Sheep Hunt Dates: 7-17 August 2009
Transportation To Area: Supercub (only type of plane to access this Area)
Barneys frame and Pack (4 years old), Wiggy's Glacial Hunter bag, Mountain Hardwear "Bunker 1" solo tent, Trekking poles by Black diamond (2), Thermarest closed cell foam pad (9 oz.), MSR pocket Rocket w/ GSI cook pot and (1) 8oz. fuel can, WX tex water proof bag, North face tent for base camp.
Arcteryx Gamma mountain Pants(way better than Mammut champs), Patagonia capilene 3 thermal pants, and Capilene 2 thermal shirt and Mammut outer layer zip shirt, "Darn Tough"mountain wool socks from AMH,Lowa Boots, Rocky Glacial socks, Sitka Celsius Jacket, Sitka Nimbus Rain jacket, OR seattle sombrero, and sitka beanie ( only extra I took 1 pair of socks, 1 boxer shorts, 1 set extra thermals).
Rifle, Caliber and Ammo:
Remington 700 Alaskan Titanium, .280 Rem. shooting Federal Premiums with 140 grain Barnes TSX.
Carl Zeiss 60 power spotter, Swarovski ELs in 10x42, and Leupold Mildot "Mark 2" rifle scope 3x9x40., Nikon Monarch 800 range finder.
Location: Hmmm....Alaska Range West!
Well here it goes, I started my planning sort of late around May, long after finding out I have not been drawn for sheep, but I have been fairly busy working on Elmendorf AFB this year. I wanted to go back to the Brooks this year, but after talking to several people seems like everybody and their brother was going in there this year. I wanted to go to the Wrangells but I don't know that area very well, so I decided to stay close to Home, that being the Talkeetnas, and the Alaska Range. And after finding out theres not alot of good legal sheep in the Talkeetnas, the Alaska Range it Was. So I got my Gazeteer out and started studying ( and asking a few questions, as you all can recall my thread a while back) then I got into more detailed maps at higher scale. I picked three spots and when I flew in, I checked it all out and told the pilot where to put me down. After three attempts landing on a gravel bar that was pretty hairy,I finally arrived.
After setting up base camp, I assessed the area above and saw I was about to relive the Kodiak Nightmare! ALDER! I slept well that night and headed up in the morning, I bushwacked most of the morning through the Alder and made it to the Rocks, now the vertical climb and thats all it was was ascend then descend, The area I was trying to get to ( A.k.A. "Ram Alley") could only be accessed this way which I gave the name " The Gauntlet" The bad thing about these mountains was it was very dry, you could not find water anywhere except in the "Gauntlet" drainage so you have to take it. I forgot to mention there is an outfitter that guides close to this area but not this drainage, way too risky to bring clientel...So I was ALONE!...Nice! It took me two days and two spike camps before I reached the Face of it, which had a vertical so steep, I was practically rock climbing ( I did see a few small rams along the way) It was the morning of the 10th when I finally made it over and when I peaked over the crags and cliffs it was a green meadow like you would not imagine, I saw sheep way down below, until I put the spotter on them I realized there was a couple bands of Rams, there were some decent ones so I started my trek down slow & careful, as I got almost to the bottom Some movement caught my eye to the right, it was another band, but this band was made up Monster rams, I had to really look over them all before I decided which one I was going to take, I tend to look at Mass more than length, There might have been a longer horned one, and an old broomer, but things happen so fast, they were starting to move on me 'cause a smaller one busted me from over 500 yards, I could tell they were getting nervous, I did the stare down with the younger ram, 'til he commenced to feeding again, then I moved within 300 yards of my particular ram, I shot him at 289 yards, behind the right shoulder, taking out the left shoulder. Rams were running everywhere, they were confused (don't think these rams seen a human before) I started running down towards my ram and they were still standing waiting for there counter part to get up, they finally left but not far. They then bedded down high as I took pictures and butchered out the big ram. My work started when I arrived now the pain begins to get back to my LZ, and with Lack of water in these dry mountains, made it even worse. I had to shuttle my pack and horns skull and cape, I got roughly 70 pounds of deboned meat along with my gear which made my pack just over a hundred pounds, then I had to shuttle another 40 pounds of horn skull and cape. I did stay the night high above my kill hoping a wolf would come in, ( Griz not in season) but nothing. So on the 11th i headed back over the cliffs very slow ( the access over was over 5000 feet) took me over a day to get back in to the drainage to water. Tried a shorter way but no go! i had to do a control rock slide with my pack and holdind my sheep horns and cape in my lap, and my boots were the brakes, it was one of the most scariest experience. Well long story short It took three days to get back to Base camp (LZ) I took GPS coords and was 8 miles in, where I dropped the Ram, to topped that off I was stuck at LZ for 3 more days due to weather wind . rain and dense fog! One word describes this solo sheep hunt.....EPIC!!!! and loved every minute of it. I thank god for bringing me back alive and safe!
The Mighty Alaska Range!
My tribute to the troops