When fall begins to roll into the Last Frontier, it means one thing to me: sheep hunting. There are few experiences I look forward to all year as much as returning to the mountains to chase Dall sheep. This year my buddies Steve, Gary, Jeremy, and I returned to the same area we hunted last year in hopes of finding the rams that have been running through our dreams ever since.
Within a few hours of getting boots on the ground we were seeing rams, which is always an encouraging sign. You can’t fly and hunt the same day in Alaska, so after a long pack in and getting our spike camp set up at about 11 p.m. we were excited to see what the first day of hunting would bring.
Gary and I got up bright and early and headed down the valley to meet up with Steve, who had been glassing for caribou with Jeremy. Right about the time we met up with him, I spotted a group of three rams up on the mountain about a mile away. After giving them a closer look, we saw that one of them was a good looking double-broomed ram (both horn tips broken off). I’ve already taken two rams like that in my life, but Gary hadn’t, and it was just the type he was after.
We watched the rams for a couple hours as they eventually met up with a group of ewes and lambs and bedded down up on a fairly nasty craggy area on the mountain. If they had stayed there they would have been tough to get to, but they moved to a spot that we figured would be within rifle range of a small plateau that we would easily be able to reach without being seen.
The three of us immediately took off across the creek and up the mountain.
It only took us about an hour to get up the steep slope to the plateau, and as we eased around the end of it, the rams came into view. They saw us about the same time we saw them, so things happened fast. Gary quickly got into shooting position as the rams got up from their beds and started climbing. Gary put a great shot on his ram, but as is often the case in sheep hunting, he took quite a tumble and ended up falling off a 30-foot cliff. Fortunately he didn’t sustain much damage, and was every bit of what Gary was looking for. We packed back down to camp that evening with one Dall ram down, and a whole lot more work to go.