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Thread: More Sheep Hunting w/Alaska_Lanche and the Mrs (plus chasing some other critters too)

  1. #1

    Default More Sheep Hunting w/Alaska_Lanche and the Mrs (plus chasing some other critters too)

    All necessary animals in this story have been sealed by F&G



    The fact Becca, my wife, was able to join me on this hunt and have a chance to watch me take my first ram meant more than actually drawing the tag. This hunt began nearly 7 months before we even set foot in the field. The end of February came and Becca and I found out that I had drawn a highly coveted sheep tag.



    I was elated to see my name next to such a tag on the draw results. However, for Becca, my drawing this tag was more bittersweet. She was thrilled for me to have a wonderful chance at harvesting my first ram, but being just 4 month after breaking her leg on a mountain goat hunt on Kodiak the previous fall and still not cleared work she nearly teared up at the due to the reality that she would likely not be joining me on this endeavor.



    The months passed and Becca continued with her physical therapy. Her broken leg healed and became stronger. Soon she was able to hike short distances with little weight. By mid-summer she was packing 40 pounds or more for short 6-8 mile trips. Before we knew it hunting season was upon us. We spent the sheep opener elsewhere in Alaska looking to get Becca a sheep of her own. While we did bag a caribou, we did not find any legal sheep in the 60+ miles we hiked during that rainy 8 day hunt. However, what we did find was that Becca’s leg was holding up remarkably well to the rigors of climbing the mountains in pursuit of sheep. She was more than ready to join me in an attempt to fill my draw tag to both our delight.



    August 18th we found ourselves leaving the at the trailhead at 7:30 PM.


    We traveled several miles into our destination, but made camp just prior to dark. Ate a quick dinner and drifted off to sleep. Next morning we continued the rest of our 12 mile journey to where we planned to spend a couple days caribou hunting. The weather was gorgeous, which was very well received after have just finished spending 7 out of 8 days in the pouring foggy rain on Becca’s sheep hunt.

    Last edited by Alaska_Lanche; 12-16-2011 at 06:44.

  2. #2
    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    Dude..type faster
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

  3. #3

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    Not only type faster, but request lots of photos of that lovely lady that allows you to live with her.

  4. #4

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    Just as I gained the last ridge to our camping location I began immediately scanning the horizon with my eyes. Before I even set my pack down I noticed a small black critter cruising the hillside less than a 1/3 of a mile away. I quickly threw up my binoculars to confirmed what I thought: it was a wolf! A few moments later Becca was joining me on the ridge and I quickly pointed out to her the canine moving across the landscape. We watched the wolf amble effortlessly across the tundra as a spectators for a minute or so until something inside me clicked. “I can bag this guy if I hustle”, I thought. I told Becca that I was going to try to get over there and take him and asked if she wanted to join me. However, she was feeling the effects of our climb to the ridgeline and opted to stay behind to watch my stalk unfold.



    I grabbed my rifle and began running to a hill 400 yards or so away where I believe I the wolf might be based on where it was heading before it dropped out of sight. Just as I was about 100 yards from the hill I chose as my goal I looked to my left and there was a big beautiful grey wolf staring at me just 80 yards away!!! Being as I already had a grey wolf on my wall that I took when I was 14 years old I was hoping for the black one but I wasn’t about to let a sure thing chance at a wolf slip away. As soon as I got my crosshairs on the grey wolf I noticed that the black one had joined the grey wolf in the staring me down just 5 feet to the left. I quickly took aim on the black wolf and squeezed the trigger. The last thing I saw in my scope was four black paws in the air. Meanwhile, the grey wolf whirled around and was out of sight leaving his fallen comrade behind. Climbing up the hill to locate the wolf I had just taken I noticed yet another wolf loping away.



    I felt fortunate to run across another 3 wolves as I have seen only about 20 or so in the wild in my 27 years in Alaska and even more fortunate to be able to take another one. This black wolf was a male and much larger than the female wolf I had taken in my teens.



    We snapped a few pics and I began skinning him out:







    It was now late afternoon so we decided it was best to setup camp and get some dinner in us so we could begin looking for caribou. After dinner I opened the tent door and looked out to see a small cow caribou just 100 yards from our tent. I thought this might be a sign of good things to come, possibly for taking out one of their predators earlier in the day.



    On previous trips to this area we always were careful to select small meat bulls to harvest as we always had to pack it and camp out the 12 miles pack to the truck. However, this trip was different in that we planned to leave camp setup back there and just haul the caribou back out to get processed and come back empty to begin scouting for sheep. We donned our backpacks just outside our tent and I had no sooner looked through my binoculars than I spotted a very nice bull caribou just over 1.5 miles away across the rolling tundra. It was 7:30 PM and we knew we’d have to hoof it over there and get it done if we didn’t want to be skinning in the dark.
    Last edited by Alaska_Lanche; 12-16-2011 at 06:49.

