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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A packgoat buddy and I decided to hike into Idaho's Selway Bitterroot Wilderness one spring and headed out as soon as the ground was free from snow. The high country still had a huge snow pack and the creek crossings were really high. We ended up tying all of our lead ropes together to form a long line which I hooked on each goat in turn to provide some stability against the current which was hitting part way up their side as they came across. The trip turned out to be great so he asked if he could borrow two of my goats to take his family back in the next week end. I said sure thing. I gave him two huge Saanen/Alpine/Nubian crosses. One weighed 240 and the other 260. (This is important later) On the way in he did the same thing with the ropes and was making good progress even though the water was even higher than the previous week. One crossing had a big log for a bridge so he walked over and looked back to make sure the goats were coming. They were, so he headed out and then heard his wife scream. He looked back and she was on the log reaching into the water. He ran back and saw that one of my goats had fallen off the wet log on the upstream side and the current had it pinned under the log. The water was so high that the goat was completely under water and couldn't breath. He pulled but couldn't budge it. The goat weighed 260 and was loaded with 50 lbs making the total package over 300lbs. Add the force of the roaring water and it's no wonder he couldn't budge it. Seconds were ticking by and he quickly decided to take his knife an start cutting any saddle and pannier straps he could get a hold of to try and get the goat loose. Just as he started to cut the first one the goat gave one last big struggling kick and the panniers moved enough to let the goat slide under the log and out the other side. He helped it to its feet while it coughed and wheezed up water from its lungs. After about a 20 minute break it was back to normal and they hiked the rest of the way to camp. The goat refused to cross a log from that day on. He would slide down the bank and wade the creek no matter how deep it was while the other goats walked the log. I never tried to get him back on a log bridge. I figured he had good reason to avoid logs and if he wanted to wade the creek that was fine by me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ok, heres another one.

This one involved four goats and some large boulders. Two were 185 lb Alpines and two were 250 lb Nubian/Saanen crosses. All four were loaded with about the same weight. We arrived at the edge of the boulders with rocks the size of SUV’s and I started looking for a clear path. After picking a likely looking route I led the way down a steep rock to a small clear area between the rocks where I thought we could re-group and climb out the other side. The rocks were steep and the goats slid down behind me and jumped into the small clear area. Once down in the hole it became apparent that the climb back out was not going to be easy. I had to wedge my foot into a crack and reach high to get another hand hold and pull myself up and out the other side. I didn’t know how the goats were going to manage but we were already there and had no choice but to proceed. Once I got out I called the goats and one of the Alpines headed straight up the rock face toward me. He made it almost to the top before sliding back down among the other goats. After a couple of failed attempts, I grabbed the end of his 10 ft lead rope and pulled from on top of the rock. The goat braced his neck against the pull of the rope and made the last few feet to the top with no problems. Great I thought, we’ve got it figured out. The second Alpine came out just as easily but when it came time for the two big guys they would only go so far as to put their front feet up on the rock. They wouldn’t even try to climb. I called and urged but they were firm in their belief that they couldn’t make it. I climbed back down in the hole and stripped off all their gear and hauled it up the rock so they didn’t have any weight on. After pulling and tugging I was able to get one of the big guys out. I hooked the lead on the last goat and he refused to budge past putting his front feet on the rock. I pulled and tugged and got him started up the rock but when he started sliding he would give up and try to jump back down. I was in a fix. How in the heck was I going to get a 250 lb goat out of a 12 ft deep hole? While I sat there catching my breath and thinking what an idiot I was for trying to get through there in the first place, I got an idea. I hooked all the lead ropes together and wrapped them around a small tree growing near the top of the rock. The rope was just long enough that I could stand behind the goat holding one end with the other end hooked to the goat. I pushed him up the rock and pulled on the rope at the same time to keep him from sliding backward. Using the push and pull method I was finally able to get him up and out of the hole. In the mean time, one of my Alpines thought it would be fun to jump back in, loaded packs and all. He almost made it completely out by himself that time, only needing me to grab his collar at the last minute to help him make the last couple of feet. If I didn’t know better I’d say he was showing off for the big guys. I learned two important lessons. 1) Athletic goats get around in really tough terrain better than a big blocky goat and 2) don’t ever go into a bad spot until you have scouted out the entire route.
 

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I love it Rex, and it scares me. That sounds like some of the fix's i've got in when i used to think i was the "man from snowy river" riding my mules. I'll try to learn from your experience..haha
Nate
 

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So far nothing that dangerous, but I too have noticed that the smaller more agile goats really do better in tricky places. My big guy, Pinto (Saanen) has a lot of power and strength, but he's a wus when it comes to anything that takes agility. Moose, the little Obie, is a real athlete tho. Here's a pic of him crossing a little stream that had Pinto spooked.

