Montana Outdoors

September 24, 2013

Mountain Goat

While seeing mountain goats is a fairly typical part of a visit to Glacier National park, sightings of wild goats in their natural wild habitat outside of the park are not that common at all and so I was pleased to catch a far distant look at one while on a recent visit to Mt Headley in the Cabinet Mountains of western Montana.

While I was sitting at the site of the old fire lookout at the very top of the mountain enjoying the views and eating my lunch, a very tiny speck of white on another mountain about a mile and a half to the north caught my eye. The arrow in the first photo points to the exact spot. When I set my little P & S camera to maximum zoom, it caught some photos of a goat crossing the lower edge of a cliff on that mountain.

North from Mt. Headley

Mountain goat

Mountain goat

Mountain goat



  1. Wow! Well spotted. He is quite conspicuous in his whiteness!


    Comment by Jo Woolf — September 25, 2013 @ 12:42 am

    • Yes, they stand out against the rocks if you get close enough to see them, and they are large animals. They disappear quickly though as they move through crevices in the cliffs or behind rocks or the occasional trees that grow there.


      Comment by montucky — September 25, 2013 @ 9:50 am

  2. Gosh, you’ve got good eyesight – maybe ‘mountain goat’ eyesight?


    Comment by Vicki (from Victoria A Photography) — September 25, 2013 @ 4:28 am

    • I spend an inordinate amount of time examining the back country landscape for incongruities. A common trait of old hunters.


      Comment by montucky — September 25, 2013 @ 9:52 am

  3. I’ve always wondered why mountain goats live in such places. It must be for protection from predators-there can’t be much food up there.


    Comment by New Hampshire Gardener — September 25, 2013 @ 4:30 am

    • They are indeed protected in the cliffs. That serves that one well because just a thousand feet or so below him on the left side of the mountain a pack of wolves was hunting that morning. Most big animals follow the demands of their diets too, so that’s probably another reason why they live where they do; plants that grow well in those locations.


      Comment by montucky — September 25, 2013 @ 9:58 am

  4. It’s wonderful that you have the eyes to spot such creatures – although I’m sure your years of learning “how to look” help, too. Here, in abbreviated form, is my goat-sighting story, still slightly embarassing. I was cruising with friends in the Virgin Islands. As we were passing an especially high and rocky island, I looked up and saw white creatures just like this on the hillside. There were four or five of them, and I wondered aloud, “Who in the world would have poodles in such a place?”

    Oh, dear! Of course they were goats! It’s been one of those stories that refuses to die. I guess providing amusement for folks isn’t such a bad thing!


    Comment by shoreacres — September 25, 2013 @ 6:41 am

    • Made me laugh, too – thanks for that!


      Comment by westerner54 — September 25, 2013 @ 9:30 am

    • That’s a great story! True too, that one tends to identify something at first glance based on most frequent observations.


      Comment by montucky — September 25, 2013 @ 10:01 am

  5. How cool is that. Great find.


    Comment by anniespickns — September 25, 2013 @ 6:58 am

    • Back in the 40’s and 50’s we saw goats quite frequently in this part of the state, even on cliffs along the highways, but hardly ever any more. This is only the second one that I’ve seen in that roadless area during many visits there.


      Comment by montucky — September 25, 2013 @ 10:04 am

  6. You had to have eagle eyes to see that! Nice pics.


    Comment by wordsfromanneli — September 25, 2013 @ 7:29 am

    • My eyesight is OK, but mostly many hours studying mountains and hillsides makes you notice anything out of the ordinary. I wasn’t sure though without the 16X zoom of the little camera.


      Comment by montucky — September 25, 2013 @ 10:09 am

  7. Cool!


    Comment by westerner54 — September 25, 2013 @ 9:29 am

    • It was! The last goat that I’ve seen was about 4 years ago about 30 miles southeast of there.


      Comment by montucky — September 25, 2013 @ 10:10 am

  8. If we could learn to sit still long enough, just imagine what our eyes could see. What a neat treasure to add to your day. 🙂


    Comment by Homestead Ramblings — September 25, 2013 @ 9:51 am

    • Exactly! I hike slowly, but still too fast sometimes. It’s good to sit and examine everything in the landscape. I bet those who manned the lookout there got to see a lot of things over the course of the summers!


      Comment by montucky — September 25, 2013 @ 10:12 am

  9. Wow what a great experience!


    Comment by dhphotosite — September 25, 2013 @ 1:45 pm

    • Yes indeed! I wish I could say there are still a lot of them around, but so good to see one in the wild!


      Comment by montucky — September 25, 2013 @ 7:12 pm

  10. Your eyesight must be pretty astounding. A close friend of mine is also very skilled at seeing “invisible” wildlife. I wish I could do that, but instead I just stumble along oblivious.


    Comment by jomegat — September 25, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

    • Trained eyes, more than anything; familiarity with the environment. You get to notice anything that is slightly out of place. It is a big part of enjoying the wild country!


      Comment by montucky — September 25, 2013 @ 8:17 pm

  11. The arrow is a big help 😉 … I would have never seen that … what a great eye. Hate to admit it, but I have started taking pictures of things “that might be something” in order to take it home and enlarge it on my computer to see what it actually was. My eyes are getting old (just my eyes, of course ;-))


    Comment by bearyweather — September 25, 2013 @ 9:18 pm

    • Technology has some benefits, doesn’t it! On the longer hikes I don’t carry binoculars because of the extra weight and I’ve done the same thing with the little camera and its zoom capability. Even with my 8X binocs the goat would have been pretty small at that distance. I was happy that my eyes are still strong enough to at least notice something at that distance.


      Comment by montucky — September 25, 2013 @ 9:35 pm

  12. That’s remarkable to have spotted him although I just read how you did that. The only ones I’ve ever seen are at the zoo.


    Comment by Candace — September 26, 2013 @ 12:45 am

    • They are still around, although now at the high elevations. Used to see them much lower but they have been hunted pretty heavily for many years.


      Comment by montucky — September 26, 2013 @ 8:40 am

  13. That is some rugged country there. Good eye!


    Comment by Sue — September 26, 2013 @ 8:53 am

    • It is in the northern part of my favorite roadless area. Yes, very rugged!


      Comment by montucky — September 26, 2013 @ 8:08 pm

  14. it is always fun to see them!


    Comment by Tammie — September 26, 2013 @ 2:06 pm

    • Yes, it is. They have become very scarce around this area. I think there are many more up where you live, aren’t there?


      Comment by montucky — September 26, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

  15. Wow. Those “max-zoom” photos are awesome. How did You notice it? Are bearing with You binoculars or do You have Hawkeyes?


    Comment by Sartenada — September 26, 2013 @ 11:24 pm

    • I did not take my binoculars that trip. I just happened to see a tiny speck that appeared too white.


      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2013 @ 8:07 pm

  16. You are certainly an eagle eye to spot that goat! I caught a quick glimpse of a bear yesterday a little too close to my house if you ask me. 😉


    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — September 27, 2013 @ 10:47 am

    • We haven’t had a bear visit this year. Usually one will come around for the apples. In Missoula, about 80 miles away they have seen a cougar in town the last day or so.

      I will be in goat country again Tuesday and the weather forecast is pretty bad. I hope the peaks and cliffs won’t be hidden by clouds, and the goats will be hard to see against the snow.


      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2013 @ 8:10 pm

  17. well done 🙂 🙂 🙂


    Comment by brulionman — October 7, 2013 @ 8:06 pm

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