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Thread: Lessons in the sheep mountains and a 5 year old full curl ram....

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    Default Lessons in the sheep mountains and a 5 year old full curl ram....

    Strange things can happen in the sheep mountains. It's a place where one can learn quite a bit. Not only about sheep hunting, but about himself as well. Here's my story and hopefully the armchair judges won't slam me too bad. But, I figure maybe someone can learn from my lesson that I learned last week.

    My Pastor friend and I went on this sheep hunt together. I had been planning another walk in hunt and asked him if he wanted to go. That was in Feb after finding that neither one of us drew DCUA or TMA. We committed to go and then one day he says he knows someone who can fly us in. We planned on the Brooks but time and logistics would not allow. So we came up with another plan and location. He shot a brooks range ram about 12 years ago and had not been sheep hunting since. He knew I'd been trying to reconnect on a ram for a few years. Came home sheepless the last two years. The year before that Roland-AlaskaCub and I got one but Roland got to lower the boom on him. We stalked it together but Roland was the designated shooter. It was awesome. Anyway, I digress…. This trip my partner, Andy, said I should be first shooter.

    After getting dropped off on the 8th we humped it up the drainage through the brush, across the river through the brush and up to about 4800. This took all day and into the evening and found us out of water. Our mission the 9th was to find water and a flat spot to pitch the tent not too close to where we wanted to hunt and of course scout for some rams! Water was nowhere to be found except down over into a steep narrow chute. I was able to see the water with my spotter quite a ways down. We pitched the tent at about 5300 in a saddle that did not afford any protection from the prevailing winds that howled off the BIG mountains down the drainage and pummeled us for the rest of the trip. We were thankful for the Hilleberg Tarra tent. I call it the bunker. Man that thing can take the wind. We dropped down, got water, humped back up and headed out to do some scouting. A mile or two later and up higher we peeked over a little ridge and bingo…. across the head of the bowl in the saddle is a band of 10 rams! 3 of them look pretty good. One has quite a bit of drop, horns go pretty much straight down and past his jaw, tips turn out and he looks full curl. Another one looked like he might reach full curl on one side but maybe not on the other, hard to tell. The last one looked full curl but hard to tell. Anyway, we were stoked. We got back to the tent and thought about our water situation. No way we wanted to have to drop down and get water every day so we took two trash compactor bags down and filled em up with 5 gal each in our packs and humped it up….. that takes care of that!

    The next morning we head out up to the band of rams. About half way there we spot 2 rams down on a finger ridge. One looks possible. I scoped him out, he might be the one that could go full curl on one side but I can't be 100% sure from the angle. We have no cover so we lay low and watch. Finally they move up the ridge to the rocks and bed down. We scootch around a little cover and then see 3 more rams bedded right where we need to go. We're pinned down. The two rams get up and mozy over the ridge just out of sight. We wait, the three little rams finally get up and move on down and over a different part of the ridge. Now it's game on!

    They next scenario plays out in the span of about 2 minutes I'd say….

    We get up to the ridge and belly crawl up and peek over a little clump of rocks. Right there about 30 yds out are two rams. One bedded and one feeding, I can't get a clear look at the horns and then see just beyond them 3 other rams! But, we have a problem, one of the two closer ones thinks something is up. I think he heard us and caught a little movement. He was on high alert. He kind of nervously moves away a little and the other one jumps up and they both run away from us, up jump the other 3 and then out of nowhere, beyond the 5 a bunch more rams jump up! They all bunched together in a big swirling mass of white fur and horns, they were all kind of reacting off each other but didn't bolt. They are at about 250 yds now, I'm looking through my binos and count 14 rams! I'm trying to get a close look at the biggest one but he's being surrounded by the smaller ones. Mostly all 3/4 to 7/8 no banana rams. He looks good, oh wait, maybe not… oh wait he looks good… They are moving away up to the top of the ridge. This going to have to happen quick. I grab my rifle chamber a round, safety on and I'm trying to get a clear look and hopefully a clear shot at the bigger one. Maybe, just maybe I'll get a shot. Suddenly there he is, standing broadside, no rams in between us or behind him, just the hill side. He's looking right at me, crosshairs in the kill zone, I'm resting on the rocks. I hesitate…. is he legal?? He's looking straight at us….. but the tips are below the eyes from this angle…. that may or may not matter… then Andy says…. you've got a shot… he looks good take him… I hesitate…. I squeeze the trigger….. the safety is on!?!? This is where it gets strange for me and the lesson comes in. My first reaction internally was …whew…. and a sense of relief and that possibly divine intervention saved my from killing a sublegal ram, then I said "Oh crap, the safety"…. I flipped it off, the ram turned away and around, still giving me a shot for a brief moment. I didn't pull the trigger, all the rams went over the ridge and we never did see them together in the bunch again….. I had gotten a second change to shoot… or not to shoot. I didn't shoot. I then became haunted by the event….

