I just got back from my unsuccessful TMA sheep hunt...well unsuccessful for getting a sheep anyway. I learned a ton. I am heading back up in a couple days for a last ditch 5 day walk in hunt. I talked to the Tok F&G office and they gave me some areas to look into. I am probably going solo since my partner is unsure if he can afford to go back. I figure I will probably never draw this tag again, so I am heading back so I can say I did everything I possibly could to fill it.
Anyway Lessons learned:
1. Take all the basic gear you need to survive, then cut about half of it out of your pack! I guess this is something that every rookie sheep hunter has to learn the hard way.
2. Get more info from the air charter on the area you are hunting so you are prepared for everything. We went into an area right off of the end of the Roberson glacier, and found out while we were sitting in the office that we had to get around a lake with alders growing right along the shore line. (It was the biggest pain in the rear to get around that thing). I would have packed glacier socks and a machete if I had known that!
3. Mountain house desserts are a HUGE morale booster when you are beat down and tired
4. Make sure you can actually get into the mountains in the area you booked. I think the hot weather kept the sheep up high, and we had no way up due to the terrain. All we could do was walk the glacier and drainages in the mornings and afternoon and hope they came down to eat, or hit a mineral lick.
5. A tripod with a ball head would be a huge plus to have, I HATE!!! my cullman tripod now, and am in the market for a new tripod.
6. I am not packing a tent this time, getting a bivvy and sleeping on the side of the mountain.
7. Barneys needs to make a water bottle holder for their waist bands on their packs
8. I am really glad I got in shape before I did this
9. Trekking poles and my koflach boots were the best investments I made before this trip
10. Never climb unless you know there is something up there! We climbed up 3 drainages only to find some unpassable barrier at the end. And the walls were too steep to go over the side.
11. Crocks are something I will not go sheep hunting without. It was so great to pull off my boots and let my feet dry out and recover, and not have to go around bare foot.
12. Don't let failure get to you. It was crushing to find those barriers at the end of the drainages, and only seeing ewes and lambs started to get to us. I would get really depressed after a while, and want to pull out, but I just kept looking at the bright side and got back into it. We did eventually have to pull the plug on the hunt because the glacier was deteriorating really fast, and we had a few big land slides happen while we were there. We were afraid we would not be able to get out of there without being rescued.
Hopefully I will have a successful report after next week. F&G said there was a 41 incher taken in the TMA this year. Congrats to the guy or gal who got that! Headed back up on Thurs or Friday!