This story began when I measured a B.C. Moose for Darin Hoover, a friend and SCI member. He had guided for Mike Hammett who ran a hunting company, Sikanni River Outfitters about 120 miles north of Fort St. John, British Columbia. He said he had a 60 inches Moose. It was a beautiful animal. Unfortunately, it measured 48 inches. I was still impressed with his story. I contacted Mike and booked a ten-day moose hunt beginning September 15, 1999. This was to be prime mating season for moose. As I recall the hunt was $5,900.00 with the trophy fee for a moose.
In early January, when I returned from the Dallas Safari Show, I got a call at my office from Rick Gore. He said, “I’m going to British Columbia and hunt with you.” You said WHAT? He said he had gone to the Elk Foundation Banquet in Little Rock and booked a Mountain Goat hunt with Sikanni River Outfitters for the same time, and by the way, I bought your airline ticket with my air miles. I asked what I owed for the airline ticket. He said how about $300.00. I said I’ll be at your office in 15 minutes. This trip started one of the best friendships of my life.
I added the Mountain Goat to my trophy list for $1,000.00.
Sometime during the summer, a family of four hunters had to cancel their hunt due to a serious illness in the family. The outfitter offered discounts to anyone who could come on short notice. Our friends Henry Ketcher and Don Hill joined our hunt. Henry wanted an elk and Don wanted a moose. We all met in Vancouver and flew to Fort St. Johns together.
The next morning, we boarded a charter flight into the base camp. Henry and Don would hunt out of the base camp. Rick and I were flown individually to a remote camp vie a Supper Cub by Mike.
ARRIVING BASE CAMP
Our “remote camp” was about 30 miles from the base camp. The setting was beautiful with log cabins beside a clear stream. Towering mountains surrounded our camp. The bunk house was a log cabin with a sod roof. When we moved in, we learned the hard way that the entry door was only five feet high. You would think hitting you head on the top of the door opening once would be enough. Nope. It happened several times. Inside were three bunk beds and a wood burning stove. We were able to put our duffel bag on top and sleep on the bottom.
Since Rick and I both wanted Mountain Goat, this was the object of our hunt the first day. A young guide named, Clint Collins, and a wrangler named, Trapper Walsey, led the way as we rode out of camp by horse in the early morning. Clint said his grandfather owned the ranch until Mike bought it a couple of years ago. He knew the area very well. He had spotted several goats on the mountain where we would hunt. It was a beautiful ride up the mountain. At the top was a large open meadow that stretched for about a half mile. At the end of the meadow was a towering peak with a sheer cliff about 2000 feet high at the top. That was the home of the Rocky Mountain Goat.
At the end of the meadow we dismounted. Clint set up a spotting scope to see if the goats were home. Sure enough, in the middle of the cliff face was a tiny white dot, a goat! Our plan was to climb this very steep peak and get within 400 to 500 yards from the bottom of the cliff. We would wait until afternoon when the goats came down to feed.
THIS IS NOT THE 2000 FOOT CLIFF
We found a shelter cave along a ravine where we would wait. We ate lunch during a lite snow and watched a Wolverine scamper up the ravine. Around 5:00pm, Clint slipped between boulders to see if any goats had come down. They had! Two billy goats were feeding 380 yards from us. I asked if we could get any closer. At 350 yards, he said that the goats had seen us. They put their day packs on a square boulder. I was on the left, and Rick was on the right. I was to take the goat on the left, and Rick was to take the goat on the right. He said on the count of three, you both shoot. I laid the cross hair across the back of my goat. This was Rick only trophy, so I waited until Rick shot before I pulled my trigger.
Rick’s goat ran to the left. My goat humped and walked to the right. I shot again. He humped again. I shot again. As I was reloading, I noticed Rick was having trouble with his rifle. We were both shooting rifles chambered for the 7mm Remington magnum. I reloaded my rifle and handed it to Rick. His goat was crossing a shale slide to our left. When he shot his goat started rolling down the shale slide.
Rick had jammed a .30 caliber bullet into his 7 Mag. and could not close his bolt or open his bolt to discharge the bullet. He said that his teenage boys had helped him clean up his workshop. They must have mixed the shells. I had a problem while sighting in my rifle with some shells being hard to chamber. The ones that were hard to chamber were not accurate. I chamber all the ammunition I brought.
It was only 350 yards up the mountain to my goat, but I had to stop and catch my breath three times before I got to him. Rick was lucky. No broken horns after his goat rolled down the shale slide.
