USA: Alaska Mountain Goat Hunt With Parker Guide Service

JES Adventures

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The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind catching up on work after getting back from Zambia. As I continue my quest towards the North America 29, the elusive Mountain Goat is one trophy that I put off way too long but now my time has come.

I researched outfitters in Canada and Alaska and settled on Bruce Parker of Parker Guide Service. This is a late season hunt, during the rut in S.E. Alaska. The base camp is his luxury yacht the Alaskan Harvest and we will take skiffs to the shore daily to hunt. His 29 year success average has been incredible due to the time of year he hunts goats and his knowledge of his guide area.

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My plan was to take this hunt in 2021 but when my Fall 2020 plans for back to back Caribou and Moose hunts in Canada fell apart because of Covid, I quickly started contacting outfitters in the USA to pick up a few of the species I had planned for next year.

Fortunately I got in with two outfitters I planned on hunting with in ‘21. I scored on day one of a Columbia Blacktail hunt in Oregon with Taylor Thorp and that put me at number 20. Bruce Parker had a 2020 client that wanted to move to 2021 so I gladly took his spot this year.

Alaska requires a negative Covid test 72 hours prior to arrival so I did a drive through test on Monday afternoon and got my results back late last night. As I opened the email in suspense (after reading about a significant number of false positives) I immediately said a prayer of thanks for my good health and checked over my gear one last time.

So, this morning I am off to Juneau in pursuit of Mountain Goat. I took care of my license online and Bruce has my goat tag onboard. My travels today on American and Alaskan Airlines takes me from San Antonio to Phoenix to Seattle to Juneau. It is a full day of travel and I overnight in Juneau then float plane to the yacht on Thursday. The forecast looks good, plenty of snow which should push the goats down to lower elevation. The temperatures are predicted to be in the low 20’s to mid 30’s through the hunt so I made sure I had packed all the correct gear. Hunting North American Big Game always poses unique challenges and I have always said the weather is the biggest factor in success.
 

Ridgewalker

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Exciting! I’m looking forward to following your next adventure!
Thanks for taking us along!
 

cls

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Safe travels and shoot straight.
 

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Wow, I can't wait to read the hunt report. Good luck to you!
 

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Best of luck. Sounds like everything you can control is in your favor. Have fun and shoot straight.
Bruce
 

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Good luck, look forward to the report!
 

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Wish you the best of luck !
 

JES Adventures

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Day 1

The flights were all on time and my luggage arrived with me in Juneau so it is a good start. Funny thing, I was asleep on the Alaskan Airways flight from Seattle to Juneau and the flight attendant woke me to tell me my mask had slipped off my nose. I guess he missed the fact everyone entering Alaska must have a negative Covid test within 72 hours of travel. Anyhow, I got checked in at the Travelodge and caught up on emails and hit the sack.

With the 3 hour time difference I was up at 4 so made coffee and wrapped up a few work items before signing off for a week. The only comm’s from the yacht are SAT phone which I will turn on every evening to check texts. I spoke to Ward Air and the charter is scheduled for noon so I will head over to the floatplane base at 11.

The weather looks good so we got our gear loaded and have about an hour flight to the yacht.

This will be my last post until I am back in town.
 

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S.E. Alaska is an amazing part of the world!
 

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Good luck! Look forward to the report.
 

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Zambia and Alaska back to back...Wow. Good luck and stay safe!
 

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Best of luck!

Looking forward to the Alaska report and would also like a report of your Oregon trip if you would indulge.
 

JES Adventures

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Day 1

The flights were all on time and my luggage arrived with me in Juneau so it is a good start. Funny thing, I was asleep on the Alaskan Airways flight from Seattle to Juneau and the flight attendant woke me to tell me my mask had slipped off my nose. I guess he missed the fact everyone entering Alaska must have a negative Covid test within 72 hours of travel. Anyhow, I got checked in at the Travelodge and caught up on emails and hit the sack.

With the 3 hour time difference I was up at 4 so made coffee and wrapped up a few work items before signing off for a week. The only comm’s from the yacht are SAT phone so I will turn on every evening to check texts. I spoke to Ward Air and the charter is scheduled for noon so I will head over to the floatplane base at 11.

