The ground along our route is littered with sheds. We saw plenty of caribou antlers, like this one, and dozens of moose antlers, from smaller 20-inch sheds to some giant sheds going nearly 35 inches.
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Every Yukon sheep hunter gets a special pin before the hunt begins. When outfitter Alan Young gave me mine, he said, “At least you’ll get one ram on this trip.” I couldn’t know how profound his foreshadowing would be. Editor’s Note: This is part one of a three part series. Check back next week for the rest of the story and more photos.
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It takes some work and time to get to the Yukon. My travels took me from Montana to Saskatchewan to Vancouver, then to Whitehorse, where we boarded this twin-engine prop for Dawson City.
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I’d be hunting with Midnight Sun Outfitting, one of the territory’s top outfits. They start hunting in July for sheep and continue through October for moose, caribou and interior grizzly bears.
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Every leg of the trip involves an incrementally smaller plane. Here, we load guns and horse feed on a twin-engine Islander.
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Tight quarters in our Islander. My traveling companions included Drew Goodlin from Federal Ammunition and my guide Ryan Phillips.
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Our first stop in the Yukon’s interior is Midnight Sun’s base camp. This gorgeous lodge overlooks Hart Lake and a killer view of the Wernecke Mountains, some of the most remote country in North America.
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Drew and I say farewell. I’ll be hunting for 10 days in a totally different direction from him. I’m headed on a float plane to Three Barrel Lake.
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This is the temperature gauge for my airplane, a little Super Cub with floats.
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My first view of Three Barrel. The cabin where my hunt will begin is at the far end of the lake.
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Three Barrel cabin. The week before I arrived here, a grizzly bear had torn the entire back wall off the cabin and ransacked the interior. It was a mess, but the bear was well-enough behaved to leave the way he entered. Alan Young asked me to please kill the bear if I saw it. I told him I’d be happy to do him the favor.
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The front porch at Three Barrel. Notice all the horse tack and the flimsy attempt at bear resistant windows.
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Yukoners are a fiercely independent bunch, but even though they’re not a full-fledged province, they proudly fly their territorial flag, even at this most remote outpost in the back country.
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The sign is self-explanatory.
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This one takes a little explaining. The door to the cabin is only about 4-1/2 feet high. I bumped my head on it a few times before my guide, Ryan, showed me the sign above the door. It’s a mallard. Duck. Get it?
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Fireweed is the official flower of the Yukon. Bees love it.
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No matter how far you travel, there’s always a cowboy near by. This is the roping dummy for one of the sheep guides who just can’t seem to stop lassoing things. I asked if the cowboy had built it. “No,” said Ryan. “All the rest of us did. We were getting tired of getting roped all the time.”
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A sketch on the cabin wall, a reminder of what I’m here for.
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After an uneasy sleep — remember, the bear was still at large — it’s time to pack the horses for a 20-mile trail ride to our next camp. Ryan starts cinching on the pack saddles.
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And loading the panniers. Everything comes with us: grain for the horses, all our camping gear, my hunting gear, cooking pots and food for the next 10 days. We saddle 3 riding horses and pack another 4 ponies.
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On the trail. We leave early in the morning in order to cover the miles. We’ll be in the saddle for nearly 12 straight hours.
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This is the land of the giant Yukon moose. This is a puny shed, but we see plenty of shed antlers for moose that would stretch 70 inches and more. I want to come back for a big, surly Yukon bull.
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The ground along our route is littered with sheds. We saw plenty of caribou antlers, like this one, and dozens of moose antlers, from smaller 20-inch sheds to some giant sheds going nearly 35 inches.
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This was a pretty good bull before he died, either from winterkill or from wolves.
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One of dozens of stream crossings in our long day in the saddle. NEXT WEEK: More photos from McKean’s first week in sheep country.

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