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- Epilogue to 2010 Sheep Hunt
- Stone’s Sheep Hunt – August 2010
- Sheep Hunt 2010
August 31st, 2010
Following the successful harvest of a great ram with scenery to match…let me tell you about what is involved after the harvest. Lots of work. Albiet work that is easily done when you’re smiling after a successful hunt!!
Deboning all the meat and looking after the cape is an important part of the hunt. We deboned the entire ram. All 4 quarters, backstraps, tenderloins and even the ribs. Given how late in the hunt it was, we knew we had a lot of ground to make up and it was without delay that we would start out right away and go as long as we could before setting up camp for the first night.
Fully loaded and ready to go. Pack weight is well in excess of 100 lbs with meat, and head (which still wasn’t caped out at that point). We would hike hard with no break until we were well into the timbered valley again that was familiar to us. Its much easier and quicker covering ground when you know what to expect and what lays ahead!! It was still a big grunt effort.
That night rain moved in and we were tired, so we figured to spend a few hours resting while I looked after the caping of the ram. Chef extraordinaire, Brent, took that time while I was caping out the head, to gather wood and build a fire in order to cook what has to be the highlight of the trip. Sheep ribs sprinkled with seasoning and slow cooked over the coals of the fire. Absolutly scrumptious. Many sheep hunters don’t bother with the ribs when packing out a sheep. They are missing out the best part of the sheep hunt, and that is ribs over a fire. It is delicious.
After a great feast of greasy ribs! I set about the task of turning the ears, eyes, lips and nose. Brent tackled the skull to clean off the flesh and remove the lower jaw.
Brent working away.
Soon after … we packed and loaded up our packs!! With full stomachs and renewed energy we struck off. Another long day of hiking with heavy loads. Not much was said as we knew we had a long ways to go. Pretty much the only conversation centered around, “Lets take a break for a few minutes.” At this point we were hitting all those streams (I prefer to call them small rivers) and fast water crossings. This time, instead of taking our packs off to put our crocs on, we just taped the bottoms of our boots and trudged on through. This saved a lot of time. We each took turns standing by in case one of us fell into the water. Heavy loads combined with fast water can make for tricky crossings. One important thing to do is to undo all the buckles on your pack, and take your hands out of the hiking pole straps. Should you fall, you want to be able to get out of your pack as fast as you can. This is just one crossing I decided to snap a couple photos of Brent. We would yet make another camp that night. Our 2nd day enroute with loaded packs. We were exhausted to say the least and we didn’t even bother cooking dinner but downed a protein bar and turned into bed to sleep. This is what happens when you push yourself deep into sheep country. Like the old saying, what goes up must come down …. can apply to how far one hikes into the mountains.
Brent making one of the many crossings we would do.
We woke up early on our third day to start our backpacking the rest of the way to make it out. We were 2 very very tired hunters at this point but we would make it. Looking back, we pushed quite hard to cover ground and consequently our cameras never came out of their pouches. I will have to remind myself to do so next time. We were both happy and tired and just wanted to start the road home.
Exhausted on the 3rd day of backpacking … but still grinning!!
Quickly loaded up for the drive home!! The salted cape and all the meat was stored in the cooler we brought. Back at the lodge at Muncho Lake, we were able to get ice to keep the meat cold for the drive home. We thanked Marianne and Urs for their wonderful service and flying once again on a great sheep hunting adventure.
I hope you all enjoyed reading about this Stone’s sheep hunting adventure and this inspires new and aspiring sheep hunters to make your dreams a reality and one day pursuing mountain monarchs…and to those with sheep hunting experiences under their belt, a renewed thirst to pursue sheep as well as rekindle your own past and future adventures in the mountains.Hunting News | Comment (0)
August 22nd, 2010
Brent Tingstad and I had a Stone’s sheep hunt this past August that can only be described as ‘epic’.
Just imagine, 14 days in the mountains of northern British Columbia in pursuit of one of the most desired big game species ……the Stone’s sheep. This was an extreme hardcore backpack hunt from start to finish that can best be described as the best weight loss program 14 days can give when scrambling across rocky scree slopes and climbing mountain after mountain. We were subjected to extreme weather conditions from the heat and sun’s rays to winds so strong they bent the poles on the tent and rain / thunderstorms that had us hunkering down under the Sil-Tarp waiting for it to pass.
