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Thread: DCUA Sheep Hunt

  1. #1
    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    Default DCUA Sheep Hunt

    I just got back from my DCUA sheep hunt and thought I would share my story. I admit that up until a few months ago, I knew absolutely nothing about hunting sheep in Alaska. I put in for sheep in the drawing expecting to apply for many years before I got the oppurtunity to hunt them, and then went about planning hunts for caribou, moose and bear. When I found out that I drew the DCUA tag, planning went into overdrive and I started reading books, talking to biologists and guides, learning how to judge legal rams, and absorbing as much info as I could to have a great hunt. I was lucky to have a co-worker who drew this tag so he helped me out with picking an area to focus on, and getting my gear ready for the hunt. I tried my best to get my gear down to 50 pounds, but in the end I weighed my pack with gun and water at 67 pounds. My buddy stressed to me that I needed to drop some weight, but I am hardheaded and chose to go with what I had. Now I understand why sheep hunters get so crazy about every ounce of gear they have....lessons learned I guess!! So here we go....

    Day 1: Saturday August 7th
    John (my sherpa!) and I got off the ferry from Kodiak at 8am, our destination was the Gerstle River campground about 10 hours away. We made it to the parking area at 8pm, with the only stops being for gas and a bite to eat. There was one other vehicle at the parking area, which had me worried for a second, but I figured we had plenty of time to get up into sheep country and get away from other hunters. We brought along two mountain bikes and a cargo trailer to get us in as far as possible before we would start hiking. We loaded up our packs in the trailer, filled up our water, and off we went. By 10:00 pm we had made it 7.3 miles in and set up our camp for the night. The bikes and trailer worked perfect in getting us in that far in such a short amount of time, without them it would have been a long boring hike down the trail.

    Day 2: Sunday August 8th
    The alarm went off at 6am, a small rain shower had passed though during the night but the sky was blue this morning and the sun was starting to poke through. We had breakfast and laughed about how awesome the mountain bikes and trailer were, and decided we would try to get them in another mile or so before we would start hiking. We packed up camp and hit the trail by 7am. The trail started to get nasty after about 3/4 of a mile, and after I wrecked the bike in a mud puddle and threw out a couple of F-Bombs we decided to stash them in the woods and hit the trail on foot. We passed through some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen as we made our way up to 4200 feet to our second campsite of the trip. We had seen a few caribou along the way, but no sheep yet. I looked at my gps over dinner and reviewed our route for the next day, we would be in sheep country at our first glassing area by 10am. We sailed off to sleep just as another rain shower began passing through.
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    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    Here are some pictures of the mudhole that took me out, I was p*ssed for a second until I realized that would be the closest thing I would have to a shower for the next week!
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    Some pictures of the scenery going up...
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    More Pictures...
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    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    Last two pictures then I will get on with the story!
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    Member ACNDHO's Avatar
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    Oh man ya got me going, I'm waiting!
    Even a jackass won't stumble on the same stone twice.

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    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    Day 3: 1 day till sheep opener

