Chugach Sheep hunt

CtP

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Feb 28, 2012
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Day five, sneaking down the scree chute with 500’ vertical to cover and trying not to make too much noise, I peak through the binos to make sure the rams haven’t been spooked. Good to go, I give BH the thumbs up and we keep creeping. We’ve been watching this group of eight rams, with one heavy legal that I picked out from the ridge. After spotting them bedded on a high bench, they’ve started making their way down the mountain toward the sweet greens. The big boys were leading the way.
Next thing you know the rams start running, downhill. They turn toward each other and whack, we can here the collision from 3/4 mile away. The rams are getting frisky and smashing their horns together. Here they go, running down the mountain, kicking up snow in the field, rearing up on their hind legs and “SMACK!!” They’re almost behind the terrain giving us a window to move fast. We’ve been creeping down this scree for about an hour and the tedious movements are exhausting. We’re in the shade, and the slow, precise steps are forcing me to strip layers. As the group moves down the snowfield behind terrain, we start to move. They gone and BH and I are sliding, running, and jumping down the scree, as fast as possible, with half the mountain following us. We hit the bottom, drop the packs, and start to run.

The idea for this tag started just about a year ago at the F & G office. We were sealing Chris’ ram from his DCUA hunt and reviewing the rams that were previously sealed. We noticed a couple big boys coming out of 13D and said to ourselves “ That looks like a good one to try for next year.”
February comes along with the draws results close behind. Luck would have it that both Lilly, Chris’ daughter, and I get the same tag for 13D East, DS165.
So we start scheming. I search the forums but there isn’t much written about the unit, just a couple posts , from long ago, documenting hunts without much success.

We have quite a bit of travel ahead of us, coming up from Sitka. Ferry to Juneau, pizza, beer, and camping overnight. A.m ferry to Haines and we are off. We cross the border with ease head toward S.C. We hit the Airstrip late, set up the SL-5 and hit the rack. We wake around 6 with a heavy fog layer. Make some coffee, breakfast, begin to organize some gear, as the day starts to break. Mike Meekins comes down from his house, we go through some paperwork, and by the time were finished it’s a beautiful sunny day.
PIC.

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Day one.
The Chugach is holding onto some spectacular weather as we hit the airstrip. I’m last to arrive and Big and Little Horse have already seen several legal rams. We pack for three days and hit the pass at the head of the valley.
We find a cozy spot in the rocks, sipping on mountain tall boys and glass the new terrain.
Immediately we have four rams at the base of some craggys. We move toward bowl below us, set up spike, and watch.

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CtP

CtP

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Day two.
I move solo early the next morning, to try and catch the rams low in a feeding zone they hit the night before. I cross the valley and I’m about 1000’ yards from where I last saw them. I take a minute to admire my surroundings when I see the group of four rams have crossed the valley and are heading right toward Big and Little Horse. I start moving after the rams, to try and cut them off, before they hit the craggys behind spike.
While I’m backtracking, B&L Horse have made a move on the rams and are waiting at approx 400 yards with a shot. The groups walks right past another camp that we didn’t know about, it was hidden just off the edge of the bowl we were on, and all they do is watch the big boy in front cruise on by. Chris was baffled as to why they didn’t take the shot, maybe they saw B & L horse, who knows. Lilly didn’t have a shot, from what Chris tells me, they made a hard push to get into range and she just wasn’t set up enough. Well, the rams felt the pressure and beat feet for the craggys behind camp.
I watched the rams, bedded down, from spike camp, through an afternoon rain, while the Horse’s went exploring.

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I ended up chasing them over a ridge only to find out they kept on moving for no man’s land. I headed back to spike, to see if I could catch them in the morning.

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Day Three.
4 a.m. wake up and I’m off. I find them feeding high, and they end up bedding just below the ridge. I sat and watched from across the valley, as the day’s weather improved, I had sunny skies with a nice breeze. I’m perched up between two rocks, chillin mountain style, when a young coyote trots up to about 20’ and sees me pull away from the binos. He skirts about trying to get wind then bails.