  5. #5
    Member ergoman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKDoug View Post
    Dude..type faster
    what he said

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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    I'm supposed to be watching Thor with my family, but this thread is way more interesting. Nice wolf
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

  7. #7

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    Before long we were seeing antler tips over the hill 500 yards away. We dropped our packs and continued our stalk. We got within 220 yards and Becca made a great shot on the nice bull. Becca has shot a couple caribou prior to this but none of this size. I think the look on her face shows just how excited she was.







    We began skinning out the caribou and soon had him broken down in to smaller more packable pieces. As we were finishing the butchering of the caribou we broke out our headlamps and I loaded a couple quarters and the loose meat into my pack while Becca opted to just carry the day hunt gear as it was obvious this caribou was a “two tripper”. We stopped in the dark to filter some water for camp and continued to the 1.5 miles back to camp in complete blackness until our headlamps hit the reflects guy outs of our tent letting us know we were home for the night.



    The next morning after coffee and breakfast I began hiked over to the caribou kill site to retrieve the remainder of the meat and antlers, while Becca stayed in camp to begin boning out the quarters for the 12 mile pack to the truck. When I returned and unloaded my pack I chuckled to myself as to just how lucky I was to have a wife that was willing to get her hands bloody.



    Here is Becca showing off the fact that she’s very much taken on her left hand while boning out some caribou meat:





    Also she saw it fit to try on my Barney’s pack for some reason




    I used the afternoon to pack some of the meat part of the way out as well as stash the antlers in the woods to be retrieved later when we could pick them up with the wheeler. Meanwhile Becca took a well-deserved nap. That evening I got crushed in a round of gin rummy in our tent as we sipped on some of the 3 liters of box wine I hauled in on my back



    The next morning we buttoned up camp and loaded up the packs for the 12 mile haul back to the trucks. 6 hours later we were at the truck taking the meat to be processed. Unfortunately, we were just about 45 minutes late in our trip to the processor that day (it was Sunday so they had irregular hours) so we thought for a bit about what to do. Then I had the idea to see what Steve (Stid2677) was up to as we were in the “neighborhood” being just 90 miles south of him, so I gave him a call.



    Steve was more than accommodating and practically rolled out the red carpet for us. We swapped stories and pics of our previous weeks endeavors (he just returned from a successful dall sheep hunt in the Brooks Range), talked about future hunts, and just had a good time catching up. Thanks a TON Steve the little mid hunt “pick me up” you provided was very much appreciated sir!!!
    Last edited by Alaska_Lanche; 12-16-2011 at 06:52.

  8. #8
    Member HuntKodiak's Avatar
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    Aren't you supposed to type your hunt report in Word, and then just post it quickly......moderators......geeeesh.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    What HuntKodiak said.... + you can put more than 4 pics in a post now under the latest iteration of forum settings!

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    The next morning we got up and had breakfast with Steve prior to heading back to the meat processor. After dropping off the meat we began the 12 mile hike in back to camp, had dinner, and played some more gin yummy in the tent before turning in for the night. It was interesting though that the whole hike in we were following a very fresh set of wolf tracks.







    The morning of the 23rd we get up early, had a hearty breakfast with coffee, packed up camp, and began the 6-7 mile tundra slog from our caribou camp into where we planned to begin looking for sheep. That afternoon, we arrived and setup close to a great water source. It was great to get our eyes on the mountains that we had been scouring over with topos and google earth and we still had over two full days to scout for a legal ram prior to the season opener.



    After camp was setup, we quickly climb 1,000’ and a mile over to look into an adjacent bowl for sheep. We no sooner gained the ridgeline than we began seeing rams. We couldn’t believe it. Atleast 3 of the rams we saw were legal, but one was exceptional. He was at least 2” beyond full curl on his right horn while his left horn was 6” or greater beyond full curl. He looked like a man among boys (even the 8 year old full curls right next to him), so we dubbed him “corkscrew”.



    A look into the “bowl o’ rams”





    I couldn’t believe our good fortune. We had hiked nearly 20 miles from the truck and landed right into a bowl full of rams just 2-3 miles from our sheep camp. I had a hard time going to sleep that night and really wanted to just go back to that bowl again and watch the sheep. However, with two full days of scouting left I felt it best to explore two more valleys/bowls to the west prior to committing to this bowl.



