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Thread: Ds134

  1. #1

    Default Ds134

    Hello,
    New to the forum. I just got drawn for DS134 in upper eagle river. I've done some crazy goat hunting in kodiak, I've never gone for sheep though. Any advise on the area would be greatly appreciated. I have all the gear, but I've never been in the chugach range. Thanks.
    I tried to search for other threads, but all the ones I found are from 2008 or 09.

  2. #2
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    If it was me I would be doing a lot of scouting this summer. Best bet would be to park at the nature center and take the trail in. It is also possible to come the back way via peters creek valley trail but that's many more miles of hiking. There are sheep at the headwaters of peters creek (that's no secret) so you should find sheep in your hunt area. Let us now how you did.

  3. #3

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    Pretty easy to have a decent idea of what is going on in a couple weekends of looking this over. It is pretty straight forward, good luck!

  4. #4
    Member AK Wonderer's Avatar
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    William,

    Do you live in the Anchorage/Wasilla area? General access to the hunt area is a piece of cake. Hike right up the Crows Pass/Eagle River trail from the Eagle River Nature Center. It's been a few years since I hike the Crows Pass trail. If I remember correctly, once up the valley you're kind of tucked against the side of the mountains and and from the trail won't have views up the mountains or up the side drainage's. From that point, it turns into more of a sheep hunt with bush whacking and climbing to get up the side drainages or up to where you can glass the upper bowls.

    This is an easy area to access on the weekend during the summer to get the lay of the land.

  5. #5

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    No, I actually live in kodiak right now. So it won't be easy to do pre season scouting. I'm going to try and make it over there before the season though.

  6. #6
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    How did you do??!! Any pictures?