Then the action starts. I check the adjacent bowl where the four rams were initially, and now there is a group of eight moving toward me, and a group of three in the back of the bowl. The large group was cruising the low land headed in my direction as they start up the hillside for a feeding/bedding zone. I watch the group for a while, and being limited to my binos, as Chris had the spotter, I could only tell that there were a couple legals, with no detail. In comes the super cub stirring the pot. He low passes the large group four times , getting them all stirred up, then he heads for the three I was pursuing, and passes them twice, and pushes them out of country.
The large group headed high and bedded on the corner and had a perfect view of the area. So I hung tight, took a nap, and hoped for better results when I woke.

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I must have slept longer than anticipated cuz by the time I woke the situation had changed a bit. The large group started moving on the corner and it was time for me to move on. I pushed off the bench to the glacial scree field and headed toward the base of the corner. The sheep moved out of sight and I started making good time, when Big Horse whistles at me from the cliffs just by the corner where I saw the sheep. He and L.H. had seen the sheep from the ridge behind me while I was napping and decided to drop off and make a move.
They came off the cliffs after deciding not to mess around with the sheep in the steeps and we met down low in the boulder field at the base of the hill.
We busted out the spotter, so I could get a closer look at the group, when B.H. sees a trio pop out up high behind us. Since they were hunkering down after a long day I dropped everything, but rifle, and headed up the scree hill. Pushing to the top, legs burning and out of breath, I see the group. They’re up high feeding and a lot farther than I thought. Being that it was about 9 p.m., I opted not to pursue and join the horses.
As I drop off the hill, bombing down the scree and snowfield I notice that the horses are sneaking around the rocks. Just what are they up to. I slow down, and observe a bit and realize they’re making a stalk on a ram. Sweet!! I get to watch. I ninja my way through the boulders, now that I’m following their footsteps, I find a boulder and let the show begin. They close the distance across a side hill where the sheep are grazing, and set up on a rest. I’m watching through my binos as the shot rings out. Boom!! Ram jumps and move a body length or two. Boom!! He rears up and falls out. Awesome, Lilly’s got her first ram.
I load up two packs as Lilly comes back for hers and we make way toward the ram.

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We push off the hill, cross the valley and climb up to spike and get to bed after two am, but it’s all worth it.
 
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CtP

CtP

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Day Four.
We take the next day for some R and R since the weather is great and B.H has a little work to do on L.H.’s ram. Sippin on some mountain refreshments, letting our gear dry out and taking it easy was a nice change.

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B.H and I head out after dinner for a evening scout to see if we can spot the group from the fly in and check out an adjacent bowl. We climb up to what appears to be the moon. It’s as quiet as it can get and there are no sheep to be seen. B.H. sets up the big eye and in no time we’ve got our ram.

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We head back to camp, come up with a game plan for tomorrow and hit the hay.
Sunday, Day Five.
We pack up early with a spike camp and head downrange. Set up spike at the base of the hill and B.H. and I head up light with an sl-3, if we need it.
We head straight up the side of the mountain which gets us into the craggys in no time.

Chris getting vertical.

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About an hour later, we are in the cliffs and creeping around the sheep trails. We are peeking around corners, passing right through fresh bedding zones, and anticipating walking right up on our group.
We round a corner and there it is, a window into the backside of this monster. We stay low, set up the big eye and soon they’re in our sights.

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I keep an eye on the group as B.H. scouts a way into the bowl. The only reasonable way to get to them is down. We throw on some camo tops with HH green bottoms and start sneaking down the chute.


We’re moving fast and B.H is right on my tail. We’ve got a spotter, binos, range finder and my rifle; M70 300WM with Barnes TTSX 180grns. I surprised how far away they are. We running down boulder fields, dropping into snowfield chutes that hide from the sun, and crossing onto a green hillside scattered with boulders making it look like Easter Island.
We end up high on the hill as we creep over and I decide to push down to our left and find a rest. B.H. ranges the group at 300 yards and it’s now or never. I contemplate trying to move close, but the rams have a watchful I and I’m not gonna blow this stalk. B.H. sets up the big eye and our ram is right in front, broadside feeding to the right. They’re in a field of sweet greens and they seem at ease. I take my time, solidify my rest, slow my breathing, and get a good sight picture on the big boy.
Safety off, Boom!! Hit’em and he’s moving. Boom! He’s moving again. B.H. yells, “close the distance!!” I’m off, again. Running, rifle in my right hand. Hopping off and around boulders like I lived there. I slow down and look, big boy stopped, facing uphill broadside, and I’m close. I find him, Boom!! He scampers around a rock and he’s gone, but not coming out the other side.
I think it’s time to walk…
 
