Back from ‘The Last Frontier’

Just got back from a week in Alaska, hunting Dall Sheep in the Chugach Mountains. It was one of the most remarkable experiences of my life – rugged, difficult terrain and wet, cold weather. Lots of miles, and lots of climbing, but I did come home with my ram!
Not a record setting ram, but a great 9-10 year old, 38 1/2″ sheep – really a nice looking animal.
Jeremy, right after getting his Dall Sheep
Rest of the pictures are here.
I pushed myself well beyond what I thought my limits were and managed to survive.
The country in the Chugach Mountains where I was hunting is stunningly beautiful, and very rugged. The parts that aren’t vertical and rocky are marshy and muddy.
I ended up having to cover a lot more distance than I anticipated – the first day being 18 miles, and the last day close to 25, with full packs.
For all my effort though I was rewarded, and did end up taking a beautiful ram.I only had to go about 3/4 of the way up the mountain, but still left my legs shredded. The guides I was with, Shane and Johnny were great – really enthusiastic, tough as can be and very knowledgeable about the country and the sheep in it.
While on the one hand it would have been nice to spend more time in the backcountry, it was probably for the best I got my sheep relatively early as I was hurting bad enough as it was.
It was just an amazing trip – looking out my apartment window at North Mountain here it doesn’t look nearly as big anymore.
I hope to be able to hunt it again in the future. Read on for more detail on the hunt.

I went with a couple of really good guides – Shane & Johnny. We started on Monday – walking in many miles to what we were hoping would be our base camp. Unfortunately there were a couple guys camped about half a mile away, and Shane opted to move our camp the next morning to get ahead of them, futher up into the drainage.
The second day, opening day, after moving camp we spotted a small band of 5 rams about 4 miles further up the drainage, and decided to move our way up the valley along one side to have a closer look. We got up about 800-1000ft and worked our way along, until we spotted 2 rams directly across the valley from us – maybe half way up the mountain.
We busted out the spotting scopes and determined they were both probably shooters, and decided to make a play for them. We got down to the base of the drainage, crossed the creek and worked our way up the other side. After getting about 1/4 of the way up we got behind a nice rock and got a better look at the rams. At that point we decided one was really nice, and waited for them to drop behind a ridge so we could get position.
After about 30 minutes, they dropped out of sight and we worked our way around the mountain, through a small crevasse and gained some elevation, about 3/4 up the mountain. We got in position peeking over the ridge into the bowl where we thought they were, but couldn’t see them.
At that point Shane looked directly below up and realized that 2 objects I’d mistaken for rocks were actually their horns – they were sitting less than 100yds away right below us. While I was trying to get set up for a shot, they stood up, saw us and took off running into the bowl we originally thought they’d be in.
After they ran about 100yds, they stopped and the nice one gave me a perfect broadside shoot at 200yds – and that was the end of it.
After all the excitement and celebration we had several miles to go back to camp. It got dark, cold, windy and raining by the time we made it back to the tent. The only way we found the tent was with GPS – too dark to see it any distance.
I crawled into the tent and got some sleep as the wind howled all night. In the morning we woke up to overcast skies and a huge fog bank rolling up the valley. We initially thought we’d go part way out to the trailhead, but eventually decided to go all the way out so that we could enjoy a nice warm bed. To say that was I was trudging by the end of the day would be to give a lot more credit to my gait than it deserved, hobbling is probably more like it. I could barely walk the next morning, it took an hour soaking in the tub to get the muscles working again.
So, a short, sweet hunt (well, there was the very long hike out to the trailhead the next day – ouch!) – but honestly if I’d had to run up the down mountains for a few more days I don’t know as I’d have made it. I’d been training for a few months, but needed to be in better shape than I was – now that I know I’ll defnitely be in better shape for the next hunt!

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