I am exhausted. Between work and hunting since the sheep opener, I am ready for some downtime. I am pretty tired of cutting meat and sick of the whine of our vac packer. That said, I sit here typing this looking at my uncut caribou tags and a unit 13 caribou draw tag - doubtful I'll head down to unit 13 after reading about the gong show - but I might get a little crazy and load up the truck and bow and head north.... we'll see.
Hunt #1. Had grand plans this year including a 10 fly out trip for sheep on August 9th. Those plans were disrupted when my dad got pretty sick this summer. All in all I was gone for about 6 weeks down in the lower 48. Fast forward to August 9th, my sheep hunting partner and I saw a window of good weather and could both manage go for a walkabout in the mountains. Decided to pack up and head out super early August 10th. I woke up at 4:30 am and began calling my buddy when our agreed upon departure time came and went. Long story short, we got out of town way late and we hauled ass to our spot. Loaded up and got in the high country as fast as we could. Greeted with a nice view after a few hour hike and gaining our first ridge.
Shortly thereafter, we spotted some rams about 2 miles away. The only thing better than owning a really expensive spotting scope is having a a sheep hunting partner who owns a really expensive spotter. I could see big horns with my binos, but when we laid eyes on the group, there was a half curl, a nearly full curl and what we thought was a full curl. Needed to get closer which would take a few hours. Over the next few hours we were distracted a a few more sub legal rams and about fifty lambs and ewes. Almost forgot about our original goal. Getting late in the day and we decide to crawl down a ridge to see of that original group of three was still there. I had my doubts, but to our amazement we snuck down within 200 yds of them and had a perfect view. I've looked at a lot of sheep and never shot and I looked at the biggest ram for a while and decided I would pass - too close to full curl for my comfort. My buddy looked at him for a while and then decided he was comfortable shooting. This wasn't his first sheep and he was comfortable with it. Boom. Sheep down... way down. He died in about 2 seconds, but with one second left he managed to jump off the edge of the world and into Mordor. Couldn't get to him until the next morning. Turned out to be past full curl and meat tasted great. Sheep hunt #1 successful.
Hunt #2. Decided to see if we could get our jet boats into some high country with a purported sheep population. It was my turn to get one so I said lets go. Another 48 hour strike mission. Ended up getting turned around about 3 miles from where it would have been feasible to hike in. Hunt unsuccessful but had a great time.
Hunt #3. We had another window of good weather and light workload. We had another sheep spot we wanted to go check out. a few guys wanted to come with us and we thought we'd go give it hell. This time we hiked into our area and saw some rams hanging out in moose country.... took us a day to get to them, but ended up getting over there and no sign of them. Decided to spend the night and see if they'd come out to play in the morning.
Low and behold, as we're drying out everything in the morning sun, two rams pop out of where we thought they were. Needless to say it was kind of a crazy few minutes of getting gear on, taking a morning turd, and getting to the ridge. My buddy and I had to split up and set an ambush for the sheep. I had a no way to see where he was or communicate with him, but if either of us had a shot at a legal ram - take it. A few hours later of getting in close, I am about 120 yds away and look through my binos at the two rams. One is REALLY close and then I check out the other. After about 1 second in my binos, I see he is obviously legal. Getting in position to shoot and I get open scope cover and get sheep in my sight just as I see pink mist and the pop of a gun... well that sheep was anchored in place. My buddy got it and we are both stoked. The other ram stays put for about two minutes. I looked really hard but couldn't make him legal. He'll be a good ram next year.
Now we're into September... no moose hunt planned until late season. For those of you in Fairbanks with a bowhunter certification, you know that anywhere you go in town you are hunting as long as you have your bow. We chased down a few leads and I hunted the back forty behind my house a few times after putting kids to bed, but to no luck.
Hunt #4. My buddy and I headed out to moose camp a day before everyone else. We established camp, set up a climbing tree over a huge meadow and drank some beer. That first evening we did come calling and raking brush. Right when it got really dark we hear three bull grunts and then nothing else... we question whether we are imagining things or of they were real. Oh well, its dark, lets drink some beer. Next morning we expect the rest of the hunting party to arrive so we decide to go for a walkabout in the woods in the direction of grunts to kill some time before everyone arrives. About 1000 yds from camp we start seeing a bunch of piss wallows, tree rubs and moss sign. Wow, this is good! Slowly walking, grunting a little and raking brush. Boom! Crash! We look across the pond and a bull comes crashing out of the woods. We immediately both check him out with binos and both agree he is clearly legal. I shot a nice moose last year so my buddy was on deck for the shot. We tried to grunt him over our side of the pond, but two cows came out of the woods and he wasn't interested anymore. Decided to anchor him where we was and we'd figure out how to get him to the river.
Everyone arrived and we felt pretty victorious. They showed up and helped us get the moose to the river and camp. We bring a 14 ft jon boat and 15 hp evinrude to extract moose from tough places. Worked again this year. This $1000 boat has hauled out more moose than any of our other expensive jet boats.
I guess pressure was off for moose camp. We stuck around untill mid week and then with temps still as warm as they were decided to shuttle this moose home. While we were gone, my buddy was able to row a canoe within 36 yds of a little spike/fork and put an arrow in him. Pretty cool.
Saw some other moose, but either could't verify legality or couldn't put the shot together. All in all, hunting in the swamps a productive but not nearly as sexy as hunting in the alpine which we all prefer.
It even snowed on the last day coming home:
After all that, I didn't even cut a tag, but am a very satisfied hunter. If we get a crazy hair in us and head North of caribou or to Southeast for deer I'll update. Cheers!