    "What just happened here?" I said to myself. Did I just blow my chance at a legal ram? I've been waiting all year for this, and then at the moment of opportunity did I forget to flip the safety off like a young boy shooting his first deer? I can't even remember the last time I ever did that. Or, was it because when I shouldered my rifle I was not sure of my target? I was not ready to shoot, I still needed to make sure he was legal and I didn't want to take a chance at hitting the wrong ram. I wrestled with this for a few days and of course my partner and I talked about it. He thought the ram in the bunch was the one we watched go up the ridge and was sure in his mind it was legal. I wasn't 100% sure that ram was legal, or that he was the same ram in the bunch of 14. In the heat of the frenzy of the flocking rams I deferred to someone else's judgment and pulled the trigger, the safety was on but… I did pull the trigger. Here's a pic of the two rams I took through my spotter at 52 power. After getting home and looking at it I don't think he's legal. I think I was very fortunate my safety was on and that I did not shoot when I had the second chance.



    Here's a blow up, his left horn curls up but hard to tell here. Anyway, this may or may not have been the ram I had in the cross hairs.

    Last edited by Snyd; 02-07-2011 at 14:23.

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    We hunted around and did not see that band of rams again but based on the area and other rams we saw that day we are confident we saw 22 different rams and 11 ewes and lambs. We may have found a little ram pocket honey hole. very few banana rams. Mostly 3/4 - 7/8 I'd guess.

    The next day we head on back up our series of ridges. We spot 3 rams on the mineral lick (oh ya, we found a lick that was getting hit heavy) They are 2 half curls and a banana. We scootch up and past where we had the excitement the day before and then notice another ram on the lick across the valley. I get the spotter on him and can see his lamb tips coming up past his eye plane as day. Time to go!! Andy says " well… who's the shooter on this one?" I say " Andy, yesterday I had that ram in my crosshairs and I pulled the trigger…. " This one's yours. We had to head up the ridge, across some scree, up to a saddle, up another point and then down across the saddle at the head of the bowl. In the meantime he had moved off the lick and bedded in rocks with his back towards us looking down the another drainage. We headed up a steep pitch, sidehilled some cliffs like a goat, popped up and over the ridge and began the belly crawl. Two of the other three were now walking across the head of the bowl, the did'nt see us but the other one had moved down and was below us. He busted us and took of like a shot across the drainage. Andy whips his rifle around " IS THAT HIM??" he says. I got him in my binos "NO!" I say. Then, up above out comes the forth ram, I get in my binos, he's on the move across the bowl, I had already ranged it at about 289 yds. I say "there he is!" BOOM!! the pre 64 model 70 270 win that Andy has had since he was 12 barks out the handloaded 130gr hornady. It's a hit but the ram is still moving, limping, BOOM! he hits him again but he keeps on going, and at a pretty good clip. He keeps shooting but misses, he's in an awkward shooting position. He needs to reload and only has 2 more rounds. I get in position with a good rest, the ram's at about 400yds by now. Andy says "shoot him!" I shoot twice at the moving ram with the 325 with 200gr Accubonds and see the rocks fly below him once and behind him once. Then he stopped, that was it the third one put him down, hit him just below the spine. Andy's first shot broke his leg, second shot the ram was quartering away/up an entered just in front of a hind quarter grazing it and exited just at the rear of a shoulder, we recovered the bullet. Nice little 270 mushroom. Was done for but we didn't want him going any further.



    F&G was really impressed with this ram. He's pretty unusual they said. He's just past full curl, 13.5 inch bases, 33 inches and he's only 5 years old. He'd been quite a ram in another three or 4 years they said. They said it's been a long time since they'd seen a young full curl like this guy.

    Packing sheep! It sure beats packing water!!



    Back to the bunker!



    We hunted for 3 more days and did not see any more legal rams. Just a few youngsters left around. We ran em out we figure. One little guy we affectionalty named "point seven five". We stalked him a couple time for fun. We also found another .75 laying in a nice little cave. That was cool. First time I'd seen one in a cave. Saw a big griz a couple miles away eating berrys, lots of caribou and had just an excellent adventure in the mountains of Alaska. I've now been on 6 sheep hunts, got to gut and pack 5 rams, lowered the boom on one, made two succesfull stalks with my partners being the shooters and got to backup one. I'm a blessed man. And I'll be 50 this week!
    Last edited by Snyd; 02-07-2011 at 14:30.

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    Default a few more pics

    A dinner table with a view....



    A real meal!! Andy chomps in to his first sheep heart while I got the ribs ready!



    Last edited by Snyd; 02-07-2011 at 14:25.

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    Another year as the bridesmaid there Snyd!! But a great hunt all the same. From that angle it looks like the safety may have saved you but hard to tell. If the tips flared out it may have been full curl. As good as that spotter is with the gray sky for a background it is still hard to really see the tips clearly.

