I first posted this story on the old Pack Goat Forum, in response to a request for some Pack Goat "Tales."

Before we got our other boys, we only had one Pack Goat--Barley. We took him on his first overnight backpacking trip in August of 2009 and had ourselves a little adventure!

We were dog-sitting our friend's (VERY expensive) bird-hunting dog, Bosco. We were 2 humans (Carl & myself), Barley the Goat, and Bosco the Dog. We were wearing our backpacks, Barley was wearing his goat-pack, and Bosco was wearing a doggie backpack. We were bush-whacking up a steep drainage, in West Central Idaho. I had already crossed the creek. Carl, Bosco, & Barley were looking for a place to cross higher up. I could see them across the way. Bosco was up front, and Barley was behind Carl.

I saw Carl walking very slowly. He had spotted two BEARS up ahead, & was trying to get a better look at them. Not sure if Bosco the dog saw them at the same time, or if she accidentally stumbled upon them. We were downwind of the bears, so they probably didn't smell us, & the creek noise probably prevented them from hearing us. In retrospect, it was most likely a mother bear & her yearling offspring. The smaller bear ran off, but the mother bear remained.

The next thing I heard was Carl yelling at the top of his lungs, "Bosco! Bosco!" Then the dog started howling as if it was being mortally wounded! I looked over & all I could see through the brush was the rear end of a BIG bear! And hearing the dog shrieking!

And then I heard a GUN go off once, twice, then again...and again! And I was like, "WHAT? WHO is up here shooting in the middle of NOWHERE?" My initial thought was that some bear hunters had witnessed the whole predicament & decided to help us out and shoot this bear for us!

Anyway, after the 4th shot, the bear finally ran away. I yelled to Carl, "Who's shooting?" He answered, "I am!" And I was like, "WHAT? Since when have you been packing HEAT in the back country?"

Well, when the mother bear first saw Bosco the dog, it pounced on her (the yearling immediately ran off). However, the dog wriggled free from the bear's grasp & ran straight for Carl, (her "protector?"). Unfortunately, the bear chased the dog, & caught her AGAIN. You couldn't believe how fast that bear moved! By this time they were only about 8 feet away from Carl!

Then the bear REALLY started mauling the dog! Meanwhile, Carl had frantically dug his old pistol out from deep inside his backpack, & started shooting at the ground next to the bear. He wasn't trying to kill the bear; he just wanted to scare it off. Carl had been storing the gun in an old wool sock, at the very bottom of his pack, & didn't even have time to take it out of the sock. He just blasted away through the sock! He had only one bullet left, before the bear finally abandoned the dog & ran off. Phew!

We thought for sure the dog was badly mauled, but upon examining her, all we could find was one puncture hole--in her dog pack! Wearing that pack is probably one of the things that saved her life! What a lucky dog. And it wasn't even our dog--it belonged to our friend!

Anyway, Carl had only recently started bringing his pistol out in the woods. He had decided to bring one, just in case he might ever have to put Barley of his misery if the goat ever got too badly injured to make it out. We had had a previous conversation about this issue--which I promptly forgot. So I had no idea he had a gun with him, but if he hadn't had that gun--there's no telling what the bear would have done to Carl, after it finished off the dog.

Carl says he never thought he would be using his gun for for his OWN protection, which was why he had it buried in his pack, instead of carrying it as a sidearm. I don't think the bear would have attacked us if we hadn't had a dog with us--but once that dog ran up to the bear, Carl knew we were in big trouble. In all his years of backpacking experience, that is the only time Carl ever felt like he needed a gun out in the woods.

Oh, and Barley the Goat? He just stood there beside Carl, during the whole thing--the bear attack, the dog howling and being chased, even when the gun was being fired right next to him. What a trooper! Looking back on it, our goat was probably thinking to himself--"I never liked that dog in the first place, this bear can just go ahead & finish it off!" Smile

I hope you all enjoyed the story. Thanks for hosting this forum, Nanno!

(Barley on his first overnight hike, AFTER the scary bear encounter...)
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Great story and great goat. What a trooper!
Charlene in Central Orego
lol loved the story and hope to never have anything like that happen to me Smile
Pack Goat Prospects For Sale.

