A Father and Son Sheep Hunt

Easton

Junior Member
Joined
May 8, 2012
Messages
22
Location
Alaska
After almost getting my father on an old ram last year and leaving heartbroken, he made the decision to come up to Alaska and give it one last try. My dad turns 60 in a couple months and recently had stints put in his heart so the pressure was on to get him a ram.

In October 2011, I reserved a flight with an air transporter out of Fairbanks to fly the two of us into a drainage in the Brooks Range. As August approached dad tried to get into mountain shape (hard to do in North Dakota) and carried 60lbs a couple miles to and from work each day. The severe heat this summer made training difficult as he had to get up at 5:00 a.m. each day to beat the heat. Needless to say I trained extra hard to make his hunt easier. I honestly trained almost everyday with an 80lb pack and with two weeks left I was doing two a days. I was in great shape.

On August 6th, I met dad in Fairbanks and spent the night packing and repacking our gear for our scheduled 10 day sheep hunt.

On August 7th we loaded up our gear at the air transporter and waited for the word to fly out. At 8:30 a.m. we loaded up in a Cessna 206 airplane and began the 2 1/2 hour journey north to our drop off point. I could tell dad was extremely excited as we neared the drainage. Our excitement was quickly dashed as we were unable to get through the pass that led into the north side of the mountain range. Dense fog and SNOW was making the conditions non-flyable. After a three hour wait at a different airstrip we made a second attempt at the drainage. Weather improved but only marginally, we ended up having to fly the small plane up and over the tallest peaks to get to the north side of the range.

We landed, got our packs lined up and began walking. Approximately six hours later we were ten miles away from the airstrip and right in the middle of sheep country. My plan was to continue for another three miles but dad was getting tired and needed to rest. I decided to set up camp at the base of the mountains in some soft tundra next to the river. Setting up camp in that location turned out to be a great thing as we saw a legal, "full-curl" ram right away. Since the season didn't open until the 10th, we had plenty of time to scout the area and glass for rams.

At around 11:30 p.m. dad crawled into the tent to sleep as I stayed and glassed. I ended up spotting a cow caribou and two calves running very fast across a mountain directly behind us who were being chased by a gray wolf. They ended up running right next to our camp and into the river as the wolf chased them. We watched as the wolf paralleled the caribou (running down the river) on the drainage and out of sight. WOW, what a first night experience! Unfortunately, the wolf scared the rams who I watched get up and trot over the mountain. Again, our hearts were low but quickly rejuvenated as I spotted numerous white dots start to walk out from behind a ridge directly above us. Through the binoculars, I counted several sheep and saw that all were rams and several of the rams were head bangers! One ram in particular was nice, both horns were well over full curl. The sheep gods were smiling on us that night as we watched the group of rams for the next three days. We patterned them from their feeding area to their bedding area each day and kept tabs on four rams.

On the night of the 9th we started our climb up the mountain at 10:00 p.m. and got to a good location but noticed that the group of rams were bedded on the other side of the ridge making it to difficult for a stalk. We decided to spend the night on the mountain. I set up a Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 UL (great tent!) in the best location possible on the side of a mountain. We placed large rocks at our feet so we didn't slide down the slope. It was an experience.

We managed to get a few hours of sleep without falling down the mountain and awoke to cloudy skies but in high spirits. We crawled up to a rocky point and spotted our rams below us at 800 yds. The wind was in our face and they were feeding towards us.

Dad crawled his way into position as a group of five rams moved closer and to within 150 yds. The original plan was for dad to shoot a large full curl ram that we had watched for three days. That same ram along with a beautiful double broomed were in the group but the double broomer was right below us and at 122 yds. Dad decided he wanted to take the rare double broomed ram. A few moments later his ram was down.

It was an awesome double broomed, ten year old Dall Sheep! He was so emotional that he had tears in his eyes and was "speechless" as he put it. All the hard work and patience had payed off! We sat for a moment and enjoyed the moment. We took care of his ram and headed off to see if my ram was still in the area.

We ended up locating a group of rams approximately 1 mile away and made a stock. Dad was below me ten yards when I motioned to him that I could see one of the rams just over a group of rocks. I quickly took off my pack, grabbed my rifle and skirted up some rocky shale and got into position. I spotted three rams sitting in the rocks looking directly at me. I spotted my ram and ranged him at 185 yds. I took the shot and got my ram! Just like that we had two rams down in one day.

After photos, we got my ram taken care of and loaded into my pack and headed over to get dads. At 6:00 p.m. we got dads ram loaded up in his pack and began the arduas descent to camp. Both packs easily weighed over 100lbs as we went down. I could tell that dad was struggling with the weight so I told him the next stop we made to rest for him to drop the pack and follow me down to camp and I would head back up and get his pack. A few minutes later I saw him stumble and the weight took him over. He landed at my feet on his left shoulder. I thought he was uncounscious! He was holding his head and arm. He was hurting! I got the pack off of him and confirmed after several minutes that he was going to be ok. I packed my ram down as he followed without his pack. Once we got to camp I headed up to get his pack.

That night we enjoyed fresh sheep tender loins tossed in Mountain House and polished off some choice beverage.

The next day we caped the sheep and boned out the meat while resting for the long journey the following day back to the airstrip. On the 12th we packed up camp, our sheep and began the long ten mile hike back to the runway. At 6:30 p.m. we made it to the runway and dropped our packs. Due to dads hurt shoulder, I packed a sheep and a half along with camp back to the runway. He figured I had around 140lbs in my pack while he had around 80lbs. I don't think it was that much but my back sure felt it regardless!

The next day we were picked up by the air transporter and flown back to Fairbanks. We were the only pair that had come back with two rams up to that date. The following day I got dad on Alaska Airlines back to ND.

I very proud of my father (about to turn 60 yoa) for putting in all the hard work and determination to succeed at a Dall Sheep hunt. I know folks half his age that would have quit and cried the first two days of the hunt. This was his first and last ram. I was fortunate enough to harvest my third.

All the gear I used worked great. Kuiu clothing again did great and I am thankful I had my Barney's pack!
 

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Benny

Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2012
Messages
65
I don't even know you and I'm way proud. I could only imagine what that was like with your dad. Well done...no regrets there.
 

broncoformudv

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2012
Messages
186
Location
Anchorage, Alaska
Easton you did am outstanding job out there! It is great seeing and hearing about sons and daughters getting their parents back out there and even better when everyone manages to connect with the species they are seeking.

My father lived in Alaska for 16 years and went on two sheep hunts in the Brooks but for one reason or another never got his ram. He now lives in WA and is not in the shape he once was but I hope that one day he will get that itch again and I can be the one there with him when he gets his ram..
 

philw

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 26, 2012
Messages
151
Location
Colorado
Wow. That is the best story I've read in a good long while. Congratulations on a true hunt of a lifetime.

I'm not 60 yet, but getting closer every year. I hope I'm as tough as your dad when I get there.
 

huntwest

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2012
Messages
106
Location
ND
Easton, congrats on the sheep. I know your dad I work for brand "X" in the same town as Mark. I will have to track him down and see the pics.
 

Becca

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2012
Messages
2,046
Location
Wasilla, Alaska
Awesome Easton! I am guessing this is a trip neither of you will ever forget! Two beautiful rams for sure, thanks so much for sharing!
 
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