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Thread: 2011 Sheep hunt with a twist! My first experience on the mountain!

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    Default 2011 Sheep hunt with a twist! My first experience on the mountain!


    First sheep hunt Ė check
    Sheep meat in the freezer?- not so much!

    My buddy Tim and I started our journey north at 6am on the 6th of Aug heading to Galbraith Lake.Our plan was to spend two days driving up and spend some time glassing and hunting along the way. We had a bow and rifle for each of us and figured we would have everything covered. We took a look through the regs to see what was open in each unit along the way and set out!

    This was my first trip to the Brooks Range and my first time hunting sheep. I spent the last 3 years saving for and purchasing gear to be able to one day do this hunt, and I had done months of preparation and gear testing, so I was as ready as I could possibly be! My anxiety was at an all time high, and I donít think I slept for more than an hour or two that night! I was at Timís house ready togo at 5:30am! He already had his gear loaded so I looked over mine one lasttime, tossed it in and off we went.







    The drive up was pretty uneventful. Saw some beautiful country, but not much in the way of wildlife other than a few cow/calf moose pairs. We ended up making such good time that we drove straight through and arrived in Galbraith by 6:45pm. We checked in with Rich, our pilot, but there was another pair of hunters that beat us there and were ready to be flown in that night. With that we headed north of the airport to do some looking around for bou along the road and find a place tocamp that night. We didnít find much for wildlife that night either, so we were back at the airport at 9am anxious to get flown in and get things rolling!

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    I was going to be the first one flown in so I assembled my gear at the plane and helped Rich get things ready.By 10am we were off the ground and heading into some beautiful sheep country! I saw a few sheep on the flight in, but not really as many as I had hoped to see and from what I could tell there were no bands of rams. All I saw was a few groups of ewes and lambs. We did see a few groups of caribou though, so I was pretty excited about the possibility of getting a ram and a nice bull in the same hunt!







    By 10:45 we were on the ground and I started organizing my gear for base camp and the gear I would be hauling in for spike camp. Rich left and said that he would be back shortly with Tim. I had a fairly large river to cross before we set up our base campab out a mile from the airstrip at the mouth of the first drainage we planned to hunt so I started scouting places to cross each braid and putting out some markers. Several hours later I had all the gear across the river and started glassing the river valley for caribou. Within a few minutes I had my first large bull located with a group of 8-10 cows and smaller bulls so that occupied my time for a bit. Rich and Tim should have been back quite a while prior to that so I was beginning to worry a little. I had made sure that I had all the gear I would need to survive so that was reassuring, but something still didnít seam right that they were not there within a few hours. Glassing caribou occupied my time but by 5pm I was really beginning to think I was going to be going it alone. I crossed the river again after looking at the sky to the south and thinking that a nasty storm was brewing. I figured that I better get base camp set up before it hit or I was going to be in trouble.
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    Well, I had only made it about a quarter of a mile before I heard the cub and saw them coming downthe valley. By 6:30pm Tim had his gear across the river and we set out to find a good spot for base camp. I saw a second huge caribou bull as Tim was crossing so I glassed him for a while and really started to feel good about the hunt. We both decided that the primary goal was sheep though so we would not shoot a caribou until we reached that goal or had at least exhausted all possibilities for a ram! We set up my Eureka K2xt tent and bear fence and left part of our food and creature comforts there.




    The storm had skirted us as we were setting up base camp so we decided to press on and get as far up the drainage as we could that night. By 10pm and after glassing every mountain side and ridge we saw, we had made it about a mile and a half further up the valley and started setting up our spike tent for the first night in the mountains!
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    After Camp was set up we spent another half hour orso scanning the peaks, fixed a mountain house meal, filtered some water for themorning and called it a night. We were exhausted but it felt really good to beon the hunt that we had planned for so long!


    The next three days were spent glassing and exploring each side canyon of that main drainage we were hunting. We covered about 19 miles and close to 6000 vertical feet. We only saw three bands of sheep and out of those only one ram. The weather was about as good as it gets for the Brooks! And definitely too warm for hunting! But the views were amazing and we were joined by caribou on the side of the mountain almost every night.






    After exhausting every inch of the first canyon, we worked our way back out to the river valley and headed for the next closest drainage. This proved to be a bit more of a challenge as the creek had cut a crazy twisting canyon into the mountain. After struggling through the first half of it we decided that to climb out of it and take the high road in was the best option. After about a mile and a half the canyon opened up into what turned out to be a beautiful valley with sheep sign everywhere. We spent three more days exploring and glassing that drainage on two other smaller drainages over the top of that one, and after a total of 41 miles by gps and over 9000 feet elevation gain throughout that distance we were exhausted. We decided to hang up our first sheep hunt and head down to the lower valley to hunt caribou.The next drainage was over 3 miles away from the airstrip and we didnít think we had enough time left to cover much of it. There had been some huge caribou bulls spotted throughout our hunt so we didnít want to go home empty handed.The sheep hunt was definitely addictive though and I will be back next year some here in the sheep hills to try and fulfill my dream! We saw a total of 6 rams with these two being the closest to full curl at just about 7/8ís or slightly less.
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    Here are some more pics of the sheep hunt!





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    US Air Force - retired and Wildlife photographer

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    A picture is worth a thousand words, so here are some more from the hunt!