The gear and equipment we used stood up to rigorous testing once again that are demanded of them in remote and rugged mountains of northern BC. In particular for 14 straight days and over an estimated 130km of scrambling through the mountains.
Packing the right gear is important in order to be able to stay in the mountains for 14 days in comfort!! In the recent BC Outdoors: Hunting and Shooting, Pre-Season 2010 Issue, there is a feature article, “Gearing up for Sheep: The ultimate packing list”, which highlights the gear involved with such a hunt.
Packing for this year’s Stone’s sheep hunt was no different, with the exception of substituting oatmeal with a protein bar for the added energy content we anticipated we would need for the hunt.
July 29th, found Brent and I pulling up to Northern Rockies Lodge http://www.northernrockieslodge.com/ and shortly thereafter getting re-aquainted with Urs and Marianne, with whom I have flown with on several occasions in the past. This lodge provides excellent service for resident hunters wishing to access the Northern Rockies for all big game species the north has to offer. With a C-185, Dehavilland Beaver, and turbine Single Otter, they are very well equipped!!
Within the hour, we were down at the docks and loading up the Barney packs into the turbine otter for the scenic flight to our destination.
My good hunting partner Brent Tingstad all set to go!
As everyone who has gone hunting in the mountains can attest to …. it often involves a lot of bushwacking before you get anywhere. Thats not all. August hunting this year involve a lot of extreme heat / bugs / sweat and our clothes getting saturated within the first hour. The mosquitoes and black flies were pretty bad (and thats putting it mildly) and we realized that perhaps it might push rams out of the timber / buckbrush into high lofty places.
It was late at night when we finally made camp in a grove of trees still down low in a valley and the views in the waning sunset offered no views of any animals. It was like a silent void interupted by the steady zzzZZZzzzzzZZZ from mosquitoes trying to get inside our head nets.
Hiking through the valley bottom in the thick willow jungles.
Having flown in a few days before opener, we figured we had time on our hands to find sheep yet by noon that first day… not a single sheep sighting. Not surprising given Brent and I had gone an entire hunt 3 years ago in this area without seeing a single legal ram … or many sheep for that matter. We were there to give it another try!!
The heat was insane and the water source was now an issue …whereas in the past it wasn’t. There’s a good reason why hunters should always filter their water or zap the water…
Just because the source was good in the past, was no reason to assume it would be the same 3 years later.
A harsh reminder to zap or filter all water sources.
Good thing we knew where to find alternative water sources with it being so dry. Often places have tiny seeps that will always have water dripping throughout even the hottest summers. Its always a good idea to note where these are for future hunts. It took a little while, but we eventually filled up our jugs with enough water to last a couple days in the alpine.
Zip lock bags are pretty handy as SSS patiently waits for the first bottle to fill up! Being creative in the mountains really adds to the success and enjoyment of the hunt.
After making camp, we scoured the mountain and what was severely lacking anywhere we walked was a lack of sheep sign such as fresh pellets. Yet with one day remaining prior to opening day we spot them. A band of sheep which looked like good rams way off on a ridge and a decision had to be made … keep hunting the mountain or pack up and make the move to where the sheep were (which was a heck of a grunt effort in itself to get there).
After some discussion based on current and past conditions in the area, we made the move … it was an exhausting move that had us finally fall asleep at our destination after nightfall. Upon our arrival, we found the water source all dried up whereas it was flowing in the past. A big rain storm moved in as we were setting up the camp and we quickly threw out Brents Integral Designs Sil-Tarp II to collect rain water … a tactic that provided us with 20-25 liters of water for the next few days. This method of water collection in the past has enabled us to stay up high in the mountains without having to drop down low for water.
On the move … and no we didn’t see any sheep despite glassing and watching on our way. Destination was the distant mountain with snow on it. A long haul day and quite smokey.
Plodding along …. still a long ways to go when keeping an eye out for sheep at the same time.
The water collection method using the Sit-Tarp II is dynamite! Hence, why we each pack a Sil-Tarp II. One to collect water (if needed) and the other for shelter. Here, Brent poses with more than enough water to last a few days from one rain storm!! A tactic I and we have used on mountain hunts since 2004.