The weather looks good so we got our gear loaded and have about an hour flight to the yacht.
The Turbine Otter had no problem getting off the tarmack with our load and less than an hour we were at the yacht. It was a gorgeous day to fly, the scenery in S.E. Alaska is incredible. The surrounding mountain tops are covered with snow right down to the timberline. After a smooth landing in the bay where the yacht was anchored we were met by a skiff to ferry us to the yacht. The crew got all of our gear offloaded and settled into our staterooms.

Along for the hunt this week was Bill, a Juneau resident, Troy and Cindy from New Mexico and Ted from Montana.

I was very impressed with how spacious the yacht is with comfortable staterooms, each having its own bathroom. The main living to kitchen area had several seating areas for dining and relaxing with numerous windows to appreciate the incredible surroundings while cruising.
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The cook had prepared both hot soup and charcuterie plate set for lunch. After a snack, Bruce tended to all of the license paperwork while the rest of us were getting settled in. Carl (Hunt Mgr) got the four of us hunters together to go over rules and protocol for the hunt. They have unfortunately had a careless, accidental discharge onboard so Carl remains the point man in charge of storing the firearms. There is a central gun cabinet in the main room where all the guns will remain throughout the trip when not hunting. We will go out 2X2 in two skiffs tomorrow in search of goats. The guides are young and energetic and ready to go. This is the first goat hunt of the year and you can tell the whole crew is enthusiastic.

Later in the day, we loaded into a skiff and went ashore to check zero. Everyone was on, I was happy to see that after seven flights in the last two weeks and my rifle was still on zero.

We went into the evening, telling hunting stories and of course talking a bit of politics with the upcoming election on everyones mind. It seems we are all of the same conviction and cherish our freedom so we remain hopeful for a positive outcome next Tuesday.

Stacy the Chef did an amazing job once again. Dinner was green salad, baked halibut, quinoa and asparagus. For desert there was cake and homemade ice cream! Dylan (one of the guides) said “this is the only goat hunt I know of where you can gain weight”!

Still on Texas time, I started to fade fast so off to bed at 9 in anticipation of the new day.
 

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Looks like you are really roughing it! :A Whistle:

Was the "Ted from Montana" the Ted of "Ted's Montana Grill" :A Whistle:
 

JES Adventures

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Looks like you are really roughing it! :A Whistle:

Was the "Ted from Montana" the Ted of "Ted's Montana Grill" :A Whistle:
Most comfortable Alaskan camp I have ever stayed in! No, this Ted was retired.
 

JES Adventures

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Day 2

I was up about ten minutes before the generator came on, lying in bed giving thanks for this day and wondering what lies ahead. Breakfast is scheduled for 6:30 and by 5:30 I could smell the coffee and bacon. Everyone trickled in and the chatter began about how we would hunt today. Bruce got us underway about 6 and the yacht was extremely smooth as we motored up the bay into a channel.

Slowly we motored up the river towards the preferred hunting area. Carl had previously explained as we travel up the river, the timber will diminish as this is basically new ground. An area where the glacier has receded and the timber has not yet matured. The cover is sparse and low, mostly alder and some devils club.

Daylight came about 7:20 and by 8:12 Dylan had spotted the first goat - Encouraging!
Everyone was on alert, it looked like a group of pointers when they are let out of the boxes ready to go.

We got in the skiffs and headed towards where they had spotted the goat. Ben said he was 980 yards so he steered the boat towards the shore and got out and set up the spotting scope. It was a nice mature billy, 760 yards out. Bruce asked if anyone wanted to take the shot and Bill said he’d give it a go. He set up with Bruce’s 338 Lapua and they ranged the goat and dialed in the scope. The first shot a clean miss and the goat never moved. They checked the yardage again, reloaded and he sent another downrange. Another clean miss. The goat had enough and started to move and Bill took a third shot. The consensus was that he was shooting high the entire time. We packed up and moved on in search of goats.

A light snow shower started to fall which cut down visibility quite a bit but we still managed to find a half a dozen goats. Only one shooter thus far but he was out of range and in a precarious spot so we carried on. The temperatures hovered in the low 30’s and it snowed off and on nearly all of the day.

