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Thread: A decade in the mountains; one manís sheep journey.

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Default A decade in the mountains; one manís sheep journey.

    This thread will be a summary of hunts I have posted before, with a view of how these hunts shaped my sheep hunting for future hunts. It is my hope that some may learn from both my mistakes and successes.


    My sheep obsession started a decade ago this past fall. Unlike many I didnít really dream of hunting wild sheep as a young man. Coming from a modest single parent home, I did not have much exposure to big game hunting until I was an adult. A friend taught me how to bow hunt deer in my 20s and that consumed me for almost 20 years. A career in the military, wife, family all took a front seat to hunting.

    In 2003, after serving over 20 years and earning the Bronze Star injuries made it no longer possible to serve. I returned from Iraq, retired from the service and moved to Alaska with my wife. It was here that I met a guy that would forever change my hunting life. Jake is my wifeís best friends husband, he and Brenda were deployed and had a problem with their home. I helped them getting it fixed and to show their appreciation, Jake invited me to accompany him on a fly-in sheep hunt.

    This would be my first hunt in Alaska, having hunted for whitetails for 2 decades I thought I was an experienced hunter, I would soon find out how wrong I was.

    Jake made the air taxi reservations and selected a place that he had hunted before, so I did not really learn much about what a challenge this all would be in the future. I loaded up my Cabelaís pack with my best deer hunting gear, first gen Gore-Tex, Danner boots, Army sleeping bag, the MSR Dragonfly stove that had served me all over the world. I did have a new pair of Zeiss binos the wife bought me for Christmas.



    August 8th arrived and we drove to Anchorage and arrived at the floatplane, we played the wait on weather game that I would soon learn was just part of the price of admission. The flight into the high mountain lake was captivating, this was my first time flying over Alaska and I was awestruck by all the wondrous sights. Glaciers, rivers, mountains, and as we neared our lake white dots that moved, I had spotted my first wild sheep! We landed on a pristine lake with crystal clear water, we taxied over and quickly unloaded the plane and in an instant it was gone.



    Having flown for 2 hours I thought we were so remote that we would not see another soul, I could not have been more wrong. Not long after we landed, plane after plane landed and within the hour 3 other teams of sheep hunters had invaded our slice of heaven. My first lesson in sheep hunting was an eye opener to say the least. My illusion of terra incognita forever ripped away. We all shouldered our packs feeling the weight and the urgency to race the other hunters to find some rams.

    As darkness neared, brought on sooner because of the darkening sky, heavy with impending rain, we set up our single wall mountaineering tent that Jake had brought. It was a Mountain Hardware and an expensive one at that, although he was very proud of this new tent, he would feel very differently in 10 days



    We were up early to make the most of opening day; we were greeted with a cold, wet rainy morning. As we worked our way through the dense wet brush, my choice in rain gear showed itís first sign of weakness; the constant contact with the wet leaves was transferring water through my rain gear soaking me to the skin. Once my pants were saturated, the water ran down into my boots completing the suck factor.

    As we gained some elevation the steady rain stopped and we broke out of the brush, it was getting close to lunch so we took a break and enjoyed a meal and hot drink. The food and drink helped stave off the chill that was creeping into my bones. The temperature was 38 degrees and it did not take long once we stopped moving to get very cold.



    I was thankful to get moving again although at the time I did not realize how getting my clothes, that were not wet from rain, soaked in sweat from the exertion of climbing, this would come back to haunt me later. As we topped a ridge I got my first glimpse of wild rams, 3 rams were bedded high in some very nasty looking terrain. Jake looked them over and thought they were all sub-legal. This was my first drink of the bitter beer that is the realization that the sheep you worked so hard to get to were not legal; I would have many servings from this pitcher in the years to come.



    From our advantage point we could look into another bowl and we could see sheep, but because of the rain and poor optics, (another lesson) we could not judge legality.
    A closer look would require us to give up hard earned elevation; the thought of this was less than appealing, but this was the price we were going to have to pay. What looked like an easy hike proved to be very difficult. Unlike the sticker on your truck mirror that says, ďobjects are closer than they appearĒ the opposite is true in the mountains; ďobjects are NOT as close as they appearĒ. The climb up into the bowl that held the rams took place in a creek bottom overgrown with Alders and covered in fresh bear sign, about half way up we flushed a sow with cubs. This was my first bear encounter and about caused me to add something solid to my already wet pants. Jake was able to move through the Alders much better than I because he was wearing only a day/waist pack. My frame pack kept catching on what seemed like every Alder.

    We at last reached the alpine and using available cover we eased up to have a look. We spotted 2 rams, one was bedded low in the bowl and at first look was a ĺ curl. Jake quickly dismissed this ram and was concentrating on trying to judge the ram on the high wall. Since I did not have a spotter I used my binos to have a look at the closer ram. Even though this was my first sheep hunt, it struck me quickly that the near ram while only ĺ curl, had thick tips. I quickly realized that he might be broomed off. I ranged him at 300 yards and ask Jake to have a look at him with his spotter, Jake said that his right side was indeed broken. We still needed to see his other side before we could make a call, as luck would have it the ram stood and turned to look our way. Jake said ďkill himĒ I scrambled into a firing position only to discover that my muzzle was not clear of the rocks to my front. I had to inch forward to get into the clear and as I did, with one step he was gone!
    My heart sank, but I had the scent and I ran forward trying to gain the angle on him. As we reached the high flat bench he was bedded on, he was nowhere to be seen. How could he just disappear? I stood there exhausted, cold and wet, as the adrenaline started to fade, I began to shiver. I heard rocks falling down a near by chute and caught movement, he had been hidden in the chute and was making his escape! I dropped to the rocks and tried to range him with my 400 yard range finder, it refused to work. I asked Jake his guess on distance and he said at least 300 yards. I found him in the scope and squared the 300 yard reticle of my B&C Leupold scope on him and took the slack out of the trigger. The 300WM roared in the bowl and I could see the shale explode under his belly. Jake was about to squeeze the trigger on his rifle sticking to the ďif you miss ruleĒ when having seen my splash, I adjusted up to the 400 yard line on my scope and fired before Jake could. Through the scope I could see my round impact him in the shoulder and exit out his neck. His legs folded and he rolled down the chute.

    All discomfort was forgotten as I scrambled to try to reach him, although Jake had judged him legal, I wanted to get his horns in my hands to know for sure. This feeling of anxiety would play out again and again on future hunts. No matter how sure a sheep hunter is that the ram they just shot is legal, I think we all share in those anxious moments that consume us all until we have the horns in hand. I felt like a hamster on a treadmill, the harder I tried to climb up the loose shale chute the more loose shale would give way under my feet leaving me with little gain in elevation. My ram was so close, yet remained just out of my reach. Spent from the events of the day, I had no choice but to slow down and pick my way up to him.