The weather was socked in opening morning with low cloud obscuring the mountains which was great for us as we were quite tired from the previous days hike. By mid-morning, the fog started to lift and it was with that we shouldered our packs and started making our way up and around the mountain side to where we last saw the sheep. We did see lots of sheep sign and fresh pellets, yet as we climbed, glassed and peeked around every little bump in the terrain, no sheep were to be seen. Finally we were on the ridge and we moved into position to do some glassing and expecting to see sheep. We saw sheep, only 4 or 5 ewes and lambs across the basin. Where were the rams? Did the sudden rain storm change their whereabouts? After glassing a while, it was apparent we weren’t the only ones there. 4 people were down below also glassing and by alternatively watching them and glassing the basin we surmised it might be some guides with clients and it was clear after a few hours, that the basin harboured no rams and we started to pick our way through the scree slopes to check out other areas for rams.
We finally make our way across the mountain scree and within a couple hours we were glassing a new basin and we know there’s absolutly nothing wrong with our spotting / glassing abilities as Brent is quick to point out a few rams in the rocks but they’re all young with the oldest maybe being 5 or 6 years old. We keep glassing and stay put until late evening with no further sheep sightings. We decide we’ll return the next day to see if we can relocate them and any other rams we may have missed …
The next morning bright and early we’re outside the tent when Brent says he hears rocks rolling above the tent … a quick look with the binoculars and there are 2 rams moving across the scree above the tent but they’re both young rams….a little 5 yr and 3 yr old ram.
Can you see them?? They sure blend in well!! It often takes years of practice and observation of Stone’s sheep to be able to spot them in the rocks.
They bedded on a ridge above us and after climbing within a 100 yards we took a couple photos’ and they were on their way again.
We were glassing the same basins and relocated the same sheep we were seeing the day before in fairly short order including the same folks we saw the day before further down the drainage. Back to where we saw the rams the day before, we saw what we didn’t expect to see but did see. 3 more folks on the ridge on the far side glassing into the same spot where the rams were … we decided to move down closer to them and glass a different basin out of their sight … it was getting a tad crowded on this mountain with 10 sets of eyes all over the place (including us)…
We relocated the rams but knew they couldn’t see them but wondered if they were sitting on legal rams … and thought we should keep our distance seeing that they were onto the rams first that day and keep an eye for potential movement our way … irregardless, they sent the wrangler to have a talk with us as we were hidden glassing a back basin … we had a good conversation but it was clear they would be upset if we moved in their direction as they were waiting for rams to come up on top … turns out none of the rams were legal and we departed on good terms and headed the other way after glassing the back basin.
Glassing the back basin …
Guide and hunter working their way down the ridge. They gave us a farewell wave with a smile as we departed. We would bump into them again a couple days later.
So there we were, sitting on a mountain with 10 sets of eyes glassing the heck out of it for rams and no shots have been heard and no legal rams have been seen.
Brent and I had a pretty funny dialogue going on regarding the wranglers visit and ensueing conversation. He was a bit lost in conversation a few times but at the end of the day, the guide / hunter were onto the rams first that day and all we could do is sit a ways back and watch and see what the rams did (if there were legal ones around) and then we left the area when they observed that there were no legal rams and therefor saved us a little walking that day to check the basin they were watching.
Here are the young rams we both were watching.
On the way back to camp, we observed the camp down below … not even a km from where we pitched our tent. For the first few days, it was feeling rather crowded and we surmised the fire ban was lifted given the smoke coming from camp.
A little discouraged, we headed back to camp early to figure out our next plan of attack for the area.
The Sil-tarp II came out almost right away when we arrived in camp. A massive wind / rain storm started bellowing through and all we could do was just hunker down and come to grips with the weather and start boiling water for our freeze dried dinner.
We did get some wicked video footage of the storm and it sure replenished our water supply. There’s one thing about rain water. It sort of tasted like an ashtray with all the smoke in the air.
Discussions turned around to the lack of sheep (sure we saw some but certainly not many) and seeing how the others weren’t seeing / shooting rams either we figured we should hit another mountain with the idea we might bivvy out for the night and see what happens.
