Well I have finally gotten around to posting this stuff, so here it comes.
We fly into basecamp on the 7th. Spot one sub-legal ram right above camp, but we decide we'll go up this other canyon to hunt. On the 8th we hike in and set up spike camp. That evening we do a little scouting and see 0 sheep, not a great sign, but nothing to get worried about. Yet. Did see a big wolverine. Didn't have a camera though. We wake up on the 9th, and it's blowing 40 with a bunch of snow. Great. This is just wonderful. Why am I here again??? Head down to base camp to find our big Eureka Tundra Extreme tent is blown down on one side, and it's now 2 hours of hell trying to fight it in this wind. Our 8X8 tent is now a 6X6 in this wind. Disappointed, we head back up the mountain on the 10th when I see a bear at about 300 yards. Needless to say, we did shoot that bear, but I will tell that story at the end, as her taking was definetly not in the plans.
Evening of the 10th we are way back up in this canyon, glassing all these side canyons, and there isn't ONE sheep to be found. No ewes. No lambs. No rams. NOTHING. Taking a break on the way down, we look across the canyon, and the largest Arctic Grizz I have ever seen comes strolling down the mountain, not 1/2 mile from spike camp. There is also a sow with 2 cubs about 100 yards below him. Gee no wonder there are no sheep here. 5 bears, a wolverine and wolf tracks. Great combination. So we decide we'll fling some lead at them to try and send the message they will not be tolerated in our camp. The large boar took the message well, I have never seen a bear run so fast up such a steep mountain side. Momma bear, well she just lounged around with her cubs. Now we get to spend that night thinking of just how many bears there might be in this canyon. Goodie.
Wake up on the 11th and pack the spike camp out. Look at the maps and decide on the 12th we'll hunt a nasty, steep, boulder filled creek bottom, a likely ramy area. We lounge around the rest of the day on the 11th, and to say morale was low was not accurate. We had seen one sheep to that point, had our basecamp tent nearly blown down, and saw more bears up that one canyon then I have on the entire time I've spent on the Kenai pen. Then the great equalizer comes that night. In almost the exact same spot as the first night, we spot a ram, but its a different one. He is larger, but not quite full curl. If I had to bet my life on it, I think he would've been 8 years old. Needless to say, we were now definetly motivated.
Leave basecamp at 930 and spot a ram up in an outcropping. Little guy, slightly better that 3/4 curl. We head on, and on and on some more. I didn't realize just how long we had gone, but for some reason, there was a special something that just made us want to keep going. We begin to see sheep sign. Tracks and scat. Some of those tracks are very large, it looks like a group of rams had been down to drink at the creek at sometime in the previous 24 hours. At 430 we sit down for a mountain house lunch on a grassy little knob in the bottom of this canyon. To that point, we had only seen the one ram, but we were not bummed. We were still not bummed out when I looked over, and see 3 rams staring at us in this rock pile about 300 yards away. I about jumped out of my boots grabbing my rifle. We didn't even bother with the spotting scope. They were rams. They were within range.
They were dead.
Or at least 2 of them were going to be. We glass them over and all the while they just stand there, staring, having no idea that their life expectancy was rapidly deteriorating. My dad tells me the left one is for sure legal, and he want my opinion on the right one. The right one has extremely large horns and is broomed on one side, but we can't see the other. So I get ready and line up on that legal ram and touch one off. 276 yards later, that ram was feeling the hurt. He staggered for a little bit, but refused to go down. The other 2 rams just stood there and BOOM. My dad shoots. The ram runs up the rock pile like he had not been hit, but later we found out he did. BOOM. Shoots again, ram staggers and topples over. My ram is still trying to get up and go, but it just ain't happening.
WOW. We just toppled over 2 nice rams literally side by side. Now comes the fun part. We get up to them and take pics and high 5's and skin, cape, quarter and bone. It's now 1130 at night and we begin to back down to camp. My feet have never hurt so badly in my lifetime until that night. 530am rolls around and we are now in camp. We leave them meat sitting right outside the tent. Screw the bears. We were too tired. Get up at noon and go do it again. 915 we roll back in done. We are sooo happy to be done. I will never walk up that canyon again. That is why those rams lived their. It was the nastiest, slowest going place a man could ever set foot. And we went only 3 miles into it. But it was worth it.
Now for the bear story. Lets go back to opening day, Aug. 10th. We begin to head up to spike camp when at about 300 yards, I spot a bear walking down this hill. We glass her over and notice she is walking down, the exact trail we walked coming out the day before. She is not running, but boy did she move fast. We notice she is not only following our trail, but she more than likely gorged herself on our spike camp tent and food. Great. We have no choice but to shoot this bear. Don't shoot it, go up and find a destroyed spike camp tent, come back and find a destroyed base camp tent, no. Not going to happen. So we lay down, rifles across the packs and suddenly there she is. 50 yards away just walking along. My dad was shooting a 7mm Remington magnum with 140grain Accubond bullets. Not exactly the primo brown bear load. He tells me once he shoots to not stop shooting till that bear lay dead. He didn't have to tell me. I didn't have a tag, as I was tagged out. BOOM. He shoots, bear falls down and gets up and is looking right straight at me. BOOM. BOOM. BOOM. BOOM. Dead bear. I didn't give her one prayer. 4 shots from the 150 grain Barnes TSX and she was ventilated. We didn't want to shoot this bear. She was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, going the wrong direction. Very pretty bear though, but not much bigger than an average size blackie.