  7. #7

    Post DS 134 Success/2016

    I apologize for the late reply. I was successful due to the awesome guidance from this forum. Much appreciated. I was very successful on the hunt. It was a hike to say the least. My hunting buddy and I put roughly 90 miles on foot round trip. Definitely a hunt that is not for the faint of heart.
    We left stormy Kodiak August 7th on the good Ole' Rust Tusty for an overnight bumpy ride across the straight and arrived in Homer the next day. The weather was perfect for our drive from Homer to Anchorage and having not left Kodiak for some time, we really enjoyed the last bit of Augusts warm sunshine beaming down on the Peninsula. The tall mountains around Turnagain Arm were brightly lit by the afternoon sun. We were like little kids at Disney Land, gleefully looking up and scouring the mountains as we drove, looking for our first signs of sheep. Training our eyes to spot the Monarch of Alaska.
    Arriving in Anchorage after not leaving the Island in a while was a shock. Lots of FOOD! Good Food. We decided to have one last good meal before enjoying 10 days of freeze dried Mountain House cuisine. Bears Tooth it was and oh my what a feast we had. The next morning, the day before the opener, we got up at about 4 a.m. and started out to the head of the Eagle River Trail. Having not hunted sheep before or ever been in the Chugach mountains, I was not sure what to expect. As drove toward Eagle River and we turned off the highway and the Eagle river bridge, we had our first siting of real sheep country. I stirred with excitement and couldn't wait to get my feet on the ground and get my pack strapped on. The truck barely shut off and I jumped out and started putting my gear on and then we were off. I vividly remember bright blue skies and little white puffy clouds placed sporadically through the sky. After a few miles we reached the edge of the eagle river right before Echo Bend.
    Our plan was to hike in with inflatable Alpacka Pack Rafts, go up the mountain, shoot a sheep and cut hours of hard work off our trip by just floating the river out.
    After seeing Echo Bend and its roaring conglomerate of giant boulders and rapids, I decided that I would be walking that portion of the river. After picking out a few land marks and marking the Bend on a GPS we continued our trek down the trail to the back of Eagle River. We later decided we would stop 3/4 of the way at a designated camp spot and rest for the night. On our way to the camp area there were several spots where the trail had stream crossings with slippery logs jammed in them. One particular crossing, was about 5 feet across and about 4 to 5 feet deep. I picked my spot to cross and my hunting buddy, Jeff, picked another spot. I was half way across a slippery log when I heard a limb snap. The noise quickly drew my attention. I looked over just in time to see Jeff falling backwards with a 50+ pound pack desperately grabbing at anything to stop his certain wet cold doom. All he managed to grab was air which led to him looking less than nimble as he fell into a waist deep stream. Trekking Poles and boots were the only parts of him sticking out. I was trapped on a snotty log trying to not laugh and fall off. I looked for anything to help him. In a matter of a second, he was able to wiggle out of his situation without ever letting his boots go under water. A miraculous feat that Houdini himself couldn’t have accomplished. After he was out of the water and after he was able to find his dry camp shoes in his pack. I was able to finally squeeze out a sentence amongst profound laughter. Which resembled something like, I will go ahead on the trail to the camp, cut firewood and get a fire started so you have a way of drying your gear. The plan went well, and he was able to dry off that night.
    Sheep! I could see them with my bare eyes about 3 miles away on top of a mountain. After a day of accidental swimming and hysterical laughing and a morning of several sketchy stream crossings we finally had sheep in sight. It was opening day August 10th. I quickly pulled out my spotting scope and tripod. As soon as I found the far-off sheep in my spotter, I was immediately filled with excitement. They were two rams. I couldn’t see how big they were, but when the sun hit them just right I could see their horns. We quickly trekked down the trail to a lake that was fed by Eagle Glacier. We had hiked in about 20 miles or more at that point and we were rejuvenated at the sight of sheep. We pulled our pack rafts out, inflated them and paddled in a hurry across the lake. Reaching the other side, we were confronted by a large canyon with steep cliffs and giant boulders carved out by the glacier. It was early afternoon after we snaked our way up the canyon towards the sheep and decided that we'd set up camp before venturing any further. We spent about 4 hours trying to pick our way through the canyon and rock climbing, looking for a clear path to the sheep. We decided that without the proper climbing gear we'd have to go back down the river and try and find another way up the next day.
    The next day we packed up camp and headed back down to the lake. We once again assembled the rafts and paddled across the lake. This time we decided to raft the river down to a high valley access we had spotted the previous day. We floated a couple miles and bailed out at our destination. We ate a quick meal, hoisted our rafts up a tall tree and started up a brushy steep wall towards a plateau that was about 1000 feet up. Jeff at this point was being a pretty good sport after falling in a stream the first day and only being there for good company and a pack horse. His joy for adventure was interrupted about half way up the steep brushy wall. I had unknowingly stepped on a paper hornets’ nest. The hornets went passed me and attacked Jeff. Down the hill like a boulder he went. Yelling in pain every other minute from the repeated stings these devil hornets gave him. After hitting the bottom of the ridge and making a big circle back to my safe location, we began our tip up the mountain once again. Jeff proceeded up the hill diligently looking for more hornets. His reminder was a swollen red hand from where the hornets stung him repeatedly. Nowhere else was he stung, except his right hand. Seven times I believe.
    We finally reached the top. Or so we thought. It was a false plateau and the brush just got worse. We managed to find a good moose trail that led to the back of the canyon. We followed it back about 3 miles, a mistake to say the least. The sides of the high valley got steeper and bottlenecked the further we went back. The steeper the sides got the brushier it became. We decided no guts no glory. Up we went for about 4 hours of vertical brush whacking. We finally made it to the alpine after a brutal 2200 ft vertical climb through brush. We decided to camp in a large bowl with a stream running through it. Tired from our day of extreme adventuring we sat back and watched as several goats fed across the canyon and a sow and cub fed in the back of the bowl we were in. We whipped up a couple mountain houses and gazed out at the sunsetting behind the giant jagged mountains.
    The next morning, we woke up to rain. Rain that had no end in sight. The hills were hard enough to hike in, but now they were slick with rain. We tried to venture out as far as we could but decided to be dry 30+miles in the back country was more important. We hunkered down in the tent and talked about everything we could to keep our minds off the suck. After running out of conversation and several naps, we popped a Benadryl and fell asleep in hopes of better weather the next day.