    The alarm went off at 6am and John & I awoke to another sunny day with blue skies. A small group of caribou passed through camp, I took a few pictures and went back to breaking down the tent. A two mile hike over the hill behind camp put us into view of the first set of mountains we were going to glass for sheep. This glassing area was about 20 miles from where we started our trip. The plan was to start here, and if we ran into other hunters or did not find any legal rams, we would move onto area two which was another 3 miles further. If area two was no good we would move onto area three which was another 4 miles further. We found a nice area to lay down and set up the spotting scope to start glassing and immediately had a small group of rams in the scope. We stayed on them for about an hour and came to the conclusion that there were no legal rams in the group. We stayed at area one for most of the day finding only one other ram that was a 3/4 curl. John and I decided we should cross the spine that would put us into area two and see what rams we could find in that area. Two hours and three miles later put us up at 6000 feet in area two. Before we could start glassing the winds had picked up to 60 MPH and dark skies were moving in quick. We set up camp with the intentions to get a good nights rest and ride out the storm. With tomorrow being opening day we were excited that we were up in sheep country and seeing rams. I thought to myself that even if it rained on me the rest of the trip and I didn't get the opportunity to take a ram, the trip was a success. By 9pm the rain had stopped the the suns rays were lighting up my tent. John broke the silence by saying "You know Steve, the weather is pretty nice out there now, we should probably be out glassing!" "Let's go" I said, and we were off down the side of the hill to a nice mossy area to start glassing. In front of us the mountain dropped down 1,000 feet into a valley then back up to a large area of flat grassland and rolling hills about 2 miles away from where we were glassing. There were sheep everywhere grazing along the hills. We spent the last hours of daylight peering through the spotting scope at hundreds of ewes & lambs and sub legal rams. Every ram that was close to being legal I wanted to go after in the morning, but I calmed myself down and figured I would be patient and something would come along. Right as we were packing up I noticed a group of 8 sheep on a different part of the plateau we had not glassed yet. As soon as the spotting scope was on them we knew without a doubt there were a few legal ones in the group. We stayed on them until they went to bed on the side of a craggy cliff, and off to the tents we went. We now had a reason to cross the valley and go just an extra couple of miles with the hopes of getting on them in the morning. Off to sleep with the excitement of big rams in the morning!!
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    Pictures from camp...
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    Member c04hoosier's Avatar
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    POST FASTER--CAN'T TAKE THE SUSPENSE!!!

    Seriously, though, so far it looks like an awesome hunt. That appears to be the same area I hunted back in '08. Absolutely awesome place. I'm jealous...

  10. #10
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    I know that typing up a good account of a hunt takes time, but all I've got to say is that you'd better finish before I go to bed or I'll be up all night hitting refresh. Your fans are on the edges of their seats!

  11. #11
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    Day 4: Opening Day!!

    The alarm went off at 5:30 to clear skies and 8 small white specks across the valley up and moving. We woofed down breakfast and packed up camp before starting our hike to catch up to the rams. We lost sight of them as we descended down the valley and within an hour we were up on the plateau on the other side setting up a game plan. At that point we figured they were still about a mile away and with the wind at our backs we were going to go out of the way to get in front of them so they would not wind us. The last place we saw them was on a large flat area of grassland grazing so we hoped they would still be in the same area when we got around to them. Another hour passed and we found ourselves summiting a small hill with the hopes of the rams being on the other side a few hundred yards away. We crawed to the top and peered over......no rams!! The country looked completely different from this close. There were dozens of places they could have gone that we could not have saw from 3 miles away on the other mountain. I had a feeling they were probably bedded down on the cliffs where the land dropped off several hundred yards in front of us. My first thought was to get comfortable and wait to see if they would pop out later in the day, but the excitement got the best of us and we had to creep forward and peek over the edge and see if they were down there. The wind was blowing covering any sound we were making, and we made a wide loop down to the cliffs making sure if they were down there they would not wind us. We got down to the edge and looked straight down..No rams. As our eyes scanned to the right we picked up 8 white bodies bedded along the cliffs, we had guessed right. I pulled out the spotting scope and rangefinder and ranged them at 538 yards. After 30 minutes of looking we determined there were three possible legals, two 3/4 curl and three young rams. John made the call that we should get to the next overhang, which was 200 yards from them, and glass them until we were 100% sure they were legal....off we go

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    Member aktomboy's Avatar
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    Yep I agree type faster!! The refresh button is getting a work out