    When I reached him, all worry was washed away and I was overcome with raw emotion unlike any I had ever felt in taking an animal up to this point. There is something special about harvesting a wild sheep. I paused as I held his horns in my hands, admiring this Monarch of the mountains. Not only was he legal, he was a true trophy that I would come to appreciate even more as the years passed. Being my first, I was just happy that he was legal. In the years since I have come to learn that this ram, that was over 13 years old and heavily broomed, is what many sheep hunters, myself included consider the ultimate trophy, valued more by some than even the mythical 40 plus incher. Old rams like this can often be found low and alone, driven off by the younger stronger rams.



    As the chill set in, I knew it was time to get at it. I pulled out my knife that I got for renewing my Buck Masters magazine subscription and used the gut hook to open the ram up and attended to the gutting. Once free of his entrails, I pulled him down the chute to where Jake was waiting. With Jakeís help we pulled him over to a flat spot, after some photos, we prepped him for the trip back to the lake. My knife, while fine for quick gutting jobs was sorely lacking for the task at hand. We had been so focused on skinning and quartering him up that we both had lost track of time. As the light started to fade, we realized that there was no way we could make it down before dark.



    Although our wives were BFFs, (best friends forever) Jake and I were at this point only casual acquaintances. Before this night was over we would get to know each other VERY well. As we took stock of our situation we both quickly realized that a team is only as strong as itís weakest member. We both had failed to included items that would come back to bite us hard over the next several hours. Jake had only a fanny pack and a foil space blanket, I had left my headlight at camp, thinking we would be back well before dark. As we assessed our situation, we both came to the conclusion that staying the night at elevation was the lesser of the evils, when compared to descending down through the Alders in the dark smelling like a sheep sandwich, the bear encounter fresh in both our minds.

    The proximity to the pocket glacier in the bowl, 30mph wind, rain and high 30 degree temperature, was going to make for a very cold night. Using the piece of bloody plastic that we used to process the sheep on we made the best shelter we could. I at least did had my Army bivy bag with me. We tucked in close to a large boulder and tried to get some sleep. The cold ground was sucking what little warmth we had from our wet bodies. I could feel Jake shivering uncontrollably as we (spooned) together under the plastic, his foil blanket (and I use the term ď blanketĒ loosely) flapping in the wind. While I was miserably cold, Jake was even colder. Before long I could no longer feel him shivering, fearing he was close to hyperthermia, I ask him how he was doing. He said that he was afraid he was indeed getting dangerously close to being hypothermic.

    I decided to try to squeeze us both into my bivy, we both were able to get in it, but I could not zip it up. I used my upper body to shield him from the wind and rain as I was in better shape than he was. I knew we had allowed ourselves to get into a very dangerous situation. I laid there with him for a couple hours before I too started to feel hypothermia closing in on me. About an hour before daylight I decided to get out and move around to try to generate some body heat and to allow Jake to seal up the bivy. After doing pushups to exhaustion, my core was a little warmer, but my hands were almost unusable. The contact with the frozen ground had made my fingers almost unresponsive.

    In desperation, I dug my MSR dragonfly stove out and was able to get it lit after several tries, using my body to shield it from the howling wind. The heat felt amazing, I boiled some water and started drinking it down as hot as I could bare to warm my core. I held my hands as close to the cup as possible to warm them while I heated the water. The heat from that little stove, may not have saved my life, but it sure felt like it. I had no idea how long it was going to last, but I decided to let it burn as long as I had fuel for it. At long last I could finally make out the light getting brighter. I boiled some water for Jake just as the fuel played out, as it got light enough to see and I rousted him from the bivy eager to get to moving.



    We made a poor pair as sheep hunters, Jake had bad knees from years as a Paratrooper, and I was less than a year out of my second back surgery. Since Jake only had a fanny pack, it was going to be useless for packing meat. The Cabelaís pack I had could have the bag removed from the frame, so Jake loaded the meat, cape and horns onto the frame and I took his load into the bag. The bag only had shoulder straps, so the load was very hard to pack as the pack kept trying to swing around on me. My Danner boots that were great for deer hunting had taken a beating from the sharp shale and the lack of support in the ankle, had my feet and ankles painfully sore. Late that afternoon, two very tired, wet and worn out hunters arrived back at the lake. Jake decided he did not want to hunt anymore, so we called the air taxi and requested an early pickup. This was where I learned yet another lesson, when you only have one sat phone battery, you will forget and leave the phone on when you use it tired. Jake collapsed into the tent, while I tended to the meat and cape before doing the same. The single wall tent he was so proud of, had now became a bathtub. We had to bail the water from it every morning. This style tent, while great for dry or cold areas, was almost worthless in the wet conditions that we found ourselves in.



    When we awoke the next day, we had no way of knowing at the time, but we would spend the next 8 days at that lake. The weather had come in and rain and low ceilings would not leave for a week. A massive low was parked over south central Alaska flooding rivers and washing out roads. When later that day I got the phone out to call about our ride, I discovered that I had left the phone on and it was dead as a doornail. We did not bring any salt, but I was not concerned as I figured the plane would arrive soon. As one day followed the next I realized that even though I had never turned, lips, ears, or eyes I was going to loose my cape if I did not perform these task. Prior to the hunt, these thoughts had not even entered my mind, as I had always taken game to a taxidermist. I gave it my best and about cut one of the ears off before a realized I was messing up. I was able to get it done and tried to keep the cape as dry as I could in the never-ending rain.

    After a couple days one of the other teams showed up at the lake. One of the teams was in a mad rush to get ready for the arrival of their plane. They let us use their phone and I called our transporter only to be told no way, weather was still too bad, the passes were socked in. I told the brothers what our pilot had said, but they were sure their ride was en route. They gave me some extra salt for my cape and preceded to try to eat all the food they had then burned the rest using their fuel to start the fire. They had taken a stud of a ram over 40 inches on the opening day, but the low ceilings and rain made sheep hunting for a second impossible, so decided to call it and head home.



    Their folly was another learning experience for me, as the light faded they soon came to grips with the fact that they were not going home. Defeated they set their wet tent back up. The next day they called to see what happened to their ride and to ask when they would be picked up. This became a daily ritual, as the weather was the same, ďgroundhog day after groundhog dayĒ. The 3rd party arrived back defeated, wet, and eager to go home as well. A couple hoary marmots had made a home by chewing through their tent as well as much of their food, making sure to crap on what they did not eat.

