AOD members, it's been a pleasure sharing stories with you over the years but nothing compares to sharing the hunting experience with your own children. I took my daughter out for Dall sheep this year after she won a DS permit for the Chugach mountains. My good friend CtP also won the same permit so a plane was chartered and gear assembled. We choose to fly out later than the opening because we wanted to transistion into a Sept 1 mooose hunt in the Yanert and get a Bou.
So Lily is 13 and a very good student in school earning a 3.8 GPA last year and swims all year with the club. She earned this trip along with the extra cash to recover with in Anchorage shopping post hunt. Funny thing was she kept calling me while I was trying to hunt wanting updates. Point being, I've got high expectations for her and prehunt that was the case. We practiced, trained, and discussed plenty about the challenges and joys that happen durring a sheep hunt. I'll put it this way, with good communication and preperation a child can endure and succeed in the mountains. As a parent you'll have to be patient and considerate, yet maintain the desire to suceed and endure. Thats what I was able to share with my daughter, setting a lofty goal, preparing, enduring, and suceeding. The pleasure I eperienced was not in the kill but in having her accomplish something special. Having hunting as an outlet for teaching her about life was the most amazing element of it all.
We climbed, glassed, stalked, camped, bivyed, cooked, snacked, talked and finally when it was said and done we were just relaxing in a valley while CtP went light and fast up the hill behind us after some rams. Lily was snuggled up next to me warming and eating some dinner when about 600 yrds in front of us a group of 5 rams appeared at our valley elevation feeding on the tender greens. We had no idea that group was close by prior to our meal. So I put up the Swaro and immediatly identified a good target and ranged em. Needless-to-say the meal was suspended and the stalk was on. The day up to that moment had been long and hard. With roughly 4k in elevation, a few miles, and a few cliffs we were ready to bivy. Rams are where they are, and luck was being deployed in full force at the moment rest could wait. It wasn't super glamorous or ultra technical. We just eased through some boulders together ranging and waching really close the feeding of the rams. At 400 we ran out of cover and good prone rifle rests and nothing but loose small scree seperated us from the rams. Meanwhile Craig had eased off the hill and was behind enjoying the evening show of Lily and I easing in on a fine ram. I wanted Lily at 300 with her 25-06 but with the prone rest and the great shooting skill she had displayed prior to the hunt I had her set up. It was beautiful as she steadied and exhaled. I calmly said "ping it". All the while durring our practice I would emphsize accuracy vs. speed. Unrushed she laid out a beautiful double lung shot. The ram jumped and I feared it might have been a miss. Those that have seen a double lung know what I'm talking about. The animal and shooter sometimes just don't know what happened. Then within a few moments the truth was told as the ram buckled and rolled backwards into the same sweet greens that lured him into the lower reaches. I clamored over there quickly to ensure the ram was dead and CtP and Lily came over. The moment was so special for me I'm sure I babbled like a bafoon. Months and months of preperation came to a head. My daughter was now a real hunter and a ram hunter at that. We did the normal late night in headlamp extraction to our bivy site and then cared for the meat and cape.
After all the chores were done CtP and I went out and took a beautiful 10 year old ram for him. Thats another story.........
After Craigs ram hunt we returned to camp to find the horns gone! A bear had dragged them off. There is a good side to this. Two weeks later a group using the same strip found them and we should get them back. I kinda hope the face is chewed on just a little as the european mount will have some genuine character after a bear swiped her trophy. The actual fur cape was untouched and in excellent condition. The meat was also undesturbed. I have yet to see how bad the actual horns are as the pilot hasn't yet returned with that group.
Take your kids hunting. I wasn't really a hunter until I passed on the culture to a child, even more, my own! Long live the hunt.IMG_1243.jpg