FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister   ProfileProfile   Check PMsCheck PMs   Log inLog in 

Dall Sheep Hunt (LONG!)
Goto page 1, 2  Next
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Sage Creek Forums Index -> 2007 Hunting Gallery
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Non Typical

Joined: 31 Oct 2005
Posts: 1447
Location: Colorado

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 7:39 pm    Post subject: Dall Sheep Hunt (LONG!) Reply with quote

This trip actually started last October when I met Todd Walton of Alaska Big Game Safaris while deer hunting on Kodiak. Todd recently began his own outfitting service after guiding for Dan Montgomery of Alaska Trophy Adventures for nearly 10 years. Todd convinced me to begin putting in limited Dall sheep tag drawing in hopes of being drawn by the time I was actually ready to spend the kind of money a Dall hunt takes. Todd guides in the Tok Management Area, as well as an open area in the Alaska Range. He put me in for the Tok hunt and two Chugach State Park hunts as second and third choices (Dan's hunt area). Imagine my surprise in early February when my buddy Buzz e-mailed me and told me I better check the draw results. I had drawn a late Chugach tag! This meant that I would be outfitted by Dan instead of Todd, as these two still work together and sometimes trade hunts/hunters (This was all known to me prior to the draw. They do a great job of working with hunters and making sure they get exactly the hunt they are looking for.)

The summer was spent trying to get in shape. I heard that the Chugach was tough country, and didn't want my conditioning to be the reason I might not be successful. Todd kept me informed of what they found during various scouting trips in my area, and was always quick to reply by e-mail or phone to my seemingly endless questions. Dan also stayed in contact, and gave me a choice of guides to lead me on the hunt. My good friend and hunting partner Doug (who went to Kodiak with me last fall) happens to guide sheep hunters for Dan, so he was my obvious choice. By the time September arrived, I had dropped over 30 pounds and felt like I was in great shape.

I was sitting in a motel room in Denver the night before my flight to Anchorage when I got a call from Doug. He was talking a mile a minute about a ram they had just located during their final scouting trip for my hunt. A big ram...the kind of ram you might hunt your whole life for and never see. And the best part was that he was in an "easy" spot. (I learned later that "easy" has a different definition when you're talking about the Chugach Mountains.) Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep that night.

The next day (Sept. 1) I flew to Anc. and was picked up by Doug at the airport. I had a message from another friend, Jim, saying he was out of the hills and back in Anchorage with an awesome 40" Tok ram, so I called him to hopefully get a sneek peek at the photos. Unfortunately our schedules didn't work, as he was at dinner and I had to go an hour north and get stuff organized to leave the next day.

September 2 (three days before the opener)

Doug and I were up early and finished loading our packs with gear and food. My hunt area can be accessed only by foot, so we'd be packing in enough stuff for at least a week and a half. After a quick stop at the gun range to check my rifle, we were off to the trailhead. We hoped to make the 12-mile hike in to where the ram had been seen, relocate him, and watch him until opening morning. The state park trail system was fairly busy as we began the hike due to it being the second day of Labor Day weekend. We would have about 10 miles of relatively easy trail before before a steep climb of about 2 miles into a hanging valley.

Here's a picture of me near the trailhead that I thought was funny. I look just a little bit excited.

The weather was cool and cloudy...perfect for hiking. The scenery for the hike in was amazing. Clouds hung low over the mountaintops and everything was damp. A lot different than western Colorado.

Doug along the trail during the hike in:

We didn't have to get too far down the trail before we started seeing game. Here's a small group of goats on the hillside above the trail. LOTS of goats in this valley.

We had to make a river crossing before our ascent up to our destination valley. There was a ford about a mile upstream of where we wanted to cross, but we decided to forgo the extra hiking and make a ford of our own. In hindsight, this was a mistake. We had Wiggy's waders, which I've come to decide are crap unless you're crossing a 10 foot wide creek. Doug started across the river while I put my waders on. When I was cinching the waders to my belt with the straps on the waders tops, I pulled one of the straps off. So I had to hold one wader up while I crossed. The river was deeper and more swift than we anticipated, and once we got out into it, we had to angle upstream to keep the water below the wader tops. Doug is 9" taller than me, which made it a little easier for him. Somewhere in the middle of the river I cut a hole in the toe of my good wader. The water was so swift it was piling up on my upstream leg and began flowing over the top of the other wader. I ended up having to wade about 40 yards upstream to get across. Halfway there my legs began cramping up (it was work to fight against that current!). I finally made it, but was exhausted and had two soggy boots.