BRYAN AND HIS ROCKY MOUNTAIN GOAT
RICK AND HIS ROCKY MOUNTIAN GOAT
It was getting late and there was much to do before we could come down off our mountain. We had to field dress our goats and skin the animals. We brought out the cape and heads. The guides would come back in the morning and bring out the meat. The mountain was very steep. I had to butt scoot down part of it. By the time we got back to our horses, it was dark. After we left the meadow and entered the trees, it was very dark. I could barely see the horse in front of me. They told us to let the horse go, just hang on. To hang on, I was standing in the stirps and leaning over the back of the horse. We got back to camp safely.
After breakfast the next morning, the guides saddled their horses and rigged the pack horses to go back up the mountain to retrieve the meat. They were concerned about the Wolverine we saw. If he had found the meat, and was guarding it, it was going to be a BIG problem.
PACK TRAIN RETURNIING
The pack train returns safely. No Wolverine. Now that Rick was through hunting, he becomes our cook. When we came through base camp, one of the guides had a falling out with the cook and went to Mike to complain. Guess who won? Mike told the guide to pack his gear and leave. When Mike flew Rick and I into our camp, he took our cook to replace the guide he ran off. Rick turned out to be a good cook. This ended a few days later when Mike flew a new goat hunter into camp. He took Rick to his ranch to hunt wolf.
The name of my moose guide was Tony Glass. He had a secret hunting spot he called Moose Valley. It was about an hour horseback ride from camp. We rode in on top of a bluff overlooking the valley. We could see the whole valley from our vantage point. On the mountain on the far side of Moose Valley we saw Mountain Goats. We stayed the whole day and did not see a moose. We went back the next day. No moose that day or the next. The fourth day we hunted a different area. We saw an immature bull and a cow moose. We were told, we would be hunting prime mating season. Mating season was a little late. I had been told by a friend that you will not see a moose if it is not mating season.
We went back to Moose Valley the fourth time. This was the sixth day of the hunt. The mating season must have started. There were three big mature bulls in Moose Valley. Tony asked which bull I wanted to stalk. I said the bull in the upper end of the valley has cows with him. I think that one would probably be our best chance.
We mounted our horses and rode to the valley floor. At the bottom we dismounted and continued our stalk on foot. That nice green meadow where the bull was standing, turned out to be a wet marsh with about ten inches of water. I had on 9-inch boots, and the water was cold. I followed single file behind Tony. There was a very narrow line of trees crossing the marsh between us and the bull.
Suddenly, the bull looked directly at us. I asked Tony if I could use his shoulder as a rest, and he said yes. I placed my rifle on his shoulder. The bull was facing us. I aimed just below his chin and squeezed the trigger. The moose collapsed! Tony asked if I always shot that good. I said sometimes.
We moved about 50 feet to our right to get out of the water and approached the moose. We were within 30 yards when he stood up broadside to us. I shot just behind the shoulder, and he went down for good.
BRYAN AND HIS B. C. MOOSE
This is a huge animal standing six- and one-half feet at the shoulder laying in a wet marsh. We must field dress it, skin it, quarter it and get it to dry ground before dark. Tony started at the front, and I started at the back. Together we could barely drag a hind quarter to high ground. We loaded the head and cape onto his horse and rode back to camp.
The next morning Tony and the wrangler prepared the pack train to go retrieve my moose.
TRAPPER WALSEY, TONY GLASS AND CLINT COLLINS
Now that the hunt is over, it was time to clean up. The toilet was not in the bunk house and neither was the shower. The shower was located next to the creek. It was about the same size as the toilet. With the attached propane tank, it had instant hot water. Not bad, but there was still cold with ice on the steps going into the shower.
When I flew out I learned that Don had taken his moose, but due to some foul-up Henry did not get an elk. Rick did a lot better. A bear had killed a colt one half mile from the ranch and wolfes were feeding on the carcass. Rick got his wolf.
RICK AND HIS WOLF
Then he shot a beaver.
RICK AND HIS BEAVER
After the foul-up on the elk, Henry decided to hunt a goat. He, his wrangler, Tim, and guide, Betty, took a ten-hour horseback ride to a tent camp. Unfortunately, there were no tents when he got there. They had been moved. They had to sleep on the ground wrapped in a tarp that had been used to wrap an elk. With the snow that night, they woke in a mess.
There was a Mountain Goat high above them. Betty wanted to ride the horses to find another goat. Henry said I am going to shoot this goat. They climbed almost straight up a shale slide for two hours to get within 300 yards of the goat. They were in a very awkward situation. Tim told Henry to stand on his shoulders to get a better balance. The shot was straight up. The goat was hit but not dead. Henry took a second shot and the goat fell past them and stopped rolling 500 yards below. When they tried to field dress the animal, it broke loose and rolled farther down the rockslide. They had to tie the goat to a boulder to complete the field dressing. The ride back to base camp took six hours.
HENREY KETCHER AND GUIDE BETTY