    I was thankful to have the salt for my cape that the brothers shared as well as the use of their sat phone. We in turn shared our food and fuel with them since they had burnt what little they had left in anticipation of an early departure. However, the shooting war the other party had initiated against the marmots in their determination to seek vengeance for the invasion and destruction of their food and property, while at first amusing soon became annoying. This would not be my last run in with those little mountain pests. As the days past, the 6 of us shared stories by the fire as we passed the time waiting for our rides to arrive while trying to stay dry. The last group to arrive told me that they had seen my ram and decided to pass on him because they could not tell if he was legal with their low quality spotter and the wet conditions. They were disappointed when they got a chance to see him up close. We did not know it at the time, but they had watched us kill him from the rim above the bowl.



    On August 17th the weather cleared at long last, and all 4 planes arrived within minutes of each other. The 4th group never came to our side of the lake so we never got to speak with them. We all shook hands and departed the way we had came. I could not help but to reflect on my first mountain experience on the long flight and ride back home. The lessons had been many during my first semester of ďmountain schoolĒ I would not be honest if ask once I got back home if I was eager to do it again, I was NOT. With those 10 wet, cold days still fresh in my mind, at that time I thought I would never head back into the high places. That experience will always come to mind and does to this very day, each and every time I decide what to take with me in my pack.

    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    The following season the hardship of my last sheep hunt was still fresh in my mind, I choose to chase other critters, having one of my best years. Taking a brown bear, black bear, grizzly bear, moose and caribou. However, once I got my ram back from the taxidermist those harsh memories began to fade and I started to get the itch to return and look for an unbroken ram.

    This is when the politics that is Alaska sheep hunting began to sink in. I spoke with several area biologists and analyzed harvest reports in search of a place to hunt. The area of my first sheep hunt was on native land and a recent policy change no longer allowed non shareholders access, in other words natives only. Phone call after phone call pretty much went the same way, sorry but that is guide Xís area or transporter Yís area, native land or we will not fly resident hunters into that strip.

    I had built a relationship with one respected transporter and was able to book a spot with him, but had to wait until the next season to get the opening. With that hunt almost 2 years away, I looked for someplace to hunt the coming season. I had a friend that I had done several hunts with. He had his father and brother coming to hunt sheep with him and invited me and my wife to hunt caribou while they hunted sheep and grizzly. Since this was going to be a float hunt I was happy to have the help, as it would be Florís first float hunt.

    With those hard learned lessons still ďfrozenĒ into my mind, I was quite determined to not repeat them. I had upgraded my clothes and rain gear to items from Sitka gear, my base layers to fleece leaving the cotton long johns in the dresser were they belong. My Danner boots were replaced with a pair of Kenetrek Mountain Extremes, I was able to put about 50 miles on these before the trip and felt they were good to go. Since I did not own a spotting scope I bought a Leupold, thinking that it would be all I needed.

    The trip into the hunting area went smooth enough and we were at last at our first camp. Our friends headed off on their sheep adventure while Flor and I glassed from a vantage point near camp. A few hours after our friends left we heard almost 20 shots fired. We were concerned that they may have encountered a bear, since we had already seen a couple. From our glassing knob we could see 5 sheep in the distance. The sheep were too far away to determine what they were.

    As nightfall approached we spotted our friends packing heavy loads across the tundra. They arrived at camp with just enough light to cross the swift river that separated our camp from the valley they had emerged from. My friendís father and wife were in bad shape, their feet were swollen and blistered severely. They had cornered 4 caribou bulls in a box canyon and had killed them all at the same time. They had broken them all down and packed most of the meat back.

    The next morning I returned with my friend and his brother to recover the heads and capes. The route had us crossing water and walking across wet tundra. Before long my boots started to stretch once they got wet. I would stop and tighten the laces until they finally bottomed out and could not be tightened any more. Despite all efforts to protect my feet, they were a blistered mess by the time I returned to camp. I was extremely upset by the failure of such an expensive boot; my hunt was over, at worst and dramatically restricted at best.

    Over the next few days, we all hunted from camp. I continued to see the sheep in the distance, but my friends dismissed them as ewes. Late in the hunt a nice caribou bull appeared and we were able to intercept him. I made the shot and we broke him down and returned to camp for the night. The next day was warm and sunny, the wife and I decided to hike over to the kill site to watch over it in hopes a bear or wolf would appear. My feet were in bad shape but we were both ready to get out of camp.
    We arrived at our over watch knob and set up a hide and got comfortable for a long sit.







    The warm sun felt so good after the cold and wet days, before long I was sound asleep. Flor shook me awake and said ďthereís five sheepĒ. I sit up and look towards the mountains where we had been seeing them. She pulled my head around and said ďno right thereĒ they were on the knob with us, not 600 yards away. Five rams and two were clearly legal, they saw me move and ducked back the way they came.
    I was sure they would retreat back the way they had came, I already had a spot picked out of the wall for ďoneĒ, I say one because I had not bothered to get a sheep tag. I had not planned on hunting sheep, since my friendís family had purchased nonresident tags. Another of those lessons always be prepared for an opportunity.

    We worked our way slowly around the knob, knowing we would spot them at any second. The terrain made it impossible for them to reach high ground without us spotting them, or so I thought! We made a complete circle without seeing where they had gone, as we moved back to the top of the knob I spotted them crossing two miles of open ground and across a dry river bed to another mountain. Schools in sucker!! In my wildest of dreams, I never thought they would take to the low ground like that. In reflection, I believe they were headed across the valley when they encountered us.



    Our friends spotted them and gave chase, we did not learn of this until we returned to camp to discover one very mad lady. They left her to chase the sheep and had not returned yet and she was forced to cross the river alone or stay where she was in the dark. From camp we could see them climb after the rams, only to have the rams climb higher. They showed up to camp well after dark. The following day, played out the same way as they would try to go straight at the rams only to have them retreat to the safety of the crags. The rams would be in the same spot every morning, I tried to convince my friends to climb up and spend the night within rifle range of their feeding area, but they were unwilling to do so. Over the years I have seen so many sheep hunters fail because they are unwilling to bivy on the mountain over night, or waste needed energy just to get back and forth to a place on the map. I have come to be at peace, anywhere darkness finds me. I get to eat sooner, get more sleep and wake up in the hunt area ready to go at first light. This has resulted in many animals being harvested that may not have been otherwise.

    My wife had to be back before our friends, so we bid them farewell and good luck. In the end the sheep won and my friends came home smarter, but without a ram.

    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
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    Member AlaskaHippie's Avatar
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    Fantastic story, Sir.


    You have a gift for writing that is on par with your outdoors skills.
    ďLife has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.Ē ― H.S.T.
    "Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you."

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    My next sheep hunt, would force me to step up my game. This was going to be a late season super cub hunt in glacier country. This hunt would have a 50lb limit and be late in the season, it is a challenge to stay under 50lbs for any 10-day hunt, and this is even truer late in the season near glaciers.

    In preparation for this hunt I scrutinized every single piece of gear I was to take. I started with my pack, A 2nd generation long hunter with rondy bag would be my pack of choice. This alone cut a couple pounds from my total weight. A Jetboil replaced my trusty MSR Dragonfly, I made the transition from a synthetic sleeping bag to down. By doing this I was able to have my Big Agnes Zirkel, Insulated Aircore pad and TI Goat Bivy, all for the same weight as the synthetic bag it replaced. Puffy gear was added to my pack, Montbell Thermawrap jacket and pants. Lightweight Sitka Gear Nimbus jacket and pants replaced my heavier Helly Hanson rain gear. A Remington TI model 700 replaced my heavy Benelli R-1. A Pentax spotting scope replaced my Leupold. I scrutinized my food list, having flown food out on all my prior trips; I knew I was packing too much food; I restricted myself to 1.5 lbs a day. All these changes brought my pack to just over 50lbs. By stuffing my pockets with some of my heavier items, I would be able to make the 50lb weight restriction. The 50lbs limit, is in place to keep the center of gravity from moving to far aft, so by shifting the weight forward on my body, I still met the weight limit without compromising safety.



    There was no way I was going to repeat my boot choice mistake again. After hours of research, I decided on Lowa GTXs. I got the boots, replaced the insoles with a pair of SOLEs. Over the summer months I put a lot of miles on those boots, making sure to get them good and soaked and walk them dry. I also made it part of my training routine to wear my hunting gear on my daily walks. I found the best way for me to find weak points in my gear choices was to train with the same gear I was going to hunt in. Spring bear hunts provided good gear tuning opportunities and I teamed up with other sheep hunters and we would do weekly hikes on local hills.

    I also became a student of sheep horn growth; I studied how the horns from the different ranges develop and especially how they grew in the Wrangells as my next hunt would take place there. I learned that by studying a horns segments that age could more easily be judged, that a ram puts on the longest amount of growth between 2 and 3, that they tend to develop a very defined annuli when they went through puberty around their 4th year, that annuli was easier to see when a ram was viewed from behind and that a true annuli could often by distinguished from a false if your fingernail would catch in the groove. During this summer I tried to look at every set of horns I could get my hands on and judge them.

    As the date arrived to fly out, I was as prepared as I have ever been for a sheep hunt. I had walked over 100 miles, shot 100s of rounds and packed and repacked my pack more times than I can even count. The flight through glacier country was a treat in of itself and the super cub ride was worth the price alone. We would be hunting near the Nabesna Glacier; during the next week we hunted hard. All my gear preformed well and I was happy, as I had no issues that caused me to be unable to hunt hard.














    There were no mature Rams to be found, we saw lot of sheep, even was within 200 yards of a 4 year old that took a nap while we watched and had an amazing hunt, but in the end we flew home without a ram, but I had learned more from this hunt than I had from all the other sheep hunts. The fire was burning bright in me now and even as I flew home I was already brainstorming where I could try the next year. As by now I had come to know that planning your next hunt starts before the current one ends, all the best transporters book 2 to 3 years out for the better areas.

    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
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    One of the biggest challenges for me has always been how to best manage my feet. An approach into sheep country often requires multiple river crossings. Many will simply remove their boots and cross that way; some will just plow on across and walk with wet boots. Neither of these methods is very appealing to me. I tend to get blisters quickly if I walk in wet boots. I have used Neos River Trekkers; they are lightweight waders that slip on over your hiking boots. They are durable, but at almost 5lbs, the weight often times is more than Iím willing to pack. Wiggyís makes a lighter weigh wader that works the same way, but they are not nearly as durable and are only suitable for quick crossing and care must be used to prevent tears on the sharp rocks. My latest method is plastic mountaineering boots used with Barneyís Glacier socks; the waterproof waders are worn over the boot liners but inside the plastic boot, rolled down when not being used and pulled up to cross water. Plastic boots have pros and cons. Pros being they are hard to beat for side hilling and heavy loads while at elevation, they work well with crampons, the liners can be worn as camp shoes; they donít freeze in cold weather and dry much quicker than leather boots. The cons are they are not as comfortable on flat ground and can be tough on your shins.













    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
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    Sheep hunting, mountain hunting of any type can be very hazardous. I myself would never consider a remote hunt without a sat phone or personal locator beacon. Gravity happens and when it does a hunter can be rendered unable to walk or worse. Being able to get help can mean the difference between life or death. Finding a sheep-hunting partner is often one of the hardest parts of sheep hunting. Finding the perfect partner has been compared to finding the perfect spouse. A partner that you can trust with your life, that can keep quiet about where you hunt, that you can be in the same tent with often for days at a time, one that shares your passion and one that is willing to pull their weight around camp, able to get the time to hunt every year, one that is ethical and will not act in a way to bring discredit on you both. A partner that is willing to share in the harvest and not one with a huge ME streak.

    I have been blessed to be able to share many hunting adventures with different partners over the years. One piece of advice I will share is anytime you take to the field on a hunt; work out whoís shooting first. This is best worked out before there is an animal to shoot at. I have seen this become the source of hurt feelings many times. Many will have a shooting order justified in their mind, but it often is NOT the same as the other members of the same party. Lots of ways to do it, who spots it first gets first shot, alternate days you shoot first today, I shoot first tomorrow etcÖ There is no right or wrong as long as everyone agrees. But please talk it out before you end up on a remote hunt with hurt feelings, I say this from experience.

    My next sheep hunt found me heading into a new area with a new partner. Heavy rains forced a last minute change of location and with a single phone call months of planning and research was out the window. Our option was to go to a location picked by the transporter of cancel the hunt. We decided to make the best of it and try as hard as we could. I did not make any major changes to my gear other than adding a pack raft to the mix.

    I did break me own rule by not doing some type of pre-hunt with my new partner. A series of event prevented us from getting out together as planned before our sheep hunt. It is a fact that some people are simply not good matches together. Doesnít mean they are not good hunters or good people, simply that hunting styles can clash. My partner for this hunt is a shift worker and before our hunt he had been working nights. The day we were to fly out he worked all night, then we drove for hours to get to the airport then flew out to the area the transporter had selected for us. We had a brief moment at the airport to see the spot and devise a game plan, so as soon as we landed we set up a base camp at the strip and stashed some extra food and a tent. When at all possible I like to leave an extra tent at the strip to serve as a backup, it is also nice to have a place that you can just crawl into after a long pack back especially if you are leapfrogging meat back. That way you donít have to pack your camp gear and you have the flexibility of staying the night before heading back for additional loads if required.



    We shouldered our packs and hiked up the drainage, we hiked until the rain and darkness forced us to seek shelter and make a camp. My partner insisted on setting up near the river in the willows. I did not like this area as you could see water had recently flooded this low spot as debris could be seen at the base of the willows. Not wishing to argue about it I conceded and let him pick a spot for the tent. We retired for the night both tired after a long day getting into position. I was up and ready to get at it early but he slept in. Around noon I spotted a grizzly digging for a marmot, he said that he would give me first shot at any ram we saw if I would give him first shot at the grizzly since he had not taken one. I agreed and we put a stalk on the bear and were able to kill it just as it flushed the marmot and ran it towards us. It did make for a few minutes of excitement as the bear proved to be very hard to kill taking several shots to stop it.





