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Thread: "I'm not sure I am cut out for this..."--Becca's 2012 Dall Sheep Hunt

  1. #1

    Default "I'm not sure I am cut out for this..."--Becca's 2012 Dall Sheep Hunt

    We stood together on the river bar at 2500’ watching as the two Super Cubs shrank into the horizon. We had planned and packed for this trip scrupulously; the flight service allowed only fifty pounds of gear per person and we intended to pack enough food to stay a total of 18 days if that’s what it took. We ultimately ended up with forty-three pounds of food, which left us only fifty-seven pounds of weight left to accommodate our packs, shelter, sleeping gear, and cooking equipment.

    If ever a trip required paring our gear down to the essentials, this was it! Bad weather in another hunting area delayed our flight service some, and we didn’t arrive on the gravel bar until nearly 4pm on August 9th. Luke and I quickly reorganized our gear, selecting enough food for 7 days of hunting before caching the remainder at the airstrip inside our bear fence. It was after 5pm when we finally started hiking.

    After hiking for about two hours through thick brush along the creek drainage, we covered about 3 miles before the creek necked down to a canyon. Luke spotted a sandy "beach" along the water just below the canyon, and we opted to set up camp for our first night out.

    I had previously accompanied Luke on several Dall sheep hunts, one of which was successful, but weather and fate had never cooperated to allow me a chance at a ram of my own. With the opening day of the season approaching and a coveted sheep tag in my pocket, I was ready to hunt!

    The next two days were spent gaining altitude to get above the brush and hiking farther back into the drainage. We made a more permanent camp on the third night at 5800', on a flat ridge line that miraculously had a trickle of water nearby.

    Glassing that evening, we spotted rams that looked promising several bowls further back and about two miles further away, and we made plans to move that direction the following morning, day four of our hunt.

    We planned to only be away for the day, but took supplies to bivy out if necessary, as is our habit. Our bivy supplies included a lightweight shelter, insulated "puffy" coats and pants, our short inflatable pads (which fold into chairs for glassing), and one down quilt. I packed enough food for us to comfortably stay one night away from the tent: one freeze dried entree each and enough snacks for two days. Later I would wish I had brought more.

  2. #2
    Member GD Yankee's Avatar
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    Oct 2007


    Doh! Already hooked, waiting for more!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    Fantastic start!
    An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it.
    - Jef Mallett

  4. #4

    Default Re: "I'm not sure I am cut out for this..."--Becca's 2012 Dall Sheep Hunt

    I love it so far!

    Sent from my SCH-I500 using Tapatalk 2

  5. #5
    Member ak_cowboy's Avatar
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    Sep 2012


    That's It ?????

  6. #6
    Member AlaskaHippie's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    Beaver Fork


    Not only does she hunt with Luke, she takes as long as him in telling the tale.

    “Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.” ― H.S.T.
    "Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you."

  7. #7
    Member jaydog's Avatar
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    Apr 2007


    I think Becca needs to become Luke's ghostwriter! Awesome story-telling. I'm on the edge of my chair waiting to hear the rest.

  8. #8
    Member Smokey's Avatar
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    Jul 2008
    Central Illinois


    The pics are breathtaking, well done so far Becca!
    When asked what state I live in I say "The State of Confusion", better known as IL....

  9. #9
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Fairbanks Area


    Miss Becca,, I don't think,, I know you ARE more than cut out for sheep hunting. You proved your metal this season by not only taking a Ram but a Goat as well. I think you have set the bar high for us all. I look forward to sharing many more of you and Luke's adventures. Can't wait to see you guys this spring out in PWS.

    Love sheep hunt reports, more, we want more!!!

    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"

  10. #10


    "Later I would wish I had brought more" that is foreshadowing! Can't wait to turn the page.

  11. #11
    Member Gerberman's Avatar
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    Feb 2008
    Soldotna AK, Eugene, OR


    Great START, now on to the MEAT of the story PLEASE.. Thank You,

  12. #12


    Oh goody, goody, goody...

