(UPDATED: Tuesday, July 24, 12 noon EDT)
It’s not uncommon for hunters to use camouflage. But usually such outfits are made to blend in with the surrounding foliage — not the animals.
One hunter in Utah had a different idea. He donned a goat suit to better track his targets.
On July 22, a hunter quickly dubbed “goat man” was spotted clambering around the mountains of northern Utah, following a herd of goats. At first, officials were baffled– and worried. They were concerned goat man could be in danger once hunting season starts.
But after the story made headlines out of its sheer oddity, state wildlife officials say they’ve identified the man in the bizarre suit. He’s a 57-year-old hunter from Southern California, according to Phil Douglass, conservation outreach manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, told Utah newspaper The Standard-Examiner on Monday. Douglass fielded a phone call from the man but didn’t ask his name. “He gave me details that convinced me it was him,” Douglass said.
The hunter told the newspaper his suit was a simple hooded painter’s suit, which he adorned with fleece to give his costume a fur-like appearance. He said he was testing the suit in preparation for an upcoming goat hunt in Canada.
Douglass was initially concerned that if the hunter’s behavior continued, he could be a target in the upcoming hunting season. “My very first concern is the person doesn’t understand the risks,” Phil Douglass of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Douglass told the Associated Press Friday. “Who’s to say what could happen.” Hunting season begins in the area in September, and about 60 shooters are expected to receive permits.
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Officials said he wasn’t only in danger of being mistaken for prey by a hunter — he might have been attacked by one of his fellow goats. “They may get agitated. They’re territorial. They are, after all, wild animals. This person puts on a goat suit, he changes the game,” said Douglass, adding that wearing an animal costume in the wild is not strictly illegal.
The sighting of the goat man occurred 40 miles north of Salt Lake City, when a hiker saw a herd of goats about 200 yards away, and thought one of them looked a bit weird. “I thought maybe it was injured,” the hiker, 33-year-old Coty Creighton told the AP Friday. After looking through his binoculars, he saw something very odd indeed: a man in fake horns and a cloth mask with eye holes, traipsing around with the four-legged ruminants. “I thought, ‘What is this guy doing?’ ” Creighton said. “He was actually on his hands and knees. He was climbing over rocks and bushes and pretty rough terrain on a steep hillside.”
Creighton said the man pulled up his mask once in a while to check where he was going. Then, he spotted Creighton, staring at him from afar. “He just stopped in his tracks and froze,” he said. Creighton retreated behind a tree and started taking photos while goat man pulled his mask back on and scrambled to catch up with the other goats. “We were the only ones around for miles,” Creighton said. “It was real creepy.”
Creighton provided the Division of Wildlife Resources with blurry photos of a white blob scaling a steep mountainside. When the sighting was reported in local media, wildlife officials received an anonymous call from a so-called “agitated man” who said: “Leave goat man alone. He’s done nothing wrong.”