#getoutside, a series focusing on our County 10 outdoor lifestyle, is brought to you by Wind River Outdoor Company in Lander.
Hunting. It runs in the Wyoming family. It brings people together. It teaches our youth responsibility, conservation and sportsmanship. And for one local family this year, they got to experience a once-in-a-lifetime hunt. Garland Samuelson, after 38 years of trying, drew a Wyoming mountain goat license and took his sons with him. But like just about every hunt, it didn’t go exactly as expected.
Garland and his sons Brady and Andy have been hunting together for decades, and they’ve done it all: pheasants, elk (of course), white tail, buffalo, pronghorn and predators. The trio are among the leading coyote hunters on a competition circuit this year. Garland has harvested three moose and two wolves, including one in Wyoming in the brief period when it was legal. They believe in the conservation necessity for hunting and in eating what they kill. And if you have a conversation with them, you can’t miss their passion.
The men liken draw results day to Christmas morning. This year, Garland was working when Brady called him, told him to drop everything, go home and look up what he got. So he did. He ran home and discovered that his nearly four decade wait was over; he’d drawn a goat license. The odds: extremely slim. For Wyomingites, you only get one mountain goat license ever. Come home empty handed and you’ll never get another chance.
“‘Oh, I’ve got to put up with that all summer long?'” Garland says his wife exclaimed when she found out.
And put up with it, she did. Garland and the boys spent the whole summer researching Wyoming’s mountain goat population, talking to Wyoming Game & Fish biologists, and getting their gear ready. In the course of their research, they learned there were likely a couple state record goats in their hunt area in the Palisades.
After Garland did a brief bit of solo spotting, Brady and Andy joined him one weekend in September. The whole experience was like any epic journey: 2200 feet in elevation change, wet and thick willow patches, and the discovery of ancient fossils in shale. The boys carried all of dad’s gear. For years he’d been their support, helping them learn. Now it was his turn.
Goat hunts can be a lengthy experience. The extreme cliff-side terrain on which they traverse, which marveled the Samuelsons, can make recovery of the harvested animal difficult. Additionally, the animals can fall hundreds of feet, damaging the goat severely along the way. But these guys were done much quicker.
They found a group of five billies on a cliffside. One of these had to be the state record. They sat on a ridge across from the cliff for more than an hour and a half just watching the goats. They studied them the best they could, Garland narrowing down his selection to the two whose horns looked the biggest. When they’d picked their target, Garland and Andy moved to a closer position, a little over 300 yards away, while Brady stayed and watched.
But what happened next, they didn’t expect. When Garland and Andy reached their new location, the face of the cliff revealed new intricacies. Thinking they were looking at the same goat, Garland took his shot: success! But from where Brady was, he could see that one of the smaller billies had been hit; it had moved in front of the bigger one and Garland and Andy hadn’t realized it.
“Nice shot, Dad, but you got the wrong one!” Brady shouted when Garland returned.
It was a bittersweet experience for them. Garland had experienced a once-in-a-lifetime hunt, he got his goat, but the big one got away. But they’re OK with it. They say they like the idea of those impressive genes still being out there.
And now? They keep talking about what they’ll do different “next year” when Andy or Brady gets their mountain goat license. Check out a video of their hunting adventure here: