Goat Hunting Kodiak Island – My Uganik Draw Tag Goat Hunt
To begin, I have to go back to the fall, which is time to put in for the drawings that Alaska offers. Alaska is unique in that it gives residents the ability to harvest almost every game species that it has to offer. From the deer of Kodiak, to the bears of the Kenai Peninsula, the Dall sheep of the Alaska Range, the Goats of Prince William Sound, and more, Alaska offers a wide variety of options in this lottery system. Wanting to try my hand at goat hunting Kodiak Island, I put in for a Uganik tag, because there was a substnatial percentage of winning the tag.
Luck was apparently on my side, and when the names came out of winners in March, I read my name; Brian Watkins: Uganik Tag DG474. The pre-hunt work began almost immediately!
For planning purposes, I dug deep into every resource I could. I was referencing archived posts from the Alaska Outdoors Hunting Forums, I messaged members whom had hunted the tag before (and even just goat hunting Kodiak Island in general), and tried to expand my knowledge on the island as a whole. I was even on the phone weekly with Fish and Game and my transporter, Andrews Airways. After gleaning as much info as I could, it was time to look over maps, pick areas, and draw up a game plan. From March up until the day I was leaving I was talking with fellow hunters, and I would like to give a thank you to all the hunters who helped. Alaska is extremely unique in its hunting community in a sense where fellow hunters reach out and help when ever possible. As long as you do your research, are courteous, and genuinely want to help others with the knowledge you have, they will be more then willing to share stories, ideas and tips/tricks.
Fast forward to September and my buddy Chris and I were on our way to start goat hunting Kodiak Island! This was both of our first times to the island and we were going to try to not only fill our Uganik Tag, but try our hand at a deer hunt as well. The weather looked dismal for most of the week and it was going to be a tough hunt if the weather continued to go south on us. We took off from Anchorage at 6:00am, only to arrive back at Anchorage at 7:30am. The fog had rolled into Kodiak and landing was not an option. We were put on a later flight and finally arrived in Kodiak around 2pm. The fog and wind picked up again and we were unable to fly out that night. We stayed at a wonderful B&B and were rested and ready to go on Sunday. It took most of the day for the weather to settle, but we finally got to the spot we picked out around 5pm. The surrounding terrain had a great bowl around a lake, with lots of goats.
Within minutes of setting up camp and starting to glass, Chris found the goats. Being in Alaska, we cannot hunt certain animals on the same day as a fly in, so we were stuck glassing and deciding on a game plan for the rest of the night. We decided to cut around the lake, get high fast, and sneak along the ridge into the goats.
Monday morning, 6:30am we arose and immediately we were excited! My alarm went off; I jumped out of the sleeping bag, still in long underwear, and was out glassing the goats we saw the night before. Perfect! They were still in the same general area, grazing. By the time we finished breakfast, and got ready to go it was 8am. I threw up the binoculars one last time, and I was able to see the last of the goats going up and over the ridge, directly away from us. This threw a wrench into the game plan, but we decided to stick with our original idea and head for where we last saw them. This proved to be an excellent choice.
Within half an hour of hiking, we had jumped a Sitka blacktail buck and doe. Chris and I went back and forth on whether he should shoot or not. Chris, “Let’s let them go; I don’t want to ruin your goat hunt.” Me, “Shoot! Get your gun out. He’s leaving! The goats will stay!!” Chris, “ No! It will spoil the valley.” We went back and forth for about a minute. This shows Chris’ patience and the great kind of friend he is. If he had shot, it more then likely would have wrecked our first attempt at goat hunting Kodiak island.
By noon we were up into the saddle where we wanted to have a chance at the goats. We got out the spotting scope and the goats were on another lake, far away from us and in tough terrain to battle with. We glassed our valley for a while more and saw three different goats. Two were grazing together and one was alone in the crags. After glassing around for upwards of an hour, we finally decided that the lone goat was the best option. It seemed to be big bodied, likely a billy, but was still too far to judge the horn size.
It was a bit of an ordeal to get to this goat. We had to side hill in some of the scariest country I have ever traveled in. It takes a lot for me to get scared while hiking in the mountains, and here I was petrified. The winds and kicked up and the fog came down, keeping visibility to a minimum. Compounding the technical terrain was the rain slicked the rocks making hiking through them slippery. Traversing this terrain was dangerous, but quite exhilarating.
