Only seven days ago i was stalking roe bucks in Scotland, then i had a mad dash home and re-pack the bags and away on the ferry to Ireland last Wednesday.
I was met by my friend who picked me up from the ferry port a short drive later i dropped my bags at the B&B (which was on the bank of the river Barrow and it could not have been a nicer place) then quick change of clothes and off for a walk as the forcast was bad for the next couple of days we were hoping to locate a few groups of goats while the sun was out, we spent the next few hours glassing the hillside but to no avail.
who ever thinks finding and stalking goats is easy please read on, we made our way back home for a well earned cup of tea and some food and to hatch a plan for the rest of the week.
We decided as it was meant to be heavy rain over the next few days and ever increasing winds we would stick to the edge of the forrestry blocks that skirt the hill hoping to find them sheltering, so an early start was instore. We were up and away at Thursday 6am by this time the rain had already started which meant all the tops of the hills were still in low cloud, we stuck to our plan drove up to the forestry blocks parked up the truck and started skirting around the edge of the forestry to see if we could see any herds of goats as you can see by the pictures we found plenty of damage but we could not find the goats anywhere. We kept looking and did not leave the hill until 7pm. back home after a wet and windy day and over dinner we decided to stick to our plan and carry on in the morning where we finished off today.
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Friday up and away at 6am We spent the next several hours covering ground and lots of glassing and at 2pm we came accross a large herd of nannys and kids, on the edge of the trees where all the damage was done as we were there to do a job my friend decided to remove a few nannys to push the group out on to the hill away from the forestry. we spent the next half hour deciding which ones to take, there was around 20 nannys and about 12 kids, my friend choose the three he wanted removing and we spent the next half hour removing the three goats. Our plan to move them out on to the hill worked well as we ended up a few miles out from the forestry
On our way back towards the forestry we glassed a large group of billies that were in the same area as the nanny group we stopped and glassed for a few minutes and noticed they were feeding out towards us so we got set up and waited for them to come to us, that gave us plenty of time to choose which ones to take, we let them get to whithin 80 metres of us i counted at least 10 medal animals and another 6 up and coming and a mix of about 10 more hornless and young billies, we noticed two that were very lame but had fantastic heads so the decision was made to remove these two, as one was lamer than the other it was hanging back about 40 metres this animal was taken last as it was on its own and the other had to be taken first as it was in the group and did not want to loose sight of him after the first shot.the plan worked well and both goats droped to the shot .two nice medal goats.
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This was the end result of a very hard day.
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Back home and over dinner we hatched our plan for Saturday, The plan was to start on a different ground about 30 miles away, but to keep to the same plan as before.
We woke up at 6am to find a very different weather forcast to what we had been expecting, the sun was shining and not much wind, we had an hours drive to the ground and we decided the animals would have moved out on to open hill to dry off, we got to the ground parked up and moved our way to the highest point of the forestry and open hill, only an hour had passed and we had located our first group of billies, after the group yesterday and seeing the amount of medals i did not think it was possible to find a better group of goats but we had. My friend had told me about this group and we were hoping to find it, there was at least 10 gold medal animals and a further dozen medals, there was only 3 goat which you could call cull animals and they were hornless billies, as we had the rest of the day we decided to remove these first and then if we had time take a medal head, we stalked into the group they were all sunbathing we had the wind in our faces and sun on our back, we got into a shootable position where we could see our target animals i took the first one and to our surprise the herd got up and moved off straight away without stopping and did not give us a chance for a second animal, we let them move away over the hill and dealt with the one we had just taken. On approaching the goat i could not beleive its size my friend told me as they do not put any energy into growing horns they are at least twice the body weight of a horned goat, he likes to remove them as they stil breed and has noticed when the big billie are rutting the hornless goats take advantage and cover the nannys while they are fighting.
We stopped for a break to give the group chance to settle down as the weather was getting warmer and knew they would not go far, about half hour later we walked to the ridge where they dissapeared over and to our surprise they had vanished, as we had a great vantage point where we were we sat and glassed the hill.
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We managed to locate them they were right at the bottom of the hill in the picture on the left, we were not sure if this was the same group as there had been a couple working this part of the hill, we decided to slowly make our way down to see which group we had found, we had got 200 metres down and found a ledge with an outcrop of boulders on it to our relief our group of billies were lay sunning themselves amongst the rocks, we kept to our plan of removing the hornless goats we got to whithin a 100 metres and a good shooting position we picked out a completly black cull animal and completed the task, after this shot was taken they seemed to feel safe amongst the rocks and did not move off straight away my friend told me to pick out the goat i wanted to take for myself and to take him now as we might not find them again if they move away, i then picked out the animal i wanted and took him with a lovley shot to the front shoulders, he went straight down and did not move, as my friend thought the animals moved away after the shot and we did not see the group again. We made our way down to the animals and was very pleased with the job we had done over the last couple of days, the trophy animal i decided to take was even bigger than we could have imagined. around the base of the horn was 22cm the length of each horn was 93cm, these goats are a credit to my friend as he has managed these herds for over 10 years, if it was not for him the foresters would have shot these herds out a long time ago as they cause more damage than deer.
We took a few pictures then got on with caping the goat, the smell is nowhere near as bad this time of year as in October when they are rutting.
End result of a great trip...
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Cant wait for October and November to have ago at the sika stags in the rutt and my friend has asked me back with a selection of friends to help him cull the hinds and pricketts.