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    Man, what a tease that Becca is.
    An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it.
    - Jef Mallett

  14. #14
    Member AlaskaHippie's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    Beaver Fork


    I smell a miniseries.

    Hopefully it airs daily, not weekly.
    “Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.” ― H.S.T.
    "Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you."

  15. #15


    We crossed the flat ridgeline where our primary camp was, and dropped
    onto the backside of the spine to begin moving the direction we wanted
    to head, as the terrain on the creek drainage side was impassible at
    elevation. We immediately encountered boulder fields as far as we
    could see. The rocks were piled up on the steep hillside, and would
    sometimes slide under foot, making going extremely slow.

    I had literally spent the last six months anticipating, training and
    planning for this very trip. Now I felt discouraged as I came around a
    rock face and saw what looked like endless more miles of the same,
    grueling landscape. I find the uneven terrain and steep climbing of
    boulder fields mentally taxing; at every rock that slides or foothold
    that gives I feel certain that I am moments away from falling to my
    death. My backpack seemed three times heavier, and made it infinitely
    harder to keep my balance.

    Luke, of course, crossed this same terrain with goat-like ease, and
    was constantly waiting for me to catch up. "Maybe I am not cut out for
    this!" I said uneasily.
    He remained positive and encouraging, reminding me, "we are still
    making progress" and "you are doing great". However, as the hours
    dragged on, all I could think about was the fact that the clock was
    ticking; we had only enough food for one overnight bivy and from the
    midst of the boulder field there were no sheep in sight.

    It took the better part of the day, but we finally managed to close
    the distance on those sheep we had spotted earlier. As late as it was,
    we were still able to put two stalks in on the leader of their band,
    who was obviously better than full curl and had huge, heavy bases.

    Moving slowly on bellies over the rocks and tundra, we crept once to
    250 yards and once to 180 yards, but both times our stalk attempts
    were foiled by smaller, less mature rams that continually walked in
    front of "the big boy", preventing a clear shot.

    It was now nearing 8pm, and with the miles of boulders between us and
    our tent, we made the decision to bivy. The number of sheep we had
    seen made it obvious that this area was more promising, and I hoped
    against hope to get another chance at a ram the following morning. Our
    biggest obstacle at this moment was water. We had left the tent that
    morning with a full three liters each, but by the time we were ready
    to make camp we had only about one liter left between the two of us,
    and we hadn't seen any water at all on or near the saddle.

    We were looking around for a snow patch to possibly melt snow from,
    when the sun broke from behind the clouds for the first time all day.
    Just ahead of me, I heard Luke exclaim "look" and point just over the
    ridgeline. Looking down I saw the light reflecting off a tiny puddle
    of water, which we never would have seen without that moment of
    sunshine. It wasn't very deep, but with a little creativity we were
    able to fill both our water bladders. We set up our shelter,
    rehydrated our dinners, and curled up in our beds to sleep. While it
    wasn't as comfortable as our tipi with the double sleeping bag, we
    were both warm and dry and slept well that night.

    Day five dawned bright and sunny, and we had a quick breakfast of
    granola bars before packing up. We decided that our limited food meant
    we needed to have a sheep down by 2pm, or turn around and head back
    through the boulder field to our main camp and supplies. We ascended
    the ridgeline, to a spot where we hoped to peek over into the next
    bowl. Luke reached the edge first, and hurriedly motioned for me to
    look down!

    About 300 yards below us I could see four rams bedded down in the
    rocks! We put the spotter on them, and determined that at least two
    were legal. While both were great looking sheep and appeared to be the
    same age and clearly full curl, one had a broken tip on one side, and
    so I decided to try for the other who was more symmetric and had both
    lamb tips still clearly intact. From our vantage point on the
    ridgeline we had an excellent view, and were able to watch them for at
    least half an hour through binos and the spotter. Luke even captured
    some video that clearly shows the rams' ears twitching. Sheep tend not
    to look above them for danger, and this was clearly the case as we saw
    them diligently scanning the bowl around and below them, but never
    once looking up.

