Sheep Camp, the five star Spirit Ridge resort in Osoyoos, BC.
After all of the ridiculously physical backpack sheep hunts I've done the last few years, this one was the total opposite!
I hunted with Aaron Stelkia. We (my neighbor came along) could have stayed at his place, but the references I talked with recommended the Spirit Ridge resort.
We had a :30 drive to meet him in the morning. There are sheep all over the area, including on the mountain right behind the resort. The first day we were glassing from a vineyard!
$45,000 base, plus license, travel, tips, etc. Figure on a $50,000 base next year.
I took those photos myself, so I'm home now.
I have six tags this year. All are archery-only except for this one. I took the bow, but as the outfitter was saying they'd not been seeing a lot of sheep in the last couple of days before I got there, I decided to use a rifle. After four straight Rocky bighorn hunts without even seeing a legal ram, and at age 67, I did not want to run the risk of not tagging out on what turned out to be my 4th of the Four North American Wild Sheep.
(I hunted some of that area/region a few times, absolutely beautiful scenic country!)
I knew there were a lot of vineyards in the Okanogan. But I never dreamed the Okanogan would seem to have far more vineyards than does the Napa Valley.
How weird is it that you can glass for sheep from a vineyard? Weirder yet is that taking a break means you walk twenty feet to pluck a few red or green grapes to sample them.
On a sheep hunt!!!!!!
Not the best CA BHS out there, but never-the-less, a very representative ram. He's got great color and he must have spent lots of time rubbing his horns against his buddy's horns, because they are very smooth. That's quite unusual for a Rocky in my experience.
Cali's are neat sheep. We have them in the backyard here at our house around Kamloops. It is about like the Okanogin as there is a vineyard on the next property east of us. The other day there were 12 rams and a few ewes visible on the mountain and sometimes more. We do not have a sheep season right here though......the closest one is west of us 25 km or so and is the hardest to draw LEH hunt in BC.
we just had a bowsiter take his grand slam it sounds like and this is newsworthy under any scenario.
I took my Dall's in 2000 in the Talkeetnas in Alaska with Tony Russ as my guide. We'd watched the ram for four days before he went to a spot where I could get close enough to put an arrow into him.
I took my Stone in BC in 2002 with Barry Thompkins of Big Nine. Oddly, the most memorable part of that trip came two days after I'd tagged the ram. I had three big Grizzlies walk toward me to within 15-20 yards while I was sitting in a little ground blind I'd built near a bog, hoping for a moose or an elk to walk by.
Then my run of bad luck started. I hunted Canmore with Frank and Flint Simpson in 2003. We had a monster snowstorm hit us the first night (22" in town!) and it messed up the rams' travel plans. We never saw a legal ram and Frank was 0-4 that year for probably the only time ever.
A Stone hunt in 2008 was a great trip where we had it all - a Super Cub flight to a tiny gravel bar followed by a six-hour backpack up the mountain to a tiny spike camp. But in 10-12 days of hunting, we never saw a legal ram.
In 2010, 2012 and 2013 I was off to Alberta looking for a Rocky. Despite lots of serious hikes and climbs up and down some really nasty stuff, yet again not a legal ram was spotted on any of those hunts.
Last year I went back to BC for Stones, again with Frank Simpson. But my luck did not change. In twelve days of giving it everything we could give it, we never saw a legal ram. In fact, we never saw a ram of any size at all until Day 8!
Last November I took a fine Desert BHS here in Nevada. NV has an 'any ram' rule, so finding a legal ram is not an issue. We saw lots of rams every day and I took a 167" ram on Day 6.
In the area I hunted this past week, it's also an 'any ram' area, so again the challenge was far easier.
The first morning we spotted a mid-150's ram from a vineyard. While he wasn't what I wanted, he entertained us when a coyote tried to stalk him. He'd run at the 'yote and chase it off, but the coyote kept trying. One time he actually pushed the 'yote over a small ledge, which not deter the coyote at all. Fun stuff.
It wasn't until late afternoon we saw more rams. This time it was a band of three. We watched them head up a mountain for an hour or so and figured we'd go after them in the morning.
So my neighbor and I headed back to the hotel while the outfitter said he'd glass from his house before dark. (He lives four miles out-of-town.)
We'd just gotten back to the hotel when he called me, saying he'd spotted eight rams across the valley from his place, two or three of which were shooters.
The next morning we spotted them as soon as it got light and after watching them for an hour or so, we headed up the mountain. Thirty minutes later, we spotted them and after a very short stalk, I lay down, rested my rifle on a burned out deadfall and started looking at the band of rams through my scope.
While rocks and brush prevented me from seeing all of them, one very nice ram was broadside to me, looking straight at us in a classic pose. I liked his mass and his look, so I took the shot. It was a good hit and he went about twenty yards and rolled over dead.
The rifle I used was a Nosler 6.5 x 284 Norma I'd won in a raffle at the CA WSF banquet in 2009. Then at this year's CA WSF banquet, a very good taxidermist had donated a pedestal mount for a sheep to the auction, which I bought. So this ram has two solid connections to the WSF chapter I'd founded in 2001, which is pretty cool.
Beautiful ram and congratulations on a lifetime achievement!
... we want more photos !!!!!!!!!
I posted the best photos I have of this hunt.
So here are the first three rams I took en route to my FNAWS.
Congrats!!! This is a well deserved achievement. I can't think of anyone more deserving.
(neighbor might be ruined, though ;)
My neighbor and his wife just might be the best neighbors you could ever hope to have.
They don't hunt, but they love wildlife and have had multiple wildlife adventures.
They don't hunt, but they support hunting and totally understand why we do it and love it.
Steve had a blast on the hunt and enjoyed it almost as much as I did.
I love the luxury hunt. After paying your dues you deserved it
2014 Stone Sheep hunt
I am a big follower of your hunts and writings even though I'm not a sheep hunter.
Congrats on an outstanding accomplishment.
I got an abcessed tooth on this hunt a few days in and thought I'd have to leave. Fortunately the pain died down a lot over the next day or two so we stayed.
Congrats on a very well-earned ram, and thanks for the pics of all of the hunts.
Man, I felt guilty staying in a Holiday Inn Express when I drew MT. and bad also when I didn't see anything even remotely close to a legal ram on a stone hunt in the Yukon.
Again, neat stuff, and count me as a bowhunter who's glad you got it done. (I'd have taken a rifle, too, in a heart beat.)
They used to have a term for that, forget what that was..... so long ago, before you had to get all lawyered up to use it....
Congrats Kyle! Great job and quite an accomplishment. Thanks for sharing it with us.
We call it a 'FNAWS' for good reason! I'm very pleased to see how many others on this thread also used the term.
We had a six-hour climb with full packs, gaining 3,700' of elevation from the road at the bottom to where I took this photo.
And thanks for sharing your hunts.
Good luck, Robb
I just do what I can.
My Dall and my Stone are shoulder mounts. The desert is a pedestal mount, as will be the Cali.
My best, Paul