We decided to make camp along the river and tackle the climb into our valley the next morning. We looked for a cabin that was nearby, but found it occupied by a Scandinavian fellow and his (daughter?). He said he had been up hiking in "our" valley earlier that day and it was beautiful. I couldn't believe our unfortunate luck, and hoped that he hadn't spooked the ram we were looking for. We pitched the tent and made some well-earned dinner before hitting the rack.

September 3

We took our time getting around in the morning, eating breakfast and breaking down camp. We had a steep, brushy climb to do in wet boots, and neither one of us was looking forward to it. The weather was beautiful though, and I was excited to see the valley above. Our destination was the low, sunlit ridge directly above the tent:

The picture above is deceiving. That hill was steep, and the grass growing in those open areas was about nose-high on me. The fireweed was thick and seeding, and the seeds coated my sweat-covered face. We bumped into a nice bullwinkle during the climb:

And again later on in the morning:

When we finally struggled over the top of the ridge, this is what awaited us:

We headed for the flat bench below and right of the waterfall to make camp. As we began to get the tent unpacked, two wolverines ran up out of the creek and checked us out from about 40 yards:

After getting camp situated, we headed up the valley to see if we could find any sheep, and especially the big ram. It turned out to be a disappointing trip, as there was no sign of the 7 rams or 14 ewes and lambs Doug had seen here two days earlier. We began to have a bad feeling that our Scandinavian friend had inadvertently spooked everything out of the valley. We made our way back to camp, whipped up some dinner and hit the rack, hoping we could locate the ram the next day.

September 4

We got up early and headed back up the valley to see if we could have any luck locating the ram. The weather was cool and cloudy and I thought it was perfect for hiking, as long as the rain held off. We made our way up one side of the valley and out of sight over the top so that we could sneek up and look across into the bowl the ram had been in three days earlier. There's no shortage of nice scenery in that country.

If you look closely you can see the small blue dot that is our tent along the creek in the valley:

When we got to where we could see the bowl the ram had been in, we were disappointed. No sheep in sight. The ram had last been seen 4 days earlier bedded on the bench right in front of the long flat snow field in the bowl:

We made our way back towards camp without seeing a sheep. While we were making dinner however, several ewes and lambs showed up on the slope above camp. I have no idea where they came from, as we had searched the entire valley.

We were a little disappointed to say the least. The season started the next morning and we were camped in a ram-less valley. After dinner we made a short hike up a hill near camp to get a look at the back side of the mountain the ram had been on. Lo and behold, there he was, way up in the cliffs with his smaller buddy (above the snow field at the far right edge of the second to last photo). We were back in the game!

September 5 (opening day)

We got up early, scarfed down some instant oatmeal and hot Tang and climbed the ridge above camp. We hoped the rams would come down out of the cliffs to feed in the adjacent bowl. When we got to the top we quickly located both rams high up in the cliffs. Although it looks like solid rock, there's quite a lot of grass growing on small benches in the cliffs, and there's really no reason for the sheep to come down Here's where they were, just to the left of the sunny spot on the cliff:

A closeup to give you an idea of just how big this mountain was. The rams are barely visible on the cliff:

All we could do was sit and watch, hoping they would get down into a place that was accessible. The back side of the ridge they were on had no access. I don't mean difficult access, I mean NO access without climbing gear and about 4 days to get there. So, we sat and watched. Soon the rams moved to the top of the ridge and bedded, giving me an opportunity for a couple of shots through the spotter. Did I tell you this ram was big? These pictures honestly don't do him justice. He's not nearly as tightly curled as he looks in the photos...we're just about 2000' lower in elevation. You also can't see how far his horns flare out after they go over the bridge of his nose. The near horn (his right) was broomed off about 2-3" shorter than his left.

The rams took a nap, so we decided to do the same. At one point I heard Doug stir, and looked up. A ewe ran past us at about 8 yards and out of sight behind the rock we were sitting near! I peeked over the rock:

Thirteen ewes and a sickle-horned ram were feeding between 20 and 100 yards from us. The goofy things would run away about 50 yards, then spin around and start walking back towards us. Several times one of the ewes got within 10 yards of me.

They finally wandered off. We took another look at the rams and found them bedded together now:

All we could do was sit and watch the rest of the day. The rams stayed on top and were quite safe from us novice mountaineers. The scenery really sucked. Wink

Ok, the story speeds up for a little bit. Believe it or not, I didn't take a picture for 4 days.

