Hunting > Big Game

Goat Straight, No Chaser (Page 2)

They say a winter goat hunt can lead to a short climb. They also say it can be the toughest hunt of all.

Later as we load my pack for the hike down my fingers burn. I can’t wiggle the toes of my right foot; in fact the whole foot feels like a block of ice. I know it must be at least a mild case of frostbite. (In fact it takes months after my return before I regain all feeling.) The fleece glomitts and half-finger gloves I brought didn’t cut it for the climbs, so on ascents I wore my leather-and-nylon Carhartts. Previously soaked from grabbing ice-covered rocks and brush and now frozen stiff, they provide little insulation. But I must pull them on again for our descent. I step off with my load 30 minutes ahead of Brody, and after he catches up we make it back to the cabin under moonlight at 9 o’clock.

The next morning the motor on the boat doesn’t start no matter how many times Brody pulls on the cord or how many words he slings at it. We figure we can row out; if it took an hour to travel upstream with jet power, maybe we can make it downstream in three with “arm-strong” power. We take turns rowing, and it looks as if our plan will work.

“Aim right, Brody,” I say as we approach ice. “Looks like it’s open over there.”

But it isn’t. A shore-to-shore ice dam blocks our route. The stuff is too thin to walk on and too thick to break. After we smash an oar it takes several tries before we successfully push off against the current and feebly row to shore. Unfortunately it is the wrong shore. Even if we walk out we still must ford the stream.

I contemplate a night in the bush. We have sleeping bags and plenty of fuel to start a great big fire, and we have plenty of food. I have no doubt we’d live through the night, but I don’t like the thought of it. Neither does Brody, who calls a rescue helo. An hour later we leave everything in the boat but my gun and gear, and the goat, and fly away. The last I saw of that boat it was tied to the south shore of the Kitsumkalum River.

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