that they have a greater chance of being plagued by nasty weather. You should consider these trade-offs seriously before selecting your hunt dates. Remember, many hunters have spent entire hunts tent-bound with no opportunity to pursue goats.
Selecting the right clothing is important to your comfort and well-being. While you should hope for sunshine, expect rain. Full length rain gear and rubber boots are strongly recommended. You will likely be wading in snowfields, soggy muskegs, and crossing small creeks. Leather boots invariably soak through. Rain gear can double as a wind breaker when you are sweaty and stop to rest.
Hypothermia should always be considered a possibility when hunting high in goat country. Wool or polypropylene long underwear provide excellent warmth even when wet or damp and are therefore among the clothing carried or worn by many goat hunters. Similarly, wool shirts and pants help retain warmth even when wet. Synthetic fiber sleeping bags are better than down bags because they provide warmth even after becoming wet or damp.
Tents should be fully water proof, bug proof, and light weight. Small cook stoves are recommended because firewood is often wet or unavailable in the high country. Insect repellent is usually needed early in the season, and a mosquito head-net may spare you a lot of unpleasant misery. Large plastic bags in which to keep items dry are valuable and light cord comes in handy. A small quantity of duct tape is useful for small repairs, and small flashlights are necessary. Bright-colored items get lost in the vegetation much less frequently than dark or camouflaged items.
Binoculars are essential when goat hunting. Additionally, if you are interested in taking a good-sized trophy goat and want to avoid mistakenly bagging a small goat, it is advisable to include a spotting scope and small tripod with your gear.
Most hunting during the first couple of months of the season involves flying into high alpine lakes. This saves hunters a lot of climbing and brush-wacking. Of course, even during the early part of the season, hunters may find themselves waiting for several days amidst rain and fog for their plane to make it in. Air charter companies which provide safe and reliable transportation te and from the field include:
MISTY FJORDS AIR AND OUTFITTING: 225-5155
PROMECH AIR: 225-3845
TAQUAN AIR: 225-8800
Some hunters, particularly those hunting later in the season, travel by boat to mainland bays and anchorages and then hike from saltwater up into goat country. Leaving boats for 3-5 days can be risky depending on the anchorage and the weather, but offers hunters opportunities to access lightly hunted areas and also allows hunters the option of hiking out even if fog sets in.
The U. S. Forest Service has a few cabins which are located in or close to goat country. These can be reserved and rented by calling the USFS office in Ketchikan (225-2148 or 225-3101).
Some of the lakes located in or close to goat country contain trout, char, or grayling. These fish can provide hunters with additional recreational opportunities and fresh camp food. For information about sport fishing opportunities, contact ADF&G Sport Fish Division in Ketchikan at 225-2859.
Regardless of whether you fly or walk in, you will want to camp in goat country. Inexperienced hunters often set up camp at a lake and then spend most of the prime early morning and late evening hunting time traveling to and from their camps. This should be avoided.
Many experienced goat hunters carefully mark their trails with colorful plastic surveyor's tape so that they can follow the same route on their way out. It is extremely dangerous to attempt to come down an untried route, particularly if you're wearing a heavy pack. Additionally, if fog should set in, the route followed 2-4 days earlier may look very different when visibility is limited to less than SC yards. If flagging is used, be sure to remove it as you come out. It detracts from some of the most beautiful country you'll ever experience and car: lead later hunters astray.
It is generally a good idea to make a list of items you'll need during your hunt prior to packing.
Remember, while you want to have essential items with you, you will often have to pack your gear a long way, and often over steep terrain. Additionally, consider that if you're successful, you'll find yourself coming out with an additional 50-70 pounds of meat. If you save the hide in addition to the meat, you will likely have to make 2 trips to get your goat out of the woods. It is a good idea to put weight in your backpack before your hunt and carry it to see if the load seems reasonable.
Following are a few additional tips provided by several veteran goat hunters:
* Get yourself physically prepared. Short hikes, jogging, and weight lifting prior to your hunt can mean the difference between a grueling, unpleasant experience and an invigorating, fun-filled adventure.
* Never get into terrain that scares you badly. There are always other alternatives and other goats.
* Hunt with a partner. This is generally more enjoyable and certainly safer than hunting alone. Partners can talk each other out of foolish endeavors.
* Don't shoot a goat if it might fall into an area you may not be able to reach. If you do, remember that the long way around may be the quickest, the easiest, and the safest.
* Unless you are an expert climber, you should not include a climbing rope with your gear; you may be tempted to use it!
* It is much easier to get lost in the fog than you think.
* A small VHF radio or an emergency locator beacon can be a life-saver in an emergency.
* A careful and thorough boning out of your goat meat will allow you to meet legal requirements and save you from having to pack a lot of unnecessary weight.
* Five days and four nights can be a long time to stay in the same area.
