Mountain goats have become one of the most sought-after trophies in North America. While Mountain goats can be found in 14 different U.S. states and Canadian provinces, the best hunting opportunities are in British Columbia. Despite our own bias, B.C. has the quantity, quality and availability to make it the best mountain goat hunting destination on earth.
Mountain goat hunting has become more and more in-demand over the past decade. As high-adventure mountain hunting has gained popularity, so has the interest in mountain goats. Despite that increase in popularity, most hunters know very little about them. Other than the rugged and steep terrain that mountain goats inhabit, few hunters can tell you much about the day-to-day lives of these unique animals.
Here are a few things you may not already know about mountain goats.
1. A Unique Species
First, it’s interesting to note that mountain goats share the same subfamily group with true goats. The subfamily Caprinae includes sheep, goats, chamoix and muskox. However, mountain goats belong to their own unique genus. True goats belong to the genus, Capra, which includes ibex. But mountain goats are the only members of the genus, Oreamnos. They are only native to North America, making them totally unique.
2. Survival and Defenses
Mountain goats inhabit such harsh terrain because that is their primary means of safety. They are able to traverse cliffs and rugged mountainsides, keeping them out of reach of predators. As hunters, this makes mountain goat hunting a challenge. But it also provides opportunities. The broken terrain often allows us to stalk within range while avoiding a direct line of sight. The best approach for a stalk is often from above.
3. What They Eat
Goats are opportunistic in their feeding habits. They can be grazers and browsers. During warm summer weather, they live on high, green slopes above timberline. They survive mostly on grasses, forbs and low-growing plants during this time. During the winter, mountain goats will descend in elevation to timberline. Mountain goat diets during the winter vary regionally, depending on what is available. But browsing on low shrubs is common during these months.
4. Identifying a Billy
If you’ve never hunted mountain goats, one of the most difficult aspects can be learning to tell the difference between a billy and a nanny. But after some time studying them through binoculars or a spotting scope, you’ll get the hang of it. For an experienced mountain goat hunting guide, quickly identifying billies and nannies becomes second nature.
A billy will be larger in stature than a nanny. The billy will also have heavier horns, most noticeably at the bases. A billy’s horns will have a gradual, even curve from the base through the tip. However a nanny’s horns will appear to extend straight up from the base and then curve closer to the tip.
Mountain goats are undoubtedly one of the most unique big game trophies in North America. If you’d like to learn more about our guided mountain goat hunts in British Columbia, please visit our Mountain Goat Hunts Page. For details or more specifics, please contact us anytime.
Written by Ryan McSparran
Ryan McSparran is an outdoor writer, a hunting and fly fishing guide, and very proud to be a part of the Kawdy Outfitters team.