    Once it was dead I ask him if he had a kill kit and he said he did not, so I skinned the bear with the Leatherman I had on my belt and he packed it back to camp carrying it over his shoulder. Back at camp he removed the skull and hung the hide in a willow tree. He once again crawled back into the tiny Bibler I-tent and went to sleep. The rain started again so I used my paratarp to protect the bear hide since he had not brought a tarp of any kind. The rain got steadily worst as the afternoon wore on, after hours in the drizzle I started getting chilled. I tried to get a fire started but the rain and wet wood just did not want to light. I usually take some Vaseline soaked dryer lint or some hand cleaner, which is gelled alcohol, but trying to cut weight I had left these back at base camp.



    I was so cold that I decided to walk up the drainage to where it split; I only planned to warm up so all I brought was my rifle and bino case with my rangefinder. I did not bother to tell my partner since I could hear him snoring. As I neared the split in the river, I spotted two sheep. Hunters will often speak of ďThe Sheep GodĒ, I canít explain it and it had never happen before or since, but I knew that the Ram was legal. All I could see in the rain was that it was a ram and an ewe, but I was confident that he was legal. Now I would never make a choice to shoot based on intuition, but I did decided to climb and have a look. As I gained more elevation I came into the view of a bedded ewe and lamb that I had not noticed from the valley floor. They were watching me but staying put for now. As I got higher I could see that my approach had some obstacles that I did not see from the ground. Before long I was running out of both cover and stable ground. I would be forced to cover the last several hundred yards in the open over a loose scree field. I was pushing myself hard and the ground beneath me would give and I would slide a few yards every so often. I planned to get into a position to glass him and let my heart rate come down, but as I neared the edge the ewe had enough and started to move. This flushed the Ram and he suddenly burst into view 150 yards below me. I brought my binos up to glass him just as he turned to look at me. I could see without a question that he was beyond full curl on the right side. He turned his head enough so that I could see that he was also legal on the left side. I was in a terrible shooting position lying on my firing side in extremely loose scree. He bolted into a run and stopped at 296 yards. Doing my best to control my pounding heart and rapid breathing, I settled into the best shooting position I could and settled my 300 yard reticle on his last rib as he was quartering away hard from me. I slowly applied pressure to my trigger finger and felt my 325WSM recoil into my shoulder. The recoil caused me to slide in the loose rock and I struggled to make a follow up shot. I did see the Ram react to my first shot and was sure I had hit him. He ran as I fired another shot and missed. I fired one more round as he came in and out of view. Still in the loose rock I scrambled up onto more stable ground. The Ram was now out of my sight, but was moving slow with a bow in his back. I was sure I had scored a good hit, but wanted to see him go down. I reloaded and ranged the next spot that I though he might appear. Within a few moments he appeared on a high spot and was rocking back and worth. He was broadside at 427 yards. I had a solid rest and a known distance, I had total confidence in my rifle and hand loaded 200grain accubonds. I placed my 400 yard reticle high on his shoulder and slowly squeezed the trigger. The bullet left my barrel at over 3100 FPS and I was rewarded with a resounding WHACK as the bullet stuck his shoulder and knocked him off his perch and out of my view. I waited and waited to see him come rolling down but all was silent. There was no way to cross over to where I had last seen him without descending. The next several hundred yards were pure scree hell. I slid down several yards at a time, as the rock under me would dislodge. At last I reached the slide directly under where I had last saw him. Totally lost in the stalk I had failed to down dress and was soaked from both the rain and sweat. I had pushed myself to the point of almost total exhaustion, but would not stop until I either reached him or physically could no longer climb. The rotten rock was conspiring to defeat me, as I tried harder and harder to claw my way up. I finally gained enough elevation to see him. My heard sank; he was on his back with his nose and horn tips buried in the scree. From my vantage point he appeared to be way short of full curl, I had to reach him now and clawed and scratched my way up, fighting for every inch and on the verge of passing out. I was dehydrated, overheated and just plain exhausted and my prize was 15 yards just out of my reach. I had no choice but to cling to the only solid rock there was and catch my breath. I looked back in my minds eye and was sure that he was full curl, yet there he was appearing to be way short. With the last of my strength I finally reached my Ram, he was on his back like a dead roach. I reached for his horn and pulled it up from the scree, the emotions flowed over me like a wave as I saw that he indeed was beyond full curl and nine growth rings were visible. I had my Ram. My jubilation quickly turned to terror as he started to roll almost taking me with him on a downward slide. I had no choice but to let go and watch him roll down. I took a few minutes to recover and reflect on the effort and preparation that made this moment possible. I scree slid down to him and took a few minutes to just take it all in. I covered him with my stinky shirt (to protect him from predators) and headed back to camp to gather my gear to recover him and to get my partner to help me.



    I ran into my partner at camp and we returned to recover my ram. When we got back to the river, the gin clear water was churning and the color of chocolate milk. I could hear, yes hear boulders tumbling down stream. The crossing was sketchy, and when we got back to camp the river was flowing through camp and the tent was flooded. His grizzly skull had been washed away, but the hide was safe. Even though the tent was flooded my sleeping bag was floating inside, kept dry and safe by being in my TI Goat bivy and on top on the sleeping pad. My partner was not so lucky as his bag was completely soaked. Daylight was breaking and since his bag was wet and he had slept all day he headed off to look for a ram and I crawled exhausted into my bag.



    This ram would prove to be my best to date 9 years old, 36 inches with 13.5-inch bases. We were lucky that the weather cleared and the sun came out, this allowed my partner to dry his bag. He decided he wanted to head back to base camp and look for a ram in another drainage. I packed my ram back while he searched the river for his bear skull, I looked as well, but we never found it. I took the time to use my pack raft to prove to myself that it would carry a ram; this concept would play a major role in a future hunt.



    Back at base camp we recharged and headed back out, blistered feet for my partner caused him to stop sheep hunting and since he had a caribou tag, he shot a large bull and after we got the caribou back to camp we called the transporter to come for us.
    I no longer bring caribou tags sheep hunting with me, too easy to talk myself into shooting a big bull ruining my sheep hunt. I do bring a bear tag if they are required because I have had to shoot a grizzly to protect camp and having the tag saves a bunch of paperwork.