    The rocky outcropping where we were sitting provided ample rifle
    rests, but I also had to be careful that my muzzle was clearing all
    the boulders. To get the best possible shot at that steep downhill
    angle, I positioned myself sitting with my .308 caliber rifle rested
    between the stays on my backpack. Luke ranged the sheep at 280 yards,
    and when the ram I wanted finally stood up broadside, I calmed my
    nerves, exhaled slightly, and pulled the trigger.

  16. #16
    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006


    Uhhmmm...please hurry, I cant hold my breath too much longer...

  17. #17
    Member Queen of Kings's Avatar
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    Aug 2006


    And we wait........... for more!!
    2003 220 Hewescraft Sea Runner 115 Yam'y, Soft Top "Schmidt Happens"

  18. #18


    At the sound of the shot, the remaining sheep stood up, and all four
    actually began meandering slowly towards us, as they looked around
    nervously. My heart sank, as the ram did not appear to be hit, and I
    assumed I had missed. We would later determine this first shot hit the
    sheep in the neck, which would have been fatal, though he didn’t show

    While the sheep weren't moving that fast, I feared that any moment
    they would hightail it out of the bowl before I had another chance to
    anchor my ram. As they walked, the rams were intermittently blocked
    from my view by Volkswagen sized boulders in the bowl below me. I
    concentrated hard to be sure I knew which one was "my ram" in case he
    presented me with a follow up shot. After agonizing seconds, he walked
    fully from behind a boulder, and Luke confirmed through the spotter
    that he was the one I was after. I steadied my crosshairs once again
    and fired.

    I didn't even have time to jack another bullet into the chamber before
    I heard Luke hollering beside me. "YOU DID IT!!!" he yelled. Sure
    enough, a look through my rifle scope showed all four legs in the air!
    I had successfully taken my very first Dall Sheep!

    A glance at my watch showed that it was just after noon. As we
    gathered our gear to head down to the sheep, Luke and I discussed what
    to do. The bowl where my sheep lay appeared to have reasonable access
    to the creek drainage below, which flowed 8 miles back to the airstrip
    and our additional food cache. We decided that it made the most sense
    to pack the sheep downward to the creek and directly back to the
    airstrip, rather than carrying it uphill and back through the boulder
    fields to where the tent was. Plus, while we had very little of our
    food remaining, we now had a whole sheep to eat.

    We made our way through still more boulders down to my ram, and maybe
    it was the adrenaline but I hardly minded the terrain. I was overjoyed
    when I could finally look him over up close, he was indeed quite
    symmetrical with intact lamb tips that flared out beautifully. As we
    set up to take photos, Luke reminded me with a smile, “I thought you
    weren’t cut out for this sheep hunting thing?” All I could do was grin
    sheepishly (pun very much intended).

    After the photos, we got to work caping the sheep out and putting the meat into game bags. One of my personal goals for this hunting season was to do my own caping; I have previously helped take apart a lot of animals, but never been the one calling the shots and wielding the knife. With Luke's direction I took my time, trying hard not to put any big holes in the cape, and making mental notes for next time I found myself skinning and butchering an animal.

    By the time we were finished, and had my ram in our packs it was about 4:30pm. Luke and I hadn't eaten since breakfast, and so we each enjoyed a Snickers bar now to give us a little fuel for the pack down to the creek where we planned to make camp for the night. Except for sheep, our food supply was pitifully dismal now, and I hoped we could make it to the airstrip to resupply without too much trouble the following day. To save time, we packed the meat bone-in and the cape still had the head in it. We were both careful with our footing as we slowly descended the bowl with heavy packs.

  19. #19
    Member AK Ray's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    South Central


    This has been worth the wait.

    Thank you Becca.

  20. #20


    Thanks for your kind replies everyone, I am glad you are enjoying the story so far...

    Quote Originally Posted by AK Ray View Post
    This has been worth the wait.

    Thank you Becca.
    You are very welcome, and I'm sorry it has taken me so long to get it put together. I will try to get the rest up by this evening....

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