This was my first solo sheep hunt, 2nd Alaska range hunt, 3rd total for 2014 and 5th hunt over the last 4 years!It was the most brutal hunt to date, with 47.94 hiking miles logged on the GPS but the most satisfying as well! I set out totally unsupported for this adventure of a lifetime and it paid off big time in the end!
Thursday Morning, 4 Sept, I loaded up the airplane and set off on my solo sheep hunt. This would be thefirst time I hunted alone and totally self supported in Alaska. I was a little nervous, but I was sure it would be an amazing adventure!
I dropped off some fuel at the Skwentna airport for the return flight and was climbing through the Alaska Range shortly after.
Almost as soon as I got into the steep mountains I was starting to see sheep from the air... A great sign of things to come!
Once I landed and got the plane tied down and put to bed I set up my base camp tent, stashed a little gear and didn't waste any time getting started hiking up the valley to try and locate some sheep
I could see pretty quickly that the terrain would be challenging, but beautiful!
As soon as I started to see some sheep and promising terrain, I decided to pitch my spike camp. I took a couple hour look around and then headed to bed.
My first breakfast of the trip. Not too bad!
Themorning found me putting in about 5 solid miles of hiking before I startedreally seeing some sheep.
There were lots of them in just about every direction,
But unfortunately they were all lambs and ewes...
And they weren't very afraid of me wandering through their territory
And neither were some of the other critters. This Pika seamed very curious as I sit on a rock taking a break. He kept darting in and out of the rocks, getting closer each time he appeared.
The ground squirrels were all over the place as well.
After a few hours of glassing and hiking I found this beast about a mile away on the side of a ridge. That was one of the valleys I had wanted to head into first, but decided that my .270 felt a little inadequate at the time, so I held off a day to head that way.
As evening set in I found a nice spot on a ridge for my second spike camp and dozed off as the sun set. One thing I realized early was that solo hunting allowed me to go at my own pace and I wasn't quite as worn out as previous trips on the first day.
That night was quite a bit colder than I had anticipated and I didn't have some of my extra clothes with me, so I decided to get going early to get the blood flowing and warm up.
I gained some elevation as the sun rose and had no trouble staying warm
I checked out several of the valleys to the south that were accessible.
Each one looked more and more promising.
And they were getting more and more steep and rough.
But they were all incredibly beautiful
All in all I put in about 10 miles and some serious elevation gain and loss throughout the day.
The day was turning out to be pretty nice, but so far no rams.
Towards evening the clouds would move back in and they rain would come and go
Day three the weather would continue to come and go with lots of rain and a few periods of breaking skies.
I hiked another 10-12 miles and crested two different mountains glassing down each valley and ridge I came to, but still no rams.
By evening I had spotted what looked like a ram clear back in the back of a glacial valley. He looked to be in an almost inaccessible area so I thought for sure he was going to be a big guy. Turns out he was about a 3-4 year old half curl ram, all by him self and way, way up high...
The following morning I decided to head back to the airplane to get some extra clothes and swap some ofthe wet ones out for dry. And have a little better meal than I had been having. I climbed all the ridges and valleys out of there and returned to sleep at base camp for a night.
The next morning was the coldest and clearest yet with lots of frost on the plane and clear blue skies.
I bundled up and headed north this time instead of south.
Within a few hours I was able to spot my first group of rams for the day
There were three of them and one showed some promise.
I worked my way closer and spent a total of about three hours with this ram. He was beautiful, but I think he was just barely shy of full curl. Although his headgear was very heavy and had a very deep curl, there was no way to count rings and tell if he was old enough to make him legal, so I decided to pass for the moment.
I enjoyed some incredible terrain and views throughout the day
And by evening I had spotted another ram clear at the back of a valley and with a smaller ram.
He was so far away I couldn't get a good enough look to see if he was a full curl.
After another hour or so I finally got him to give me a look I needed and I knew he was legal. The problem now was the day was getting late and there was no way to get to him before dark.