Mountain Goat Identification

Patience is Key

The longer you watch a goat the better your chances for gathering enough clues to determine its sex. Mountain goats use cliffs as escape cover much like a deer running into thick brush when they are spooked. A hasty decision to shoot may result in wounding or losing an animal because you cannot retrieve it from the bottom of a crevasse.

Before you take the shot consider...

  1. Are you in good enough physical shape to conduct a goat hunt?
    Fatigue and desperation can cause you to make a bad choice or impair your ability to make good decisions. Also, you might hurt yourself or worse!
  2. Are you looking at a collared goat?
    Collared goats should be avoided so they can continue to contribute to our understanding of this population
  3. Can you get a clean shot?
  4. Can you safely retrieve the animal?
  5. Did you take a long enough look?
  6. Have you seen the horns from numerous angles?
  7. Have you used optics?
  8. Is the shot within your personal effective distance?
  9. If you're a first time goat hunter, have you taken extra time to be sure?
    75% of hunters who unintentionally harvested a nanny were on their first goat hunt.
  10. Based on the terrain and or proximity to other goats, is it likely that you're selecting a male?

Once a male is identified, most seasoned goat hunters will wait until the goat is away from any dangerous terrain in which the animal might hang up or fall after the shot. Goats are creatures of habit and if a hunter is patient enough to observe a goat's feeding habits they will find out that goats generally come off of the cliffs to feed early in the morning and late in the afternoon. By not rushing your shot, you increase your chances of taking a large male, which sometimes have a reputation of appearing when you least expect them.

For more information check out the Mt. Goat Identification Guide (PDF 1,268 kB) . You can also pick up a copy at your local ADF&G office.