First Bow Hunt...Dall Sheep....3" from stud...instead dud

swat8888

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Joined
Apr 6, 2012
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457
Location
Alaska
So as you may have been following I decided to take my bow on my first bow hunt...for dall sheep. Had a drop off a few miles from our strip and ran into some guides who looked at me like I had 5 heads when they saw my bow....good luck they said half sarcastic. Fast forward to Day 2 of the season....out of nowhere a legal ram, probably not very old but with a very wide and narrow flare, I was 95% sure he was legal. As soon as he fed over the ridge out of sight and into the fog I quickly dumped all non-essential gear and scrambled the 600-800 vertical ft up the mountain. Once on top the fog was thick and I barely made him out feeding about 500yds away. Sat and waited for the fog to roll in and I was off in a dead sprint across the now relatively flat tundra of the mountain top plateau. Did this a couple times keeping my sheep in sight....eventually I lost him. Decided it was time to drop the pack, nock an arrow and try to find him. After about 20 minutes of creeping around slowly I saw horns and the top of a white body...I was in luck, he had no idea I was behind him. Had trouble ranging him as I had to lay flat on my back with about 6" of cover to stay out of sight. Eventually I had to stand up in full view to get a good read on the range finder. 50yds...give or take. I decided to creep slowly on my back a little closer...the wind was perfect, about 10mph in my face....I was above and behind him. He was intently watching in the opposite direction facing into the wind. Got down to 40 (in retrospect should have gotten closer which shouldn't have been too much an issue with the wind being so good). Finally after a couple nerve racking moments I decided 40yds was close enough. I don't remember much of the rest...I think I shot from my knees. Didn't see the first arrow but heard it clank off the rocks and knew I missed high.

The sheep immediately heard it, ran about 10 yds and stood broadside looking right at me. Quickly re-nocked....with surprising speed, guessed he went another 10 yds and let my second arrow flight. Hit....I had my first bow hunting kill...or so I thought. I thought initially I hit him in the neck. He ran off this time around the boulders and out of sight....ran after him to no avail. After a few minutes of searching, I collected my back and went on the hunt for my ram. About 20 mins later I saw across the drainage slowly going up the other side of the hill my sheep....no arrow in him anymore but blood on both sides....just above the front shoulder and just below the spine....high shot....probably didn't quite go as far as I thought after the first miss. My heart sunk....pulled out the spotter, picked out some landmarks and watched him walk out of sight. Since he had gone all the way down and back up I decided to get back to my partner to let him know what had happened and to go off and do whatever he wanted. About 2 hours later I went back out looking for him. Walked all over the mountain trying to find him....found a grid a hundred yes above me...scared him off...and scared myself. Wandered all over the hillside for awhile trying to locate my ram. No luck....dejected I went down the hill looking back occasionally to glass. Finally, on my last glass before heading home empty handed I glassed with the binos and saw something white...but looked a little odd. Pulled out the spotter and to my disbelief was my sheep...I must have damn near stepped on him but never saw him from above as he was tucked into some boulders.

Dead tired I retreated 2 more miles to camp and watched him all night....did not get up once. Woke up every hour to check on him and he only got up to change direction once....this was about 4AM. By 6AM the fog rolled in and didn't lift until around noon...I was waiting for my partner to get back so I could take his rifle and finish the deal since my ram was wounded. At noon he still wasn't back and I guessed...correctly, that he had killed a ram of his own...so I set back out with my bow not thinking I'd get into bow range on the same sheep on my second bow stalk ever. Sure as hell I found him, this time at 95yds he bedded and I was stuck on a rocky cliff with no good option to get closer. I had set my pack down and only had my base layers on...the wind was blowing and I was freezing....couldn't wait him out...had to make my move. Watching him for 45 mins and the day before he was not looking back at all...he was intent on the valley in from of him. I slowly....very slowly edged down on my back, stomach, knees, slowly moving my bow to about 80 yds. From here on out I would be in full view should he decide to turn and on very rocky terrain. I decided to go for it and open stalked over large boulders to 70 yds...my max distance. After yesterdays nerves got to me all I thought about all day were the fundamentals....I set and took a standing shot, no nerves...took my time...arrow flight was perfect left to right. I was devastated when all I saw was my arrow hit inches short and take off a large tuft of hair.