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  7. #7
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    My next sheep hunt would happen in the area that I had trying to get to the year before. I would be hunting with my buddy that I had sheep hunted with in the Wrangells. I had a good plan based on prior research, so I concentrated on training with my new gear. I upgraded to Kuiu gear for my spring bear season and it proved to be high quality gear and I was able to cut some weight from my pack by changing over to the Chugach rain gear and Spindrift Jacket. A new Kifaru KU 5200 pack, Sawtooth tent and Zeiss Dialyt spotting scope. Since I have a personal rule to not use anything new on sheep hunts I used these items during the spring and summer and made sure they would not cause me trouble while sheep hunting.

    One subject that always seems to generate controversy is shooting distance. This subject seems to spark an emotional response from many hunters. In my humble opinion if the hunter is confident they can make a clean ethical kill with their rifle and skill set, then have at it. My longest range may be farther or closer than the next hunter. I trained military marksmanship to soldiers for years and fired thousands of rounds from various shooting positions. It was common for the trainers to fire all remaining rounds at the end of training to keep from turning the ammo back in. We would have competitions between the trainers to see who could hit the 300 meter target the most with an open sight M-16. During this same time I was also a deer bow hunter and killed over 100 whitetails, so I have the skill set to get close as well. All this background just shows that hunters can have various skills and just because they like to take a long shot, it does not mean they lack the skills to get closer. I enjoy the challenge of a long shot on sheep, but when I take one it is in terrain that has a backdrop and where they are in a position that allows multiple shots to be made before they can move from view. 200 yards is my personal limits on bears, not that they are harder to hit at greater distances than sheep, moose or caribou, itís just that a wounded bear is dangerous and may hunt someone.

    My buddy Jason and I would be going in early and would have time to get to watch sheep be sheep. This hunt and the next two hunts would really give me a much greater education on sheep behavior. We were able to spot some rams and develop a pattern. We watched them from a distance and over several days had a very good idea on how they were relating to the area they were feeding and bedding in. We knew when they were feeding and when they were bedding. It was on this hunt that I discovered that on past hunts that I had most likely walked past sheep looking for sheep. I say this because from our vantage point we could see a very large area and at times during the day there would be no sheep visible and then as if by magic the hillsides would come alive as they began to get up and feed. I got to watch one ram duck into a cave whenever a plane would approach and I could clearly see how nervous he would become when a plane got near.

    We got to watch them use their horns to dig with for hours at a time, I was shocked that any are able to keep their lamb tips because of the way they so aggressively dig. At times I could see dirt and rocks flying into the air as they dug for whatever they were after. We got to watch them spar, play, and lay out as if dead on a rock in the sun. Patience, this word so easy to say, yet so hard to practice. Age and health have aided me in being more patient and because of that I have learned so much more.

    The two ways of sheep hunting used most is the low approach and the high road. Each method has its advantages, sheep without question are easier to hunt when you are above them, their natural enemies donít tend to attack them from above so they watch for danger from below. Hunting high can make finding water much harder and it can be hard to read terrain. Temperatures and winds tend to be more extreme and places to camp can be difficult to find. I myself prefer to hunt from below and only climb when ready to attempt a kill. This allows me to expend much less energy and camp where water and cover are more available. All but one of the rams I have taken has been harvested by making my final stalk from below.






    At about 6 PM on the 9th we started hiking towards the spot we had seen the Rams. Once we got to where we last seen them, they were nowhere in sight and the wind was blowing from a direction that would require us to climb and try to come down from above them. After about 4 hours of climbing we were where we had seen them bedded the day before. We were still unable to see them anywhere. We had to descend about 1000 feet and then climb back up to see into another bowl. They were not in the bowl, but we could see them on the next ridge.

    It was now 11:30 PM, we had 30 min. before we could shoot, so we decided to descend and try for them on the next ridge. As we descended they also started to descend and were moving towards us. As luck would have it we ended up meeting in the creek bottom. As the clock struck midnight it started to rain and the wind was blowing the rain into our face. The rain made our binoculars worthless, we could only watch helplessly as each Ram crossed in front of us at about 75 yards. In the low light and poor visibility I simply could not tell which Ram was legal. They started to move up and we followed taking cover behind a rocky outcropping. As they moved up the slope I was able to identify the largest Ram. With me on the spotting scope and Jason in the prone, I ranged the RAM at 300 yards and told Jason he could fire if he was comfortable. Jayson fired but the Ram did not move, Jason reloaded and fired again. Both shots were clean misses, with the 1st shot giving Jason a nasty scope bite. We pursued the Rams up the slope to both check for a hit and to get a follow-up shot.

    As we approach the spot the Rams were standing at the time of the shot the ceilings came down and we found ourselves fogged in. I felt that it would be dangerous to attempt to move in these conditions, so I dug out my Kifaru para tarp tent and set up a siwash camp. We were both wet from rain and sweat and quickly became chilled in the cold night air. I put on all the extra clothes I had brought and crawled into my titanium goat bivy.

    The look on Jason's face when I pulled out my bivy was priceless; he looked like a child left standing at the ice cream truck with no ice cream. He kept repeating over and over ďI did not know we were going to spend the nightĒ I said ďwe arenít spending the night, just waiting for daylightĒ it was now only 12:30am and Jason told me he was done sheep hunting. I fired up my jet boil in the tent to break the chill and told him we would move as soon as it got daylight. I could hear him retching as I drifted off to sleep. At 02:30 in the morning I awoke to sounds of him retching again. I looked out and it was still dark and foggy. I went back to sleep and woke up at 03:30, he was now vomiting and getting worse. I looked out and it was getting light and the fog had lifted some. Using the GPS I was able to get us back to camp. Once back to camp I mixed Jason some sports drinks and tried to get him to hydrate. I moved my stuff from the tent to the tarp, so he could sleep undisturbed. It took a miserable night freezing my butt off on a mountain many years ago to learn not to leave camp without what I needed to siwash and after this experience I bet J learned that same hard lesson.



    The next day, once Jason was up I told him I was going after the Rams as long as he was Okay. I would hunt until we ran out of food then we would head back. As the day passed he ate some food and drank a lot, by the afternoon he was feeling good enough to come with me for the hunt. While we waited I told him ďif you donít want to quit at least once or twice during a hunt, you arenít hunting hard enoughĒ. We took it slow and slipped back to our advantage point. From this point we could see sheep but the rams were no place to be seen, just as we were getting ready to move closer to see if we could catch them again crossing the creek to get from ridge to ridge, the four rams appeared across the drainage from us. I quickly put the spotter on them and determined that two were legal, one was 9 or 10 years old and full curl and the other eight and full curl. I made sure to point out to Jason the mud and shale stains on both legal rams. There were with two sub-legals, one was four and the other was six. It was the 7/8th six year old that I was worried about. It can be very easy to loose track of which ram is which when the shooting starts. I always try to use mud or shale stains to identify rams for this very reason. The rams moved down into a bowl we had scouted and knowing the layout of this bowl was confident that we might have a chance at getting close enough for a shot.