All of a sudden out of the blue came a man on a horse just like it came from an episode of man tracker!! It happened to be a good gent I had made an aquaintance with before and after some friendly chit chat with the ongoings he left us a treat of canned pineapple, peaches and tuna!! What an energy boost!! We were very gracious for the treat and those pineapple chunks were a hit for desert!!
The next morning we were up early and started a long hike to another mountain to check out … it was a dreadfully hot day and water was scarce other than what we carried on ourselves.
After a lot of glassing, we finally see some ewes and lambs and 1 maybe legal ram bedded down low in a saddle but too far to tell if he was legal.
Sitting tight we continued glassing to no avail. Brent eventually fell asleep curled up on his side. At this point it was late morning and the sun was burning down. After putting the bino’s down from a glassing stint, I casually looked over my shoulders … and I was floored … not 130 yards away was a ram staring at us … things happened awful fast at this point … putting the bino’s up I look at him and see he’s a nice full curl ram … at this point I turn and whisper loudly to Brent to wake up and that a ram was staring at us … quick whispers back and forth that he was a good ram and I was going shoot him and as Brent put the spotter on to see if it was a mature ram but at the same time he said shoot the ram turned and ran off before I could let the safety off … staring at eachother in disbelief what just transpired the ram reappeared over 230 or so yards away and bootin it up further away on the ridge to which I quickly got into an awkward prone position and 2 shots later … I was in shock … I had missed at a running ram.
Unbelievably – I had missed … it was the unthinkable but it happened in all the excitement within the moment. It wasn’t one of those cool, calm, collected moments where you pull a stalk on a ram and pick your shot. We did end up bivvying up on that mountain for the night to see if we could find him again but the direction and the way the mountains were, it would not have surprised us if he hit the timber and booted it for parts unknown at that point.
A nice ram. One which finally had me shouldering my rifle after all these years. It was one of the toughest couple days I had mentally. I had passed up many legal rams over the years waiting for such an opportunity and I had blown it. Brent reassured me that I didn’t want ‘that’ ram, ‘that’ way.
I graciously told Brent that night over dinner that I had my opportunity and it was his turn on the next ram we found. I must say this is where good hunting partners can talk over the situation and he refused to take it, saying it wasn’t one of those instances where we spotted, stalked, and had the shooting opportunity but rather a quirky case of the ram finding us and in the hurried events which transpired … didn’t quite fit as a good opportunity.
This part of the hunt seems to lack a few pictures … I may have zoned out in that regard but we did make a great bivvy shelter with the Sil-Tarp II that was solid and wind resistant and just stare off in the direction the ram last disappeared.
It was a long haul back to camp after hunting / glassing all the next day from a vantage that let us see in all directions for any rams … we only saw a few ewes and lambs (including the bunch that the other ‘maybe’ legal ram was with but he was last seen also headed in the timber direction and perhaps a different mountain).
We were parched and exhausted upon returning to the main camp late that night …
At this point we were hunting the mountains 2 days and if we spotted sheep, we would return the 2nd day to ensure we didn’t miss any other sheep, especially if we were able to re-locate the sheep from the day before. This method increased the odds of seeing rams when moving around looking for sheep. We never did see new sheep … sure there ‘may’ have been missed sheep but sometimes you need to play the odds.
Given the prospects of finding rams with so many eyes around and no sheep taken and having blown an opportunity at a great ram … we were reflecting on the next plan and it was one we had in the back of our minds but never thought we would contemplate. Way off in the horizon lay a rugged, and I mean rugged mountain range in the distance … mountains neither of us had ever hunted and knew relatively little about.
“We’re gonna do it huh? Hike all the way over to those mountains??” It wasn’t just a hike over for a look see … it took us 2 1/2 days to get there. A hike that would leave us shaking our heads at times but given the current circumstances … it was time to move into unfamiliar country.
On zoom from through the spotter … intimidating … and we would end up beyond the far peak in the photo …
The next morning we start up our packing for the big move. We figured 1 day … how wrong we were … those mountains were farther than we thought they were.
Here’s us starting to load up … followed by the lucky marmot that was under our tent when we arrived back the night before.
Packing our packs with well rehearsed precision, we were loaded and off without much delay other than slight apprehension as to what we were getting ourselves into with the unknown.