September 6

Back to the ridge where we watched the rams the day before. Both rams were in view on top, but they had moved further down the ridge away from us. It was a little disappointing, as we were hoping that they might return to the bowl around the the other side where they were when Doug originally spotted them. We watched them until about 2pm, when they both got up and began feeding, then walked out of sight over the top. We didn't see them the rest of the day.

September 7

Another trip to the ridge to look for the rams. Nothing seen. We had learned by sat. phone the night before that a big storm was moving in. We hoped that the coming weather would push the rams back down into the valley. In the afternoon we walked around and checked out the bowl they had been in before the season, thinking they may have slipped around the back side of the mountain. No luck. As we made our way back to camp the rain arrived. Just before dark we were standing in the rain and looking down the valley below camp. A sow grizzly with two big cubs walked into view at the bottom of our valley. Luckily she seemed to have a destination in mind and quickly made here way across the mouth of our valley and out of sight. It rained throughout the night.

September 8

Still raining steadily when we woke up. A quick look outside showed everything fogged in tight, so we went back to sleep. No change all day. Doug began to think I wasn't human when I didn't even leave the tent to relieve myself until 4pm. Dinner was prepared in the vestibule in the evening. Rain continued throughout the night.

September 9

Still raining when we woke up. It finally stopped at about 9am and the fog began to lift a little bit. We were anxious to get hiking after spending the entire day prior in the tent. We headed up the valley to check the bowl, hoping the rams had come down off the top during the storm. Two groups of ewes in the bottom of the valley kept us from making much progress. We didn't want to spook them and risk scaring the rams if they had come back to our side of the mountain, so we hunkered down and waited for the ewes to move. By 12:30 the rain returned. We sat there in a steady rain until deciding to bag it around 5:30pm. Back to camp. Dinner prepared in the vestibule again.

September 10

We woke up to clear skies, with fog shrouding much of the surrounding high peaks which were covered with termination dust. We made a plan to head up the ridge to our south, opposite the bowl we hoped the rams were in. This would give us an opportunity to glass the next creek drainage over as well. We were beginning to think we needed to come up with a plan B if we were unable to locate the big ram. It had now been over 3 days since we had seen him.

The next creek drainage over was very impressive looking. The rain over the last two days had water running everywhere we looked. I thought back to the river crossing and began to dread the idea of re-crossing when it was time to leave. We could see that it was running much higher than it had been a few days earlier.

We were surprised to find not one sheep in the adjacent valley:

Evidence of glacial activity was everywhere in the form of snake-like moraine piles in the valley bottoms:

When we were able to look into the big ram's old hideout, we were disappointed to see no sign of him:

We decided to make some lunch and dry out our gear in the first sunshine we had seen in three days. Here's Doug making his famous "Peanut Butter Explosion." (a hoagie roll with about 8 oz. of peanut butter and a 1/4 cup of honey Laughing ):

We decided to continue up the ridge and explore a small side canyon of the big creek drainage. We soon found ourselves about 300 yards above 6 bedded rams. Only one was legal. He was just full curl on one side and broomed on the other, with a long horn of perhaps 35". Soon they got up and began to feed. The legal ram is in the middle on the right, facing right:

We snuck away and left the rams undisturbed. The ram was definately not what I had come for, but might be a last-day option if nothing else panned out. We made our way back to camp and stopped for a brief look at the cliffs where the ram had last been seen on the second day of the season. What an uplift it was to catch a brief glimpse of both rams back on top before they fed out of sight again! He was still around!

That evening right before dark, we were watching a mountain goat feeding above camp when a sow grizzly and one cub came into view. The goat ran to the top of the ridge and watched as the two bears fed their way across the slope above our camp about 600 yards away. We watched them until it was too dark to see, then went to bed hoping that they wouldn't pay us a visit that night.

September 11

Another morning of great weather. Doug and I had decided the night before that we were done waiting for something to happen. It was time to make something happen, whether we killed the ram or scared him out of the country. We were going to try to get to the top of the ridge he had been on for a week. If he happened to look over the top we would be busted, as he could see us coming for a long ways. We hoped that we could sneak to the top and peek over, find him in a good spot and kill him. The big question would be whether we could even make it to the top of the ridge, but after looking at it for a week we thought we had a good route picked.

We climbed to the top of the ridge above camp and scanned the cliffs above. No sign of either ram. Our friend the old mountain goat was bedded near the bottom of the cliffs, right above our chosen path. I was hoping we wouldn't blow him out of there and over the top to where the rams were at. Here's a picture of the mountain. Our plan was to side hill across the top of the talus right at the bottom of the cliffs until we got to the long slide that goes up to the left end of the beige-orange band of rock near the top. We would climb the ridge of rock in the middle of that slide up to the orange rock, then across that bench to the right and hopefully be able to get up through the crack at the right end of the orange rock, to the low gap on the skyline. Unfortunately that low gap was right where we had last seen the sheep, so it might put us right on top of them. But it was the only place we thought we could get up through the high cliff.

