Billy or nanny? Differentiating between the two adds to challenge of mountain goat hunt

My goals for my upcoming British Columbia mountain goat hunt are pretty simple, even though I know the hunt will be anything but that. Embrace the experience. Enjoy the adventure. Expect adversity. Make some big memories.

But at some point, I know it’s entirely possible that moment of truth will arrive and I’ll have a shot opportunity. Thankfully, my guide will be by my side to size up a billy – and even help me identify a goat as a billy or a nanny.

It’s not as simple as it sounds. Mountain goats are among the hardest animals to judge in the field, especially since both billies and nannies sport horns. That can make things a little hairy when you’re viewing them a mile or more away through a spotting scope and trying to decide whether to make what is usually an arduous vertical trek to get into shooting range.

But there are differences. A nanny’s horns are usually shorter and a bit narrower, and the horns on a billy – especially a big billy – will appear to be so close together they actually touch; on a nanny, there is clearly white space between the horns.

That said, a billy possesses two large, black glands directly behind their horns, which are easily mistaken for incredible horn mass. I’m not looking for a trophy billy, just something that’s representative of the species, but the challenge of judging a billy in the field still exists.

Also, a billy, and especially a big billy, will have a definite hump on its back and will simply appear thicker than a nanny. A nanny’s horns typically rise straight up, while a billy will have a slight curl over their entire length – which, on a good billy, is only about 9 inches.

So you can see the challenge. I dealt with it several years back in Wyoming during an archery hunt for pronghorn antelope as well. It’s not like sizing up a whitetail, that’s for sure.

Fortunately, my guide will be in my ear the entire time. All I really have to do is conquer the mountain and make the shot when and if that moment of truth arrives.

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, New York – Steve Piatt

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