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First-Time Hunter Wins Rocky Mountain Goat Tag, My Undying Envy

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I am trying, and failing, to overcome my seething envy.

Anyone who has spent enough time in the outdoors shooting, hunting, or fishing will recognize that moment when you watch an utter neophyte, someone brand-new to the sport, just stroll on in and hook the biggest fish, shoot the biggest buck, or take home grand prize in the whole shootin’ match. Growl as we will about “beginner’s luck,” it’s always a pleasure to see a newbie get hooked on the outdoors with a tremendously enviable success. So today I’m raising my Thermos full of tar-like hunter’s coffee to Alyssa Nitschelm, of Redmond, Oregon, who drew a Rocky Mountain goat tag on her first ever try.

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At first, Alyssa did not fully grasp the significance of what she was seeing when she checked the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) big game hunting draw results in the kitchen with her father. Having never hunted before, she had no idea that she had literally won a once-in-a-lifetime chance to hunt the rarest game animal in the state.

I assure you that I’m not one of those writers who uses “literally” when they mean “figuratively.” You see, Oregon’s Rocky Mountain goat tags can only be drawn once in a hunter’s life. What’s more, so many people apply and so few win that the chances of drawing that tag approach the asymptote. Alyssa was one of only two dozen hunters in the state of Oregon to claim this rare opportunity.

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“I naturally asked my dad to help me apply to these controlled hunts. He helped me choose each hunt series to apply for,” Alyssa said. “The only expectation I had was to spend quality time with my dad, absorb new information and possibly get the chance to appreciate some beautiful animals and country.”

Alyssa’s dad is a lifelong hunter and  had set Alyssa’s expectations early on, reminding her that it was unlikely she would draw any tags her first year, but that her chances would increase over time. So when Alyssa exclaimed that she was selected for the Rocky Mountain Goat tag, she was more excited to have drawn at all, not realizing that she had just hit the hunting lottery.

“My dad whipped his head around and asked if I was kidding,” Alyssa recalled. “Once I showed him, he was in disbelief.”

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With the help of her father, Alyssa was able to harvest a beautiful Rocky Mountain Goat safely and ethically. Considering the magnitude of this rare hunt, Alyssa’s dad stressed the importance of practice and the proper products to ensure a quick and clean shot. The hunting pair turned to a product made by Nosler, a Central Oregon-based company that’s recognized around the world for manufacturing the best big-game hunting bullets and ammunition on the market. Alyssa chose the company’s founding bullet, the Nosler Partition, which helped her get her goat down in a single shot.

While a majority of hunters won’t draw a goat tag, they can still take pride in how their dollars have helped recover the Rocky Mountain Goat species in Oregon. Although rare, the state’s goat population continues to grow in number and expand in range thanks to ODFW’s annual research and reintroduction efforts directly funded by hunting license dollars, and the auctions and raffles of tags.

The animals were reintroduced to the Central Oregon cascades back in 2010 after a nearly 150-year absence in the state, with 45 goats released onto a flank of Mt. Jefferson in a remote section of the 640,000-acre Warm Springs Indian Reservation.

Have you ever drawn a once-in-a-lifetime tag? Tell us in the comments!

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