Early on our hike, we were amused as I am sure they were as we came upon the previously mentioned wrangler, guide and hunter (who couldn’t resist taking our photo as we stood there with packs on). They were all loaded up and pulling out as well and in the direction we were headed.
With a bemused look upon her face, the wrangler pipes up … “You guys tired yet?”
“Just getting started.” Brent cheerfully answers …..
The guide goes, “Which way are you guys headed” and it was answered with a general wave of the hiking pole to the mountains beyond … “That way!”
And off they went … with the guide snapping a couple more photo’s of us before he mounted his horse.
And so it was … we were off …
The hike was eventful and eventually creeks turned into raging torrents which is better suited to be called small rivers but it was off with the boots and on with the crocks with every crossing … quite tedius so to speak. We were tired but we kept pushing forward, taking breaks when required.
A tired looking Brent likely thinking what the hell are we doing anyways…
We don’t have too many photos of the ‘journey’, more so because the cameras were tucked away and we were more focussed on covering ground as much as possible. Not being able to really sheep hunt for over 2 days while in timber was eating away at us. We got rained on really good and that bush is just soaking wet when having to hike with rain gear and being saturated with sweat in the humid heat. It was quite miserable going with willow and alder bushes grabbing us at every chance.
We had to light a fire one evening to dry our stuff out at one of the camps we made.
At long last … we finally were breaking tree line and given the first views of the mountains we would start in search of Stone’s sheep rams. It wasn’t long before a nice caribou bull entertained us for an hour!!
Brent luring the bull back!! Curiosity gets them every time.
and back he comes…
Brent and I took some time studying the maps to give us an idea of the area shortly after breaking tree line.
Soon we were making camp beside a creek with adequate glassing!! It was a lot of fun being in new country we had never hunted or seen before! Never knowing what to expect.
That evening, despite tired legs, we were motivated to take an hour to climb up and have a peak over into another basin for an evenings glassing session. Things were looking up … we spotted a few rams on another nearby mountain ridge but theywere young ones. After a couple days of hiking in the timber, it was a great feeling to see rams right away and it stoked our confidence.
Brent heading back down to camp after glassing an adjoining basin. It was a windy and cold evening.
The next morning, it was up and at it again as we glassed the surrounding mountains with a couple ewe lamb sightings from the tent. More promise!! It was time to climb up and get another ‘new’ view in the other direction. We weren’t disapointed and liked what we saw. Now if only we could find rams.
Climbing up from camp.
The first views Brent and I had as we crested the ridge … was just spectacular!!
It wasn’t long while glassing that I found a bull caribou on a high ridge in the distance. I told Brent about it and we kept on glassing. About 15 mins later, Brent announces there’s a sheep where the caribou was. And it was a ram!! Our legs went nearly dead … that ram was 5 km as the crow flies on the sky line and we could see he was a ram worth checking out. With our camp way back behind us, we decided to make the choice to empty our packs except for rifles / bino’s and make the haul back down to camp and bring it back up with us so we could be more in the ‘zone’ so to speak as far as glassing / hunting goes. And so we did just that … made it back to camp in time to have a dinner break and then pack it all up again and over to where we wanted to be.
New camp location with a grande view!! The Mountain Hardware Approach tent pictured certainly would have a few tales to tell if it could talk. It has flawlessly accompanied me in the mountains since 2002!! One of the best lightweight mountain tents I have ever seen.
Back glassing and the good news was that the ram was still bedded / feeding on the distant ridge. We were going to go for it. 5km straight line … we had alot of hiking ahead of us and we figured we were going to be making a bivvy camp again … putting it into perspective, the ram was on the farthest sky line above the tent in the above picture.
The ram on the sky line.
Keep in mind … the day we made the move on this ram was day 10 of our hunt. In my experience, most sheep hunters have had enough and pull out of their hunts between days 5 and 8. Day 10 (not including the day we flew in) is getting long. Bodies are fatigued and very tired yet our mental focus was on track and this late in the game, mental toughness and perseverence rules the day.
We were up early at 4 am and on the move. It was a cold day with a north wind and skies that left us wondering if we shouldn’t have just brought the tent just in case … but we didn’t.