Here's another shot panned just a little left to give some scale to the picture. The small white dot near the upper edge of the long slide on the left is the mountain goat:


We dropped off the ridge and began sidehilling across the talus. The goat spooked and started working his way through the cliffs above us and paralleling us. At one point I heard something and looked up. Softball-sized rocks kicked loose by the the goat were hurling down towards us. I yelled, "Rocks! Rocks!" and began to scramble out of the way. I kept my head turned uphill to watch as the rocks cascaded down, literally dodging them as they went past. When it was over and we realized we were still in one piece, I briefly considered shooting the goat instead. (j/k) Soon we began the climb up the long, steep slide. Here's Doug working his way up below me. Photos really don't do the vastness and steepness of this country justice:

We finally made it to just below the last cliff. The climb up through the crevice was by hand and toe hold. About 3/4 of the way up, we dropped our packs in order to round a tight spot. We figured that if need be, we could come back and hand the packs up through this spot. Just my rifle and Doug's binos went to the top with us. When we got nearly to the skyline I chambered a round and slowly peeked over the top. I was astonished at what I saw. The ridge was a knife edge, and dropped off incredibly steep on the other side, in a jumble of spires, rock slides and cliffs, approximately 1000 feet to the foot of a glacier below. We could only move 20 to 30 yards in either direction before reaching points we did not feel safe to continue. It was extremely disappointing. I turned to Doug and told him it was a good thing the ram wasn't there, because I wouldn't be able to shoot him if he was. I then peeked over the the little rim right in front of me and there he was, head down and feeding on a tiny little slope about 100 yards directly below me. The world dropped away out of sight below him for hundreds of feet. I pointed him out to Doug and we watched him feed out of sight around a small point of cliff. We quickly assessed the situation, but there was no doubt in my mind what was the right thing to do. Soon the ram fed back into view about 80 yards below. We were looking straight down on the top of those long, heavy wide-flared horns as he picked at the meager grass on the slope. Holding my worthless rifle, I began to wish I had brought my camera to the top. I'll never forget that view though, and images like that are much better earned. You'll just have to believe me. Smile

The ram soon fed back out of sight. Realizing there was nothing left to do, and getting chilled from the stiff breeze on the ridgetop, we made our way slowly back down the crevise to our packs and then down to the bench below. Here's a picture of Doug coming back down the crack, just below where we dropped our packs:

We sat down for some lunch and enjoyed the view:

Here's a shot of me shortly after returning from the ridgetop. I think I'm still a little stunned by the turn of events:

What took us over 4 hours to climb only took 1.5 hours to descend. One last look up at the ram's fortress and we made our way back to camp. It was time for a new plan.

I have no regrets about not shooting that ram. He deserved much better than to end up a pile of mush at the base of a cliff. If he stays up on that mountain he deserves to become a bleached pile of bones in his own time. I feel pretty darned fortunate to have gotten the chance to spend a week on the mountain matching wits with an animal of his caliber.

September 12

We talked about our options the previous night after returning to camp. We figured the small legal ram in the next drainage was still nearby, but there were 6 days left in my season. I wasn't willing to end it yet with a small ram. From previous scouting trips we knew of a herd of 6 rams in a valley 14 trail/bushwhacking miles away, with two legal rams that Doug and Dan had estimated at 38". Whether they were still there was anybody's guess. I decided I wanted to push for them. We broke camp in the morning and hit the trail. We had learned of another incoming storm the night before and hoped to make as much headway as we could before it arrived. Our goal for the day was the top of a pass which would put us within 4 miles of the valley where the rams had last been seen. There we would meet another guide, Hank, who would be hiking in from another trailhead with a restock of food for us. Hank would continue on with us until I got a ram, as he had finished up guiding goat hunters.

Doug and I descended the 2 miles and 2000' back down to the trail, then began the 8-mile, 2700' climb up the canyon to the rendezvous point with Hank. Approximately 5 miles into our trip I began to feel a pain on the inside of my right knee. I took some ibuprofen, but as I climbed the pain increased. The storm soon arrived and we were hiking in a steady, cold, wind-driven downpour.