  8. #8

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    The next day we packed camp up and headed another 10 miles to the back of the canyon. This area looked great with lots of shale and several glaciers that came together. About 10:00 a.m. we arrived at the back of the canyon which opened into a large green valley with glaciers and shale that poured over the mountains into a large green basin that bowled in the back. Streams poured out of the glaciers that eventually trickled their way down the slopes and collected into a large creek in the center of the basin. This was Thunder gorge river. Thunder gorge river flows for about 10 miles before it pours into a deep gorge and drops 400 feet into the Eagle river drainage. We stopped for a quick breather and I decided to get out my spotter. I began glassing the shale and immediately spotted 5 small rams bedded in the shale in a straight line. We watched them for a while in hopes we would spot a legal ram. My attention was brought to a large black bear feeding on berries about 1000 yards away. I turned to Jeff to mention something about the bear. As I turned back to look at the bear a white critter was at a dead run over the top of the hill above the bear. It was so bazaar that my mind couldn't put two and two together. At first, I thought it was a white wolf after the bear. I soon realized this was a sheep. All this happening right in front of us caught us so off guard and we never raised our binoculars. The sheep drew nearer and nearer to the bear. The black bear was so involved in scarfing down berries that he never realized a crazed sheep was at a dead run right for him. I finally managed to remember I had binoculars on. I quickly raised them to get a close look of this strange carnage that was about to unfold. The sheep got within a few feet before the bear realized he was in serious trouble. The bear didn't hesitate, lucky for him. He lurched forward, grabbing every bit of earth to gain speed. The sheep chased the bear for a good 100 yards and the bear I’m pretty sure changed zip codes.
    Still in awe after witnessing this raw act of nature, we finally got our wits about us and started really looking at the sheep. His horns were massive curling back, dropping below the jaw line and coming up near his bases. Stunned by all the excitement, I turned to Jeff and told him that I was pretty sure he was legal. We watched the ram feed away from us and round the next bend about 1000 yards away. Filled with adrenaline I raced up the hill to get above the ram. Gaining 1000 feet in only a few minutes and fueled by excitement I turned to see Jeff giving me the, "SLOW THE HELL DOWN" look. We dropped our packs set up camp and went after the ram. We looked for several hours and climbed to about 5000 feet and crossed an old glacier to no avail. Bewildered by the white ghost of the mountains. We looked across the high basin and scoured every nook and cranny of our surroundings. NO SHEEP. We thought this was going to be our story that so many sheep hunters have to tell: We saw a nice ram, couldn't get to him and he disappeared, never to be seen again.
    We decided to head back to camp. This was only the second day of the season and we had about 2 to 3 more days to hunt yet. As we were descending to our we once again had to cross the same old glacier that reached down nearly to the bottom of the bowl below us. About half way across I looked down about 600 yards and there stood our sheep. He had gone down not up, and he was about 300 yards from our tent. The ram didn't stay for long, he fed over the edge of the hill and back down the canyon towards or original position that morning. Once out of site we raced down the mountain, slid down shale slides on our butts, jumped over small streams, gaining momentum with every step. We had a decent cross wind and would only be better off if we got out in front of the ram. We passed through camp and dropped our packs and only taking the bare essentials. We started off on a slow trot across the alpine, stopping every couple minutes to glass. We figured after about 20 minutes of moving at a pretty good click, that we were ahead of him. Approximately 80 yards in front of us sat a large boulder that was on the edge of the plateau we were on. We started moving towards it, knowing it would be a great vantage point. We were almost to it when Jeff tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, “There he is at the 3 O'clock.” We were in front of him now and he spotted us. He dipped his head down and went over the edge again still moving towards us and went out of site. We still were unsure at this point if he was legal. I was fairly certain he was and so was Jeff, but we just wanted to be 100%. We finally made it to the boulder and the ram was just rounding the corner, right where we sat earlier that day to witness the ram chase the bear. We waited for the ram to go around the corner and we took off again. We ran about 1 1/2 miles and went straight up at the edge of the plateau to get another good vantage point. We were once again ahead of him, but now in a