[attachment=0:1z5544xf]Moose-jumpind[1]_1.jpg[/attachment:1z5544xf]
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Apparently I'm the only one brave enough to talk about my stupid exploits with goats. Here's another one...

A friend drew a Mt Goat tag and asked if I could accompany him on the hunt. He had two goats and thought if I came along with two more we would be all set to stay for a few days and pack out a Mt. Goat if he was successful. I agreed and we headed to the trail head in early October. When we arrived it was drizzling lightly. There was some wispy fog in the area but we thought we would have decent visibility once we got up higher. The weather report was more of the same for the next week and we knew it was now or never. Obviously Mt. Goats live in the highest rocky areas of the mountain so we headed up an old trail that looked like it would take us to an area where we could continue to climb higher. Unfortunately the trail soon became indistinguishable from the surroundings and we found ourselves winding through dead falls. As we climbed higher the deadfalls gave way to boulders. The higher we got the bigger the boulders were until finally we were skirting around rock ledges and cliff faces. By now the drizzle had turned to a dry powdery snow. The higher we got, the more snow there was and it was soon sliding off the tree branches like mini avalanches. We kept working our way around the drop offs and boulder fields hoping it would clear up but it only continued to get worse. When we finally neared the area he wanted to hunt it was obvious that the heavy snowfall and fog were conspiring to make it virtually impossible to see more that 30 yards in any direction. To make matters worse the piling snow was making for treacherous going and we fell several times on slick rocks under the snow. Even the goats we slipping and sliding. After a brief conference we decided that there was no way we were going to be able to hunt and with the weather supposed to continue, our best course of action was to call it quits and head back down.

That’s when the problems started. The snow cascading off the trees had filled our tracks and we couldn’t see the winding route we had taken up the mountain. We eased our way down only to find ourselves on the brink of a sheer drop off on more than one occasion. The slippery rocks were making it a very scary place to be. At a juncture in the path we stopped, trying to decide which way to go. One of my partners Obers walked around us and started down the mountain like he knew where he was going and the other goats all started to follow. Thinking “what the heck†we moved out with the group. The lead goat looked from side to side occasionally but moved steadily downward without stopping. Once in a while we would recognize a particular land mark and knew we were on the exact same path we had came up even though our tracks were completely covered by the falling snow. That gave us confidence in the goat and we followed it around and through cliffs and boulder fields until we finally broke out of the snow. Once through the dead falls and down the old trail we finally arrived back at the truck with the goat still in the lead. It was an amazing experience and taught me that goats have a photographic memory for areas they travel through even when conditions change. There was no way a human could have accomplished that without a great deal of luck. In fact, all the goats seemed to know exactly where they were going and confidently lead us out of a very dangerous position. I often wonder what might have happened if we had not had the goats to lead us out of there. Its not a comforting thought.
[attachment=0:2c4lklp5]Snowy Hunt.jpg[/attachment:2c4lklp5]
 

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Apparently I'm the only one brave enough to talk about my stupid exploits with goats. Here's another one...
Rex, If I had some I would share, as we all learn from one another.

Since I am a green horn to packing,
The Most dangerous thing I have done thus far, is bring 4 more alpines home with out the miss's ok.
And Last weekend almost got 2 more goats, however turned out to be Too dangerous at this point, so will wait and work with the ones I already have.
Best way to stay breathing me thinks.
And the dog house doesnt have heat yet... and it is a cold winter here. lol

Next year I should be able to add some stories, hopefully not too dangerous... all tho I have been followed by the big kitties in our mountains before, but that was without goats.

I do enjoy the stories that have been shared thus far.
 

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Wow Rex, we all know to keep a wary eye if we're following you around!!

My scariest encounter, well it didn't seem to be dangerous to me personally, but I was quite concerned for the ladies on their spooked horses.....September 2001, I crested a ridge and was met three dogs running ahead of three riders. The peaceful pack out to the trail head was over. Thirteen goats were following on my heals, the dogs went for the goats, one horse started bucking, they were yelling at their dogs, goats were scattering, two more spooked horses, more yelling, finally they got dismounted, got their dogs, everyones alive. During the turmoil, the goat on the bottom of the totem pole, the goat always the last in the pack string, the goat that has never seen a trail without goats ahead, THAT GOAT made it past me, saw the open trail, and went bawling and running up the trail to catch the goats that were not there. Four more goats felt confident in this new leader and followed as fast as they could. The quiet of the forest did not return until they could no longer be heard.