With 3 miles and 1500' of climbing to do, I was beginning to doubt I was going to make it. The pain in my knee was bad going uphill, but excruciating every time I took a step downhill. I was using both hands on my trekking pole to take as much weight as possible off of each step. It was extremely frustrating as I felt my chances at a ram slip away with every step. We finally made it to the meeting point shortly after 7pm. Hank arrived about 20 minutes later. I ate some more ibuprofen with dinner and went to bed hoping I would feel better in the morning, but doubtful.

September 13

We took our time getting around the next morning. I tried out my knee and found it to be extremely stiff, but free of pain. I hiked up and down the hill near camp a bit and decided that we needed to continue. It was still raining lightly and appeared to be snowing up high. We didn't get out of camp until almost 12:30. We had to drop about 800' in elevation to get to the creek we needed to hike up. Then it was over 2000' up to a high pass and down into the head of another drainage. By the time we got to the top of the pass it was fogged in and snowing. Dan had told us that we just had a relatively short and steep shale slide to go down to get to where we wanted to camp. He said we couldn't get in trouble. We began down the other side in 50' visibility in the fog. The steep shale slope was getting icy and snow was beginning to stick. Soon we were coming upon cliffs, and there appeared to be a glacier below that. We made our way back to the top and talked about what to do. Although we were only 0.8 mile from where we wanted to camp, we decided that the best thing to do was to camp in the pass and wait until we could see where we were going.

The idea of camping in the pass was not pleasant. As I'm sure you know, it is the windiest spot you could pick, and the wind does tend to blow during those Alaska storms. We found a circular pile of stacked rocks where somebody had camped in the past and set up our tent within that minimal protection. We rocked everything down heavily, including the entire bottom edge of the rainfly, and climbed in our sleeping bags. Hank forgot to bring the stove in and none of us wanted to venture back out into the miserable weather, so dinner was peanut butter sandwiches. My knee had held up remarkably well throughout the day. A few twinges of pain here and there, but I kept myself well medicated.

It snowed until about 3am.

September 14 (4 days left of the season)

Although it snowed most of the night, it didn't amount to too much. But it was cold when we got up!

We walked over and looked down the slope we had abandoned the night before. Once again, the pictures don't do the steepness justice:

After packing up camp we found a way down through the rocks. The shale was extremely slick with the covering of snow and ice, but we made it down safely. Here are a couple of pics looking back up to the pass. Our trail is barely visible in the first, and obvious in the second.

We found a good spot to set up camp, dried everything out, had a hot meal and then set out to climb up and over into the next drainage to our south where the rams had last been seen. We left camp about 1:30pm. Here's a look back at camp from the divide between the drainages:

Doug and Hank up on the divide where we began glassing for sheep:

We found two rams and two goats bedded together almost immediately. A quick look showed one legal ram and one that we were unsure about. We were pretty sure that the bigger of the two was one the the 38" rams Dan and Doug had seen the week before the season. He was dark-horned, somewhat tightly curled and carried good mass through the first two quarter measurements. His right horn was broomed back to just short of full curl. I decided that if we could make it happen I would be darned happy to take him home.

The rams and goats were bedded out on a bald green knob in the middle of the valley (in the middle of this picture, with the small pond on top):

Here's a bad close-up view. The two goats and smaller ram are obvious on the right side of the knob. The bigger ram is harder to see, bedded at 10 o'clock from the others, about 100 yards away:

At first look, we thought it would be relatively easy to get within rifle range. However, they were bedded there for a reason. Hank thought that if we got to the black moraine ridge visible in the first photo between the rams' knob and the closeup rock we would be in range. I was skeptical, but we decided to give it a try. It was very easy to get down there, but as I chambered a round and slowly peeked over the edge of the moraine, disappointment set in. The rams were still over 800 yards away! Distances are deceiving in that country.

By this time the goats had fed out of sight over the knob, leaving only two sets of eyes to contend with. We discussed possible options, but the only one that seemed like it had a chance of working was to drop back down into the creek we just crossed and try to slip downstream along the creek until we were low enough to be out of sight of the rams, which were now bedded together right on top of the knob. Then we could sneak across the main creek bottom to the base of their hill and hopefully get up on them for a shot.

We made our way down the creek but quickly ran out of cover. We had made it out of sight of the small ram, but the big ram was right on top and facing our direction. It was now after 5pm, and we discussed our options. We thought about backing out without spooking them and trying again in the morning, but there were so many things that could go wrong before the next day we quickly scrapped that idea. It was now or never. We decided to play a game of cat-and-mouse with the ram. He would occasionally lower his head to the ground and close his eyes, or turn away, towards the out-of-sight ram. We would watch him until he did this, then while the third guy watched the ram, the first two would sneak down the hill a bit and stop, watch the ram while the third guy came down, then repeat. By doing this, we were able to make it into the creek bottom and out of sight without alerting the ram.