better position to wait for a good shot. After waiting about 15 minutes I mentioned to Jeff that the ram should have been in sight. We began to wonder if the ram was going to pop out further down. Sure enough, as I slowly stood up, the ram was in sight and feeding quickly away from us. He was 130 yards away and we had plenty of time to really get a good look at him. Jeff had the ram in the spotter and counted 10 rings and could see he was indeed full curl. I waited for the sheep to give me a good shot. The ram turned quartering to and I touched off a round. The bullet struck just forward of the liver and came out his neck. Down he went. We moved down a bit and I put one more bullet in him. The excitement was intense and what a glorious animal he was. There was much discussion about whether to stay high, go back to camp and then go to the ram. Or tame our excitement and go to the ram. I couldn't help it. It was a dream come true and I had to see the ram up close.
    We ventured back to back up to our camp after a small celebration and several pictures. Once back to camp we scarfed down a meal, packed camp and made it back to the ram just before dark. That's when things took a turn for the worse. As we were field dressing the sheep the wind picked up and the rain, once again, came pouring down. Jeff decided shelter was priority and went looking for a spot to set up the tent as I continued processing the sheep. I was just finishing up when he came back with a look of disappointment. He explained we had shelter but, I wasn't going to like it. Sure enough, it was like trying to sleep on a tin roof. Sleep was not in the cards for the night as the winded ripped at the tent and the rain poured out of the sky.
    The next morning, we packed up and set out for a 20 mile hike down to Eagle River. That morning I did not feel right. My stomach ached, and food did not sound good. We hiked and hiked until we came to the brush line that crept out of the river up the ridge and stretched 10 miles the edge of the alpine where we stood. With my sickness getting worse I was in no place to make important decisions. It was either climb up 1500 feet to stay in the alpine that would take us to the mouth of the valley we were in or take a straight shot through the brush and hopefully wonder into another moose trail. At this point I was vomiting. Neither food nor water would stay down, and a fever began to kick in. Jeff was worried that if we climbed I would be at risk of falling in my current weakened state.
    It is easy to make the wrong decision in a panic, as most know. When confronted with things like injury or illness the feeling of getting out and getting out now becomes overwhelming. When things such as illness or injury occur when in the back country, sheep hunting for the first time in an unfamiliar place the weight of decisions that could be life or death are immense and generally need to be made in haste. After much dilemma and several measurements on a GPS we decided that a straight shot would be better. It would cut nearly 3 miles off our exit. After several hours of death defying bush whacking, clinging on to limbs dangling over mudslides that went downhill into Thunder gorge, we both knew this was a mistake. We have about 20 years of Coast Guard search and rescue experience between both of us and had several of the same instances where we were the ones rescuing people out of situations we were in at the present. Fear was constantly trying to harbor itself. The trek through the brush proved to be more steep and dangerous than anything we had ever been in before. This coming from a U.S.F.S Wildland firefighter and Jeff an avid rock climber and adventurer. My illness grew worse the harder we worked to get through the brush. I had stopped sweating and had an immense fever and frequent vomiting of water I poured into my body. After 3 hours we had only gone about 3/4 of a mile and we weren't halfway through yet. I distinctly remember looking back at Jeff and him looking at me like I was going to croak any second. I finally told him to stop looking at me like I was going to die. He replied with " I'm sorry I made this decision brother, if I fall down that gorge.......JUST KEEP GOING." This went back and forth, both of us talking each other through our spouts of weakness. After 5 hours of the steepest brushy hill I've ever seem we made it out of PLANT HELL. For the last 5 hours I had been dealing with the worst illness I've ever had and telling myself to take 200 steps and then sit down. Jeff was glad to have gotten me out alive. He was still a little short with me, he spent the last 5 hours watching me collapse and asking to take stuff out of my pack to lighten the load. To which I replied with extreme stubbornness, HELL NOOOO! I can do this.