S.E. Washington (Benton City)
Wow, intense story. Thanks for sharing!
Wow! I always worry about bears and my dog, as he would be stupid enough to go after one. Phew!!
*Saltlick*  Rancho Topaz   
near Topaz Lake, Nevada
I am glad you posted this, you really do never know.

In the past four years I have had 3 sightings, plus one encounter. Two each Blacks and Grizzlys.

One encounter here in MI while picking blackberrys, close enough that it sniffed the berrys so I poured out a quart and moved out smartly.

Another black while camping when one came into the camp, I banged a couple cans and yelled and it moved out smartly. Both here in MI, our area is considered the Black Bear Capitol of MI.

In Alaska last summer while fishing a big brown came down to the river to do some fishing itself. It was only about 40 yards off so I eased out and away. Two other guys fishing there did likewise.

Two days later about ten miles away I was walking down a trail when a big brown and I startled each other on the trail, close ! Maybe 20 ' apart. I yelled, started backing off and it watched me back off and went his way. Like a real gentlemanly bear.

4 incidents, all thankfully uneventfull. But, after the first I have always carried just in case. A .45, heavy slug , for penetration. if you are real close its going to be luck getting even one off if its needed. A Hollow Point wont stop one, but a heavy slug can penetrate and break bones. Not much else is going to stop one. I dont bear hunt fwiw.

I do like bears, very much, but will always give way to them, its their home I am in, not mine. But when that push comes to a real need to shove back it has to be a heavy shove. Or kiss your butt goodbye, it'll never be the same again.

I am hoping that with lots of activity and others around that the bears in Newberry Natl Monument area will be avoiding us. I will have a lot of bear snack in my little guys to watch out for, plus a new puppy. So lots of noise will be my activity of the day. Its their home, and I will be mindful of that. I havent filled my drawers, yet, but it sure came close that morning up near Glenallen.

Maybe we'll have a 'on the trail singalong' ?


Mikado, MI
That was a good story, with a good end. I've never had any trouble with wildlife when out in the boondocks. The only animals I've had trouble with are other peoples' dogs. And I see a couple of rattlesnakes each year while out hiking. So far my walking stick has been the only weapon I've needed for either of those critters. I've had to whack a couple of dogs, but the rattlesnakes I just flip off the trail with the stick. But one thing I've noticed is that when I'm out with my goats wild animals focus on them, and don't seem to realize that I'm there. I've gotten very close to deer, elk, coyotes, javelinas, and rabbits because I was with the goats. That could be dangerous if the animal is a hungry predator, especially a bear, mountain lion or wolf. In my area we sometimes have an epidemic of rabies. It usually affects the foxes, mostly, but it's been seen in coyotes and mountain lions. They aren't going to behave like normal animals. So, for those reasons, and because I think human predators are the most dangerous thing in the back country, I always carry my .38 pistol. So far I've never had to use it, tho.
Wow, what a story. I bet the adrenaline was really pumping after that encounter.

I'm new to goat packing. I've packed with my friend in Idaho with his llamas. He's convinced bears won't even approach camp with llamas in camp. He's never had an issue, and reports others realizing the same, even when camped in bear country. Seems bears either fear, or just don't like llamas. Don't know.

What about goats? You guys that pack with goats out west. Ever had bears harassing your goats? We have plentiful black bears in Western North Carolina and when I pack with my goats, I just wonder if bears have any interest in investigating goats in your camp?
Bears will eat goats. I don't know what most people's experiences are with goats in camp, but at home bears are an issue in my area. Lots of people lost goats to bears two years ago when we had that horrible drought. One of my neighbors had a bear take several of his llamas, one of which was a stud, that same year.
(05-16-2014, 07:27 AM)Nanno Wrote: Bears will eat goats. I don't know what most people's experiences are with goats in camp, but at home bears are an issue in my area. Lots of people lost goats to bears two years ago when we had that horrible drought. One of my neighbors had a bear take several of his llamas, one of which was a stud, that same year.

Well so much for the llama theory! I'm sure a bear, being a predator, would indeed kill a goat. I just wonder if having goats in camp would attract bears to a camp. I suppose that would depend on how prevalent the bear's natural food source is. Some years if we have drought or other weather related issues, or mast failure, bears become more aggressive, wander into town and neighborhoods and start raiding garbage cans and bird feeders. At the same time, I suppose any predator is opportunistic and one just wonders if the bear stumbled onto a few goats in camp, would they attack or avoid.

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