Aan hour into the hike, we were thoroughly motivated … the ram was still there, and we forged on … always on the lookout for other sheep enroute. Closer and closer with each passing hour. We were pushing hard and it was having a telling effect on both of us fatigue and thirst wise. It didn’t help that with only a couple kilometers to go that we spot another guide outfit camp with tent and people around down below.
Given the location of the camp and the fact the people were still there, told us that they likely couldn’t see the ram from where they were so we pushed onwards to see if we could get into position.
I’d like to say at this point, we were both nearly tanked and parched for water. But by 11am we peaked over the top and at exactly 220 yards was the ram bedded down without a clue in the world as to our presence.
An exhausted Brent catching his breadth just short of the top of the mountain peak we would look over to find the ram bedded.
A beautiful ram with nice dropping and flaring horns that didn’t quite make full curl … “Jeeze Brent, I can’t get 8 on him.” which went on for over an hour. After a while though we were getting the view we needed and it looked like the ram would be 8 … but at that point, we were like, if we couldn’t decide earlier to shoot him that perhaps we let him walk and thats exactly what we did … even though he was a very very nice ram. It takes a lot of will power and resolve to pass up such a ram, in particular when you’re in a hunt as deep at this and after an exhausting stalk.
Brent taking some video footage of the bedded / feeding ram.
We got up to stretch our legs and decide to take in the rest of the scenery and crawling back over we were given a great sight!!
A great looking pack train of horses moving through the country. An absolutely classic way to hunt and move through sheep country!!!
However, we were backpack sheep hunters … how much tougher can you get when you have to use your own two legs and carry everything on your back!! Especially considering what we had gone through at that point in the hunt to be where we were.
After watching them go through … we returned our attention back to the ram. He was up and feeding and moving away from us … having a better opportunity to view his horns, and see he was indeed a nice ram! After he fed out of sight, we decided we should go down and have one last good look ‘just to be sure’ … we started down and then this rain / wind storm hits and after waiting it out … we climb the next ridge to find the ram nowhere to be seen … at that point we went back on our previous statement that if its taking us that long to look him over, we should pass him up.
A few hundred yards up the ridge towards the packs (which were on top of the mountain) … I spot a grizzly bear across the basin working its way towards us and gave Brent the heads up and that we had better keep working our way up the steep ridge … the bear disappeared … then reappeared …. and what happened next … happened really fast … upon seeing us on the ridge, the bear charged from about 500 yards away … we started yelling and waving our arms as loud as we could to get his attention … he wasn’t stopping and he was reducing the yardage damn fast … Brent was the first to fire the first warning shot … grizzly bear still charging … I fired the 2nd shot … grizzly bear still running at a charge … Brent fires a 3rd … I fire the 4th … and he’s still charging …. I fire the 5th shot and that finally turns the bear … he heads off running back to the opposite ridge and down its length and back down into the timber… a few more seconds at the rate he was moving and we were going to end up having to shoot to kill. Not a prospective situation to be in. Yelling and waving followed by several shots and he was still charging … we were certainly lucky to be in an ideal spot with high visibility. At the end of the day we are both safe!!
At this point its absolutly pissing rain and miserable out. We knew we weren’t going to make it back to the tent and so we dropped down to utilize the camp from which the outfit pulled out from. Everything was drenched and it was by good fortune a tarp rolled up was put to good use as a ground sheet with the Sil-Tarp II as a cover. (we ensured we rolled and put it back as we found it as it could save someone else’s hide on a rainy night!!).
The Sil-Tarp II has served us really well and we were able to rig up a nifty shelter from the heavy rain … a rain storm that would last well into late afternoon the next day.
A good fire to help dry our gear when there was a lull in the rain.
This is day 11 and here I am, still smiling away the next afternoon while cleaning my lenses and readying them for more glassing!! Thats right … it rained / socked us in till the next afternoon … it was just as well as we needed the sleep / rest for the long hike back to our tent. Perseverence and a positive attitude is important! We always expect bad weather conditions during our hunts and just take them in stride!
Loading up / cleaning up spike camp to start the rest of the hike back to our tent and glass / hunt sheep as we go.
The hike back was great with a few ewe / lamb sightings and the opportunity to check out new country.
The weather started to break as we made the last long climb towards our tent camp and the sun set was showing … The old saying crossed my mind, “red sky at night, sailors delight” … perhaps tomorrow would be a nice day.
