When LVSCI Vice President- Bob Newland booked his Alaska mountain goat hunt, he knew fully well it would be a difficult, physically challenging trip.
Here he tells the story of an amazing hunt in his own words – originally published in the January 2019 LVSCI Newsletter.
When I booked my Alaska mountain goat hunt, I knew fully well it would be a difficult, physically challenging trip. I just don’t think I fully understood what that meant. I booked the hunt about a year and a half be-fore the actual date and began training months before I was due in camp. I started walking the neighborhood with a pack weighing around 30 pounds and worked my way up to 60. By the time the trip rolled around, I was comfortable walking up to 4 miles, 4-5 times per week. I felt I had done enough to prepare. Unfortunately, it seems, there isn’t any way you adequately train for these mountains unless you are actually up in the mountains doing it.
Hal LaPointe of Far North Adventures in Anchorage, AK runs mountain goat hunts in the Puget Bay area of the Prince William Sound. After getting his name from a friend, I called
…it seems, there isn’t any way you adequately train for these mountains unless you are actually up in the mountains doing it.
Huntin Fool and inquired if they had any knowledge of him. It turned out he is one of their endorsed outfitters and I was told he runs a quality camp. I contacted Hal was happy with everything I heard. He offers two options when hunting his
camp. For those in shape and more adventurous, he’ll take you to spike out at the top of the mountain where the big billies live. For those who might find this too much of a challenge, he offers a hunt using the ocean beach as an option. Some of the goats will descend the cliffs along the shoreline to walk the beach and feed on the lusher vegetation. I told him I wanted the full experience and committed to going to the top. This decision, I don’t regret now that it’s over but, at the time, I had some serious remorse.
Hal prefers 2 hunters in camp and encouraged me to find a friend to accompany me on the trip. Enter Nathan “Ray” Raymond from San Diego, California. Ray’s wife follows me on Facebook and had been showing Ray a lot of my hunting photos from Africa, Alaska and the lower 48 states. Ray had never hunted before but, was interested in getting started. After a couple phone conversations, Ray told me he’d like to try a hunting trip so, I mentioned I was looking for someone to accompany me to Alaska and he was all over it. He asked me if I would mind mentoring him to get him started. Always, eager to help new hunters get started, I was happy to do so.
We began discussing guns, optics, clothing, boots and every-thing else an experienced hunter might take for granted. I told him how Alaska was known for bad weather and that his gear had to be good quality. He agreed and we settled on brands like Sitka, Kenetrek and Tikka. I suggested he try to get at least one hunt in prior to our trip and he agreed. I put him in touch with a guide I know from Colorado and he scored on a nice mule deer to get his appetite wet further and his nerves in condition. We both were looking forward to our adventure very much and spoke regularly over the next year.
I boarded my flight in New Jersey and headed to Anchorage. When I landed Ray was waiting for me. Hal and assistant guide Billy Michna, picked us up and the follow-ing day we were loading a beaver float plane for our journey into the Alaska wilderness. The flight into camp alone was worth the price of admission. It was a bluebird day and we went straight over the Kenai mountains with their beautiful glaciers and mountain lakes. We flew out over the ocean and then gently landed on the picturesque lake where the base camp was. The small 10×12 cabin had a small kitchen, a fold out table and 2 bunks in the back. Ray and I would use the bunks while Hal & Billy shared a ten nearby. The small wood-stove provided for a warm retreat when the weather got a little unpleasant. It was a perfect Alaska scene.
As soon as we settled in, Hal was right behind the spotting scope, surveying the surrounding mountains in search of white gold. It was unusually warm so there wasn’t much activity during midday. Early mornings and right before dark, white dots would magically appear on the ledges and rocks. Most were up very high and far off. The magnitude of the cliffs were beginning to get a little intimidating but I was determined to make the trip to the top.
As we walked out of the woods back onto the beach, Billy hushed us saying; bear, bear!
We had a couple days until opening day, so we continued to glass and enjoy our time in base camp. The water level in the lake was lower than in the past and this was attracting the black bears down to the shores. Hal was adamant that he would like us to shoot a bear if the opportunity presented itself. He said the goat population was suffering, especially the nannies and kids. He attributes this to the number of black bears in the area. In fact, later in the week, Billy and Ray watched a big boar stalk and chase four goats up on the mountain.
One evening we took the zodiac and cruised across the lake to explore a low area where bears might be. We walked up the beach and into the woods. The bear sign was impressive and we were optimistic we might get a crack at one of the bruins. As we walked out of the woods back onto the beach, Billy hushed us saying; bear, bear! I tried to get Ray to take the shot but, he wasn’t able to get his rifle ready quick enough. With the bear looking like he was ready to bolt any second, I shouldered my gun and made the shot. It ran only 40 yards and I had my black bear tag filled before ever leaving base camp. We skinned and took care of the bear right on the beach, leaving the carcass there in hopes it might attract more bears for Ray.