Rocky Mountain High: First-Time Hunter Scores With Coveted Goat Tag

A first-timer hunter. A helpful father. When a coveted tag is drawn against all odds, the magical roll continues.

by Mark Melotik

HuntStand Pro Contributor MORE FROM Mark

A first-timer hunter. A helpful father. When a coveted tag is drawn against all odds, the magical roll continues.


You can’t fully appreciate the concept of beginner’s luck until you’ve heard the 2019 tale of Oregon’s Alyssa Nitschelm. The hot streak for the 24-year-old Redmond, Oregon, resident began as 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, the 24-year-old nurse soon found she had scored a once-in-a-lifetime chance to hunt the rarest game animal in the state.

“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.”

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He didn’t bat an eye as Alyssa scrolled down her list of applications in the kitchen, reading aloud “Not Selected” after elk, deer, then pronghorn. As a lifelong hunter, he 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.

Thousands of Oregon hunters apply for the Rocky Mountain Goat tag each year, but the odds of drawing are slim to none. The tags are “once-in-a-lifetime,” so hunters who draw them can’t draw them again. In Alyssa’s case, she was one of only two dozen hunters in the state of Oregon to claim this rare opportunity.

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

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 some of the best big-game hunting bullets and ammunition on the market. Alyssa chose the company’s founding bullet, the Nosler Partition, which helped anchor her goat with a single shot.

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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 auction and raffle 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. Since that time, mountain goats have expanded throughout the high elevations of the Central Oregon Cascades.

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While any licensed hunter can apply for the Rocky Mountain Goat tag, an opportunity this rare requires a certain readiness if you’re lucky enough to draw it. Goats typically live in high-altitude environments, exposing hunters to rough, steep conditions. Hunters must be physically fit to gain access to this amazing species, and mentally ready to commit to the risks and challenges that the hunt presents.

The full first-hand story of Alyssa’s hunt can be found on Nosler’s blog at



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