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Thread: My Quest for the White Ram

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Default My Quest for the White Ram

    Being not as nimble as I once was, I really didnít start out with white ram fever. However, a friend asks me if I would baby sit his sheep mount while he was deployed. I agreed and he was welcomed into my home. Well, after living with him for several months it was at last time for him to go home. After admiring that ram I decided that I had to have one. I asked Jake if he would go with me, he was reluctant because he has bad knees from years as a paratrooper. He told me that the side hilling and going down hill was hard on him. As a gift to me, which I am forever grateful he agreed to go with me and help me pack one if we were so blessed. He gave me the book Sheep Stalking in Alaska by Tony Russ, I read it front to back. I again dug into this forum and read everything I could.
    I bought a Cabelaís Extreme Alaskan Outfitter Pack with Frame and a new pair of Danner boots and as soon as the snow melted we started training. We trained all summer and by fall I was fairly sure that I could get into sheep country. A bought a MSR Mutha Hubba tent as our base camp and he had a mountain hardware single wall tent as a back up. I was eager to start our hunt; we had spent months training including numerous trips to the range. I was sure of myself to 450 yards. We got together and laid out our gear and double-checked each other. We each brought a stove and water filter to have backup. We weighed and tagged each bag with the weight. I practiced setting up my new tent and made sure I had all the parts. I replaced the stakes that came with it for lightweight MSR stakes. We had never hunted together but, both had military training. At this time I had only done hunts from the road system. Jake had been on 2 other successful sheep hunts. This would be my first fly out.

    Aug 8th I drive over to Jakes and we leave for Talkeetna. We arrive at Alaska Bush Float Plane Services to check in and they offer to let us leave Jakes camper on their place, really great folks. We drive into Talkeetna and have a beer and some pizza and back to the camper to get a good nights sleep. I was so excited I could hardly sleep, I kept thinking, was I up to the challenge??? Only time would tell.

    Aug 9th We wake early and carry our gear over to the dock and get it all weighed. We go in and they tell us the weather donít look good. We do the old wait around the flight line thing. I was a helicopter crewchief in the army and so was Jake, so we are used to waiting on the weather. At last we get the thumbs up and we stuff into their Maul on floats and off we go into the Alaska Range. We fly west and can see the weather coming in. The thing that sucks is the pass to get into the mountain lake is over 2 hours away from Talkeetna. We get to the pass and have to circle for a while to get under the clouds.
    Once in the pass the weather clears and we see sheep on several ridges. Iím completely stoked at this point. We land at the lake and taxi over to the shore and get the plane unloaded and we get my Mutha Hubba setup, awesome tent with tons of room and a double vestibule. We setup a cook tarp and get camp organized and get our packs ready for the opening day hunt. There is already another tent at the lake and we saw a pair of hunters breaking camp about Ĺ mile from the lake. So, while we are having dinner another pair of hunters arrive and we welcome them, then try to figure out where to go now with so much pressure. There are four pairs of hunters around the lake by dark. We only have a plan worked out with one pair. We look at the map and change our original plan because the pair we saw on the flight in are in the area we were going to hunt. My first lesson, the plan is only that a plan, have more than one. We do a map recon and decide what we will do the next morning.

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    and....I'm impatient!

