i had the pleasure of taking seven days this august for sheep hunting. i was gonna go solo, as my dad couldnt make it this season, but a few weeks before the opener as i was getting done guiding a fishing/rafting trip a good buddy of mine got a message to my boss that he wanted to come sheep hunting. he's a good buddy, but i generally dont hunt with too many people besides my dad and a certain friend of mine. i kinda like my time off work to myself or close friends. the clincher was that i had spent a bit of time with travis in a hunting camp before as he was working through his first year guiding. he's a good hunter, and very tough (two things i require in a hunting buddy) guiding didnt turn out to be his thing, and he struggled with late onset diabetes. it was extremely hard for his to keep his blood sugar regualted with the rigors of guiding, and the unreliable weather. we've stayed in touch since then, and i figured i'd have a great time hunting with travis....i accepted.
we only had seven days to get it done as i had a busy guiding schedule lined up directly after (starting tommorow) and got into the field on the 8th of august.
it was brand new country for me and i wanted to wast no time in getting on top and setting up camp. i've been taught to hunt sheep from above, and am admittedly not very versed in hunting them from below. we scouted for a day and while not seeing any legalish rams on our side of the drainage i did find a group of five a few miles away with two rams looking to be in the full kurl range with "number five" showing potential for being a bruiser. big red horns with tons of mass that seemed to climb forever off his head before starting their curl.
the day of the opener found us descending with ambitions of climbing a mountain adjacent to the rams. i just didnt think i could climb the mnt they were located on without being busted. i figure a sheeps eyes to be my worst enemy and plan stalks with a simple thing in mind: just dont get seen.
the root i took was incredibly steep, but it knocked off a couple miles brush busting and we both figured climbing was more fun
the descent, brush busting, and climb took right under ten hours. as the midnight sun set over the ak range we where camped a couple miles from the rams at around 5400 feet and watched them feed till dark while settled in above them. there was indeed a full curl ram amongst them, i guess him to be right at 37 inches and much stronger on his left side, though legal on both. travis agreed, and we kept with the rule i'd suggested at the beginning of the hunt: neither of us would load a round and actively prepare to shoot a ram unless both us where 100% confident of full curl or double broken legality...number five was nowhere to be found.
to cut my end of the hunt a tad short, i won the coin toss for first shot...anbd i missed that full curl ram the very next morning after bedding him and making a perfect stalk. i missed three times! i was admittedly disgusted with myself, but soon got over it and bathed in the beautiful weather and rush that came with the stalk. i was pumped to be sheep hunting! misses happen. i'm no different. to my shooting credit, my gun was off when checked at travis' suggestion at the end of the hunt it had indeed been knocked off zero. did i do it before i missed? who knows. i dont care though. it was a dandy hunt, and i learned alot about unpressured sheep: theyre not the smartest critter out there walking.
travis was up next. and he was pumped. a miss is fairly a blown attempt...the baton is passed. we left that drainage alone, and had hopes the ram would settle down after a day or so. that day we put a few miles on up high and found a smoker of a sheep bedded three miles away from our evening vantage, and a days hunt away if we got after it around four am the next morning...we made plans and our hopes where high as we went to bed. for some reason i couldnt sleep despite the midnite hour and took one peek at the first rams drainage just as the light faded....he was there! i couldnt beleive it. i roused travis and told him the good news and we planned the hunt.
the ram was feeding down the same hill around five the next morning and we made a quick descent and climbed his hill to gain evlevation on him before the thermals screwed us. i proudly was encouraged to lead the stalk and did a fine job if i do say so myself. when we were posistion above the last place i'd lost him during our climb we watched for him while perched on the spine of his mnt at around 5700ft. we were both still looking for him while keeping a watch on his two buddies he'd been feeding with...a scycle horn and a seven eighths kurl ram.
the sly ram nearly snuck by us. i caught just a glimpse of him sneaking amongst the rocks a mere sixty yrds below us on the side we didnt expect him to be on. he'd climbed over as we were ascending. travis promtly shot him after we both confirmed him to be the same ram. his tumble was uneventful from where we sat and the elation swept over us at travis's accomplishment. he dreamed his whole life for a dall ram and only intended to take one in his life. he'd hunted before unsuccessfully and it was a joyous moment indeed to watch travis and see how much this meant to him.
the recovery is a whole different story in itself, and involved one of the few times i've been scared on a mnt...it was a very hard, and technichal retrieval. trav's ram broke his horn completely off in the falls it took after rolling out of sight. we got him though, and the latest word from knights taxi is that it'll be no problem to reproduce a match for his ram. no killshot pics were taken it respect for that beautiful sheep and the beating he took. all meat was salvageable and i'm happy to report that my half is just dandy! cleaning and good field prep made the difference as always.
it was neat hunt!
a few pics...trav during the first couple days scouting and hunting