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    We grabbed our gear and start hiking forward along the top toward the overhang we would glass from. We were moving at a good pace when I happened to look up and noticed one of the rams had moved to a different part of the cliff and was standing staring right at us!! "Oh sh*t John, were busted!". Slowly, we got down to our knees and played the waiting game. I told john to keep his eyes on the ram and when he wasn't looking we would drop our packs and belly craw until we were out of sight. After 20 minutes of staying perfectly still, our muscles cramping, and the ram staring he finally bedded down and looked the other way. Our packs were off and we were headed to our lookout with nothing but the spotting scope, binoculars and my gun. We got to a flat spot on top, laid on our bellies and inched our way to the edge. When we popped over and looked down there were 4 rams 95 yards away. We set up the spotting scope and looked the two biggest ones over for the next two hours. The one on top was standing, looking over the country below him for danger the entire time. He was definitely full curl, broomed on both sides and light horned. He was definitely the dominent ram, and John was convinced he was the one I should take, the safe bet. As John was studying that ram, I could not take my eyes off the one bedded below him. This one was looking forward the whole time, I could not get a side view to judge curl but the base of his horns were MASSIVE! definitely more mass than any of the other rams. We put the scope on 30 power and studied his horns, glaring right into his yellow eyes which was an amazing experience. We practiced counting his rings, to which we both came up with eight. His horns appeared to be a full curl, and he was so much bigger than the ram above him we finally decided that he was a legal ram in our eyes. I moved 5 yards up from John and chambered a round. I was now set up and waiting for him to get up from his bed so I could take the shot.

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    Nice write-up bud - you have an audience!

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    Member Zinker's Avatar
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    Can't wait hurry hurry!

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    Member powderhound's Avatar
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    I love these kind of topics! You know the delayed post really make this even a better story. Should consider writing a book, I will buy the first copy.

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    I'm in Afghanistan and it takes FOREVER to refresh this page hoping for more...hurry!

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    Member ACNDHO's Avatar
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    PLEEEEEEEEEEEEase!!! I gotta go to bed for work tomorrow. It will be tough counting sheep tonight to get to sleep!
    Even a jackass won't stumble on the same stone twice.

  19. #19
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    I laid my head down and relaxed as the suns rays warmed the back of my neck. I remember I was thinking about how cool of an experience this was when John eagerly whispered "He's up, get ready". I got into the sitting position and started adjusting my bipod as he jumped up the rocks to a flat spot to stand. He caught me moving and stared right at me as I moved the crosshairs right behind his shoulder. I took a breath and had squeezed the trigger before I even realized it. A small puff of hair came off his body and he dissapeared running behind the cliff. I ran along I top with John in tow as rams busted out of their beds and ran every direction along the cliffs. I was not sure where my ram had gone in all the excitement so I walked over and looked down to where he was last standing. I could see blood sprayed along the grass for 20 feet then it was gone. We climbed down 100 feet to the last spot of blood and there he was lodged on a trash can sized boulder, and a 900 foot drop below him. He had only fallen 8 feet and that one boulder saved my trophy from a devastating fall. We took our pictures and cared for him right on the side of the cliff making it to a camp next to a small lake just as the rain started. We awoke the next morning to sun and blue skies again and started on the cape, finishing it around 3pm. This is the part of the story where my 67 pound pack came back to bite me in the as*. We made the 18 mile DEATH MARCH back to the bikes in a day and a half and my body has never been so abused in my life!! The night of day 6 had us only one mile from the bikes and seeing them the morning of day 7 was the sweetest sight ever. We loaded the the trailer (too top heavy) and crashed it the first 1/2 mile of our 8 mile trip back to the vehicles, the crash left the wheel bent in half. We molded the wheel back to as straight as we could get it and wobbled that trailer all the way out. Man, what an adventure!!

    I feel so fortunate to have experienced such an incredable adventure. We hiked a total of 58.7 miles in 6 days, through country we had never seen before. We never got rained on outside of the tent, had 7 mornings of sunshine, never saw another human being, never got lost or injured. We had a ton of laughs, saw the earth at 6000 feet, and took of the most amazing, beautiful creatures I have every saw. I hope everyone gets to experience something like this in their lifetime.

    As far as the ram, he was 91/2 years old and his horns measured 37 1/8 with 14" bases (As per the biologist who sealed him in Delta Junction). Thanks for reading my story!!! Here are some pictures
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    Member aktomboy's Avatar
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    Awesome story and Congrats!!

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