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    Aug 10th We wake early only to find low clouds and rain, we wait until the weather lifts, then we start up the ridge gaining elevation, during this climb I ask myself what the heck am I doing. We are battling brush and crawling over rocks to make our way up. After what seemed to be forever we crest the top of the ridgeline and I behold a sight that is still etched in my mind. Spectacular views as far as the eye could see. We were careful to stay down and not silhouette ourselves against the skyline. We take a break and cook some lunch. Another lesson get water at the bottom there might not be any up high. Anyway we eat a MH each and drink a bottle of water and we continued down the drainage until we got to a spot where we could glass several bowls that formed the head of the drainages. We spot a band of sheep and stalk into a better position to observe them from. There appeared to be one legal ram in the bunch, but without a HIGH QUALITY spotting scope we couldn’t really tell. They fed around then worked their way up on the wall face and bedded down out of our reach. From this advantage point we spotted some more sheep and navigated a large field of loose sharp rock. The side hilling and shale showed me that I had made a bad boot choice. Should have worn Lowes or other mountain boot, which I do now. My boot choice almost ended my hunt at this point my back and feet were killing me. We had to change drainages and cross a stream. I slipped on my NEOS river trekkers and crossed the stream without getting my feet wet. We made sure to refill our water. The rain had started again so we made a tarp shelter and rested and had hot drink and a candy bar. The weather had gone from the 60s into the 40s with blowing rain. I was exhausted, we had only walked about 5 miles, but they were sheep country miles and this was new to me. I ask myself while we were resting, do I want to climb again or go back down to camp. From our viewpoint and limited optics we could only tell they were rams. We could not determine if they were legal. I did a gut check and decided that I was determined to make it happen. We continued up the drainage fighting alders and trying not to step in bear crap. We gained some elevation, when we got to where we could see up into the drainage we could see a ram that appeared to be ĺ curl on a grassy knob and several more rams towards the back of the bowl. We put on our whites and moved into a position to glass from. Jake got out the spotting scope, it was starting to rain harder and the clouds were coming down. The rain made it hard to use our optics and we struggled to be able to tell if the rams up high were legal. While Jake is glassing the rams on the head wall, I range and take a better look at the ram closest to us. He was 364 yards away; the more I looked the more I thought he looked like a very mature ram, big chest and thick neck. I look with my binos and see that his ends are thick and blunt and very little room between his bases. I tell Jake that I think that he is broomed off. He gets the spotting scope on him and says I don’t want to gets your hopes up but he does looked broomed. We could only see one side and needed him to turn so we could see the other horn. He stood up from his bed and turned to look our way. Jake was on him in the spotter and told me he was legal. I was in the prone and readied for the shot. I checked my muzzles line of fire and saw that if I fired from this position that my bullet would hit the rocks. I scramble forward to get into a shooting position and before I could he takes a set and is gone.
    My heart sank as my mind raced as what to do next. We look at each other and start to scramble over the loose shale moving up to see if we can get back on him. This was an old ram and had been driven down by the younger ram we saw high on the head wall. The jig is up now and the other sheep start to flush as we move up the drainage. He seems to have just vanished. Then I spot him going up a chute to my right. I try to range him but the rain and heat from body has fouled my range finder making it useless, I ask Jake the range and he has the same issue. We guess the range at 400 yards and I line up the shot. I squeeze the trigger and BOOM I see my round hit just under his belly. I ask Jake if he saw the impact as I lined up my second shot. Using my B&C reticle I used the next line of elevation and fired for the second time. I could see the round hit him in the shoulder and watched in horror as he started rolling down the chute. Jakes gets to him first, as he does I see movement up on top where the ram was going and there is a hunter standing waving at me. I could not believe anyone could even get to where he was. He continued to watch us as we dragged him down to more level ground and took a few photos and started to get ready to dress and cape out my ram. We get out our plastic and dress and cape the ram. We get it all packed up and ready to head down and we realize that we are not going to make it back down before dark.
    We took the ram at 7:45pm and by 9:30pm we are ready to head down, we have accepted that we cannot make it back down before dark. We begin to assess our situation; we inventory our gear and make some shocking discoveries. I don’t have any type of light; I had left my headlight at the base camp. I had a bivy cover and a pocket survival blanket; we had a tarp and our stove. Neither one of us want to walk through the alders smelling like a sheep sandwich in the dark with loads on our backs.
    We agree that the smartest thing to do is to hunker down on the mountain and wait for daylight. With the tarp we make a shelter using a large rock as a windbreak. The wind was blowing 20 to 30 mph and it was raining with the temp right at 40 degrees. I got into my bivy sack with all my clothes and Jake tried to wrap up in his tin foil blanket. He looked like a giant baked spud. We were both shivering like crazy, we were huddled up again the rock and each other. The colder it got the closer we got. After a few hours of being miserable I could feel the ground sucking the heat from my body. Jake stopped shivering and this made me concerned, as it is a sign of hypothermia. I told him to get into the bivy with me. With us both in it I could not zip it up. Cold water and wind now blew around my head. We held out, both on the edge of hypothermia until a couple hours before daylight, we had all we could stand. We got up and started running in circles and jumping up and down to get the blood flowing. I told Jake that I was going to fire up my MSR stove and see if that would help. I got it going and the heat felt wonderful. I told Jake to get back in the bivy and I would watch the stove. That little stove was my best friend for the next 2 hours. I did a lot of thinking during that night, I vowed to never let myself be away from camp without being ready to spend the night and to make sure whoever was with me was prepared as well. If your buddy don’t have a critical piece of gear then both of you are at risk. As the sun came up we were never more ready to get off the mountain and get dry.



