Hunting Mountain Goat
Hunt the most underrated animal of all. The mountain goat offers a challenge and is a trophy in a class all by itself. Our goat averages 9 inches in length, with a good success rate. Hunters must be in good physical condition. This hunt is a challenge, yet is suited for the first time hunters that are looking for an exciting hunt without the big fees. The goat can be taken as a hunt by itself or in a combination with other animals. All hunters should be able to withstand heights and steep slopes as well as be able to hike long days.
The hooves of a mountain goat have hard outer shells and rubbery, concave foot pads which act like suction cups when weight is applied. This feature helps the goat to negotiate its vertical environment with ease and agility. It is not uncommon for a goat to leap 10 feet from one ledge to another, turn around on a narrow platform only inches wide, or pull itself up from ledge to ledge with its front feet. Keen eyesight complements this animal’s daring mountain skills. It can spot moving objects up to a mile away.
The mountain goat’s legs are relatively short and its body heavy-set. Thick white wool covers all of the body except for short sections above its hooves, where the hair is shorter. The goat’s black lips, nostrils, horns and hooves, as well as its brown pupils, stand out in stark contrast to the rest of its body.
Both males and females have slender, pointed horns that extend up and away from the long, narrow face. The horns, which grow continuously and are never shed, can be up to 25 centimetres long. Females have a noticeable curve at the tip of their horns while males have a gradual curve along the entire length.
The mountain goat’s long wool is shed in spring and summer, leaving it patchy and dirty-looking until the shorter summer coat is fully exposed. The thick winter coat is part of an important survival mechanism. Good insulation is needed because the goat’s strategy in winter is to move as little as possible, saving valuable energy. Sometimes animals are so sedentary they are considered to be in a semi-dormant state.
Mountain goats usually give birth in sheltered areas, such as caves or rock overhangs. Newborns sport a white woolly overcoat to aid in survival, as the weather can still be harsh in May and June. Horns can be noticed by three days of age. At 10 days old, youngsters begin to romp and play with other kids and nannies. This helps them become familiar with their mountain environment. By three weeks, kids average about 18 kilograms in weight.
Although mountain goats have an average lifespan of 12 years, fewer than half of each season’s kids survive their first year of life. Death is usually caused by an accident on the mountain or severe weather. Eagles have been known to carry off kids on occasion.
At maturity, males weigh about 85 kg and females about one-third less. Unlike sheep, mountain goats lead a solitary life. Adult males, or billies, keep to themselves except during the mating season. Yearlings that have remained with their dams throughout the winter are forced out on their own with the arrival of younger siblings. Females are sexually mature in their second year while males mature after three years.
Grasses, sedges and rushes dominate the goat’s summer diet. Foraging occurs mainly at dawn and dusk. Like other ruminants, the goat spends much of the time chewing its cud. Occasionally it will venture down into the valleys in order to visit natural mineral licks, or seek shade in very hot weather, while keeping escape terrain nearby. Winter brings a change in diet to conifers and flowering plants.
The mountain goat’s mating season occurs between November and December. Males compete as they try to establish dominance, but fights are generally rare. Unlike other horned and antlered animals, male mountain goats do not butt heads. Instead they aim for each others hindquarters and bellies. Most fights are shams but occasionally internal organs are pierced, with fatal results. Females use their horns to keep the males in line, a feature of the mountain goat’s matriarchal social order. Except during the mating season, females dominate males.