Bc Extreme Hunting The Hard Way For A Big Billy
Hunting The Hard Way For A Big Billy
BY TYLER LESONBEE
I had always dreamed of hunting mountain goats and didn’t think the opportunity would ever be possible because of the drawing odds and cost of buying a hunt. The opportunity presented itself when my dad found a two-for-one backpack hunt in the steep hills of British Columbia, with a fantastic guide, Brandon, in an area that hadn’t been hunted for approximately 25 years. The other man that had booked the hunt backed out last minute; that gave me the opportunity to go with my dad on my dream hunt for the majestic mountain goat. In the few short months I had prior to the hunt, I prepared as much as I could by running, and reading all I could about a backpack hunt for goats in British Columbia. As the hunt finally approached, my hopes were high; however, as always on any hunt I have ever been on, I wasn’t sure what to expect or what would happen.
Little did I know of the white majestic animal in my future. We drove the 28-hour trip that took us from Utah to British Columbia and my hopes were soaring…until we arrived in Smithers, B.C.; the rain, snow, and bad weather kept us grounded from our flight. Another plane somehow flew the other three hunters and our gear out to another camp in front of us. Finally after a couple days, and hours of sitting and waiting, we got a brief window of opportunity. They called us from the float plane base and took a shot at making the hour and fifteen minute flight to our little lake that rested in the tops of the mountains.
We made it safe and sound and it was time for our hunt, but that night it snowed four-five inches on our tents and covered the mountains that would normally show a white Billy goat easily. The snow was very abnormal for the first day of September, and would make it very difficult for us. The first day we spent cold and wet with lots of hiking and no animals except for a couple of cow Caribou.
That night, our guide sent in his wrangler to spot on top of the steep mountain next to our camp. He was nicknamed “Denmark” because he had traveled all the way from Denmark to learn the trade and he was fantastic. He came back to camp that night with a smile that I will never forget. He had spotted three Billies across a canyon on a slide rock hill and they were feeding toward our direction.
That night my mom told my dad and me that we would have Sugar Plum Fairies dancing in our heads. We woke early the next morning, ate little, and headed out. We used a small float raft to cross the lake, and hiked up the canyon to find the Billies; our guide Brandon found them not far from where Denmark had seen them bed for the night. The giant Billy was at the lowest spot on the hill, and the other two Billies were above him in the rocks. We waited for nearly three hours while they rested; it was a tough wait to see that giant Billy lying there, while hoping he wouldn’t be spooked off or smell us because the wind shifted. Finally, we had our shot and the small Billy turned away from us; we headed up above the giant Billy hoping to get two of the three. As we approached the edge of the hill, they decided to get up and move. Directly above us were the two smaller Billies—only a couple hundred yards away—with the giant Billy nowhere in sight. We had to make a move now; our guide, Brandon, took my dad toward the two Billies and I headed with the wrangler toward the giant Billy. We hadn’t gone a hundred yards when I heard my dad shoot. The giant Billy was nowhere in sight and I was pretty distraught. I looked and looked and nothing—anywhere.
I kept thinking, “Where had he gone?” He had simply disappeared. Finally Brandon came and said he wasn’t sure if my dad had connected but we had to keep looking for the giant Billy; eventually we gave up our search and headed back to find my dad’s goat.
My dad was sure he had hit it on a 285-yard running shot and we headed out to find it; my parents followed behind, trying to keep up. All of a sudden below us, where we suspected the Billy had gone, was the giant Billy. I couldn’t believe he had somehow snuck around us and below us.
I got three off-hand, running shots at him before he rounded a hill and I was completely sick; how could I not have connected with one lucky running shot? Little did I know, I had hit him low in the leg and we took off running as fast as we could after him, on a slick, slide rock, steep, hillside. Brandon kept telling me, “If we keep up we will catch him and cut him off from the other goats!” And we did it, there he was below us, limping slightly. With two great kneeling shots he was done. Boy they are tough animals! I was so excited; the hunt I had always dreamed of was finally a reality and little did I know what I would find at the end of the rainbow.
My dad ended up with a beautiful trophy as well. He HAD made a great running shot; somehow he always has to prove his shooting abilities to me. When we walked up on my beautiful giant Billy, all Brandon could say was, “Wow! “WOW! He is huge! Never in the 40 years of our guiding here, have we ever found a goat like this!” He ended up green-scoring 53-5/8” B&C and is 10-1/4” long and 13-1/2 years old. What an amazing trophy; if we could only see a video of his majestic life and the beauty he has seen.
I feel so blessed to have parents that enjoy hunting as much as I do. Hunting to me is not only seeking animals to cherish and learn from, but the beauty, hardships, joys, and excitement. It is the mountains and the closeness to heaven; the luck, hard work of many, and blessings of the Almighty—that to me is the most important. I will never forget this experience and will cherish the memories as I tell them to my wife, children, grandchildren, and family for years to come.