    After the rams entered the bowl, we crossed the drainage. We climbed up higher to gain a better view. We had to peak from behind a rocky rampart that had opening that would only allow one of us at time to look through. As we reached the first opening I could not see the Rams and moved higher to gain both elevation and an angle in which to spot them. As we moved from opening to opening Jason gained a better view than I and spotted the Rams.

    J quickly shot the larger of the two Rams at 462 yards as they were about to head over the rim. With their leader down the others, unsure of what to do hesitated long enough for me to Id the remaining legal Ram. The two mature Rams had been bedding in the oil shale and the black on their coats made them easy to ID even at the now near 400 yards that my Ram was now standing. I lined up on my ram with my Winchester Model 70 30-06 and after a warning shot I fired again, and watched through the scope as my Ram tumbled down the mountain towards his comrade.

    We had just scored a double on 2 great Rams and had a long night ahead of us. We snapped a few hero pictures and got to work getting them ready to pack back to camp. It was awesome scoring a double, but it was twice the work and by the time we had it all back at camp it was dark and we were completely exhausted.









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  8. #8
    Moderator kingfisherktn's Avatar
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    I'm really enjoying the story and it's good to see you have the book title picked out.

  9. #9
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    The temperatures was unseasonably warm, this kind of weather can make keeping meat a challenge. In 10 years of doing remote hunts, I have never lost any meat to spoilage. Meat care does require work and constant monitoring. Making proper meat care a priority is the responsibility of an ethical hunter. I have cut hunts short in order to get meat back home safely. When at all possible I leave the meat on the bone, this makes proper field care much easier as it exposes less surface area. Proper care starts at the kill site; I treat my game meat like food from the instant the animal hits the ground. I take great care to take the necessary time when field dressing to keep the meat as clean, hair and contaminate free as possible. When I started hunting sheep I would remove the entrails before caping and quartering the ram. However, I no longer remove the guts. I use the gutless method, which leaves the entrails in the ram. All meat is removed from the exposed side, once one side has all editable meat recovered and bagged; the carcass is flipped over and the same is done to the other side. This tends to expose meat to far less contamination. I keep a sheet of plastic or small tarp in my pack to provide a clean place in which to place meat while it is prepped for placement into game bags. I keep plastic trash compactor bags or lightweight dry bags in my kill kit to place the meat into once it is in game bags to prevent blood from leaking into my pack. As soon as the meat is back at camp, I remove the meat and if available I transfer the meat into clean game bags and then wash the bloody bags so they can be used again. A shaded place to hang the meat is preferred, but if not possible I use brush to make a pile so that air can flow under the game bags when place on it. Cool, clean and dry, this rule ensures quality meat. Flies and heat are worst during the heat of the day, during the warmest part of the day I will place the bags of meat in waterproof bags and submerge it in a clean water source, making sure that the meat does not come in contact with river water or silt. As soon as the evening approaches the meat is hung back up in a cool place to dry and air out during the night. I keep a small meat thermometer and tarp in my kill kit as well as citric acid, the thermometer allows me to monitor core temps and the citric acid makes the ph level on the meat unattractive to flies and maggots with the tarp providing cover. In sheep country off ice or exposed permafrost areas can be used to cool meat as well. Sheep meat is the finest game meat I have ever eaten and I go to great lengths to protect it.

    A small amount of spices always finds it way into my pack so that fresh meat can be enjoyed while we are still in the bush, not much finer after days of dehydrated food than fresh sheep meat cooked over an open fire. This time spent roasting meat has become a tradition for me and has been part of every sheep hunt I have ever done; Even if it means packing the wood great distances or stopping along the way when a wood source is discovered and having an impromptu cookout right on the trail.
















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  10. #10
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    By the time my next sheep season was approaching I was confident that I had the skills to be successful and I wanted to share my passion with my family. My next two sheep hunts would be shared first with my son and the next year with my wife. Since I was now pushing fifty my eyes and vision was not as sharp as it was in my twenties, so an upgrade in optics was again overdue. After having the chance to look through some Swarovski products I was sold on the advantage these optics would add to my hunting ability. So during the summer I purchased a pair of EL 10x42 EL ranging binos, these would give me more magnification as well as combining range finding with angle compensation into one unit. I also replaced my Zeiss Dialyt spotting scope, as after one season I realized that a straight spotter was not for me, I much prefer an angled spotting scope. An angled spotter is much easier on my neck than a straight one. I chose a Swarovski 65MM HD ATM with a 20x50 wide view eyepiece, the HD providing better images for digiscoping. I had started taking lot of photos and video with my camera attached to my spotter and I discovered the image quality was much better with the HD glass. Four spotting scopes in ten years has been an evolution in of itself, because it is very hard to look through a 1k spotting scope and see 2K worth of different that a 3K spotter provides. I can just say that experience has taught me that I have taken rams, that I truly believe I would not have seen or judged to be legal with lower quality glass.

    Another item in my pack that has been upgraded many times is my choice in pocket cameras. I started out with the non-waterproof high zoom models. They take great photos, but fail quickly if they get wet and it always seems to be raining or they got wet from being in my pocket as I crossed a water source. Because of this I choose to use tough style point and shoot cameras, I used Pentax Opio cameras for years but have been using the Olympus TG-1 and since I lost it to the river last sheep hunt I currently have the TG-2. I discovered that I take far more photos if I can keep the camera in my pocket and not have to stop and try to dig it out of the dry bag in my pack. The TG-2 also has an adapter to add lens and Iím able to use the adapter to attach it to my spotting scope.

    Some hunters keep a written journal to document their hunts, I use my camera. I take hundreds of photos during my hunts, I photo document and when I get home it is easy for me to look at the photos and write a hunt report by using the photos as reference, I will often refer back to them for date and time info. This data has helped me select the time for planning future hunting and fishing trips. One day, these photos will be all that remains for my kids and grandkids to remember me by, as our time on this earth is all so fleeting.

    As the sheep season approached I was not in very good shape, health issues and a move for my wife all had taken a toll on any time for preparation. I still wanted to share a sheep hunt with my son and knew he would soon be consumed with changes in his life and the opportunity may not come around again, so we loaded up and headed off into sheep country. After a very long drive and flight we found ourselves in sheep country, just he and I away from all the electronic distractions that is our modern world; just a father and son in Godís wilderness enjoying life as the Lord intended.





    The next few days are the stuff sheep dreams are made from perfect weather with rams to watch and great company to share it all with. I was able to watch the rams from our spike camp and pattern their movements and routes. Zach and I chatted about this and that and I would like to think he might have picked up a trick or two from ole Dad.

    So, as the evening of the opener approached, I watched the rams, 4 total with only one legal. My style is what has been called the Joe Want method, spot and approach them from below. Where these rams were there was no way to get to them from below. I was apprehensive about trying to get above them and have the weather come in and it get too dark to shoot after the season opened. This might be a Tony Russ, get them from above type hunt.