We stopped for a quick lunch and moved into a drainage that led up to a massive glacier. There was lots of floating ice which made motoring difficult but we got all the way to the glacier in an hour or so. Towards the back we spotted a nanny and kid so stayed for a bit glassing to see if there was a billy anywhere in sight. The rut is starting so the billy’s will come down out of the higher elevations to be with the nanny’s so we are on the look out.
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The scenery is absolutely amazing with the massive chunks of ice that has broken away from the glaciers. The towering mountains that the goats call home rise above the water thousands of feet into the air. This is a rough, rugged and inhospitable place which says a lot for the Mountain Goat.

The snow would turn to freezing rain occasionally but continued right on into the night.

Back at the yacht I had a nice warm shower and for the first time in 8+hours I was not cold! Another great meal of steak and baked potatoes with broccoli and creme brulee for desert! No doubt this is the best camp food I have ever had in Alaska.

Early to bed, mentally preparing for tomorrow. The weather will be more of the same - cold and wet. Hopefully, we get into the billy’s tomorrow.
 

JES Adventures

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Day 3

Same drill, new day - up at the generator and a big breakfast an hour before heading out. There is a steady rain falling today so everyone is mentally prepared for the conditions. The skies start to light up a bit by 7:40 and we wait for good light before departing. We are right in the goat area so a billy could be encountered straight off the boat as it was yesterday.

We left the yacht a little after 8 this morning. It was raining when we left and still raining at 5:10 PM when we got back to the yacht. To say it was a challenging day is an understatement. Alaska ranks as one of the toughest hunting destinations on the globe simply because of the weather. Despite constant rain, we still managed to see goats. It was slim pickings due to visibility but in all we saw a dozen or more today including three billies that were either too far away to shoot or were in a place where recovery would be impossible. I have a full set of Sitka rain gear that served me well in the past including driving rain in Uganda and a cold, steady rain in Ethiopia but 9 hours of steady rain put it to the test and it failed. Not completely but my under layers were wet in some areas along zippers, cuffs and collar. I undressed in the bathroom to keep the water mess to a minimum and after a much welcomed warm shower I started to spread my clothes out to dry. I will need my down coat, fleece jacket, etcetera for tomorrows hunt.

My hunting partner Troy is a few years my senior and he made the comment late in the day that if its raining again tomorrow, he would not be joining me. I can’t say that I blame him, today goes in the top five most miserable hunting days I can remember. That being said, I only have 5 hunting days left and I don’t want to miss my opportunity to take a goat.

I talked to Ben my guide about goat habits and how they react to inclement weather and he said the goats are used to the rain here, it is a normal part of their lives. So, they will still move about somewhat active and feeding. Of course, when the sun comes out again they will certainly be more active. With the rut starting, the billies will be out looking for nannies so I remain confident we will connect in the next 5 days.

The marine wildlife are in abundance here and we would encounter porpoise, seals and sea ducks periodically throughout the day.

After another great meal and some fellowship, I retired to my bunk. Daylight savings time tonight with the clock changing but I followed my body’s clock and fell asleep when I was tired.
 

JES Adventures

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Day 4

I woke just before the generator fired off and felt great, I had a full nights sleep. As I sat down with my coffee Bill said, “well, its not raining - yet”! At least we will start off dry this morning. Hopefully we will be successful today and one of us will take a goat. They are here, we just need a little break in the weather and for these goats to start moving around more.

After a full, hot breakfast of egg casserole with ham and hasbrowns. Don’t forget the homemade hot mixed berry muffins! The food has been amazing and in spite of how miserable the day was yesterday, after a hot shower, great meal and warm bunk I am ready to go at it again today.

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By the time we got loaded in the skiffs, the rain had resumed. It appeared to be a replay of yesterday. We carried on to the North, up the inner passage glassing for goats but the visibility was terrible today. It steadily rained from the time we left the yacht to the time we returned. With Daylight Savings Time now in the Fall mode, sunset was at 4:10 PM. So back at the yacht by 4:20 and in the shower stripping down as I am somewhat soaked again.

The forecast calls for some clearing in the next few days and I hope it gets here quick as I hit the halfway point tomorrow and have yet to get on a goat. The guides remain optimistic that when we get a break in the weather the hunt can turn around on a dime and the goats will be active.
 

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We ran a boat out of Valdez for years. It’s a very civilized way to hunt tough country! That looks like quite a yacht you’re on. Good luck!
 

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