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CtP

CtP

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The sun is out and it’s damn hot. I strip off a layer and make my way toward his location. He’s uphill a bit, but I find him. He’s found a nice little spot to say his Goodbye’s. BigHorse ran back to get the packs and we both took a well earned rest, taking some time for food, pics and to revel in what just happened.
Chris double packing it with his Barney’s!

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Now the work begins…


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It’s about 6:30 when we decide not to stay on the mountain and push back toward spike camp. We hit the spot device for a next day pick up and head of our little piece of heaven. The bowl of soft green grasses was the best part of our pack out. When we dropped off into the valley it was class V alders, running right into a fresh bear bed, and a nice little climb up to spike.
Me packed up and ready to roll.
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Tenzing 6K

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Man that felt good, dropping the pack and sinking into the ground on my back, just beat. L.H. popped out of her bag and started helping us make dinner. I dropped the meat bags in the creek and we hit the rack.


Day 6.
We pack up early and head back to base camp anticipating the buzz of the super cub at any minute. We cruise into camp and the first thing I hear is “ the horns are gone.” B.H. arrived first and cruised right past our stash to find L.H’s skull was drug off by a wolverine. We searched the area extensively with no joy, as we all know by now.
Meekins flew in with two cubs, picked up L.H and B.H., flew some turns over the area and headed home.
After about a dozen turns on his way back, seaching the area once again, Mike landed. We loaded up the cub and I said thanks and good bye to 13D, East.
With a big thanks to ADF&G for another great tag!

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Becca

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Awesome write-up CtP! It was great catching up this fall and hearing some of the stories in person!
 

tstowater

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I shouldn't read stories like this one. Makes me want to apply. Incredible write-up and pictures. Congratulations on the hard earned rams. You made it sound easier than I'm sure that it was. Hope the wolverine choked on Lilly's skull. That would suck. At least she has the memories and great pictures.
 

luke moffat

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Feb 24, 2012
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AWESOME CTP!!!! Like Becca said it was great to hear the story in person. Great seeing both of you guys and Lily. You are welcome back up to stay with us anytime, maybe bring the wife and little C and the new little one up next time. Thanks for taking the time to write it up and post it with all the awesome pics!!
 
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CtP

CtP

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Hope the wolverine choked on Lilly's skull. That would suck. At least she has the memories and great pictures.

The air service actually put some hunters back into the area after us and they ended up finding the horns in a depression behind a bush not 200 yards from camp. If it would have been a day later they would have been gone for the season. High winds and snow pushed in and buried the mountains. The hunters dropped them off at Fish and Game, gott'em sealed and they were shipped off to Lilly.

Thanks for the props, it was an epic hunt, beginning to end.

Luke, Becca, See you next year.... :)
 

Bighorse

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SE Alaska
Good to see your hunt story on another site CtP. Now ya gone and done it.....I wanted you in Sitka for a Sitka and Goat blast. Oh, well I can't deny that the fall colors of the interior and a mighty Yukon moose just might be better.

So for all the Sheep Pro's out there, What do you think of that first big Digiscoped ram we were chasing? He was a smart ram and really moved well in the hills out manuvering all of us.
 
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CtP

CtP

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on a side note, where did you find HH pants in green?

They have them on their web-site under work gear, Impertech II. The green is a great color for the field and the impertech is a solid choice for rain gear.
 
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CtP

CtP

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Good to see your hunt story on another site CtP. Now ya gone and done it.....I wanted you in Sitka for a Sitka and Goat blast. Oh, well I can't deny that the fall colors of the interior and a mighty Yukon moose just might be better.

We just need to convince Luke and Becca to buy a boat. Then we can hit the Koyukuk for a monster bull after a couple hundred river miles of cider, J.W. Black and a porter or two :) Or get Stid to take us on his river yacht...
 
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