We quickly hurried across the creek and back upstream until we had the wind in our favor to begin climbing the hill. I was going to go most of the way up before dropping my pack and crawling to the top. The ram would be close if it worked...within 200 yards. Now it was getting exciting! As we began climbing the steep slope, with Hank in the lead, me in the middle and Doug in the rear, I kept my eyes on the hilltop where I knew the ram lay just out of sight. Suddenly he was standing there, staring down at us only 200 yards away! I hissed at the other two to stop, but we were busted. I threw my pack down on a rock, jacked a shell in the chamber and flopped acrosss the pack. As I picked up the ram in the scope, he turned, took three steps and was out of sight.

When the ram stepped out of sight I jumped up and sprinted up the hill. I soon had a ram standing in view a short distance from where the big one walked out of sight. I flopped down prone again and frantically asked Hank if he was the right ram. "Yes! No, wait. NO!! That's not him!" I jumped back up and ran further up the hill. The second ram was suddenly in view to my left, over 100 yards from where he had went out of sight. He was standing near the top of a moraine pile and about ready to go out of sight. I hit the ground again and Hank confirmed that it was the right ram. The crosshairs touched his shoulder and I squeezed one off. Missed! I jacked another round in as the ram turned, took three steps, and miraculously stopped again broadside, right on top of the moraine. Take your time, breathe, bang! The sound of a solid hit. The ram picked up his front shoulder and took two steps out of sight.

We jumped up quickly and hurried across the hill. We were sure he was hit good, but wanted to be positive that he couldn't get down into the next creek. When we reached the area he had been standing, the smaller ram was watching us from about 100 yards away. I knew the big ram was down somewhere. We quickly found him piled up in a deep fold in the moraine, just over the top and about 15 yards from where I hit him.

I can't describe to you the overwhelming feeling I felt as I sat down next to that ram. After 13 days in the mountains I felt like I must be dreaming. As I sat there and the other two went back for our packs, I looked across the canyon and spotted two previously unseen rams making their way up the steep slope. One was the other legal ram that had been seen in the area earlier. He was nearly my ram's twin, a little more tightly curled and maybe a little less mass, but broomed on the right horn as well.

It was time to get to work. I killed the ram at 6:20, and we were over 2 miles from camp. We spent time trying to get good photos. Unfortunately the ram was absolutely covered in blood. We caped and boned him out, packed up and began the trip back. It was now almost 8:30, and would be dark by 9:00. We had come up and over some pretty hairy cliffs when we left camp and didn't think it was wise to try to cross back in the dark. It had fogged up again and was beginning to rain, so we made our way down into the creek bottom and began gathering alder wood. We soon had a fire going tried to make ourselves as comfortable as possible. It would be a long night. I think the most sleep anybody got was about 3 hours. I slept for 1hr 15 minutes when we had the fire going good, but that was all I could manage. It was cold and wet.

September 15

When it was light enough to see the next morning, we loaded up and headed back to our nice dry camp which we didn't even get a chance to use. We made a hot meal, packed up camp and began the climb back up the pass. It was now snowing again, and another 2-3 inches had accumulated on top during the night. It was one steep, miserable climb to the top, but those dark horns curling out of my pack made it a little easier. Here are a couple pics from the top of the pass where we had camped in the snow two nights earlier.

We made it the 7 miles out to the nearest trailhead by 5pm. We were 26 trail miles from where we had started 14 days earlier. We estimated conservatively that we had hiked at least 80 miles. What an adventure!

The AK Fish and Game aged the ram at 10.5 years old. He measured 38 2/8" on the long side and 4" shorter on the broomed side. His bases are 13 6/8", first quarters of 12 5/8" and second quarters of 9 7/8". I couldn't care less. I couldn't have done this without the two guys that were with me. Especially Doug, who kept me going when I was on the brink of giving up, more than once. I did things on this hunt I didn't know I was capable of, and learned a lot about myself. I hope I can do it again some day, but it can't compare to this trip.

Last edited by Oak on Wed Dec 07, 2011 3:28 pm; edited 2 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 8:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We have a lot of great success stories on our forum, but this one is one of the best! Outstanding pictures too! I felt like I was there! Very Happy

Oak, PM me your address. I have a little gift box for you. smoker
Back to top

Joined: 15 May 2005
Posts: 3093
Location: W. PA

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bravo Bravo...I agree with Scott!!! Congratulations on a well earned sheep.