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    This tool saved my butt more than a few times!





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    Another one of our spike camps further down the drainiage!








    It was a 5 mile hike to base camp and once we got there we decided to move it down to the river to be closer to the airstrip if we did get lucky enough to get some caribou. Once we got that set up things changed for the worse. We spent two days glassing the valley in hot weather, lots of bugs and little caribou movement. The largest bull we saw was over a mile away and probably a 3 year old. It was pretty depressing and we both were beginning to think we were going to go home empty handed.
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    I bet we ate about 4 lbs of these each. They were sure thick this year!!!


    Trooper Quist stopped by camp the first day we moved out to the river to see if everything was ok and on the up and up and then he confirmed that there wasnt much caribou movement in the valley, but assured us it should pick up! It was nice to talk to him after 6 days in the mountains alone.



    Well on the third day everything changed. The winds shifted out of the north bringing in the fog and much cooler temps along with some rain for good measure! And along with the weather came the caribou. At first there was just one or two animals here and there, but by midday there were some larger groups. Nothing too exciting came by though and after several stalks we called it a day. The next day the winds really picked up and the caribou started flowing through the valley by 10am. Tim had given upon the east side of the river leaving me to cross over and work the other side of the valley.
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    Like clockwork, as soon as he was on the other side I spotted a huge group of bulls working their way towards me through the northern end of the valley. As they got closer I started to get excited and ended up sprinting about a half mile down the river to try and cut them off. They were moving much faster than anticipated and I got to a side creek and headed up with the cover of the alders at a dead run. I ended up making it to within 250 yards of them as they crossed the creek. After glassing them over quickly I took my spotting scope off and used the tripod as a rifle rest. The largest bull was right in the middle of the group. After waiting for the bulls to spread out enough to get a clean shot at my bull they were closer to 300 yards away. My heart was seriously racing, but one slow squeeze of the trigger planted him firmly to the ground. He didnít even flinch after the 150grain .270 Partition struck its mark.





    After the shot the remaining bulls ran around in circles for a short time and the second largest bull was running straight at me. I had just enough time to look him over and realize that he was almost as nice as the first one so I made the decision to try and harvest him as well. He turned north and at about 350 yards the second bullet found its mark and sent the bull on a serious sprint. A follow-up shot knocked the rest of the wind out of him and my hunt was over. It was then that I realized that I was over a mile from camp and two big bulls were beginning to look larger than I had anticipated. Tim joined me as I reached camp to get the camera and meat packs and we headed out to get them taken care of.






    Both bulls were double shovels and the first bull will be very close to a booner if not over with 50 inch main beams! I couldnt be happier!

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    Each bull took two loads with 90-110lb packs per trip! To say we were exhausted by the time we had all the meat in camp was an understatement. The caribou tenderloins over the fire that night made it all worth it though! The following day Tim ended up taking another large bull and we called to leave a message with Rich to come pick us up. We finished hauling his bull to the airstrip by 1pm and set up the base tent to get in out of the wind. Hearing that cub come in around 6pm that night was the most inviting sound wehad heard the whole trip! After three loads he had us and our bulls safely backin Galbraith by 9pm. I just finished putting the last of the meat away and already Iam starting to plan next years trip. Hopefully I will recover by then. My kneeísand hip joints will never be the same!








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    Here is the bull Tim shot!



    We left the following morning and this guy greated us on the road at 4:30am. He was pretty sure of himself and at one point looked like he was going to try and headbutt the truck!



    On the way home we stopped at the Arctic Circle rest area for one last shot!



    And then as we were getting closer to Fairbanks this guy crossed the road in front of us and posed for a few pics on the side of the road. He was a big cat and made we want to start planning a predator hunt up that way this winter!



    And thats the end of that! Now time to start planning my Sept moose hunt!

    Cory
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    Nice 'bou guys!
    "The days a man spends fishing or spends hunting should not be deducted from the time he's on earth. " Theodore Roosevelt

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    I was gonna say.............you should be a photographer...............haha. You already are. Cool hunt and cool ending. Did you get to do all the shooting?
    Certainly this isn't your only hunt this year. Lookin forward to more cool photos.
    Thanks.
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
    I have less friends now!!

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    Hey Mike, I didnt do all the shooting. Tim got his bull the last day we were there. Hopefully this isnt the only trip, but the military is really playing havoc with me trying to plan a moose hunt. Hopefully it will work out!
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    Quote Originally Posted by whitepalm View Post
    Nice pic heavy story, what camera did you bring along? Congrats on some nice Bou!
    Thanks,
    I packed a Canon G12. Its a pretty sweet camera. A little heavier than some like to pack, but does 1080p HD video and takes some pretty incredible images for its size.
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    Absolutely wonderful photography. Made me feel like I was back out there.

    Thanks

    Steve
    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
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    Congrat's on a great trip! You got to love the amazing opportunities here in Alaska! I made that drive numerous times and always loved seeing the sheep on the road. One time we had about 35 causing a traffic jam of four vehicles, but it was cool!!

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    Wow! What an excellent trip and superb writeup! The pics of the cub with the racks on the struts is classic. Thanks for taking the time. Nice job on the caribou and it sounds like you guys really gave it a go for your sheep. It sounds like you got bit by the sheep hunting bug.... you will never be the same! Neither will you bank account!

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