Just got back from TMA...my partner harvested this beauty...10 yrs old, 39" on one side...37 1/4 on the other. Sealed in Glenallen and we were told that it was the largest ram sealed there this year.
My first sheep hunt - his 7th, but his first successful harvest.
My opinions on a few things for what they're worth:
I am 24 hours out of the field, so a lot is running through my head - so forgive me for babbling here. A little of my story: Moved to AK 3 years ago...I would consider myself a 'student' when it comes to hunting and fortunately have found many to be generous with their time to help 'teach' me. I was filling out my first draw app and my buddy says 'you always throw $5 at TMA...you might get lucky and draw it once in your lifetime'...It may piss some of you off, but I drew it on my first app. I went through 4 months of having people somewhat commit to going w/ me. No firm commitment from anyone by July (I even posted here looking for a partner) and I thought I would not get into the field, so not only would I be hated for drawing on a first app, but be hated for drawing a tag and not hunting it. First wk in Aug, I get a call from someone w/ a tag also needing a partner. We met for 30 minutes and decided to give it a shot. Visit to the doc to get both knees checked out as I had been off my training for a month due to knee problems - then lots of Advil and hard training for the rest of Aug. For not knowing each other other than that 30 minutes face-to-face and emails/phonecalls through Aug, it worked out great. Can't type anymore and I apologize if I have bored some of you - can't end without thanking those of you here that offered advice/encouragement as I tried to actually pull this thing together, God for our safety and success (it was a successful hunt) and although they will probably never see this post, my wife and family for their unending support, encouragement and prayer during this hunt. Some may think that's a pretty sappy thing to say...no apologies here...
- 40 mile air - top notch
- Wiggy's bag - top notch - anyone who has not had the pleasure of dealing with MT should just stop by and see him define what customer service really is (PM me if you want details)
- Koflachs - I bought a used pair, older model - let's put it this way, they aren't for sale, but I would probably consider something with a little more 'give' in the sole. I got them to use in combo with the glacier socks from Barney's - never had a need for the socks as water crossings were not an issue. They protected my feet but were a bit cumbersome negotiating some of the terrain.
- Sporthill pants - lived in them - they are as advertised - windproof to 40 mph. Worth the price? Hard call, but definitely live up to the hype...
- Mad Dog fleece sweatshirt - for something that only cost me 25 bucks at Sportman's, it was just as windproof as my sporthill pants, although not stretchable like the 3sp fabric. You typically get what you pay for, so I was more than pleasantly surprised at the performance.
- Eberlestock pack - first use - some of the straps were hard to adjust under load, but overall very pleased. Guessing my wt coming out at btn 85-90 lbs...for 'off the shelf, no mods' was very pleased with gear/rifle carrying system
- TMA - I realize that I drew a coveted tag, but...this ram was the third largest on 40 miles board for the season and I think it was the largest out of TMA for 40 mile. We only saw one other ram and at first glassing he didn't appear to be legal. Saw 13 other sheep (lambs/ewes). While we were deciding the most effective way to get to the other ram for a closer look, he disappeared, never to be seen again. That was early in the hunt and we did spend several days looking for him, as we were not seeing other options. Will I throw 5 bucks at it again next year? Sure...but my backup plan for sheep '07 will not be predicated on the enormous odds against me for winning the draw back-to-back, it will be based on increasing my chances for a successful harvest.
- Food - this was a new type of hunting experience for me. I did lots of research on 'what others do'...I had as many calories as I could get while limiting myself to no more than 1.5 lbs of food per day. Figure out what works for you, but I did not eat that much and in no way do I feel that my physical/mental abilities were at all compromised. I could have easily cut back my pack weight in this area. We only did hot meals for dinner, less fuel = less weight. I went in at 48 lbs plus my rifle...will be less for next hunt of this type.
- Water - leave the filter at home. The new tablets give adequate tasting water and save almost a pound of wt. over bring a pump. I brought a survival straw for when treating water was not convenient...only weighs a couple ounces.
- treking pole - bring 2! 1 for normal hiking - 2 for when fully loaded.
- Physical training - you can never do enough. I dropped 23 lbs since November...jogged 20 miles a week from Feb thru June...knee trouble in July...burned Flattop with 50 lb pack 4 days a week in Aug...I would say that was 'adequate', but I will step it up for next year
I tried to post a pic via attachment and photobucket...didn't work...if someone can help, send me a PM.