The ink just dried, but my heart is still racing. With the contract signed, I am officially going on a Mountain Goat hunt in the fall of 2022.
I have nearly ten months to plan, train, practice, and dream. Yet, these ten months are not the beginning — they are the final days in a pursuit that began decades ago.
My hunting journey started in the southern Ozarks of Missouri. After becoming proficient at shooting Pepsi cans off of a wooden fence post with a Remington 552, I set out to kill my first squirrel. Years later, I had a goal to teach myself archery and then kill a whitetail with my bow. Mission accomplished, I set my sights West and dreamed of killing a bull elk in the Rocky Mountains. Killing my first bull was an amazing experience, and so were the ones to follow.
As many hunters do, I dreamt of Alaska. The isolation. A true wilderness. Expanse beyond belief. And the wildest of wild animals. The time I have spent chasing Caribou in the Brooks Range and hunting Sitka Blacktail on Kodiak Island has been life-changing. Alaska has taken a piece of my soul on each visit. A steep mountain in Southeast Alaska's goat country is where I will have that experience once again.
My fascination with Mountain Goats began years ago, and has only deepened with each turn of the calendar. Several years back, I committed to hunting Mountain Goats for my 40th Birthday. That seemingly far-off goal allowed me years to research, plan, dream, and save towards this goal.
I have learned many lessons in the decade of my 30's; one of the most prominent, though, is that you can't "wait and hope" in life. If you want something, you have to pursue it. Even the big, lofty, seemingly out-of-reach desires inside you are worth pursuing.
Like climbing a mountain, you don't achieve the summit of your goals by accident. The climb will often be long and arduous — and sometimes it won't feel like you're making progress — but the only way to get to the top is to keep putting one foot in front of the other with intention.
I will turn 38 the month before this hunt. I hadn't anticipated this hunt happening so soon, but an opportunity presented itself and I realized that now is the time. This specific hunt is in a place that I am excited to experience, with a guide that I am eager to learn from, and with a friend that I always enjoy sharing hunts with.
One definition of "seek" is "an attempt or desire to obtain or achieve." I am seeking true adventure on this mountain goat hunt. With a play-on-words about the location of my upcoming hunt in South East Alaska, I am titling this series SEAK Adventure.
As an Experience Hunter, I am not pursuing this hunt merely for the trophy or the meat. For me, this hunt isn't even about the days spent on the mountain — though I cannot wait for those moments. This hunt is about my continued evolution as a hunter, the clarity that comes from having a defined mission to work towards, the wonder of learning and observing a new animal, the challenge of pursuing goats in their unforgiving habitat, the memories made when you share moments with others, and much more.
I will be documenting my journey leading up to this goat hunt. Some of the content will be specifically related to America's Mountain Goat — including a forthcoming explanation about why I called them by that name, instead of the commonly used Rocky Mountain Goat.
Much of the content in this series will document my hunting preparation in a way that applies more broadly — no matter what or where you are hunting.
I have a lot to learn, explore, and share. If you have questions that you'd like to know more about, feel free to leave a comment below, or contact me directly by email...
Mark Huelsing is the host of the Hunt Backcountry Podcast and works at Exo Mtn Gear — though he's never been able to figure out his job title. Connect with Mark by sending him an email (mark at exomtngear.com) or DM @MarkTheFark on Instagram.
To follow along and receive future articles in this series, sign-up to receive email notifications from Exo Mtn Gear. You can also view all articles in this series at the SEAK Adventure series archive.
Header photo by Richard Deakins