2014 Sheep attempt #2

HuntNphotos

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This was my second and most strenuous attempt of 2014 at my first Dall Sheep. It also marks my 5th overall attempt to date. My partner, mossyhorn, also has 5 hunts under his belt but has one sheep so far to show for it. We waited almost 3 days for weather to clear enough to even make it into the mountains and it never did clear enough to get to our first or second choice spots. We took a gamble and picked a backup plan and headed out. The flight out started off pretty uneventful with pretty decent weather. We left the Willow Airport at almost 5:30pm

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But as we got closer to the Alaska Range, it would quickly turn nasty.

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We unloaded the plane in pouring rain and bid farewell to the pilot for a week.

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The early part of the hike just followed the river

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And after a little over 2 miles the rain slowed down to a drizzle.

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Pretty quickly it became picking our way through a couple sections of trees.

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As we entered the main drainage we were going to hunt it opened up from time to time, but the terrain was going to quickly get tricky.

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At 5 miles in it was after 9pm and starting to rain a little harder, so we decided to make camp for the first night.

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The following morning we picked our way up the glacial moraine and see if we could find some high spots to glass from.

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There were lots of obstacles to maneuver around, over and through and was some difficult terrain to hike through with 50lb packs...
 

HuntNphotos

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The picture doesn't do this thing justice. It was about 40-50 feet deep and had a small stream flowing down into it under the ice and rocks.

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The path ahead would be pretty sketchy.

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The weather would come and go but overall wasn't too bad throughout day 2.

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By early evening though the clouds and fog would get thicker and forced us to make an early camp.

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Little did we know we would spend 36 hours stuck in the tent due to pouring rain that just wouldn't let up. Add to it a mountain across the glacier that was constantly calving large rocks from the top that would thunder down the mountain keeping us from sleeping much at all during that time. Made for a miserable 2nd night and 3rd day.
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by early morning the rain started to subside enough to get out and do some hiking and glassing, but we just weren't seeing many sheep and no rams at that point.

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The 4th morning the weather would finally start to break and me made our move across the glacier and moraine and made our way up about the only mountain that we could find a climbable path to the top.

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The views were incredible and the weather continued to improve.

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Toward the top the terrain was a little more manageable and we were able to find a decent spot to pitch a tent and lighten our load.

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We spent the whole day glassing all around us

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The scenery just doesn't get much better
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There was quite a bit of fresh snow above 4500 feet.

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Did I mention, very difficult to navigate...
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Just getting water was a challenge in the steep terrain.

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We looked everywhere we could possibly find for a legal ram, but there just wasn't any to be found.

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Exhausted and out of options

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The company doesn't get much better and we never let our spirits get too far down.

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Just enjoyed the views tried to stay warm.

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The winds were a constant 15 miles an hour with 20-35 mile an hour gusts. Made for some brutal wind chill...

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Oh ya, did I mention beautiful scenery...
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In every direction! We saw a total of probably 30 sheep, but out of those less than 4 were rams and only one was even 7/8s curl....

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We awoke our last morning to 20 degree temps but at least the wind died...

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As the Sun started hitting the mountain tops we took another look around.

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But would quickly make the decision to pack up camp and make the 10 or so mile trek back to the airstrip.

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In total we hiked about 25 miles and because of the terrain most of that was with our entire camp on our back. It was a brutal trip, but as with all the others I think we learned a lot and it just made me want to get back out as soon as possible. How could you not want to be up in the high country with scenery like this!

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FALCON

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Wow

Great pics and write up.
You guys did it right and had a great adventure.

Thanks for sharing.

Bryan
 

Leanwolf

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I really enjoyed your pictures and narration. What a wonderful place to hunt and camp! Sorry you did not kill a nice ram but.... next time! :topjob:

L.W.
 

shimano 33

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Thanks for the write up and GREAT pics!

Sometimes the adventure alone can be the most memorable…and with your photography, I think the trip will stay pretty fresh in your mind for the years to come.
 

Sollybug

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Wow, that's some of the most spectacular scenery. Sounds like the weather was a big obstacle. You guys sure gave it a shot. Great hunt. Thanks for sharing those glaciers!
 

GD Yankee

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Always enjoy your pictures. Some fantastic scenery. Sounds like the weather was pretty challenging - how about a break down of your gear? Sitka vs Kuiu (looks like that's what you had). Any item stand out? Anything fail?

