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Thread: First sheep hunt 2010!

  1. #1

    Default First sheep hunt 2010!

    With winter here and some definite Cabin Fever setting in I figured I might as well share my first sheep hunt! What a trip it was and words wonít do it justice but I really enjoy reading others reports and seeing their pictures. Almost everything I learned about sheep hunting prior to actually going was off of this forum. Gradually I accumulated all of the items I thought were essential and before I knew it the day to jump in the plane was here. Luckily I have a friend with a plane or this probably wouldnít have happened.
    We took off on Saturday the 7th at about 7:30 p.m. and the next thing I knew I was standing all alone on a ridge at 8:30 with a long hike ahead of me. I grew up in the southeast hunting deer so to say this was a new experience is an understatement! I took some pictures of the Caribou within a few hundred yards of where I was standing and then I waddled off with my 65 pound pack. I had six miles to go before I reached the first mountain I wanted to scout over. I made it two miles that first night before I hit the sack at 11 p.m. and I saw a nice moose along the way.
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    Last edited by 58D; 12-14-2010 at 22:07. Reason: Change font size.

  2. #2

    Default The pack

    The pack. I learned a few things not to take next time.
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    The next day was spent just getting to my second campsite. I was still 4 miles away from the mountain but I could see sheep on it. This is when the education started. I spent way too much time trying to stay out of sight of the mountain while that far off. The closer I got the more I wanted to get out the scope and glass. There were sheep all over it but no rams in sight. I made it to my second campsite at the base of the mountain that evening and couldnít wait to get up there and find my ram on the 9th. I went to sleep with a nice caribou bedded down in sight of me. The next day I very slowly covered every nook and cranny. I counted approximately 70 sheep but did not see a single ram that was a half curl or better. Now it was time to move on to plan B. I had discussed with my friend the possibility of an alternate pickup sight in case I wanted to move deeper into the mountains. The alternate pickup was an airstrip 13 miles from my original drop-off. I started plotting my route across the drainage to the next mountain I could see sheep on and let me tell you it looked A LOT easier than it was!
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  4. #4

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    Crossed Drainage.jpgCovering Country.jpgLooking towards the next spot. Mountain on left.

  5. #5

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    I set off for the long hike and climb on the morning of the 10th. By the time I reached my 3rd camp that evening I was literally kind of delirious from exertion. This camp was at 5000 feet and the wind was howling. I was getting kind of nervous about the tent being able to hold up to it and it almost got blown out of my hands and off the mountain while I was setting it up. I had only purchased it the week before leaving in favor of it over a North Face Tadpole I already owned. Good choice. That night was the worst sleep of my life due to the noise of the wind and my face and hands felt like they were on fire from windburn. I had watched sheep the entire climb and was surprised to look up and realize I once again had caribou with me all the way up there at that altitude. I took a quick peek over the backside of the mountain before going to sleep and went to bed with visions of the Rams I had just spotted dancing in my head!
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  6. #6

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    Hilleberg Nallo 2. I would recommend this tent to anyone.
    Two rams I saw before I hit the sack.
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  7. #7

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    Wednesday the 11th was an awesome day. I got up and put eyes on the 2 rams I had seen the night before. Behind this second mountain I had climbed was kind of a plateau where they were hanging out and then another shorter drainage to the next mountain. After I got a good look at the first two and decided they were well short of full curl I started concentrating across the next drainage and spotted several rams. Two off by themselves looked particularly good. It was going to be another long hike but I spotted a route I could take and get out of their sight for a good approach and look at them. There was no way to get down into the valley from where I was without momentarily exposing myself to them but I rolled the dice and went for it. Just before I dropped off the ridge to begin my stalk I heard howls behind me back towards camp and spotted 3 wolves or coyotes. A mom and 2 cubs. Not good for the sheep where I was. I crept up the side of the mountain with my fingers crossed that the rams were still where I last saw them. My luck held and there they were bedded down beside each other. I must have watched them for a good two hours before I finally decided I didnít have the experience to judge the one on the left and determine if he was legal or not. I had already decided I would not try and count rings on any ram and it would take a no brainer, yea this guy is a legal sheep for me to shoot. You canít see it very well in the picture but the tips of both of his horns curl out away from his face. I think he was very close to legal and it was hard to let him go but I think I made the right decision under the circumstances.
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  8. #8

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    I was worn down at this point and had a long way to go to get back to camp. I took a different route back to camp and got within 50 yards of one of the sublegal rams I first saw that day. The one in this posts pictures. As it got late I was spotting when I saw another band of rams across the drainage cross over the mountain I had just left and this time I knew for sure from that long distance that one of them was a shooter. There was not a doubt in my mind. I settled into camp for a good nightís sleep with a plan for my final hunting day.
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  9. #9