* If you fly in, it is wise to leave a weeks supply of extra food, a large tarp, dry clothes, a book, and miscellaneous luxury items in a waterproof container at your drop-off/pick-up spot. If the weather turns bad and persists, you may find yourself stuck at this spot for several days. Remain at the pick-up spot because you never know when your plane may arrive. Use a bright-colored tent and set it up in a visible location. This will help you locate your camp and lets other hunters who are looking for a hunting spot know that someone is already there.
* Goats usually look for danger from below, so consider hunting downwards from the ridge-tops. walk slowly and stop to look over edges.
* If the weather is hot and bugs are out, carefully search snowfields for goats. Goats like these areas because they are cooler and offer relief from insects.
* Beware of overhanging cornices that can break off with you on them.
* Walk slowly. Experienced goat hunters seldom travel more than 2 miles from their camp during a single day.
* Keep your equipment pack under 45 pounds for a 4- day trip (not including your rifle or bow). Even without the hide, your meat and gear can weigh 90-110 pounds.
* Don't trust your gear and meat to a cheap pack frame that might break and spill its contents down the mountain.
* Don't litter. Burn what is burnable and pack out the rest. Leave the beauty intact for the next visitors.
* If, a month after you've returned home from your hunt, you still despise the thought of ever hunting goats again, you must have had horrible weather, weren't physically prepared, took too much gear or the wrong gear, or you went into an area where you probably shouldn't have. However, with proper planning and preparation before hand, you can look back fondly on your hunting experience.
Tips on selecting a Trophy Mountain Goat: [click here for information on distinguishing between billies and nannies-Webmaster.]
Mountain goats challenge hunters by inhabiting some of the most precipitous and rugged habitat in North America, as well as by appearing so much like one another that judging a trophy animal often becomes a matter of luck. To get the best possible trophy, a hunter should be familiar with some of the physical and behavioral characteristics which help in distinguishing males from females and young from old goats. The two sexes differ little in general appearance, but males have larger horns by the trophy standards of Boone & Crockett Club. Females represent less than one percent of the ranking trophies listed in the 1988 Records of North American Big Game book published by Boone & Crockett.
Size of animals, horn shape, and behavioral differences are all important in judging the sex and age of mountain goats. The only positive sex identification characteristics, external genitalia, can seldom be observed under ordinary hunting conditions.
Using Body Size to Judge Trophies
Kids, yearlings, and adults can usually be distinguished by their relative sizes when found together in groups. Kids are easily recognized by their small size, weighing only about 35 pounds and standing about 20 inches at the front shoulder. Yearlings are more difficult to separate, weighing 60-70 pounds and standing abut 27 inches at the shoulder. Animals two years or older are difficult to separate by size, although full adult growth isn't reached until about four years of age.
Adult males average about 150 pounds but may reach weights as high as 300 pounds. Adult females average about 125 pounds with a maximum weight approaching 250 pounds. Body size alone is not a reliable indicator of a goat's sex and can be used only in combination with other characteristics when judging trophies.
How to Judge Trophies by Horn Size and Appearance
Horn lengths are approximately the same in male and female goats of the same age. Kids grow only short buttons up to one inch long during their first fall. By the time a goat reaches the yearling age class, it has attained over half its expected horn length. Most yearling goats have horns about six inches long, which at a casual glance look much like adult horns. By the time a goat is four years old its horns are 8-9 inches long. Although a goat may live to be ten years old or older, the annual horn growth increments are frequently less than 1/10 inch after the fourth year. The world' s record mountain goat, a male killed in British Columbia in 1949, had 12 inch horns. According to Boone & Crockett's 1993 Records book, the top 25 record goats all had horn lengths greater than 10 inches.
Although horn lengths are difficult to discern, other horn characteristics can be used to differentiate between the two sexes. Males have heavier horn growth, with a greater basal diameter and greater diameter along the entire length of the horn. Female horns are thinner and less massive appearing. Unfortunately, this difference is difficult to distinguish except in larger adults at very close range.
Horn curvature usually differs significantly between males and females. Males exhibit a smooth, even curvature throughout the entire length of the horn. In contrast, horns show their greatest curvature near the tips.
Contagious Ecthyma or "Orf"is a virus which has been found in Southeast Alaska goats. This virus is contained in dark brown or black scabby lesions around the eyes, nose, muzzle, ears, or sex organs of goats and sheep. The virus is contained in the scabs which dry and slough off, and is known to remain active in scabs laying on the ground for at least 30 years. Goats grazing in the area can then pick up the virus through cuts or abrasions. Manifestation of the virus has periodically occurred in goat populations throughout Southeast Alaska and, while not common, is not considered unusual.
Orf does not affect the edibility or quality of goat or sheep meat. However, through contact with the lesions, the disease can be transmitted to humans. The disease manifests itself in humans in the form of small blisters. Although antibiotics have no effect on the virus, symptoms can be treated. The lesions usually clear spontaneously in 2 to 6 weeks with little scarring. Goat hunters are encouraged to wear surgical or rubber gloves when processing harvested goats. Doing so will minimize the likelihood of contacting the virus.
Links to related information
Alaska hunting guide directory listings
Search Google for hunting information on OutdoorsDirectory.com