We took some time to tell our hunt story this year, sorry for the length...this is for the folks (and friends) over there who couldnt be here this year...
Well, our sheep hunt for 2006 is over and things went well. We harvested a thick, double-broomed ram, one with lots of character. The hunt overall was short, we hiked in on the 9th after an overnighter in Tok at Young's motel. Breakfast at Fast Eddys was as good as always.
We arrived at our drainage early and the weather for the 7 mile hike was great, but the sheep were scarce. We were pumped though.
We awoke early on the 10th to pea-soup fog and clouds (we camp at about 6200'), which was a bit disappointing, after all, we wait all year for this. Reluctantly, we curled back into the bags/tents for a few more hours. We finally decided to hit the trail about 8:45am and feel our way throught the clouds into the shale draws and hills up above.
After about four hours of obscurity, the clouds finally lifted (as wife predicted they would) and we spotted sheep. The first was a group of 18-20 ewes, lambs and immature rams. Not far away we also noticed a bachelor group of four rams. We decided to give these guys a closer look. We could tell there was some mass there, and even at 1 1/2 miles I thought I could see one was big bodied, thick and possibly broomed. My son, Jon, aka "hawkeye" scoffed at the 'ole man's assertions to the broomed theory, but readily agreed to join in the stalk over to these guys. The mountain rose to 7,000+ feet but we were there in short order looking for the rams below us. Hawkeye spotted two of the group of four bedded behind a rock spire--upwind of us, as we had planned--and they were oblivious to our presence above.
We chose to stalk down to them using the rock spire as cover. Things worked perfectly.
When we reached the spire we saw the sheep had rose to feed--all four. We inched closer and could see that one was an apparent full curl, one was 5/8ths curl, one was 7/8ths and one was broken.
Now we have taken several sheep over the years and have never taken a broken ram, so we thought we'd give that ram a second look.
About this time I looked up the mountain several hundred feet and to my utter amazement I saw a hunter looking down through his rifle scope at us--pointed straight at us!
I offered a few unkind gestures to the guy and he quickly knew we wanted to avoid being accidently shot so he stood down and watched us for about 45 minutes while we glassed the rams from about 200 yards. The guy finally departed over the lip of the mountain.
After glassing a bit more, we decided to harvest the broomed/broken ram--always a safe bet for legality too. This particular sheep had a large broken nose and was clearly the dominant ram among the four, he often gave the others that "who's your daddy?" look, and they did nothing without glancing over to him.
We were getting ready to make the shot when I looked over and saw the aforementioned hunter stalking the sheep from upwind down below and closing in on them. I sat a moment and watched the sheep peg his smell, and look right at him, he was wearing blue jeans! Quite a tough guy in the rain and fog in that attire at that altitude.
I dispatched one 186 yard 300 win mag. shot at our ram and he was down. The other hunter got up and left, leaving the other rams to mull around in bewilderment and finally leave. We stayed low to avoid spooking them any more than the shot or other hunter did. Sheep never forget that stuff!
I donno if the hunter had a spotter, surely he would have seen the sweeping full curl ram that walked off.
After pics and hugs we cleaned the ram and packed him to camp. We hiked out on the 11th.
We sealed our sheep earlier today, it was the first one checked in Fairbanks. Per the bio he was 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 yo., his lamb tips were both gone and his right horn was chiseled to a point at about the second growth ring, the left side was lobbed off.
F+G inserted a metal plug in the backside of the horn. This is the "new" tag system. This is to prevent any switching or manipulating with tags, or so the bio told me. Its out of sight but a shame to drill one's trophy horns .
--Nexcare works fantastic for blisters. This stuff is like super glue, it toughens the skin. Its worth packing!
--The Mountain Hardwear EV2 tent had way too much condensation--I stand corrected by those who warned of this, Brownbr etc...
--The Nikon XLII spotter worked great. Alaskacub is right on though, it needs an eye cup!!
--Leica Geovid binos in 10X42 are the bomb--rangefinder's built in--best glass ever--IMHO.
--Winchester Supreme Accu-bond ammo kicks A.
--Hiking sticks are mandatory for the hike out with weight!
--Ace knee braces are a must for us 40+ yo.
Pics.... of rams and "hawkeye" with pack....
Good hunting folks!