    Morning of the 24th was a beautiful day and I took a bird bath in the creek prior to hiking another ridgeline to gain the 2500’ needed to look over the area we wished to scout. We saw a lot of ewes and lambs and even a few small rams early in the afternoon, but nothing that really caught our eye over what we knew was stacked up in the bowl we found the previous evening.



    Some of the sheep we ran across that day:






    However, we enjoyed the views and soaked up the sun and just being alone in the mountains together.

    Last edited by Alaska_Lanche; 12-16-2011 at 06:54.

  11. #11
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    Drumming my fingers on the desk.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by .338WM View Post
    Drumming my fingers on the desk.
    glad you posted.... I was starting to think my refresh button was broke!

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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    I'm starting to think that "gin rummy" is code word for sumthin' else
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

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    As we began to descend the ridgeline that evening heading back to camp Becca pointed out a lone sheep in the crags across the valley from us. A look through the spotter revealed a ram with an impressively wide set of horns. He was clearly broken on the right horn, however, I couldn’t tell if it was broken or just worn on the other and it clearly wasn’t full curl. With so many rams piled up in the bowl just over the ridge line from him I didn’t really give him another thought.



    Little did I know that in exactly a week from then that I’d be helping pack this very sheep out of the hills.





    That evening back at camp we decided it best to go back to the valley we knew held all the rams and watch them all day long to really get a feel for where the rams moved to and from throughout the day. We took turns watching the rams through the spotter while the other would sleep in a perfectly perched rocky ledge.



    Due to Becca’s work constraints we’d only be able to hunt the opening day of this tag before heading out. In order make the most of the one day we had to hunt we planned to get up at 3:30 AM. This would allow us to climb into the bowl under the cover of darkness and avoid all the eyes that were in the loomed in the valley. With the early wake-up call looming over us, we both took the liberty of taking long naps basking in the sun on the rocky ledge in between taking turns at the spotter. It was a great lazy day with only 2,000’ of vertical and 2 miles of hiking, while the rest of the day was spent relaxing, resting and looking over rams. Not a bad way to spend a day in the mountains with the love of your life.



    Becca taking her turn sleeping on the rocky ledge:





    We even snapped a few pics of a ewe and this years lamb bedded just a couple hundred yards from our spotting location into the bowl:




    Here is a group of about 7 rams we watched throughout the day:




    We headed off the mountain a little early so we might be able to crawl into bed a bit sooner than normal to gain a couple extra hours of shuteye. I’d be lying if I said I slept well that night. Thoughts for rams were clouding my head and I could hardly wait for the next day to come.



    3:30 rolls around and I am jump out of bed into the cold, crisp, clear morning looking over the stars and firing up breakfast. Becca, though tired and not a morning person, humors me in my excitement and follows suit. By 5 AM we are working our way into the bowl and beginning to see white dots on the hills around us. We work our way up into the bowl where we believe the rams will come down to. Instantly it started sleeting on us as we setup and wait. We waited for around 2 hours and while we were looking over several smaller rams. However the group of 4 rams that had several legal sheep in it, including corkscrew, were no where in sight.



    This is where I think the experienced sheep hunter may have just waited them out. But I was getting antsy and ready to see some legal sheep I knew were around. I began climbing to where I believe was their bedding area up in a higher snowy bowl. As we worked our way up into this bowl I finally see 3 rams (2 of which I know are legal) about 400+ yards above me in the snow. They had us pegged. The rams wasted no time and began a deliberate climb up the steep snowy slope while my heart sank knowing I had just blown it for Becca to get a chance to see me harvest a ram. Sure I was coming back to the same area for a 10 day sheep hunt with some buddies, but I couldn’t help but think of the over 120 miles and nearly 20 days Becca and I had just spent in the field chasing these critters. She had earned a ram just as much as I had and it killed me to think that she wouldn’t get to see it happen.
    Last edited by Alaska_Lanche; 12-16-2011 at 06:58.

  15. #15

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    "However, we enjoyed the views and soaked up the sun and just being alone in the mountains together".

    That is so sweet........................Hehehehehehe (Your woman took three hats, Red, Green, Black)

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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    LMAO...she could have saved several ounces of packing weight by bringing only one hat and ditching that wedding ring
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

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    Just like that something clicked again. Once before growing up I had spooked a band of rams. They went up and over some nasty crags in which I followed and found them bedded just over the ridge apparently feeling safe as they had never had anything chase them up that high before. It was last ditch effort. What do I have to lose? The terrain was too dangerous for Becca to feel comfortable following me and I needed to move much faster than I knew she could follow. Plus the hill was so steep that the rams could see her the whole time in the bottom of the bowl, but once I was on the hill they couldn’t see me. I grabbed my rifle and began my climb at 5200’ and clammered up as fast as my lungs would take me. Soon I was nearing the top of the ridge and I could hear sheep hooves crunching in the snow, I knew I was close. I rounded a cliff face and saw all 3 rams staring at me less than 150 yards away.



