I just came back from a sheep hunt in the Wrangells outside of McCarthy. I've got my opinions but would like to get yours. Here's what happened. After being dropped off at the strip it took us almost two days to get into the mountains where we started glassing for sheep on August 9th. Almost immediately we saw a band of 9 rams with one excellent full curl. Later that evening a guide dropped off his assistant and hunter on the ridge across from us. We recognized the guides plane. This isn't good but we weren't too worried because we didn't think they could drop off the side of the ridge where the rams were due to extremely steep slopes and cliffs. We go to bed feeling confident even though we've glassed them and they have glassed us. The next morning we wake up at 4:00 am and they are already up watching. It takes us a couple hours to half way down our side. The big ram has moved up into the cliffs on the guides side of the drainage so we stop and wait for him to come down and feed. The guide and client are still on the ridge watching. After a couple hours the ram moves down with his buddies and starts feeding. After donning our whites to cross a snow field and boulder field in wide open view of the rams, which are about a half mile down the drainage, we move out towards the rams. It was then that we noticed the guide and client get up and head down the ridge in the same direction. We are still not overly concerned because you'de have to be a billy goat to get off that ridge down towards the rams. If they drop off the back side then it would take them way too long to go to the bottom and come around after the rams. The next hour and a half are spent side hilling trying to get above the rams to get the shot. We pause one last time to catch our breath knowing the rams are just beyond the next rise... no more than 200 yards away. We had barely sat down to rest knowing we were literally minutes from being in position for the shot.... when a shot rang out! Fearing the worse we ran to the rise to see our ram down on the ground and the guide and client on a cliff above the ram. We easily got to the ram ahead of them hoping it was still alive so we could take the coup de grace and claim and claim him ourselves but the clients shot was true and the ram was dead. His shot was over 380 yards...so he claimed later.
After a "fierce conversatiion" the guide admitted he knew we were stalking the ram and was watching us to see which direction the rams were in. He said he kept expecting to hear a shot as they raced down the ridge looking for the ram we had been stalking and was surprised to find the ram before we had. The client, from New Hampshire, was apologetic and said this wasn't the Alaska Dall Sheep hunt experience he paid for and wanted a remote hunt, without the fear of other hunters in the area, with a legitimate stalk on a ram. Trust me we had a lot to say but our main points were (1) A sheep hunter should earn his sheep. To be dropped on top of the rams the night before opening day...walk down the ridge, shoot the ram, and get picked up on the gravel bar below...all in less than 12 hours is not what we considered true Alaska sheep hunting. (2) When a party is in the middle of a stalk then they have first right of refusal on that ram. To race ahead of them, knowing they are after a specific ram, to beat them to the shot is unethical in the very least. I know of some hunters who wouldn't hesitate to kick ass big time if that happened to them.
To be fair I've got to present you with both sides of the picture. We had a chance to confront the master guide at the McCarthy Airstrip. Though he listened he came back with the following on each point above: (1) He has every right to land where ever he wants. It is not illegal to land a client on top of rams the night before opening day and if his clients are going to pay a total of over $20K (including tip fee, airline tickets, tag and licence), then he as a master guide will do everything in his power to get them a ram, (2) He has had his guides stalk a client on a ram when out of nowhere other hunters rush in and take that ram away just like what happened to us. If everybody hunted "ethically" then there would be no issues since we all play by the same rules. However, since that isn't the case he tells his assistant guides do to everything in their power to get that ram and let the best man win.
The ram in question was 41.5" with 13.5" bases. Heres a picture taken just after the ram was shot. Thoughts?