Great hunt for me and my buddy! Read on! Tastes great by the way!
The day before the season opener we set out hiking with full packs and strong legs, sun beating down on us and bugs biting our skin. The temp was hovering in the upper 60’s I’d guess. Carrying 3 liters of water each, we guzzled and climbed, higher and higher in hopes of spotting a legal ram or two before dark so that we could stalk and shoot first thing in the morning. Not seeing sheep was not too disappointing because we scouted this area a month ago and saw some nice, legal rams up in the cliffs that we were clawing our bodies and packs towards.
We did, however, find some incredible caribou antler sheds and couldn’t resist taking a few pics. Finally from “Caribou point” we spotted our first dall sheep – a ewe, then another, then another. We were finally in sheep country.
Must get higher… After sucking crystal clear water out of the mountain with our lips, we loaded up again and kept gaining elevation, stopping at every spring and brook trickling out of the drainages to hydrate. I remember taking note with Yogi that we’ve only pee’ed once since the start….must drink more.
Yogi couldn’t help but stop at every blueberry patch to load up on Mother Nature’s bounty, which turned out to be catchy, because I found myself stopping to eat the little goodies…..(not sure if I was stopping to rest, or to grab berries, but I wouldn’t admit the need to rest to my sheep partner who has 5 years on me and is ripped like Arnold the Terminator.
We finally made camp for the first night on a soft tundra bed, spotting only 1 ram that caught our interest. Waking up at 0700 with the sun beating down on my oven/tent I got up and stretched…..first day of sheep season!!!!!! After a quick glance at the mountain, I spotted a whole band of sheep about 2 miles away on the other side of the valley, near the summit. Above that band were 2 heavy horned sheep! With the swaro spotter out, I yelled at Yogi to see what I was seeing and we confirmed that there was 1 super dandy ram and another legal with him. Those sheep were going to be harvested before nightfall, we kept telling ourselves.
Our stalk was difficult. Everyway, the sheep would see us, except for one way….the hard way. We decided to play it safe and descend the mountain that we painfully climbed the day prior, stalk up the running creek bed, and climb up again to the top. There we would walk undetected above the sheep and in a mile or so, find the rams and let our rifles roar.
We made a time strategy schedule and lauded ourselves for beating our own expectations (the time tables we set for ourselves could have been beat by a medically retired one legged wheel-chaired science monkey, I think). Still, we were ahead of schedule and feeling good.
Once we climbed up ¼ of the mountain, we found a spot to make camp, lighten up, and prepare for a butt-kicking ascent. I told Yogi that I had spotted a broken horned ram up in the valley ahead of us and if he is still there, I wanted him. With that plan, Yogi agreed that he would then go after the big-boy we saw after I killed the broken horn.
When we neared the top, there were dall sheep everywhere!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Band here, band there, all ewes and lambs. Yogi was glassing a bunch of sheep and I decided to go 5 minutes more up and peek over the other side when all of a sudden, I came around the corner and came face to face with 4 resting rams about 100 yards away. They looked at me amazed and surprised. None of them got up! I quickly ducked behind some rocks, took my scope cover off, chambered a round in my .270 WSM Sako and army-guy low crawled to a pile of rocks to get a better look. I peered over the rock and all of the rams were looking at me like I looked at substitute teachers in 3rd grade, “Who the heck are you and what are you doing up here?”
I picked out a monster ram, clearly the oldest, heaviest, but not full curl, not broken horned. The next in line was a younger ram with a full curl. The other two were legal next year. The rams got tired of me looking at them and stood up. I took the safety off and fired a round into the full curl young one. 3 rams took off, mine stood still, not moving a muscle.
Seeing that he was less than 5 yards from a 700-800 foot cliff, I fired another round into the same hole, still no movement. I chambered my last round and fired it (all 3 shots in a group about 2 inches or so behind the shoulder). That one did it and he fell towards the cliff. I held my breath and he quickly expired. Just then, I saw Yogi running up behind me saying did you get one? I nodded yep. He smiled huge.
We walked up to my ram and I put my hands on him, Yogi was getting his bino’s out as there were sheep everywhere. He was one step ahead of me… I saw 4 rams making their way down the avalanche chute and told Yogi that I see a big ram. He grabbed Mr. Blastie .270 Winchester and laid down in sheep poop prone lining up the cross-hairs. “How far”, he asked. “About 300”, I said. He said, get the spotter, I turned around and heard BOOM! I glanced over my shoulder and saw the largest ram taking a tumble. NICE SHOT YOGI!
The other 3 rams would not leave the monarch alone…they would not leave him. They stayed there watching their leader sit in the rocks. Yogi snuck around the cliffs and placed another shot fatally into the ram and he tumbled and tumbled down the chute going from white to reddish-white to red. I had my spotter on the ram and noticed that one horn was broomed/broken and the other was full curl and the ram was ancient! Nice ram! Yogi had trouble talking as some tears were starting to run…. He still had smooshed up sheep poop all over him, too, I noticed. Glad I had my own tent to sleep in.
We gutted my ram, descended to his ram, boned it out, packed it up, and clawed our way to the top, happened to bump more legal rams about 100 yards from us, where we started caping and cleaning mine. With full packs about 110 lbs each, we started down to camp about 2100 hrs. Arriving to the steepest part, we knew that walking down it was impossible.
I thought about rolling my pack down the mountain like Yogi’s sheep rolled down the cliff, but thoughts of a disintegrating frame kept me from doing that. Yogi tried a controlled drag down the mountain and his brilliant idea worked! We effortlessly lead our packs down to the tents over the slick tundra. Bed felt good.
A heavy load out of meat and gear to the trucks the next day took twice as long as we estimated. At the trucks I loaded up on Rockstar and Nitrous energy drink, Yogi probably had something healthy like water and Gatorade, we ate jerky and took a snoozer. Knowing we had to go back up that creek bed we agonizingly started on our way, light in humor and cheer but heavy in the legs and lower back, we barely made it back to the camp by dark. Bed felt good, again.
We woke up the next morning, finished some prep work on our capes, cooked up some sheep meat (fabulous, by the way! --- Thanks Yogi for bringing the McCormicks BBQ seasoning), and loaded up for the final out.
The company was exceptional, the hunt was perfect, our bodies held up, Yogi’s better than mine, and neither of us would trade the experience for anything. Thoughts and plans for next year’s sheep hunt, stimulated by the 5 or 6 other legal full curls we saw, have a very real chance at realizing.
The sealing process was just fine, the sheep are at the best taxidermist in Alaska, and the meat is in the freezer. I, we love AK! Enjoy the pix!
In case anyone was wondering where we were hunting and saw all of these full curl rams with no one in sight, we were in a North-South position, paralleling the East West border of the river that flows up into the park that exists on the flats, between the inverted mountains with the rock on top, around the corner up on the shelf, quem ‘e a sua madre, soltei un peido! J Next year I’m packing a sling shot for ground squirrels…long story….too long for this posting.