It took me three times to realize it since this was my first time goat hunting Kodiak island, but it finally registered that if the goat trail stops, so should you. Goat trails are about 12” wide as they crest mountains and slopes, and when they end and there’s an opening; it does not mean you should continue. I would eventually end up with three cliffs on either side with a turn around in the only direction I came up. I was able to get around a little bit more, but could not find the goat that we thought was there. Chris had gone down low and was walking the valley trying to help me spot. We ended up in the last valley, where the goat should be. No goat in sight.
I started down towards Chris to try and devise another game plan. Halfway down he motioned for me to hurry along and get to him. The excitement starts now! I get down as fast as I can to reach Chris and am thrilled to find out once the fog was completely gone, the lone goat was there!!! We rush to the last spot he saw the goat. As we turn the corner of a cliff, there it was feeding along getting ready to head out of the country. We needed to act quickly, and with the fog still moving in and out, we decided to take advantage of the natural cover and close the distance toward the goat every time we had concealment. We couldn’t get a range on the goat as the fog was messing with our rangefinders, but I knew we were too far for a comfortable shot. Our goat fed behind a cliff and after a moment of indecision, I took off.
I’m still not quite sure how I ‘spider-manned’ my way around the next rock but I was able to get to a flat spot; look up only to find that the goat has spotted me. In a bit of a panic, I drop to a knee and set in on the goat for a shot. After successfully harvesting my first mountain goat, it began to fall down the mountain.
Goat Hunting Kodiak Island Success
Our goat fell about 350 yards down the mountain. During the fall, both horns broke off (which we found) and the cape was a bit damaged, but we were able to skin, butcher, and salvage the meat all by about 8:45PM . The sun had set and we were now hiking back in the dark. With a combination of heavy packs, darkness, and the weather, it made for a tough pack back to camp, but it sure felt great to have early success goat hunting Kodiak island!
Amazing Scenery Goat Hunting Kodiak Island
From that night on for 60 hours, the rain came down, and the wind blew! We figured the gusts to be near 100mph with 50-60mph sustained winds. We were stuck in the tent for two and a half days. The first day was great, recovering from our successful hunt by sleeping most of the day, but day two brought a bit of tent fever! The heavy rain also started to flood the immediate area surrounding our tent, forcing us to dig some trenches, diverting the water. We also set up alders to lay the meat on and tied a tarp over to keep the meat dry. Stories were told, books were read, and all things considered, being stuck in the tent wasn’t too bad!
Thursday afternoon arrived as if someone switched off the weather. The rain and wind both subsided, bringing with it amazingly blue skies, which were very welcome! After more than two days in the tent, it was high time to start deer hunting! We hiked to where Chris first saw the buck and the doe first morning and immediately saw two deer in nearly the same location as the first day. Once we got the binoculars on them, it was obvious they were bucks. After a hasty stalk, we got into position and shortly thereafter had two Sitka blacktail bucks on the ground. We hiked up toward our quarry and after a few photos, started to butcher the two bucks.
I had left my pack in camp, thinking we’d only get one deer, so I headed back to grab it after quartering one and a half deer. Chris would finish the second. On the way back, I stopped to take a break and saw two more deer above Chris. It was a buck and a doe but Chris was between the deer and myself, not allowing a shot, so I ran to tell him where they were. Moving to the west of Chris’s location I saw the deer. Out of breath, high on excitement and adrenaline I knew I had to settle down to get a clean shot. I pressed the trigger on my rifle and down went my second buck! It was a difficult shot but we now had three deer down!
We each packed one and a half of these fairly big bodied deer. I would estimate both our packs weighed nearly 200 pounds with gear and deer. It took awhile to get out, but we made it. Once back at camp, the decision was made to fly out the following day, as we wanted to ensure the meat and hide from the goat harvested earlier would stay in good shape. The next morning met us with a gorgeous flight out, allowing us to see the goats we spotted around the other lake and decided that Chris is going to put in for the same tag next year with another buddy of ours, Dennis.
I feel like a kid all over again after the experience this trip offered. Goat hunting Kodiak island sent us through a myriad of emotions, everything from excitement, disappointment, fear, to long drawn-out boredom. I think I may be addicted to this type of thing, as there is nothing quite like the thrill of mountaintop goat hunting!
Story and photos by Alaskan Brian Watkins