The riders were nice ladies, "never seen a goat before," but everyone was ok and we went our seperate ways. Along the way we found evidence that the runaway goats were still on the trail. A track in mud, little round droppings, a pannier, a saddle pad, and finally five goats laying on the trail, one with a spun saddle and a pannier tangled in his feet. Tongues out, panting hard, they ran until they couldn't any more. At least they ran toward the truck.

Other than that, uneventful is good. There has been a couple times where a branch on some dead fall has gotten under a collar and/or saddle straps. As the goat tried to free itself, it twisted and started choking themselves. It's good to have a knife handy to quickly free a goat from a problem, they can happen fast.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
In the early days of our goatpacking experience we, like many people, were trying to get into it as cheaply as possible and used what ever lead ropes we happened to have around the house. One morning on an overnight pack trip I woke early and as I lay there in my sleeping bag I kept hearing a snuffling sort of sound. Thinking it might be some unwanted critter sniffing around the goats I rolled over and looked out the window toward where we had high lined the goats. There standing on its tip toes was one of our wethers in obvious distress. I immediately jumped from the tent and ran to his rescue just in the nick of time.

The lead rope didn't have a good swivel snap on it and as the goat fed through out the night it had slowly twisted the rope tighter and tighter. I'm sure when it started to get tight the goat twisted around even more to try and get away and ended up with the rope twisted up tight in a line of knots that in turn twisted it collar so tight it was barely able to get gasping breaths. I don't know how long the goat had held itself up on its tiptoes to try and breath but it looked completely worn out and very relieved to see me.

The junk lead ropes went in the trash and we have had quality swivel snaps on all our lead ropes ever since. Sometimes on both ends!
 

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One of the worst things that ever happened to Phil and I was when poor Cuzco got chased off a 30-foot cliff by an out-of-control border collie. The dog belonged to a friend of mine, and every time she came out to visit her horse at the ranch where we both boarded, she let her dog chase Cuzco (and even my colt!). She would yell at the dog from time to time, but usually she was oblivious unless I was right there hounding her to keep her dog under control. Some friends and I took off for a ride, and for some reason Cuzco didn't come with us that time, preferring to stay at the barnyard. We were on a hill above the ranch when I saw Cuzco blazing across the pasture below with the dog hot on his heels. Cuzco usually ran to the horses when he was afraid, but this time the horses were all gone! I watched him race to the edge of the pasture, leap the fence, and disappear over the side. The dog followed, but popped back up into the field shortly after.

At first it was funny. I thought Cuzco must have run down the draw and would peek back over the fence any moment, once the dog was gone. But Cuzco didn't reappear. There was a highway running at the bottom of the draw, and I was afraid Cuzco might be wandering along the busy road. So I quickly galloped down there and was unprepared for the sight that met me.

Cuzco had missed the draw, and in his blind panic he had leaped off the 30-foot bluffs overlooking the highway. A couple on a motorcycle saw him lying in the road unconscious and covered in dirt and rubble, so they stopped to see if they could help. The had rolled him over a couple of times and he had come to. They were wandering up and down the road, trying to figure out how to get him back up there (the gate was 1/4 mile down the road and around a corner).

Poor Cuzco! He was limping badly and bleeding from nose and mouth. I could see he was also very disoriented and didn't recognize me. The worst injury was his left horn, which had been broken in two places and knocked back onto his neck. I could see at once that we would not be able to save it.

It was a good thing I had ridden my horse down there, because as confused as he was, he wouldn't follow me or my voice, and he was weaving all over the road like a drunken sailor. I couldn't lead him by the collar because he had a nasty gash down the back of his neck (possibly where he had been gored by his own broken horn). His only instinct was to follow the horse that I had with me (he had grown up with horses and they were his "security blanket"). It was a slow, painful walk back up to the ranch, and when we got back, Cuzco collapsed in the shed where he lay with his head in my lap until Phil came out with the truck so we could get him to the vet.

He spent several days at the vet, and when he came home he had only one horn and a nasty hole in his head where the other one should have been. But goats are sure resilient! Within six weeks the hole had filled in and there was skin and hair covering the huge area that had recently been exposed. It took him a while to get over his loss, and he was submissive to the horses for a few weeks, but he soon learned to show them his right side, and he also learned he could now climb through the fences by turning his head sideways (his horns had been too wide before). Now Cuzco is perfectly adapted to having only one horn, and the only time I notice any inconvenience for him is when he has an itch on the left side. I try to compensate for him in that department. :)

The number one question people ask us about our goat is "Why does he only have one horn?"
 
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