Most land is owned by humans. This land owned humans. Goats are sun worshipers and like a room with a view. We headed towards the cliffs.
I had two options to get from the stream to the Ridge. I could either follow up a narrow and steep spur covered in mature forest or head up a spur that faced the sun and bordered a series of bluffs. The lines on my GPS seemed to overlap and the zigzag zag cliff symbol made the map tough to read. Where vegetation grew on the sunny Ridge it resembled a çross between a South American rain forest and a Doctor Seuss drawing in places vines the thickness of my wrist tangled across the cliff face.
I turned back three times on the way up that spur. Twice I had to lift my dogs up. I shot four goats on the way up but one tumbled off a cliff. As we neared the top the foliage changed to a dry pole thicket goat trails braided their way through the slender trees. I wondered who the last person was who had gone up here. Probably a goat hunter, definitely crazy. My dog that was in front, a gap, began to creep. Like a tactical trio we navigated our way through the manuka trees. The lead dog relays commands to me. Come. Wait. I relay the commands to my bailer that heels behind me silently. I anticipated the leading dogs signal for me to take over she would indicate locking up ridgidly her tail straightens, and she fixacetes as if in a trance. She oddly lifts her back paw. It might not be the textbook bird hunters point, but I had shot more than 300 goats over her in the past three months. It worked for us. The third team member, the dog on my heel was alert intently focused on my right hand. A snap of my right hand combined with a flick of my wrist will send him bolting after the quarry.
Suddenly the gsp gave me the silent signal, and the butt of my gun hits my shoulder as my eyes leave my dog and look for the goat. I take a side step and see a mature Billy laying in the sun. He is only 3 yards from the indicating dog.
I head shoot him and he slumps.
My dog isn’t three yet, and there are a few kinks in our system. She loves latching on to a dead goat’s neck and shaking it. She also would definitely rather run along with the bailer than hold back to lead me to the bail. She will quickly terminate both behaviours when commanded to, but I shouldn’t need to give a command.
This time she doesn’t grab the dead Billy. Instead she takes two stealthy steps forward and points again. Instinctively my gun is back to my shoulder as I slip in behind her. a second Billy is only five yards away bewildered and looking to the mature goat for guidance. At this close of a range I have to place the cross hairs on the top of his head. this sends a 55 grain .223 bullet through his brain. If the cross hairs were aimed at his head I would have blown off his jaw. He crumpled in a heap. He was in the afterlife before he hit the ground.
It’s the most satisfying feeling I experience when it all comes together. The silent stalk, the clean kills, and most importantly the crystal communication showing the trust we share in each other.