2012 AK DIY Sheep Hunt

Jdog

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Derby, KS
As many of you know, I did a DIY dall sheep hunt in AK in late Aug this past season. I was stationed with the Air Force in Anchorage from 2003-2007 and got addicted to sheep hunting the mountains of AK in 2006 on my first sheep hunt. I have been lucky on a few sheep hunts and able to punch my tag a few times. The more I go…the more I fall in love with chasing the white ghosts in those mountains.

This trip was special in many ways. It would be my older brother Matt’s first mountain and sheep hunt. My military affiliation allows me to remain a resident and my residency allows my brother to hunt with me and I act as his guide. We planned this hunt in Jan/Feb of 2012 while I was deployed in Afghanistan thousands of miles away. We would be hunting a heavily hunted area that is fairly accessible by guides and AK residents. The odds would definitely be stacked against us. No worries...we would enjoy ourselves and each other’s company regardless. I thought about this hunt a lot while I was deployed and the anticipation built tremendously as our hunt dates approached.

Our commercial flights connected us in Minneapolis where we talked each other into bumping up to first class for the flight to Fairbanks. That was the best $250 I have ever spent! The extra room sure helped as my brother comes in at 6’7” and I am about 6’8”. We arrived in Fairbanks and hit a local hotel. Next morning we did a complete gear shakedown and were ready to roll out after some breakfast and a few last minute errands.
We called the flight service and he accommodated our request to get into the field early so we loaded up and off we went. Flying in was spectacular…the late August colors glow with reds and yellows. I absolutely love this time of year in AK. The smells and sounds are simply awesome.

We landed around 1400 and headed down the trail for 3-4 hrs. We set up camp that night, made a fire and began to take it all in. We sat, listened to the river, talked about prior hunts together and our late older brother we used to hunt with until his unexpected passing a couple years ago. It was a nice evening to reflect and appreciate what God has blessed us with.

The next morning we awoke to caribou moving down the river. A welcomed sight as they played cat and mouse with us for 30 minutes. We both wondered if they had ever seen humans...they probably have, but it was cool to think otherwise!

Backpacks ready to go...
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Sights from the flight in
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Brother ready to begin
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Yours truly
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Camp for the first night
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Another shot from camp
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Goofing around by the fire
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Another update coming...
 

a3dhunter

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Feb 26, 2012
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Colorado Springs,CO
Looking forward to the rest of the story.
How about some gear lists and pack weights as well?
Anything you left that you should have taken, or anything you wish you would have left out?
 
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Jdog

Jdog

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Derby, KS
Looking forward to the rest of the story.
How about some gear lists and pack weights as well?
Anything you left that you should have taken, or anything you wish you would have left out?

I will give you a gear list/review in a bit...on with more pics for now.
 
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Jdog

Jdog

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Morning bou on the river...very cool to see them.
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A sheep hunter is born--my brother Matt
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Pretty pic of the river
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Jdog

Jdog

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Who needs waders when you can just take your boots and socks off! Dang that water was cold!
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My brother...in the big AK mountains...I think he was thinking..."what the hell did I get into?!"
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Jdog

Jdog

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Camp #2 and our camp for the next several days...about 6-7 miles from the air strip
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another view from camp #2
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Brother in camp
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Becca

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Wasilla, Alaska
Super excited to read the rest of your story, I have been waiting for this one! Awesome pics, looks like you had some incredible scenary and half way decent weather too...
 

tstowater

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Iowa
Gotta love those river crossing with a full pack. Always makes for an eventful time. Looks great so far. Love the scenery. I need more to help with my ochd.
 
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Jdog

Jdog

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Alrightie fellaz...so day two we begin glassing. We immediately locate 5 rams about 3 miles away. One of them looks decent but we will need to get considerably closer to determine if he is legal. We decide to make a push to him the following day. Here we are glassing them.
Spotter is a Swarovski 65mm that I have been completely satisfied with over the last 5 years. Never ever considered another. The tripod is a Velbon Ultimax mini that Luke Moffet recommended/reviewed here a few months back--worked very well and much better than the cheapo I had been using for the last several years. No real reason, just never got around to replacing it.. The head is a Manfrotto ball head. Don't care for the ball head for panning large chunks of land. It will be replaced with a pan head next year.
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Jdog

Jdog

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We kept tabs on the sheep throughout the evening and they moved up and around a drainage that evening. Our plan would be to get after them and make the trek the next morning. Up early we are on the trail soon after daylight. Everything is wet...we are getting pretty wet moving through the willows and tundra. there is alot of willows to trudge through. Its not easy the first mile but we finally make it the drainage and begin our ascent up. We quickly realize there is a very large gorge between us and where we think the rams headed into the night before. Here is a bou we bumped into right near camp as we headed out...aren't the colors spectacular?!
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Jdog

Jdog

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We start moving up the mountain with hopes in locating the sheep in the bowl we think they are in. It takes us a few hours...but my bro is pounding it out. Doing much better than I thought he would. Doing something he has never done. I am loving every minute of it...seeing him grind it out makes me happy. This is LIVING! Here we are taking a quick break.
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We bump more bou on the way up...they don't seemed at all concerned. Hard to tell from the pics but we have probably hiked 3 miles from camp and considerably up the mountain. Our camp is no longer visible.
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Jdog

Jdog

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We finally get to the top and do a controlled peak over into the basin. I quickly see 2 rams...neither is legal...but one is close. But no way to make him legal. We sit there, enjoy the rams as they fight a bit and jockey. My brother is pretty excited to see them in their environment. I can tell he is hooked. Its a pretty cool moment when you lay your eyes on your first rams in the mountains.
Here we are up top.
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Here is the top of the mountain we were peaking over and into the basin when we spotted the two rams.
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