"I am not sure I'm cut out for this"--Becca's 2012 Dall Sheep Hunt

Becca

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We stood together on the river bar at 2500’ watching as the two Super Cubs shrank into the horizon. We had planned and packed for this trip scrupulously; the flight service allowed only fifty pounds of gear per person and we intended to pack enough food to stay a total of 18 days if that’s what it took. We ultimately ended up with forty-three pounds of food, which left us only fifty-seven pounds of weight left to accommodate our packs, shelter, sleeping gear, and cooking equipment.

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If ever a trip required paring our gear down to the essentials, this was it! Bad weather in another hunting area delayed our flight service some, and we didn’t arrive on the gravel bar until nearly 4pm on August 9th. Luke and I quickly reorganized our gear, selecting enough food for 7 days of hunting before caching the remainder at the airstrip inside our bear fence. It was after 5pm when we finally started hiking.

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After hiking for about two hours through thick brush along the creek drainage, we covered about 3 miles before the creek necked down to a canyon. Luke spotted a sandy "beach" along the water just below the canyon, and we opted to set up camp for our first night out.

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I had previously accompanied Luke on several Dall sheep hunts, one of which was successful, but weather and fate had never cooperated to allow me a chance at a ram of my own. With the opening day of the season approaching and a coveted sheep tag in my pocket, I was ready to hunt!

The next two days were spent gaining altitude to get above the brush and hiking farther back into the drainage. We made a more permanent camp on the third night at 5800', on a flat ridge line that miraculously had a trickle of water nearby.

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Glassing that evening, we spotted rams that looked promising several bowls further back and about two miles further away, and we made plans to move that direction the following morning, day four of our hunt.

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We planned to only be away for the day, but took supplies to bivy out if necessary, as is our habit. Our bivy supplies included a lightweight shelter, insulated "puffy" coats and pants, our short inflatable pads (which fold into chairs for glassing), and one down quilt. I packed enough food for us to comfortably stay one night away from the tent: one freeze dried entree each and enough snacks for two days. Later I would wish I had brought more.
 

Travis Bertrand

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This is going to be a great thread. Suspense is building up and I can't wait for more! The photos are amazing.
 

Ryan Avery

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Becca, Great Pics. Can't wait to see the rest!..... Love them Chairs.
 

strictlyRUM

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Oh come on Becca! Your killing us. Cant wait to hear the rest......... I was just thinking I should take some time to put my adventure to words. I may want to wait so I dont seem like a weenie next to your story. Thanks for taking the time to start us on your hunt. Again, cant wait for the rest.

Jason
 

IAHNTR

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I wish I was smaller and could ride along in your pack. I love adventures and this looks like one hell of one.
 

robby denning

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Great! Any time a super cub is involved, I'm in.

Love the story so far. I'm all eyes and ears now.

I'm interested in the gear as this unfolds. Those glassing chairs are the same design (but different brand) I use and they get you rock steady for glassing. What is your brand?
 
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Wrongside

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Super cool, Becca & Luke!! I can't wait for the next 'episode'. Please don't keep us waiting too long...:)

I'm gonna get my wife to read this once you've concluded it. I'd love for her to catch the bug, somehow...

David
 
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Becca

Becca

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We crossed the flat ridgeline where our primary camp was, and dropped
onto the backside of the spine to begin moving the direction we wanted
to head, as the terrain on the creek drainage side was impassible at
elevation. We immediately encountered boulder fields as far as we
could see. The rocks were piled up on the steep hillside, and would
sometimes slide under foot, making going extremely slow.

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I had literally spent the last six months anticipating, training and
planning for this very trip. Now I felt discouraged as I came around a
rock face and saw what looked like endless more miles of the same,
grueling landscape. I find the uneven terrain and steep climbing of
boulder fields mentally taxing; at every rock that slides or foothold
that gives I feel certain that I am moments away from falling to my
death. My backpack seemed three times heavier, and made it infinitely
harder to keep my balance.

Luke, of course, crossed this same terrain with goat-like ease, and
was constantly waiting for me to catch up. "Maybe I am not cut out for
this!" I said uneasily.
He remained positive and encouraging, reminding me, "we are still
making progress" and "you are doing great". However, as the hours
dragged on, all I could think about was the fact that the clock was
ticking; we had only enough food for one overnight bivy and from the
midst of the boulder field there were no sheep in sight.

It took the better part of the day, but we finally managed to close
the distance on those sheep we had spotted earlier. As late as it was,
we were still able to put two stalks in on the leader of their band,
who was obviously better than full curl and had huge, heavy bases.