    We ventured down the hill we had come up two days before and descended in to the Eagle River Drainage. We made sure to avoid the bee's this time. We finally made it to the trail and set up camp. It was about 65 degrees out when I crawled into my 15-degree sleeping bag and shivered myself to sleep. Jeff woke me up about 2200 and said that a group of army soldiers had gone by and he was leaving to catch them and see if they had an EMT. I woke up to the tent unzipping and a disgruntled sigh. Jeff said he had bad news. With all the rain the river had flooded the trail and to top it off, when the group of soldiers crossed the Thunder Gorge river bridge (A Log with a rope) they had broken the bridge. I shivered myself back to sleep knowing we had 20 miles to go yet and there would be no packrafting to get us out.
    I awoke about 5 a.m. and felt like 1/2 million bucks. Not quite 100% but I did have an appetite. With the news of me feeling better Jeff was quick to get up and get out just in case the illness got worse. We decided that we were going to see the trail head and we were going to eat pizza that night. We hiked for hours trying to stay dry and keep away from the flooded trail. We finally decided staying dry wasn't an option and so we hit the trail that was about ankle and headed out. We reached the trail head at 2300, tired, blistered, wet and hungry and stinking to high heaven. 100 ft away from the truck we were approached by a man looking for his wife. I was desperate to get the pack off and lay on the asphalt, so I told him " See that truck, let me get to that truck and I'll tell you anything you want to know." I quickly continued my way to the truck with my shoulders cramping from the heavy haul and my legs weak from two days of terrible illness. I reached the truck and felt like a real ass after he had explained his dilemma. His wife and her friend had hiked the trail from Girdwood and were supposed to meet him at the trail head. Sadly, the woman never made it.
    After leaving the trail and driving back into Anchorage, we both made our first phone calls to our wives. We anxiously rambled through our trials and tribulations. I’m sure it sounded more like a night mare to the two of them, rather than a great adventure. After talking both of our wives down from tears, we ventured into town for our first meal. Still sick from the hunt, I had to watch in utter jealously as Jeff devoured slices of glorious pizza. I was only able to pick my way through ½ a piece before filling sick. I can still remember the pain of hunger in the pit of my hunger mixed with a gut-wrenching stomach ache.
    This was the most rewarding hunt I'd ever been on. Jeff and I were friends when we started, and we will always be brothers after this journey. Taking a sheep was just icing on the cake. I walk into my house every day and see that sheep on the wall and I'm reminded of the magnificent trek we went on to harvest that animal. If I never did another sheep hunt again, which isn't the case, I would be fine knowing that that sheep involved an adventure of a lifetime and that I survived a near death experience without being hoisted into a helicopter by a fellow Coasty. Not to mention I lost 17 lbs. in 7 days and took a month to get an appetite again.

  9. #9
    Member Berto's Avatar
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    Wow, excellent write-up, and congrats on a well-earned sheep!

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    Any pics??

  11. #11
    Charterboat Operator
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    great read, thanks for sharing.... even if there was a little delay

  12. #12
    Supporting Member bullbuster's Avatar
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    What a great self rescue story! I mean hunting tale! Good read, reminds me of my trip into the 'Gach.
    Live life and love it
    Love life and live it

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    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    Great story....thanks! Glad you made it! Don't forget to tell us about the ram...!!!
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

  14. #14
    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    What happened to the guys wife at the trailhead?
    Www.blackriverhunting.com
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  15. #15
    New member FlowJoe's Avatar
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    Awesome story Will, that Ram was a stud!

  16. #16

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    I would post pictures, but I'm not sure how to. Any advice?

  17. #17

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    [IMG][/IMG][IMG][/IMG][IMG][/IMG]

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    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    Thanks for the writeup!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  19. #19

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    That was a great read, I really enjoyed that. Thanks! The pics are a welcome bonus too. What was the age of the ram?

  20. #20

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    I believe they said 12 to 13 for age. The old ram had contracted pneumonia and one of his lungs had collapsed and died. When we field dresses him his left lung was being absorbed by his body.

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