    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
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    Aug 11th We are cold and soaked and it is still raining. On the way down we both struggle with heavy loads and rough terrain. As we move through the wet alders water transfers through my gortex gear and I am soaked to the bone. We arrive at base camp after about 3 hours both exhausted. Jake drops his packs and heads off to bed. I still have to tend to my meat and cape. We had planned to leave if I got a sheep and I called to see if we could get out. They told me no way for at least the next few days, a massive low had moved in and was flooding all over. I knew I had to get my cape cared for, I skinned out the skull and turned the lips and ears. I made a few mistakes doing this and should have been better prepared. I had planned on taking it straight to the taxidermist. After I got it skinned out I took it over and washed the blood off the hide in the creek. It was soaked from the rain and it was very bloody from the massive exit wound the 180-grain TSX left. I hung the meat and cut up some for dinner. I did not bring any salt trying to cut weight. I did have Ĺ gallon of a salt substitute called TTC. I salted the hide with it and rolled it up to brine. I was tired but I could not sleep. I was in total awe of the experience. I had never trained so hard and had to push myself beyond what I thought was possible to hunt anything like this before. I knew that as long as I could still walk I would be back to chase these magnificent creatures. I sat by the smoky alder fire and just enjoyed the moment. I looked around and found a couple pieces of rebar and made a make shift grill to cook some sheep back strap on. We were camping and I can camp with the best. I cooked up the sheep and made a couple of MHs and we both enjoyed a hardy dinner. I crashed and slept like the dead.


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    Aug 12th We get up and call the transporter, weather is still bad. We decide since we are here might as well try for another sheep for Jake. We pack up and head off to the north to explore some new ground. We walk several miles before breaking to eat. We spot a few sheep far off, but the rain makes it hard to see. We continue down the drainage until it ran into another, then we started up that one. As dark approached it was still so cloudy that you could not see anything. We found the most level spot we could and dug in for a wet night. We made dinner in the rain under a tarp. During the rainy night the single wall tent started both leaking and compensating badly with water pooling in the corners.

    Aug13th We woke to more rain and low ceilings. Impossible to hunt in these conditions and we decide to make for base camp. I call and again check weather, I forget to turn off the sat phone and put it in my pack. We make much better time on the trip back and arrive just after lunch. We are soaked from both the rain and walking through wet brush. We change into dry clothes and I make us a good meal. After eating we try our hand at fishing and fish until dark without any luck.
    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
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  6. #6

    Default white ram

    Congratulations and a great story! However, I think you might have to go after another ram to fulfill your quest because the ram in the photo is RED and white! Joking - good job!

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    Aug 14th We sleep in and are in full camp mode. While sitting around the fire drying our gear we have a visit from the guy I saw above us after I shot my ram. He comes over and asks to see my ram. I show him and he tells me that he had spotted that ram early in the morning and when he got above him it was raining so hard he could not judge if he was legal or not. Said that he watched him all day. I could tell he was disappointed that he let the opportunity slip away. I never had any Idea he was in that drainage. We thought they were farther away. He was a gentleman and congratulated me and grabbed some food from his tent and headed back up the mountain. I go get my sat phone to call the wife and realize I left it on and the battery is dead. This was a non-Motorola phone and I could not find a spare battery for it. Bought a new phone and spare battery when I got back as well. So now we have no contact with the transporter.


    Aug 15th We are hanging around camp when the pair of hunters we had spoken with on the first day return to the lake. They are brothers and one of them has taken a fine ram over 40 inches. They have a phone and say that their ride is on the way. We get excited and ask to use their phone, we call our taxi and they said the weather was still no good. The brothers are eating and burning all their extra gear trying to get light as possible and had already run out of fuel. They share their story and some trail mix with us. As it gets darker and darker they call back and get told that the plane had to turn around. We share our food and fuel and have another sheep dinner. We sit around the fire and swap lies into the night and after a while all head off to bed.

    Aug16th We get up to the best day we have had since we got there. We linger around camp and read the regs for the 3rd time. Jake is reading his book again and writing in his journal. We try fishing again and the fish are just not there. The 3rd pair of hunters is back empty handed and we all sit around and chew the fat. Just after noon the skies start to clear and we start seeing airplanes everywhere. The brotherís planes lands and we help them get loaded up and we use their phone one last time to call our taxi, they tell us he is on his way. We scramble to break camp and get packed. We hear a plane and look up to see our plane on final to the lake. He taxis over and we load up and head back. As we fly over god's country, I look down and just take in the beautiful scenery. We arrive back and get unloaded and head into Talkeetna for dinner and a cold beer.