The ram didn't wait around this time for a follow up....and bolted like he wasn't injured at all...never saw him again. Ran down to his bed to find my arrow buried dead center in the bed he was laying in. I failed to account for the headwind slowing my arrow down just enough. If I had just stalked 5 yes closer or held a little higher I would be telling you the story of my first bow kill being a dall sheep....instead, I couldn't find him and punched my tag since I had drawn blood.

Learned a lot from the hunt and I hope the sheep heals up from his wounds...sure seemed to be moving well. I was within inches of landing my first sheep....but I guess thats the way it goes. Never had the satisfaction I did stalking him with my bow as I did with a rifle...it was amazing to be that close and I'm disappointed I ended up wounding one and letting it get away. More practice at the range with all different types of wind....unfortunately where I live in AZ there only seems to be a cross wind on the range which never affected my arrows much. I learned the headwind definitely affected my arrows enough to mean success or failure. Hopefully he is still around next year and I can even the score.

Either way I had a lot of ups and downs on the hunt....and learned far more about sheep than I ever had with a rifle. My buddies both landed nice rams...I went home empty handed but with a wealth of knowledge for next year. Thanks to everyone who gave me pointers and helped with my knowledge of bowhunting on this site. I'll probably go with the rifle next year since my partner will be....but I will eventually be back in the sheep mountains to land one with my bow. Congrats to all who were successful....and to those, like me, who fell short...hope you learned alot and better luck next year.
 

broncoformudv

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2012
Messages
186
Location
Anchorage, Alaska
swat8888 sorry to hear about the loss of your ram and good job trying to track him down and finish the deal. Sounds like you did everything in your power to make it happen but the hunting Gods were not cooperating.
 

Ramey Jackson

Junior Member
Joined
May 9, 2012
Messages
46
Man, that hurts to read. But, that's bowhunting and most of us have been there. Keep your head up and move forward. I'm certain that you'll put it all together next time.
 

Nick Muche

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2012
Messages
3,323
Location
Alaska
Sheep or not, you have experienced what many will not. I long for the day to be in Dall country with my bow in tow. Congrats on a good hunt, you learned something and next time you will be better prepared. Stuff like that is worth all the agony.
 

docdb

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2012
Messages
195
Location
Atlanta
THis is why we do it. You have joined the legions of humans who've thrown the spear, most with hunger gnawing at them, and the memory of starving loved ones back home counting on them. The life experience is beyond worth. Thanks for sharing!
Don
 

2rocky

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Joined
Jun 21, 2012
Messages
1,031
Location
Nor Cal
Thanks for the follow up. You acheived something special getting that close to a Dall Ram. Sorry it didn't have a fairy tale ending.
 

IAHNTR

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 26, 2012
Messages
370
Location
Eastern Iowa
That is exactly why I love bow hunting. Even though you didn't get one, you had a far more in depth experience than ever with a gun.
 

vcb

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2012
Messages
511
Location
Colorado
Thanks for sharing Swat! I had a similiar experience with a big mature muley. Shot him at 40yds but the wind was brutal. Let him sit overnight and looked/ hiked for him ALL DAY the next day...never found him. No one trys to wound a animal but all you can do is everything in your power to find him. Sometimes it dosent work out. Wait till you shoot one with the rifle....it won't compare to archery:)
 
OP
swat8888

swat8888

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Joined
Apr 6, 2012
Messages
457
Location
Alaska
It was awesome being able to plan a stalk, and have it actually work out...especially with the ruggedness and keen eyes of the wary sheep. I definately learned that their weakness is feeling comfortable not only above them but behind them given the appropriate terrain...ex. I was coming from the back of the bowl....both times he was facing downhill and down the drainage. With the wind the way it was I could have easily gotten to 20yds or less with the wind as it was. Second time was a little different, it was impossible to stay silent so the closer I tried to get the risk increased exponentially once I ran out of cover to lay down behind after a big noise.

Just getting that close with a gun means certain death and the hunt is over....obviously my hunt was far from over....wish I had a camera with me at the time. Just the day prior one of the hunting partners shot his sheep at 420yds...I was there, just not the same level of anticipation, fear, or excitement at that range. I'm going to be reliving that second opportunity where I should have sealed the deal for quite awhile.
 
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