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    I got up at 0445 on Thursday the 12th and put camp back on my back. I crossed the drainage once again and dropped off the gear at my 4th and final campsite. I continued on up the mountain with thoughts of the legal ram I had seen from the night before. The plan was to get to the top of the mountain and hunt him from above. On the way up I saw a fox and a band of 5, half and three quarter curl rams. Once I made it to the top, to my astonishment here came 3 guys from the backside of the mountain. I hadnít seen a soul since getting dropped off. Turns out it was two guides and a client. We said our introductions and we both started the delicate dance for information. I asked him if he had seen anything from their side and gave them some information from my side. They had seen the band I was targeting and he spun a yarn about which direction they (the guys) were going. We split ways and they did the exact opposite of what he said they were going to do. Heck I donít blame him. It was actually kind of funny. What wasnít funny at all was when I made it to the spot I knew I would be able to get the view I needed was watching that entire of band of rams I was targeting crossing the valley I had just crossed heading back in the direction of the camp I had just packed up! I watched them climb to the very top of the ridge and disappear out of sight over the back side. 8 rams and 1 shooter. The only thing I can think of is they must have bumped them on their approach from the back side. Thatís hunting.
    On the way back to camp that night I saw a whole family of marmots in the rocks close to camp. Once I got there I started to scout out the approach to my extraction point. I could see the strip from the mountain I was on and it looked easy enough. Ha, I had never experienced alders. I was going to get an education the next morning. I did eventually get down to the small stream I was planning on walking out. The last obstacle was crossing a river to the strip. There were some nerve wracking moments getting across but before I knew it I was chilling out on the strip with a very hospitable guide and his successful client. Sharing some coffee and hunting stories, while I waited on my ride out. Turns out they had watched me come off the mountain while also watching a grizzly on the ridge over from me. I saw many different critters on this trip but I was glad I didnít see him!
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  10. #10

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    By my standards this trip was successful. I was dead tired, looking forward to a shower and food, and more happy and content with life than I can describe. I had never experienced solitude like this and proved I could make it out there for another trip. I also learned a lot about my quarry and hope to put it to good use in 2012!
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  11. #11
    Member kahahawai's Avatar
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    I have a question in reference to your barneys pack and the way you carried your rifle on it....your rifle hangs lower than the bottom edge of your pack, did this become a hinderance when you sat down? ...i always rigged my rifle to be flush with the bottom edge, run it through the rifle sleeve, and fasten it in the butt pouch....this makes it easy to sit and rest without having to take the whole pack off. I also clip the sling to a small "Nitske beaner" to the top bar in case the rifle should slip out of the pouch and sleeve. my second question....why was your pack 65lbs? (seem heavy)....i take it was solo hunt (not sure how many days) but I would say most packs are close to 50 pounds for a weeks hunt, 40-45 lbs. for me....this gives more room to pack hide horns and meat back.

  12. #12
    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    58D,

    Thanks so much for this story and pics. Some truly fantastic photographs in there! The one statement that you were "more happy and content with life than I can describe" really sums up for me what being in the mtns feels like, what working hard, hiking hard feels like, even when one hasn't taken a sheep.

    Great post!

  13. #13
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    I was standing just behind that "mountain on the left" when you must have taken that picture. To make you feel better... there were no full curl rams over their either.

  14. #14
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    Great story, an excellent account of your experience! Hope to see you out there this next fall as I take on MY first sheep hunt!

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    Thumbs up Outstanding!

    Great story! I really enjoyed the way you laid it out. I think my favorite photo is that of your poles in the creek. I just thought it way cool. You had me waiting impatiently at each new post, and my mind was racing with questions, which you pretty well answered.
    What a gut wrencher to see those guys, but sounds like you handled it really well. Kudos.
    I'll be looking for more top notch stories like this one from you in the future. Sure wish you all the best.
    ARR

  16. #16
    Member Hoyt's Avatar
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    Being out there is great isin't it? Nice post!

  17. #17
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Great post, very much enjoyed the story. I wish you success in the future, be safe and come home to roam the sheep mountains for years to come.

    Steve
    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
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  18. #18
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    Awesome story I really thought the part about passing on that ram hit home with me. I felt that way about moose last year (first year in AK so non resident status). I passed on two bulls that I could not tell if they were 50 inches or not. It really hurt because i have yet to kill a big game animal (not counting hogs), but I guess its better to be safe than sorry.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by 58D View Post
    "... and it was hard to let him go but I think I made the right decision under the circumstances..."
    Right decision - without question - a decision all too often not made by hunters with a lot more experience.
    If you are in either the Anchorage or Fairbanks area might think about attending a sheep hunting clinic.
    Usually some good information presented.
    Enjoyed the posting.
    Joe

  20. #20
    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    Great write up! Thanks for sharing. You really captured the spirit of the hunt and the sense of adventure that comes from wandering the mountains with sheep. Even with no ram - sounds like a success of a hunt to me. Well done!
    Pursue happiness with diligence.

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