Not too long after this photo … we were walking along and about half a mile to go to the tent when I whistfully brought the bino’s up to check a distant ridge on another mountain ……… “Hey Brent … Brent … rams … rams on the ridge………”
“No way ….” Brent goes.
And so it started again … we hunkered down below skyline on the mountain ridge and whipped out the spotting scopes. 3 rams and … one of them looked like a shooter.
Our time was running out and here we had more rams and we were just simply tired. Yet we knew that we needed to get a closer look at the larger ram. We watched the rams in the rapidly fading light and put them to bed at dark and woke up only a few hours later … it only took 5 minutes to find them … they were still there but they had dropped significantly in elevation and were feeding just above the buckbrush line at the bottom of the basin … it was time for us to make a move … if all went well, we’d be on them within the hour!!!
The rams disappeared from sight … and the winds were causing us a little worry … blowing in every direction … we needed to locate those rams again to plan an attack, yet we had no idea if they bedded or were still feeding into the buckbrush / timber area. Tense moments.
The rams had come off the top of the mountain and were way down low near the buckbrush line at the bottom the next morning in this next photo.
We were sneaking along the buck brush and hoping to get a glimpse of the sheep from another angle when all of a sudden Brent stopped suddenly and backed up … they were bedded and the larger ram was facing us … we were busted … but we both automatically dropped behind a tree each and froze … that ram knew something was up but we didn’t dare move and the mosquitoes were really getting annoying … I was swearing revenge on them as they sucked my blood from my face / neck … but I didn’t dare move. After over an hour, the rams got up to feed out of sight and we made our move back up hill in the direction they were feeding … we had them right where we wanted them … it was going to be a matter of sneaking over a low rise and being within shooting range … we took our packs off and readied ourselves … slowly sneaking up … we peaked over and nothing … where were they??? We couldn’t believe it … they had to be close but for some unknown reason I turned to looked behind me and there they were … already making their way into the cliffs over 500 yards away and looking back at us … the wind must have given us away … we just stared at them …. feeling sooo defeated … but we watched them make their way across the mountain side … slowing down to feed below some cliffs about a km away… exasperated … I noted a steep creek wash across the basin which required dropping down into the timber / bruck brush and regaining all that elevation again … there was a slight knob of which we could peak over … if we moved hard, we might be able to intercept the rams if they stayed their present course of movement.
Going down was ok … but climbing up … the energy was low but we had to move and go hard we did, pushing ourselves and when we topped out on the knob and peaked over … at first I couldn’t see anything … then all of a sudden one of the rams fed into view … they were now just over 400 yards and closing the distance!!!
We were pumped … the rams were now feeding towards us and it was just a matter of letting them just walk right into us and best of all, we were downwind!!
After getting ready … I slowly rose to take a peek and incredulously the rams had bedded down … between 320 and 350 yards away and 2 of them were facing us.
We hunkered down and figured to wait them out. I didn’t keep track but I’m sure it was at least an hour or two before the rams got up to feed again but this time they were really no longer feeding towards us … they were oblivious to our presence yet with the larger ram at 320 yards, we didn’t want the prospect of them starting to feed away from us … whispering with Brent … we decided now was the time to shoot when he fed and turned broadside …
Given everything we’ve gone through up to that point to be on day 12 of our hunt … I told Brent, “Lets shoot that ram at the same time!”
The excitement was building … as we belly crawled the last few meters to a small little knob to rest our rifles on …
Simultaneous and in sync…….one, two….BOOM …. followed by a quick simulaneous 2nd round downed the ram for good!!!
And so it was …. an epic Stone’s sheep trip came to a conclusion and through hard work, perseverence and effort, a fine ram was down.
Every year, sheep hunters take great sheep and have great adventures. This was our adventure and our ram. Hopefully some of you guys / gals who have yet to hunt in the mountains will make that effort to experience what sheep hunting is all about. Sometimes the ram will come early in a hunt … and other times you’ll work for it and earn it like we did. Either way, taking a ram on a trip is a bonus and secondary to the actual hunt itself. This is the reason why Brent and I are able to stay and hunt the duration of a long hunt without giving up.
We’re sheep hunters.
Here are a few pictures. Our smiles say it all.
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