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    I could go for some Sheep Heart onna stick....as well as some Tounge Kabob

    Great hunt, all around.
    Nothing better than working together and sharing the experiance.
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

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    Snyd sounds like a great time,good job on the hunt. I've always said on sheep hunts like that, It doesn't matter who pulls the trigger you both got the ram. Me and my partner always thought like that and shared or took turns shooting, it makes for good times and also good hunting buddys do that for each other. I think it's a good thing your safety was on I just can't make those horns come back up to the base. I have a 32" 5 year old brooks sheep on my wall, full curl, shot 8 years ago, 10 day hunt only one we saw.

    Good to see some one else using those compactor bags. I mentioned them in an earlier post on using them for cooling meat in in a creek. Never thought of packing water in them good idea. Any way I sure like haveing a few with me on a hunt.

    50 years old and still climbing don't stop now Snyd

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    Thanks Snyd! That was a great read. I think things like this happen more than people would like to admit. Your clearly a great hunting buddy, and I know from experience...those are hard to find.

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    Nicely done, congrats. Great pic series.
    Last edited by whitepalm; 08-18-2010 at 07:19. Reason: sp

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    My mouth is watering at that rack of ribs over the open fire...

    Nice write up Snyd, that pic of the dinner table is stellar. I'd guess that having the safety on was a blessing in disguise. It might haunt you for a while, but shooting a sub legal and having it confiscated and getting fined would have haunted you longer. Start planning for next year!

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    Nice read and thanks for sharing your hunting story!

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    Great write up and pictures - Job well done - hope to see you on the banks of the Koyukuk on your next adventure.

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    Great story and picts. Glad to see you guys got a ram.

    Tim

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    Very nice Perry. Did that one get sealed in Tok? I saw a 5 year old ram and was quite impressed! Great write up!

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    Snyd,

    Way to go man!!! Great story and wonderful pics. What a wonderful B-day present getting to spend time with your Pastor while you both enjoy His creation. Though flying out on Sunday the 8th made me wonder if he called in sick for work in order to fly out with you. Thanks for the great read and enjoy that sheep meat. I'm still looking for my first sheep and can only hope to be as blessed as you two on this hunt.

    Thanks again

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    Perry,

    Glad to hear that you both had a safe hunt. Sorry that you could not connect on a Ram, but sounds like you have a great place to go next year to even the score. Great report as always, Thanks for sharing. I too was looking forward to grilled ribs, However my 325 kinda grilled them for me.

    Congrats to you both.

    Steve
    Last edited by stid2677; 08-18-2010 at 09:41.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stid2677 View Post
    Perry,

    Glad to hear that you both had a safe hunt. Sorry that you could not connect on a Ram, but sounds like you have a great place to go next year to even the score. Great report as always, Thanks for sharing. I too was looking forward to grilled ribs, However my 325 kinda grilled them for me.

    Congrats to you both.

    Steve

    Steve
    LOL reading both your accounts and seeing the cooking pictures... i have a hard time thinking you guys carried much meat home... dang stid cooked half a sheep each day!...
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

    meet on face book here

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    Wonderful post Steve, great adventure and for sure some "gut check" moments.
    I am not sure I would ever be a good judge of sheep horn length - my hats off to those that can!
    Thankls for taking us on your adventure and good luck filling that quest in the future!
    Randy
    When asked what state I live in I say "The State of Confusion", better known as IL....

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    SNYD, great lesson learned....could have ended in heartache and court fees, huh? All those 7/8th will look much better next year and it will mean more to you then....imagine the exhilaration you'll have! Awsome story...one of the best I've read. Thanks for sharing. That is an awsome genetically gifted ram! Save that little honey-hole and that place just may keep giving yearly.... Hope I'm in your shape when I'm 50!

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    Another great thread... Starting to get a bit worried with all these Rams getting taken and my hunt still being a week or two off... Slow down boys! Leave some for the rest of us! : )

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    Default Great FAST Thinking

    What a Great Post,
    Sounds like just the two minutes of "Swirling White Fur and Horns" for excitement could be thrill enough for whole another year, but then you continue on with success on another Ram, Grizzly watching, "For Fun Stalking" that .75, Grilling on the Mtn top.....

    What A Trip, That's the Whole Deal Good Hunting !!

    and 50 yrs old.....Me Too, but humping with you guys might humble me a little, Thanks for All That,
    especially all the pics

    As for the Safety left on thing, and the second chance, "for a moment but didn't pull the trigger" I don't think that's young boy, first deer stuff, that's Good Intuitive Hunting,

    but yeah I also think God does like to do stuff like that for fun, (maybe Mountain Angels, if there are some that hang up there for moments like that) for ours and the younger Rams relief
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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