Managing the Steep Stuff in Sheep and Goat Country

Jun 20, 2023Tips & Advice

Sheep and goat country is notoriously steep and the terrain will challenge most hunters. These magnificent animals find ways to perch on near vertical slopes and their evolved hooves can grip just about anything. It’s rare to find yourself walking across a nice flat area on these hunts and most situations will call for plenty of up and downhill maneuvering.

Sheep and goat hunting in northern British Columbia

Get Your Legs in Shape

It’s all about the quads and calves in sheep country. Hit the stair master, hike the steepest places near your home (up and down) and get those legs and calves in great shape ahead of your hunt. It’s not easy but pushing yourself during training will make a massive difference in the field.

Mobility on steep surfaces also correlates with flexibility. If your muscles are binding and locking down after each hike, recovering becomes increasingly difficult. Stretch and massage your calves and quads between hikes to stay limber and recover faster.

Safety on Loose Materials

The scree slopes and loose dirt present safety challenges, especially on the downhill. On uphill climbs, it can seem like a one step forward, two steps back on some climbs. Look for the most stable surfaces to gain more ground on each climb.

On the downhill, it’s tempting to slide down scree fields. You’re tired and the route down is much faster with a big slide. Take the extra time and spend the energy to move slowly downhill. Falling down a scree slope or mountain is dangerous and you’re better off taking things one step at a time.

Manage Your Pack

Pack loads and position play a big role in managing steep hikes. If the hike is very short and you have the option, drop your pack or at least, drop the heavy stuff. When that’s not an option, keep the heavy items close to your body for optimal weight distribution. Don’t make things harder than necessary by overloading a pack and distributing the weight poorly.

Zig and Zag

Hiking straight uphill is hard on your legs and isn’t always the best route. Switchbacks exist on established trails for a reason and you can follow that model to gain elevation off-trail equally well. Create your own switchback route by cutting diagonal lines up the mountain.

As you climb, take short steps rather than long lunges. The short steps keep you moving and reduce the elongated motions that can lead to strains and injury. Your hip flexors are especially vulnerable when taking big uphill strides.

Give Your Legs a Break

Sometimes, you have to keep on pushing. Maybe a sheep is just over the next rise and there’s no time to waste. On the longer hikes however, take the time to rest your legs. Turn around on steep hills to relieve your calves and sit down on occasion to take the weight off. A few short minutes of rest can help you recharge for the next push. Drink some water, breath deep and recover when your legs are maxed out and need the break.

Written by Zach Lazzari

Zach is an outdoor writer, fly fishing guide and hunting enthusiast. Follow Zach at