    Aug 17th We drive back to Fairbanks and stop off at F&G to get my ram sealed. 28 Ĺ on the right and 28 ľ on the left with 13-inch bases. Aged at over 14, his teeth were almost worn out. The rain had still not stopped and flooded out the parks hwy as soon as we got past it. Dropped off the cape and horns at the taxidermist and return home happy and worn out. Thankful that we were home safe and dry and that within a year I should have him back and on my wall to cherish as long as I live. Jake and I still joke about our BROKEBACK mountain time. Thatís what drives me to hunt here, every hunts is an adventure and you can never lower your guard. Each time I look at my ram I remember that first cold night we spent together. Iíve shared my mistakes so that others may learn from my folly and avoid your own. The last Frontier plays rough and if you want play you had better be ready. I canít wait for winter to be over, and it set off on the trail of adventure once more. What a great place to live!!!!


    Steve
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    Member shphtr's Avatar
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    Welcome to Alaskan sheep hunting! Yup, every time I leave spike camp I am equipped to siwash if need be. It only gets better each year. re: water in your EV2 - did it actually leak, or was the water from condensation or rain coming in the vents? Good rendition of an Alaskan sheep hunt.
    Last edited by shphtr; 01-13-2009 at 13:52. Reason: add question,comment

  9. #9

    Thumbs up

    Absolutley great story and pics Stid! Congrats on a fine ram!

    I spend a good deal of time in mountain back country and I (have learned to) always have wool ski socks, wool ski thermals, wool gloves, wool cap and fleece neck gator with me in zip lock bags along with light weight rain jacket and pants (not goretex) I have seen the weather go from sunny 70's to cold blowing, rain and sleet 30's in less than an hour more than once.

    Thanks again for sharing your story

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    The single wall EV2, it leaked at the seams and made mad condensation, we had the vents open. As you can see from the picture we were in the clouds. Might do better in drier conditions, but it sucked hard on this trip. We were on an angle and the water was running under us getting everything inside wet. He sent it back as soon as we got home. It was also coming loose at a few seems. It was new and this was the first time he used it.

    Steve
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    Interesting story.

    Thank you for a well constructed read, you are very good with words.

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    Default Well done once again!

    Thank you for sharing. Now I've got the bug!!

    This stuff is golden, and you're just giving it away! Have you thought about sending your stories in for publication? You've got another career in you.

    Seriously, keep it coming.

  13. #13

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    Great write-up. I always enjoy your story's & pictures!

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    Default once again,

    great story and pics, thanks for sharing.... dang winter is killing me, need a good read everyonce in a while to remind me why i like it up here.

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    those MH EV2 and 3 tents are best for colder/drier conditions. mountaineering conditions. wouldn't take one in a wet/humid environment. that's how we learn, trial and error

  16. #16
    Member algonquin's Avatar
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    second all above, great story and you should publish it!

  17. #17
    Premium Member denalihunter's Avatar
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    Default Great story!

    Great Job Steve! I really enjoyed the story! Now I'm getting all sweaty waiting for the draw to come out! May all of us draw a tag this year for something!
    Experience Real Alaska! www.alpinecreeklodge.com

  18. #18

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    Spectacular. I always love your stories and photos. What I wouldn't give for some sheep meat.

    Don Mulligan

  19. #19
    Member FALCON's Avatar
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    Default Awesome !!!!

    That is a great story. You left no details out of your adventure !

    I got to live out my dream hunt in 07 at the age of 44 with a guided hunt in the Alaska
    Range. There is nothing in my life other then my relationship with God, and my family, that will ever top that once in a lifetime experience.

    Congrats on completing your quest for a dall ram !

  20. #20
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Broomed-broken warrior

    Nice story of a fine ram kill.
    Isn't it interesting how some rams keep their hornes "clean and unbroken", and then other broom and break the tips off. It takes a lot of whacking to break up the horn tips like that. Try smacking an old pick-up horn on some rocks and see how hard they are and how little damage occurs. My point here is that it takes a warrior of a ram to broom/break off the horns at that circumference. It makes me wonder how the horns were broomed/broken. Does it happen accidently during the rut when rams are smacking heads? Or accidently in a fall? Or might a ram intentinally rub em back to improve visibility? I wonder...

    Again...a very fine, old trophy, a warrior of a ram.

    Dennis
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