It took everything I had had not to scroll down Laughing

"a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Matt Palmquist
6 point

Joined: 26 May 2005
Posts: 679
Location: Kansas

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congratulations!!! That was a tremendous photo essay of your hunt. Thanks for taking the time to document so well.

The terrain looks unreal, and I know how scenery appears less spectacular in photos. I couldn't imagine hiking to the top of some of those ridges.

Once again congrats! I would assume you feel like nothing is out of reach after a hunt of that caliber...

Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Non Typical

Joined: 04 Mar 2006
Posts: 1118
Location: Blairsville, GA

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 8:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Talk about real, that's real. Great reading and excelent photos, one of those wish I had been there moments. This old body will probably never make such a hunt, thanks for making it for me. You and your guides were true hunters.
See ya in the woods
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Bow and Arrow Man

Joined: 26 Feb 2007
Posts: 737
Location: CO

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

great read. I loved the pics. Congrats
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message MSN Messenger
6 point

Joined: 27 Aug 2007
Posts: 873
Location: Nebraska

PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2007 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Simply amazing
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Sage Creek Pro Staff

Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 1304
Location: Fort Collins, CO

PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2007 2:48 pm    Post subject: Awesome Reply with quote

Friggin Awesome, Oakmy homenumber is 686-9674 can I buy you a beer??

Call me that is a remarkable hunt, story and photos!!

"Hard hitting - action packed web only hunting adventures with solid how-to tips and tactics with a western flair!"

Personal Website - www.westernbiggamehunter.com
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
4 point

Joined: 23 Aug 2005
Posts: 312
Location: Albuquerque, NM

PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2007 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think everyone summed it up, just awsome! How did you like the MR pack? Was it a Nice Frame? Awsome!
God Bless the USA!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
AZ Ron
4 point

Joined: 14 Jun 2007
Posts: 176
Location: Chandler, AZ

PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2007 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WOW! A big congratulations Oak! That sounds like an awesome trip, and one that took a lot of intestinal fortitude to complete. Great job and thanks so much for sharing! Your pictures were outstanding.

Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
4 point

Joined: 27 Sep 2005
Posts: 209
Location: Northern Colorado

PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2007 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

<loud> That story rocks! I have to get there some day!
It's a great day for hunting!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Non Typical

Joined: 31 Oct 2005
Posts: 1447
Location: Colorado

PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2007 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just got back from antelope hunting in Wyoming. Thanks for all the comments! I enjoy writing about trips others may be planning or dreaming about doing some day, and I usually have a camera handy wherever I go.

Good luck to everyone that plans to spend time in the woods this fall.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Joined: 14 Jun 2005
Posts: 820

PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
4 point

Joined: 07 Mar 2006
Posts: 383
Location: Lake Mathews, Ca

PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2007 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What an absolute incredible post! I am inspired. Incredible photography. Congrats. I will some day hunt sheep. Ed F

Team DIY
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 14 Jun 2007
Posts: 4
Location: Mt. Kisco, NY

PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2007 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd have to agree with what everyone else has said! Simply amazing post, thank you for the story and pics!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
4 point

Joined: 07 Mar 2006
Posts: 383
Location: Lake Mathews, Ca

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2007 8:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had to read this post again. It has to be the best story/pics I have ever read on the web! I will hunt sheep someday. Very inspiring. Thanks again and congrats. Ed F

Team DIY
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Non Typical

Joined: 31 Oct 2005
Posts: 1447
Location: Colorado

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2007 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the comments, everyone.

Ed, will you hunt your sheep with your bow?

Dan's open areas are going to a draw next year, so anybody booking with him will have to draw a tag. Todd still has an open are in the Alaska Range, in addition to his area in the limited Tok. The application period is Nov. 1 to Dec. 6. Todd and Dan have decided to offer those wanting to book a hunt a bit of a deal. They will pay for your hunting license and application fees ($100 each year) for two years, in exchange for a $500 deposit. If you don't draw in two years, you can opt out and they will send your $500 deposit back, or you can continue in the draw. If you draw and decide not to book with them, you lose the $500 deposit. Their hunts will cost $11k in 2008 and $11.5k in 2009. Unfortunately, they won't be getting any cheaper. Crying or Very sad Dan will have a booth at the FNAWS convention in Salt Lake in early February 2008.

I wish I could go again....

Dan and Todd's 2007 results. The small ram on the far right was actually killed by one of the guides. The rest are guided hunters. The ram on the far left will easily make B&C, with the long horn over 43". My ram is the 7th from the left.

Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Joined: 09 Aug 2005
Posts: 2880
Location: Northern California

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2007 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Please accept my heartiest congratulations on a successful hunt and a masterfully told story. I'm going to have to tell my wife that it is all your fault when I apply for an Alaskan Sheep Hunt.

What sort of planning horizon should an aspiring sheep hunter have? Are we talking 2,3, or 4 years to draw?

Oh, and by the way, there isn't a ram on that table that doesnt look good.

I've seen the Chugach mountains from Anchorage and they are a rugged and beautiful place. It reminds me of a line from a Robert Service poem.

The Spell of the Yukon:
There’s a land where the mountains are nameless,
And the rivers all run god knows where;
There are lives that are erring and aimless,
And deaths that hang by a hair….
There’s a land – oh, it beckons and beckons,
And I want to go back – and I will.

Sometimes when you think the deck is totally stacked against you and that elk hunting is the stupidest activity on earth, remember that there are thousands of people out there who would love to be miserable like you right now...
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 2230
Location: GONE

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2007 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


Your hunt defines the word 'hardcore'!....cograts on a great ram and a true backcountry adventure.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Non Typical

Joined: 31 Oct 2005
Posts: 1447
Location: Colorado

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2007 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as a planning horizon, I think one should probably plan at least 2-3 years out. You don't have to draw a tag to sheep hunt, but you do have to draw in some of the better or more easily accessible areas. Most of the draw odds are 5% or less, so you could apply 20 years and not draw (some people have!). Outfitters in open (non-draw) areas are often booked 2-4 years in advance.

Some outfitters have guide areas in both open and limited units. This allows you to book a hunt 3 years out and apply for a limited tag during those three years. The down side is that you have to be prepared to go on the hunt if you draw (and pay for it!). If you don't draw, you hunt the open area.

It is important (in my mind) to find out what guide areas your outfitter has. Each outfitter is allowed to have three guide areas, and is only able to outfit in those three areas. As an example, the Tok limited unit is divided into three guide areas. If you wanted to hunt the Tok, you might want to make sure you booked with an outfitter that can guide in all three areas. This isn't critical, but something to think about.

Let me know if you have any more questions....
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
2 point

Joined: 01 Aug 2007
Posts: 134
Location: Mesa, AZ

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2007 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great story, great pictures, great memories of a possible once in a lifetime hunt. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!
"God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools".

-John Muir

Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website

Joined: 20 Sep 2007
Posts: 15
Location: New York

PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2007 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What an incredible hunt!

"Trophy Tactics for Trophy Game"
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website

Joined: 15 Aug 2007
Posts: 631
Location: Bozeman, Montana

PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2007 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great hunt and great pics!
Collin Cottrell

Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
4 point

Joined: 07 Mar 2006
Posts: 383
Location: Lake Mathews, Ca

PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2007 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oak, I hunt with a bow only. I apply for sheep in seven western states and dream about it often. I talk to a lot of sheep hunters and am looking into doing an Ak Dall hunt. Just like most of us I'll have to make some sacrafices to make it doable, but it'll happen. After reading your story it makes me wonder if I can actually do it with a bow. My buddy took a Dall last year in the TOK with his bow and he said it was exactly as you described in your story. Thanks again for sharing your adventure. Ed F

Team DIY
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Moderator/Doe Killer

Joined: 16 May 2005
Posts: 3825
Location: Athol, Idaho USA

PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2007 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


That is aboslutely AWESOME! What a hunt!

For you to take the time to post the hunt and all the pictures and for me to miss it and let you know how much I appreciate you doing this bothers me. Crying or Very sad

So......Congratulations and thanks again for sharing this. I will be showing this thread to some other folks I know! Just magnificent! Wink

"In God We Trust"
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Sage Creek Forums Index -> 2007 Hunting Gallery All times are GMT - 7 Hours
Goto page 1, 2  Next
Page 1 of 2

Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You cannot download files in this forum

Elveron phpBB theme/template by Ulf Frisk and Michael Schaeffer
Copyright © Ulf Frisk, Michael Schaeffer 2004

Forum run by

Sage Creek Forum Ram Picture

Click Here to Visit! image linking to 100 Top Hunting Sites Big Game Hunting Top 100

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group

Sage Creek Forum Ram Picture


Sage Creek Forum Ram Picture

Sage Creek Forum Ram Picture

Wilderness Athlete

Outback Outdoors Semi Live Western Hunting Show Free at www.outbackoutdoors.net
Retrieve health

Track Me 360.com
Under Armour


Sage Creek Forum Ram Picture