    So,, how to close that last few hundred yards?? We tried to get across from them and the closest we could get was 700 yards.

    We are 700 yards across the valley from them and it is 9pm. what to do?? I really want to wait until tomorrow and be in place to ambush them moving to the feeding area like they have done the last 3 days. I can see the excitement in Zach's eyes and I know he wants us to go after him.

    The wind is right, the sky is clear and the rams have bedded down. I told him I think we can get up and on top of them before it gets dark. We made our move.

    11:30pm finds us topping out. Have a peek over and ..... NOTHING, I get my land marks and figure they are a couple hundred yards down the ridge and under a rise. We work our way around a big rock and look over and there they are!!!

    All 4 bedded and looking out, I get the Swaro on them and find the shooter; I had already memorized every stain on him so I knew him by his color before I even looked at his horns.

    I settled back behind the ridge and put on my jacket to stay warm and to just enjoy the experience. For me it is a powerfully spiritual feeling to be in a position in which you can take an animal and have them totally unaware of your presence. Twenty minutes is a long time to think about pulling that trigger. The twenty or so minutes were gone in a blink of the eye.

    After waiting a few extra minutes to make sure it has well into the 10th, I took one last look in the spotting scope and looked at all 4 rams and made sure I had selected the correct ram. I tilted the spotting scope down and rested my 30-06 Model 70 onto the tiled scope and adjusted the dial on my CDS to 140 yards. I asked Zach if he was ready to video and I fired. He tried to get up, but only rolled a few feet down hill from his bed. His buddies took off and we headed down to see him after a big hug and possibly wet eyes for me.

    I taught Zach how to cape and remove all the wonderful meat. He loaded it all up in his pack and we headed back to camp. The next day we enjoyed some fresh meat over the fire and with full bellies we headed back to the strip. Once back at the strip we had a Grizzly come at our meat and I had to take him to prevent the loss of my sheep meat, I had a bear tag, but would have preferred to not have taken him.





























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    Hey stid2677, thanks for putting all that out there. I went through the same boot problems years ago. I finally stumbled on to the La Sportiva Italian made mountaineering boots. They fit the shape of my feet and are well made. one lesson I learned from my struggle with finding good boots was to tape your skin before it blisters. When you feel a hot spot developing, take your boot and sock off right there and tape the skin at the hot spot. Good quality medical tape or even duct tape works.

    Talking about getting stuck out. I left my plane in Kotzebue one year and had a friend drop me off in the Western Brooks. I was planning on covering some country and didn't want to worry about the plane. I was into solo hunting then and liked the solitude and the fact that there was no one to slow me down and let's face it, it's easier to sneak up on something when alone. Now that I'm older, I want a partner along to carry my carcass out. Long story short. I bag a ram, get it and the camp back to the pickup point and wait eight days for my buddy to return! The whole time it is 75F and I'm eating, smoking and trying to keep a bunch of sheep meat from spoiling. There are many many grizzlies in this area and I'm getting a little pissed at my buddy in Kotz. Turns out, they were fogged in on the coast all that time.

  12. #12
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    To this day we often speak of this hunt and the time we spent in the church of the mountains helped heal wounds from our past.
    As this past sheep season approached Zach was now working and Jason was deployed, a friend and I had often spoken about a couples sheep hunt, when he asked us to come along with them we jumped at the opportunity.

    I purchased a new pack a Kifaru Timberline for me and had my KU5200 resized for my wife. I bought us both Kimber Mountain Ascents and Worked up loads for both during the summer. I added waterproof down jacket and sleeping bag to our packs.
    Does any of this make as any better hunters than those that came before us wearing wool and flannel? Absolutely not, these items might make the load we carry a little lighter and provide distractions during the off-season shopping for them. But they in no way make us better hunters than our forefathers. If anything those old sourdoughs were tough as nails and could hunt most into the ground and pack it all out on an old Trapper Nelson pack board.

    We flew in to our selected area and used pack rafts to move down the drainages. Flor and I were able to harvest her first ram and our friends took a fine ram as well. We had a hunt of a lifetime and it was a dream come true to be able to share my love for the mountains and sheep hunting with the love of my life.



















    Last edited by stid2677; 01-03-2014 at 13:59.
    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
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  13. #13
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Later this same fall I was able to tag along on a sheep hunt with that same couple as she tried to fill a draw tag. We got close to several rams and spent a very cold night at elevation complete with a thunder snowstorm. Because we were both very experienced even in the extreme conditions we were fairly comfortable. Gale force winds made judging the rams impossible and even thought we were close enough to shoot a couple we thought we legal, we were unwilling to take a chance without knowing for sure. I did find a winterkilled ram, so I got a ram after all. Experience has taught me that sometimes it is prudent to just walk away. She was able to take a very nice bull moose as a consolation prize and these young folks are ready to continue hunting wild sheep as the next generation takes to the high places as older hunters like myself make room for them to cherish what we too love about mountain hunting.















    So what changed the way I felt after that first cold, wet hunt all those years ago?? I got to experience those magic days in the mountains; those few days every year that are clear and cool with views that seem to go on forever; to walk that fine line between pleasure and pain; to push myself to my very limit and survive to do it again the next day. To test the limits of endurance, marksmanship and to be unafraid when standing inches away from a thousand foot drop while feeling the pure exhilaration of the wind on your face and a view that takes your breath. Getting to view wild creatures in their mountain domain. Knowing that these moments in life are fleeting and to cherish them while you can.

    Steve
    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
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  14. #14
    Member cod's Avatar
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    Great, Great storie(s)and pics , stid!! I want more. I want more!
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

  15. #15
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cod View Post
    Great, Great storie(s)and pics , stid!! I want more. I want more!
    So do I my friend, so do I.
    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
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    Member pa 5-0's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlaskaHippie View Post
    You have a gift for writing that is on par with your outdoors skills.
    That is no joke!!!!

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    Love em stid....thank you for sharing. Helps down here in Colorado when tax season is just around the corner....

  18. #18
    Member AKnook's Avatar
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    Wow, I really enjoyed this read. Thank you for the share.

  19. #19
    Member 0321Tony's Avatar
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    Fantastic reading. I have been on 7 sheep hunts total and still can't find that magic full curl. It's the love of being above everything and seeing the things only a hunter gets to see that make each trek up the mountain worth every step. All my sheep hunts are cherished memories and will make success that much sweeter when I finally connect. Thanks for writing all this up it was a very enjoyable read

    Life is too short to pass up a day of hunting

  20. #20
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    Steve, great write up I enjoyed your trials and tribulations. Great trophies, great writing, it was a pleasure to read.

    Gooch
    Mike
    www.coffmancoveak.com
    Prince of Wales Island

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