The big tur rolled out from behind the rock, falling down the side of the mountain. A hundred feet below it hit the side and bounced. Gaining speed, it fell another two hundred feet and bounced. Then four hundred feet, another big bounce, then out of sight. A couple of seconds later I heard a loud thud. I looked over at my Russian guide, Kemal, and he was shaking his head. “No good,” he said.
B.C’s goat population, though not studied heavily, is estimated at approximately 50’000 animals—half of the world population. The remaining goats in North America are spread out across the western United States, Alaska, Yukon Territory, and the Northwest Territories. If the mountains of British Columbia are the kingdom of the mountain goat, then surely the Coast Range is their stronghold.
The melodic thrum of the Cessna 206 filled the cockpit as the small gravel runway shrunk below us. Leaving the quiet community of Toad River, British Columbia behind us, we steadily climbed in elevation over the jagged peaks of the Northern Rocky Mountains. Our aerial path loosely tracing one of the many rivers, branching and braided in vein-like networks, deep into the heart of the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area.
In September of 2016, I went on my first hunting trip to northeast BC in search of moose and elk. As a lifelong BC resident and hunter, I have no valid explanation as to why it took me that long to venture North. Nevertheless, the story unfolded as it has for so many before me, I fell in love. A deeply primal feeling was ignited in me on that trip and I yearned to be back in the wild the moment I had left it. I returned the following year to a nearby area in search of sheep. The flame burned hotter still. I made plans for this year to see yet another far-off corner of the province, the Cassiar Mountains.
The view was breathtakingly beautiful as the stunted trees finally gave way to meadows and rocks, but what I remember even more vividly from my first moments in the alpine was the smell. It was some glorious mixture of spruce and pine with various mountain flowers, I wish I could have bottled it up to bring home to Mom. To this day I can still close my eyes, inhale and bring myself right back to that moment almost twenty years ago. It is just one of the many reasons I keep coming back. Earlier in the year, my Dad bought four old horses from the local outfitter and my brother Carl and I were beyond excited to learn as much as we could in the month leading up to our first hunt with them; mule deer and mountain goat in the spectacular Chilcotin region of British Columbia.
As humans have expanded our reach across the North American continent, areas of raw-untouched natural beauty exist in dwindling numbers. Of the truly wild places left on this continent, those that weren’t carved out for National Parks have remained in their natural state only because of their ruggedness, remoteness, and lack of access. Few places embody these characteristics more than the North Coast of British Columbia. Towering glaciated peaks, rivers lines by sheer rock walls, valleys enveloped in thick fog and giant salt sprayed timber. Regardless of where your interests lie, if you partake in some form of outdoor recreation, British Columbia’s Coast is likely on your radar.
I’ve made the trip up the James Dalton Highway, The Haul Road, a half dozen times and will certainly do so at least that many more before I ever leave Alaska. Each Haul Road venture usually has a different objective in mind as I attempt to learn every angle of hunting along its path.
I doubt there is any serious sheep hunter that does not know what a Marco Polo Argali is, even if he or she never intends or dreams of hunting one of these impressive rams. It is the longest horned sheep in the world and arguably the most famous of all the Asian sheep species.