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Moving slowly on bellies over the rocks and tundra, we crept once to
250 yards and once to 180 yards, but both times our stalk attempts
were foiled by smaller, less mature rams that continually walked in
front of "the big boy", preventing a clear shot.

It was now nearing 8pm, and with the miles of boulders between us and
our tent, we made the decision to bivy. The number of sheep we had
seen made it obvious that this area was more promising, and I hoped
against hope to get another chance at a ram the following morning. Our
biggest obstacle at this moment was water. We had left the tent that
morning with a full three liters each, but by the time we were ready
to make camp we had only about one liter left between the two of us,
and we hadn't seen any water at all on or near the saddle.

We were looking around for a snow patch to possibly melt snow from,
when the sun broke from behind the clouds for the first time all day.
Just ahead of me, I heard Luke exclaim "look" and point just over the
ridgeline. Looking down I saw the light reflecting off a tiny puddle
of water, which we never would have seen without that moment of
sunshine. It wasn't very deep, but with a little creativity we were
able to fill both our water bladders. We set up our shelter,
rehydrated our dinners, and curled up in our beds to sleep. While it
wasn't as comfortable as our tipi with the double sleeping bag, we
were both warm and dry and slept well that night.

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Day five dawned bright and sunny, and we had a quick breakfast of
granola bars before packing up. We decided that our limited food meant
we needed to have a sheep down by 2pm, or turn around and head back
through the boulder field to our main camp and supplies. We ascended
the ridgeline, to a spot where we hoped to peek over into the next
bowl. Luke reached the edge first, and hurriedly motioned for me to
look down!

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About 300 yards below us I could see four rams bedded down in the
rocks! We put the spotter on them, and determined that at least two
were legal. While both were great looking sheep and appeared to be the
same age and clearly full curl, one had a broken tip on one side, and
so I decided to try for the other who was more symmetric and had both
lamb tips still clearly intact. From our vantage point on the
ridgeline we had an excellent view, and were able to watch them for at
least half an hour through binos and the spotter. Luke even captured
some video that clearly shows the rams' ears twitching. Sheep tend not
to look above them for danger, and this was clearly the case as we saw
them diligently scanning the bowl around and below them, but never
once looking up.

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The rocky outcropping where we were sitting provided ample rifle
rests, but I also had to be careful that my muzzle was clearing all
the boulders. To get the best possible shot at that steep downhill
angle, I positioned myself sitting with my .308 caliber rifle rested
between the stays on my backpack. Luke ranged the sheep at 280 yards,
and when the ram I wanted finally stood up broadside, I calmed my
nerves, exhaled slightly, and pulled the trigger.
 
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Becca

Becca

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Thanks for following along everyone, and I am glad you are enjoying it! I put some rough thoughts down on paper after we got back in August, but it has taken me until now to get back around to finishing the story and uploading the photos. Patience...I hope to have the rest posted later today....

I'm interested in the gear as this unfolds. Those glassing chairs are the same design (but different brand) I use and they get you rock steady for glassing. What is your brand?

The chairs were probably our best new gear buy this year. They are made by thermarest, and turn a short prolite pad into a chair with back support. Besides glassing, we use them sitting around in our shelters, or outside in the evenings when the weather is nice. Best of all, it meant that for bivying out away from our camp, we each had a pad to sleep on, and insulate our torsos from the ground which really helps you keep warm at night.

Here is the chair sleeve: http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___40787

Here is a link to the pads, we use short but they can accommodate longer pads as well:
http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___40057
 

Travis Bertrand

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Thanks for following along everyone, and I am glad you are enjoying it! I put some rough thoughts down on paper after we got back in August, but it has taken me until now to get back around to finishing the story and uploading the photos. Patience...I hope to have the rest posted later today....



The chairs were probably our best new gear buy this year. They are made by thermarest, and turn a short prolite pad into a chair with back support. Besides glassing, we use them sitting around in our shelters, or outside in the evenings when the weather is nice. Best of all, it meant that for bivying out away from our camp, we each had a pad to sleep on, and insulate our torsos from the ground which really helps you keep warm at night.

Here is the chair sleeve: http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___40787

Here is a link to the pads, we use short but they can accommodate longer pads as well:
http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___40057

Becca, I have the earlier (heavier) version of your chair and yes, a great investment! They are awesome and very versatile. I stick my full size prolite in it and fold the bottom over so I have double cushion on my toosh.
Everyone I have hunted with has the puzzled look when I pull that chair out. By the end of the hunt, they are asking me about it and where to pick one up at!
 
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