Here's the pics: DCUA 2006 Pics
Here's the story:
2 friends, 12 days, 50 miles, 2 first rams DCUA Walk In Hunt
The Initial Plan:
Hook 2 homemade game carts on the back of our mtn bikes, bike in 6 miles up the old road, stash the bikes in the brush, throw our packs on the carts and pull the carts overland on the atv trail to the Gerstle, hike the up Gerstle to July creek, drop the carts and head up to an area that I was at 3 years ago with another friend who shot his ram. About 20 miles.
Terrain and rivers change. We could only get our carts about two miles before reaching Bradford creek. Gerstle had a deep channel next to the mountain. No prob. Stash the carts and keep walking. Problem, still 8 miles or so from July creek and 11 or 12 miles from where we wanted to go. New Plan: Hunt Bradford Creek.
The Hunting Expedition.
8/8/06 Day 1: Got a late start. Left the rig at 11am. Biked in 6 miles pulling homemade game carts on a muddy road. Tough work pulling a cart with an 85lb pack on it. Stashed bikes, pulled carts almost to the Gerstle. Camped for the night.
8/9/06 Day 2: Pulled carts (slow going) as far as we could go. Stashed carts a couple miles before Bradford creek where the Gerstle ran up against the bank. Went on to Bradford creek. Hiked up Bradfrod creek about a mile to a spot we could get up the ridge. Camped for the night.
8/10/06 Day 3: Opening day- still not in sheep country. 1 day behind OUR schedule but... we were right on HIS Schedule. Hiked/climbed up the gnarly ridge and up into sheep country. Took us 8 hours to get up there. Steep, technical slow going. No way we were going to be able to come back down this. We would have to come back out via Bradford creek. Finally we arrived in a nice saddle, found water, pitched the tent- sheep camp 2006. We have arrived. Spotted 1 legal Ram and 1 maybe from the tent that night. Right on schedule.
8/11/06 Day 4: We were wasted and still had the whole hunt ahead of us. Spent the day resting, eating, guzzling water and gatorade and glassing. Spotted Rams. Right on schedule.
8/12/06 Day 5: The Third Day of sheep season, got up and felt rested and excited Spotted the "maybe" ram on across the drainage. Went after him, by the time we got there he vanished. Explored the country, glassed distant bowl and ridges, saw sheep everywhere. Hunted along the edge of a high plateau that dropped off into steep, did I say STEEP chutes full of craigs, etc. Ram country. Came across a maybe (the earlier maybe??) and a 3/4 curl just off the edge in the craigs. They made us and took off. We waited a bit and then pursued. While in pursuit I spotted another ram who was legal. Just at full curl, feeding on the edge of the plateau. I made a short stalk. Close as I could get was 300-350yds. At least what I figured at the time. I had a good rest, shot, knocked him over behind a little rise. I could see flashes of him as he flailed. I figured I lung shot him and hit some bone thus knocking him over. All the sudden he jumped up and gave two kicks or so, he was above the rise, below the rise, above the rise below the rise. No way to get another shot. He jumped over the edge into no mans land.... It happened in a matter of seconds. We got there and peered over the edge, took a breath and "went under"... down into STEEP no-mans land. He had taken a nasty fall but was still alive looking up at me, I couldn't believe it. About 200 yds, all I could see was the top of his back/neck and part of his head as he peered over the rocks. The only shot I had was off hand. Hit him just below the spine and knocked him down the chute. He took a nasty fall several hundred feet. My first shot was a little low. Slightly up hill, hit him high in the lower leg, up through the brisket and up threw the far shoulder. Missed any vitals. Went back to the same area two days later looking for another ram and figured he was further than I initially thought. Maybe a range finder next time. Getting down to him was a very high pucker factor. Steep, steep, steep. Loose, wet, muddy. If you fall, you go a thousand feet or more. No way to self arrest on that terrain. When I started down the chute the fog rolled in. We went from being at the edge of a grassy, sunny, green "happy/ friendly" plateu to a gray lifeless, unforgiving place of nothing but rock and mud within one or two minutes. The fog just added to the atmosphere making it surreal. That combined with the steepness of the terrain, adding the element of danger took us into that unique once in a lifetime kind of place. It was awesome to me, I took my time and paused and soaked it in. Plus I had to find good foot and hand holds!! Times like that really make me feel alive. I was at what I would consider my limit. What stopped him from falling was that he finally hit a small pile of larger rock on a little less steep terrain. I GOT MY FIRST RAM!!! Couldn't hardly believe it. After years of dreaming and months of preparation there he was, full curl, 34 inch, 12 inch bases, 9 years old. Not a whopper but a trophy to me. We got back to the tent that night at around ten. Pretty grueling hike back. Stashed the meat in the cool creek bottom below our ridge. One down, one to go. Right on schedule.
8/13/06 Day: 6 Woke up to socked in fog. Just as well. We rested. Started to clear a little around 2 or 3. We didn't venture to far that day. Went up our ridge a ways and glassed another bowl and a different part of the plateau. Saw Caribou and sheep grazing side by side. A truly unique thing to see. The sheep were youngsters with a few 3/4's. Tomorrow we go for number two. Right on schedule.