    I immediately picked out the light horned ram I knew was legal as he was already broadside and fired. He humped up took a few more steps and I fired once more and the ram fell. I had finally done it. 27 years living in Alaska and I finally bagged my first ram. It was a great feeling knowing Becca was below watching the whole thing unfold through her binoculars.



    Me with my ram:





    Now was the time my novice sheep hunting prowess shines through again. I was now above 6200’ without a pack, knife, game bags. This meant I had to climb back down the snow covered boulders and shelves, retrieve my pack and climb back up. Probably won’t make that mistake twice



    Becca was still was not comfortable following me up into the crags to skin the ram, so out so I headed up. Once back at the ram I took a couple timer shots of me with the sheep, soaked in the moment, and quickly got down to the business if breaking down the sheep to be hauled off the mountain. Nearly 2 hours later (I know I am slow, but to my credit it was on the middle of a snow slide and the only thing holding it from going down the mountain further was a good sized rock so that slowed my progress even more ) I was done and had the sheep loaded up in my pack for the 1,000’+ snowy rocky descent down to Becca.



    Sheep loaded up ready to go overlooking the snowy bowl:





    Took about an hour for me to safely get down to Becca. She watched, carefully, my every step down the mountain in the spotter slightly worried. I reached her no worse for the wear other than some burning legs. We hugged again and I showed her the ram in the pack. She said she was proud of me. I sheepishly (pun intended) said he isn’t very big. Truth be told this animal meant more to me than any other animal I have taken due to her being there. Given the fact that when I drew that tag both of us secretly felt she would not be able to join me on the hunt.



    We made the remaining 3 miles and 2,000’ back down to camp with sheep seeming to know we had just punched our tag and were less timid around us.



    A group of young rams just a hundred yards away on the pack out:





    Back at camp we made a quick dinner. I setup my bivy shelter to keep the meat and cape out of the weather as well as cut down some alders to rest the meat on to allow for good air flow to keep it cool.






    Sleep came easy that night and we took our time getting up the following morning. After breakfast we loaded our packs with just the essentials and began a brisk pace to cover the 18+ miles back to our truck. Late that afternoon we arrived back at the truck and headed into the nearest town for a dinner not out of a mountain house bag. A greasy cheeseburger is always a welcome change after that many days afield. Then it was off to the store to pick up some wine and some ice cream before retiring in our hotel room for and evening of some well-deserved rest and relaxation.



    The next morning we checked out early, had a hearty breakfast, and began the 18 mile wheeler ride in to retrieve our camp and sheep. I must say after hiking over 85 miles over the previous 10 days covering that 18 miles by wheeler was certainly welcomed.



    Before we knew it we were back at camp and we quickly packed up and were on our way back home.



    Some might say I wasted my trophy sheep tag on a small sheep, and they are certainly entitled to their opinion. I realize I could have came back with my buddies and likely shot a much larger sheep. However, if I had the chance to do it all over again and had a chance at ol’ corkscrew with my buddies or shooting the smaller sheep I took with Becca I wouldn’t change a thing on this go round. Lord willing there will be more sheep to chase in years to come. There was something special about bagging my first sheep while my wife was able to watch. Especially, just 6 months prior, if you would have told me she’d be there watching when I pulled the trigger I wouldn’t have believed you. That’s something extra inches of horn will never have over our first sheep.
    Last edited by Alaska_Lanche; 12-16-2011 at 07:07.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by AGL4now View Post
    "However, we enjoyed the views and soaked up the sun and just being alone in the mountains together".

    That is so sweet........................Hehehehehehe (Your woman took three hats, Red, Green, Black)
    HAHA, nice one. Nah the hat is red, the hood is green, the neckie is black.

  19. #19
    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    You need to submit this story to a magazine. Combined with your brother's story of his wife and kids and the caribou...you have one awesome family. Great read...and now I have to get the kids packed for our family moose hunt tomorrow and Saturday :d
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKDoug View Post
    You need to submit this story to a magazine. Combined with your brother's story of his wife and kids and the caribou...you have one awesome family. Great read...and now I have to get the kids packed for our family moose hunt tomorrow and Saturday :d
    Thanks you sir!!! I am truly blessed to have the family and especially wife. I write the stories to preserve the memories while they are fresh in my mind. Not even sure how to go about submitting stories to magazines. Good luck chasing moose Doug. I barely got to half heartily hunt moose this season. Too busy chasing critters up in the mountains, 4 different sheep hunts tie up a lot of moose hunt time.

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