My cousin Tim Von Haden kept this diary of our mt. goat and black bear hunt. I was going to add to it however Tim pretty much says it all. At times on this hunt I had used up all the energy I had stored up in my body and operated on sheer determination. The bugs were almost unbearable at times and the amount of energy needed to keep going was getting hard to find. The professional service provided by Mr. John Berryman of Beluga Air at a very reasonable price were one of our special moments of the trip. After sitting in the rain in the mountains for four days it sure was a welcome sound to hear his plane coming. Finding a hunting partner who was any more pleasant then Tim Von Haden would be hard to do. Being there and watching him stalk and shoot his first goat as well as helping him haul out his first Alaska black bear were also special memories I will never forget. See you next week!
Brown Mt. Goat Hunt 8/11-8/17/01
It was approximately 6:30am as I drove to meet my cousin, John Perkovich, at his home near Kenai, AK. We planned to drive to Homer to catch a ride to Brown Mountain with bush pilot John Berryman. I had drawn a limited hunt permit for a mountain goat in the Brown Mountain area and cousin John had agreed to go along. It had been something of a fluke that we were actually planning the trip after a mix-up on my part in applying for the permit. Cousin John had recommended that I apply for the area near "Round Mountain" which is near Cooper's Landing, AK. On the evening that I applied for the permit, "Round Mountain" was nowhere to be found on the list of hunts. I found "Brown Mountain" and thinking that I had misunderstood John's advice, applied for the hunt. The misunderstanding was something of a joke since the two areas were several hundred miles in distance from one another. Upon receiving the surprise that I had drawn the tag, cousin John told me that he thought it would be a good hunt and said he would go with me. Besides mountain goats, the area reportedly offered good opportunities for large black bears. Now, three months later, we were doing some last minute packing in preparation for the hunt.
We met with John Berryman at his float plane base on Beluga Lake in Homer. After loading our gear onto his Cessna 180 we got in and were soon taxiing down the lake in preparation for our flight. It was a beautiful, sunny day and it was great to be on our way. Brown Mountain is south of Homer on the far side of the mountains that surround Katchemak Bay. Our pilot flew us through a mountain pass and gave us an exciting view of the mountains along the way. We seemed a bit close to the sides of the mountains at times but our pilot appeared calm as he expertly guided us through the pass. In what seemed like a short time we were through the pass and could see the ocean on the far side of the mountains. John Berryman took us on an aerial tour and we were able to view upwards of 15 mountain goats in a short while. He also pointed out a creek in the bay where we had planned to land, explaining that a run of pink salmon would likely draw bears to that area. A few minutes later we had landed in the bay and were approaching the rocky shoreline where we would spend most of the next six days.
We set up camp in the sunshine at approximately 12 noon and slung rifles for a walk down the shoreline to the salmon stream. It took us about an hour to reach the beach where we found pink salmon in large quantities fighting thorough the shallow water at the end of their journey. We also saw plenty of bear sign in the form of half-eaten fish and bear scat. John also had backpacking rod and reel, which we used to catch a few of the pinks. We hiked back to camp with the idea of returning to hopefully ambush a bear later in the week. We settled in for our first night in camp, thankful that we had remembered to bring bug nets for our faces. Large varieties of biting flies appeared drawn to our presence and were very persistent.
We woke to sunshine and plans for a hike into goat country. After a meal of oatmeal we prepared our packs and rifles headed into into nearby forest for a trip that would last nearly 30 hours. It was approximately 745am. I estimate the time taken to reach tree line took 3 hours. We foraged on a variety of berries along the way. Huckleberries, crow berries and some very large salmon berries were fairly plentiful. The sunshine and effort left me out of breath and in need of a rest. Upon reaching tree line I saw movement approximately 1000 yards ahead and on a high, open slope. A large black bear was running across the open vegetation on the slope and paused in time for me to point it out to John. The bear soon ran from right to left in front of us, quickly out of sight. I stopped to fill water bottles as John continued up the mountain in the hopes of finding the bear still in the area. After catching up with John and finding no bear, we paused for an hour to rest and glass the surrounding mountains. John spotted a solitary goat on a mountain across the bay. We continued up the mountain to the crest. I had just cleared the top when I spotted two goats on a joining ridge over a 1000 yards ahead and turned to John pointing them out. The goats were ahead and on a higher elevation than our present spot with a large valley separating us. We quickly discussed several options for a stalk and eventually agreed that John would stay with the packs as I took my rifle and began working my way towards the goats. It quickly became apparent that I would have little cover and would need to walk in plain view of the goats in my attempt to reach shooting range. One goat was bedded facing away approximately 50 feet higher on the mountain than the other, which faced my direction. We had guessed that the larger of the two goats rested at the higher elevation and I had determined to try for that one, God willing. I reached higher elevation and found a goat trail leading towards the two, pausing occasionally to rest in the shadows behind rocky outcroppings. Although I was fairly certain the goats would become alarmed at my open country approach, no other choice was available. As I drew nearer to the goats I observed that the opposite face of the mountain fell away almost vertically for several hundred feet to a rocky slope. No chance for an alternate path there. While still far out of rifle range the goat facing in my direction turned and walked up the mountain and out of sight. I was now below the goats and could no longer see the other, bedded goat. John was nowhere to be seen amidst the rocks in the distance and I was somewhat unsure of whether either goat still remained on the mountain. I continued up the trail finding myself somewhat unnerved as the goat trail led me on a line parallel to a sheer drop off and up a fairly steep incline. After several deep breaths (my hands seem to have suddenly gotten sweaty) I slung the rifle over my back and went on all fours up the
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