Thanks for posting.
 

HuntNphotos

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All I can really comment on is my gear. Maybe Mossyhorn will chime in on his. I have had my Sitka gear since the open country pattern first came out. I have used it on 4 of my 5 sheep hunts and Kodiak Island and 20 mile walk in goat hunts. I have also used it continuously during my sheep prep hikes and trips and a few caribou hunts and have never had a single problem with any of it. It has really held up well and so far does not show its age at all. It is also the most comfortable clothing I have worn so far for mountain hunting. I have not tried Kuiu or any other gear though, but I am sure from what I hear that it would do very well.

I was also using Kenetrek mountain extreme 400 boots. I had heard some negative reviews on here for them, but I found a sale online for less than a third of the retail price back in 2010 and decided at to give them a shot. I have used them on the same hunts and have nothing but praises for them as well. After each hunt I clean them up and apply Kenetrek's boot wax to them and have not had any moisture issues and no stretching whatsoever. They are the most comfortable boot I have ever worn.

For this hunt we chose to use Mossyhorns Big Agnes Copper Spur UL-2 tent over my Bibler Tempest since it was less than 1/2 the weight. I was a little leery going in about its durability, but after 36 hours of rain and some pretty strong gusts I was sold enough to head to REI after the hunt and pick one up for myself. We also used his Swarovski HD angled scope over my Leica older non HD straight scope and I am glad we did. The low light performance of that scope and the angled body made spotting much more comfortable and clear! Time to start saving for that as well! I am going to head back out in a few days for a final hail mary attempt to bag my first sheep. Just have to heal a bit and stock up on a few things.

Overall I didn't have any issues with any of my gear at all. If you have any specific questions let me know.
 

martentrapper

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Thanks for a good story. Great pics also. Might as well let us know where you were.......................since there weren't any legal rams!!Haha!
 

Bullwinkle50

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Thank you for the write-up. Like others have said, just the trip makes it good. I really enjoy the pictures of everything else and discussion of what you did and how. Killing is just the final act and not necessary for a successful trip.

Randy
 

knikglacier

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Boy that is some rugged looking country. But the beauty there really was magnificent too. A few photos looked like moonscapes. Thanks for sharing.
 

Dan

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Great story. Photo's are also great, and it just goes to show that it isn't always about the harvest. I wish more people would look at it this way. After all it is called hunting. Great Job well done.
 

mossyhorn

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Great story. Photo's are also great, and it just goes to show that it isn't always about the harvest. I wish more people would look at it this way. After all it is called hunting. Great Job well done.

Its not always about the kill. But sometimes it is. This trip was about putting a sheep on the ground. There was no other reason for going. It was the last time I'll ever get to hunt sheep unguided. The scenery was great. But I had a wife and 5 month old at home, spent more than I wanted to and burned more vacation than I anticipated. This trip wasn't just for the hell of it.
 

HuntNphotos

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I am off first thing in the morning for third my final attempt at sheep this year... This time I am going solo, flying myself in and going to stay as long as it takes, or until I run out of food. I am really hoping this is my trip, but if not... I will be back at it again next year! :topjob:
 

scott_rn

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I am off first thing in the morning for third my final attempt at sheep this year... This time I am going solo, flying myself in and going to stay as long as it takes, or until I run out of food. I am really hoping this is my trip, but if not... I will be back at it again next year! :topjob:
I think sheep hunting can be likened to an abusive relationship. She beats me up, but I keep going back for more.
Great report!
 

Johnboy

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We also used his Swarovski HD angled scope over my Leica older non HD straight scope and I am glad we did. The low light performance of that scope and the angled body made spotting much more comfortable and clear!

Thanks for the write-up, Hunt'N. Awesome scenery! And I can empathize with your statement about the trip not just being for the heck of it. On some level, it is about the kill. Otherwise it's just a scenic hike. I bow hunted for elk many times before finally putting a bull on the ground last fall. I'd been elk hunting 7 or 8 times with hardly a close encounter, let alone a shot opportunity. At some point, making a kill validates the fact that you're hunting. It may not be purely about the kill, but at some point it's fulfilling to do some killing.

Anyway, about the scope: I have a chance to purchase a Vortex scope at 50% off MSRP and am unsure whether straight or angled body is the way to go. I was leaning toward straight, but your statement here has me reconsidering. Is your preference of angled over straight an easy choice, or is it a close call?
 
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