Article courtesy of the ‘Big Game Australia’ magazine, Issue 13
I have always loved my billy goat hunting and when I found out a mate of mine had just bought a few hundred thousand acre station in the middle of nowhere I started to get a trip organised quick smart. After finding out exactly where it was I was straight on google earth scoping out the terrain and man it looked thick! Perfect for a big old billy to hide out and grow a big set of horns I thought. I had a couple mates interested but the more we got talking the trip swayed towards trying to find pigs instead. This was fine by me as my mates station wasn’t far out of the way to call in there on the way home just to have look and catch up with him again. Well the couple days went by at the property that I chase a few hogs on and we didn’t do that well really. Ben and Nick both got their first pigs with the bow and Ben also a PB billy so it wasn’t a waste at all. I was itching to get back and check out my new property, there is always a lot of anticipation when on your way to a new place not knowing what its going to hold and I love the feeling of wondering if maybe this time its going to be a real honey hole of quality game.
Nick and Brownie only had a couple days up their sleeve so after the pig property they headed home together leaving Ben and myself to head to the new place. I don’t know how many goats we passed on the drive into the place but it would have been close to 1000! What was a bit disappointing though was that we hardly saw any decent billies. We were soon doing the meet and greet with my mate and his homestead was right next to a couple of large lakes, which were full of yabbies. This place is turning into even more of a playground for us we thought.
After catching up Travis offered to take me for a fly in his plane so I can get a bearing of where everything is on the property and I could take my gps and mark all the dams and any likely looking spots. Well we saw a few thousand goats in just a couple hours and I took so many marks of nice watercourses and lakes that had big mobs hanging around them as well as all the watering points. The country really didn’t look that thick from the air and I saw a few bloody big sets of horns as well!
As soon as we landed we thanked Travis and headed off for a drive to where I had seen a heap of goats, itching to try and get onto a big billy. We soon realised that we were going to have our work cut out for us though as now we were on the ground the bush was so thick you can only see 15-20m into it. It was also the middle of winter so the watering points were not really getting much action either. Our only option was to drive around and hope we didn’t spook anything we saw with the vehicle. It didn’t take long and we were bumping into goats all the time with the majority of them being nannies until a mob of 30 billies bolted across the track and into the thick scrub again. We both grabbed our bows, which had been strategically left to get easy access to and bolted off into the scrub after them. Their tracks were easy to follow in the sand and we soon had them in and out of sight of the bushes. There were a couple good sets in there and the best would have to be close to 38in and the rest between 29-34in, they really did look impressive running through the scrub in front of us. We were trying to keep out of sight and just follow until they settled down again then put in a stalk but they never even looked like settling down and after a couple kilometres we had to call it quits.
By the time we made it back to the car it was nearly dark so it was time to head back to the homestead and set up in the shearers quarters. We decided to re think our plan of attack as the next day was our last days hunting and head to an open watercourse that I had seen from up in the plane and marked on my gps. There were a lot of big mobs throughout this watercourse when we flew over it and being so open it meant we had a lot better chance of spotting them before they saw us.
The next morning we got as close as we could to the watercourse and soon hit a thick stand of oaks where we left the ute. A couple quick shots into the portable target to make sure everything was in check and we started our hike. It didn’t take long and we bumped into a small mob of goats moving through the scrub towards us and ben was keen to get an icebreaker down even though there weren’t any decent billies in the mob. We positioned ourselves in front of them and soon had a black nanny feed past us at six metres which ben dispatched quickly with great shot placement. The rest off the mob kept coming so I decide to open the account myself and lined up a small billy from 25 metres knocking him over after he made a short dash. We were both pretty happy with the shots and felt confident that if we bumped into any trophy billies they were in big trouble.
Another couple kilometres behind us and after looking over a few goats we hadn’t seen anything decent until we came upon an old dam that was washed out. The weeds growing around it must have been favoured by the billies though as there was a big herd of about 200 bedded and feeding around this old dry dam. There were a couple ok billies harassing a nanny closest to us and we went in after them. There spindly acacia trees were all that we needed to hide us wearing the lamellar clothing and the ContraCAM Fade pattern helped us get to within 40 metres undetected. A nice saddleback billy was giving a broadside shot and I took it with the arrow passing clean through his lungs. He went down quick and I’m more impressed with these slick tricks the more animals I take with them.
The rest of the goats were unaware of our presence still which is the beauty of the bow and arrow and we were soon scanning the stinkers for a nice rack for ben. A high horned billy was standing in the shade of a dead tree just over the dam bank and he fitted the bill just nicely. The stalk was an easy one using the dam wall as cover to completely conceal our approach and we soon peered up through the onion weed growing on the top of the bank to get a range on the billy. 41 metres the range came back and ben crept another five metres closer and drew back to take the shot. I had the video rolling and watched as the arrow hit the billy slightly quartering away down into his lungs. He only made it about 80 metres on a mad dash and passed out.
While this was happening I spotted a half decent goat bedded out in the flat that warranted a closer look. After a measure and photo’s of bens billy, which ended up being his second best and going over 32 inches, we headed off after the one I had spied. They were onto us and moved off the watercourse into the thick mallee and black oak scrub. We kept them in sight for a couple of kilometres and when they got on the tail of a nanny on heat I took my chances and got in to under 20 metres while they were distracted. I had to thread the needle between a couple of branches and broke the billies shoulders which put him down on the spot. He was a decent goat and the best for the trip so far with a 34.5 inch spread.
The action was coming thick and fast so we weren’t surprised to spot another big mob of goats half an hour further on. They were hanging around a decent pool of water out on a clay pan. Even though it was winter the water seems to have attracted them to the area and there would have been 400 spread out in the general area we were glassing over. We had to be very careful with all the goats around but again the Lamellar gear worked excellent and by sticking to the shade we picked our way through undetected. We soon spotted a greyish billy with a nice set of horns around the 36 inch mark and ben’s eyes widened a little as he would be easily a PB for him. I located a nice curly horned white billy further on so we split up to double our chances.
My stalk went smoothly with the goat bedded behind the trunk of a nice solid oak and I managed to walk upright to within 15m and take him out with a heart shot. The billy had a small body, which threw me a bit with his horns but he went 34 inches again and was another billy around the 100 point mark which there seemed to be a lot of on this station. I took the horns and glassed over a heap more goats seeing another dozen around the 32-34 inch mark but nothing much better than what I had taken so we left them for next time. I went and sat behind the only tree near the water and enjoyed the goats and birds coming and going from close range next to me. A nice black billy came walking right at me at one stage and it was way too tempting! When he walked past at four metres I nailed him perfectly and had him down real quick. The Lamellar was working overtime as I was just sitting in front of a tree in full view!
He had a fair bit broomed off his horns but still went just under 35 inches. I waited for another hour and ben still hadn’t showed up so I headed back towards the ute. When I got closer to the ute I see it had been shifted into the open so I knew he had just b-lined it after his stalk. It turned out the goat lived to be hunted another day.
We were both really happy with the quality of the goats we had been looking over considering this was the middle of winter and we had only seen a very small area of the station. I’m still after that magic 40″ billy and I think this place might just produce him. I’ll be making the trip back here again during the warmer months to hunt them over the waters and see if the heat might bring one of the really big boys that my cocky mate tells me he has seen unstuck.