Sitka Mountain Gear
Another once-in-a-lifetime hunt.And more
Wild Sheep
Contributors to this thread:
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
kota-man 10-Jan-18
Bigpizzaman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Treeline 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
No Mercy 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Brotsky 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
njbuck 10-Jan-18
t-roy 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Nick Muche 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Bliz6 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Iowa_Archer 10-Jan-18
buc i 313 10-Jan-18
Stoneman 10-Jan-18
TrapperKayak 10-Jan-18
Scoot 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
kota-man 10-Jan-18
elkmtngear 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
DEMO-Bowhunter 10-Jan-18
The last savage 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
midwest 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
EliteFan 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Heat 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
DL 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Bowboy 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
kota-man 10-Jan-18
Ron Niziolek 10-Jan-18
BOWUNTR 10-Jan-18
Paul@thefort 10-Jan-18
Medicinemann 10-Jan-18
Mad Trapper 10-Jan-18
SDHNTR(home) 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
YZF-88 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
kota-man 10-Jan-18
Zackman 10-Jan-18
kota-man 10-Jan-18
Owl 10-Jan-18
Scoot 10-Jan-18
DEMO-Bowhunter 10-Jan-18
Gus 10-Jan-18
TD 10-Jan-18
Shug 10-Jan-18
loesshillsarcher 10-Jan-18
JTreeman 10-Jan-18
trkyslr 10-Jan-18
wkochevar 10-Jan-18
No Mercy 10-Jan-18
t-roy 10-Jan-18
HUNT MAN 10-Jan-18
buzz mc 10-Jan-18
Treeline 10-Jan-18
orionsbrother 10-Jan-18
Treeline 10-Jan-18
JW 10-Jan-18
Brotsky 10-Jan-18
BULELK1 11-Jan-18
midwest 11-Jan-18
deerhaven 11-Jan-18
deerhaven 11-Jan-18
elkstabber 11-Jan-18
Stekewood 11-Jan-18
otcWill 11-Jan-18
TXCO 11-Jan-18
njbuck 11-Jan-18
Beav 11-Jan-18
SBH 11-Jan-18
OFFHNTN 11-Jan-18
Bake 11-Jan-18
Bliz6 11-Jan-18
Bliz6 11-Jan-18
Helgermite 11-Jan-18
Zackman 11-Jan-18
Charlie Rehor 12-Jan-18
Kurt 12-Jan-18
Shiras 12-Jan-18
deerslayer 12-Jan-18
Bou'bound 13-Jan-18
IdyllwildArcher 15-Jan-18
TEmbry 15-Jan-18
From: Zackman
10-Jan-18
The past few months have been filled with travel, excitement, exhaustion and adventure. This season of bowhunting was the most ambitious of my life. It took me places I never thought i would go and had me doing things I never thought I would accomplish.

Unlike previous posts I’ve made that were pre-scripted stories of events, this is being haphazardly written on the fly. Bare with me if I leave some details out...

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
My first adventure of the year started when a buddy told me he had found a hunt for true, free-range bison here in the lower 48. Since I was a child, it has been my dream bowhunt to spot-and-stalk fair-chase bison. Instead of waiting several more decades to draw a hunt, I decided to take this opportunity.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Entering Montana
Zackman's embedded Photo
Entering Montana
In my opinion—because of the very limited opportunity and the way they act in the wild—true fair-chase bison are one of the more difficult species to bowhunt in North America.

This hunt would take place on the Crow Indian Reservation in south-central Montana.

When it comes to bison hunting nowadays, I probably get more offended than most because there are so many buffalo shot on random game farms, and it gives the illusion that buffalo are nothing more than cattle. Outside of having a trophy photo with a truck in the background, it is extremely hard for the average person to distinguish the difference between a true free-range bison hunt and a ranch hunt on a small pasture. The hunt I was going on would not be for “private-ranch bulls” and there would not be any “strategically-placed fences,” which is why these bulls are Boone & Crockett eligible.

From: kota-man
10-Jan-18
Bring it on Zack...You had an amazing year...

From: Bigpizzaman
10-Jan-18
All ears!

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
My favorite hunting buddy--my Dad--and I decided to drive so that we would be able to bring everything back if I was successful. On our way, we stopped to see the new headquarters of the Wild Sheep Foundation. I highly recommend seeing this to anyone traveling through Montana. It is a beautiful building that is filled with truly caring and helpful people working on a great cause.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
Someone left their little Dall sheep at the Wild Sheep Foundation headquarters.

Mark Watkins, please come pick up your stuff!!!

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
After two days of travel, we arrived at the “lodge” and met the native guide, Chaz, while we settled in and had dinner. We chatted about what the next several days would be like, how to approach hunting bison and what life in general was like on the reservation. In the morning, we would make the two-hour drive up onto the “mountain” where the bison lived.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
In the morning, we loaded up everything for several days on the mountain and headed up. The first 30 miles was on pretty good roads, but after that, we spent a long time on 4-wheel drive roads heading up above 9000’ elevation—where the bison lived. Once on top, it was some of the most spectacular country I have seen in the lower 48. The pictures don’t even come close to showing the magnitude of the country, but I will include them. It was huge, rugged land.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
This is Black Canyon. It extends for miles and miles and is up to 4000’ in elevation difference in some places. It is immense, and much like the Grand Canyon or Waimea Canyon, it cannot be fully appreciated unless you are standing on the rim. I am glad that the bison didn’t go down into that dark hole.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Very rustic cabin that was home for a few days
Zackman's embedded Photo
Very rustic cabin that was home for a few days
We dropped all our extra gear at the “cabin” and went exploring the high ridges and massive expanses of the northern end of the Bighorn Mountains. For the first day, we covered a lot of country and spent most of our time glassing high-elevation parks for bison. We relocated six or eight times throughout the day without seeing a single buffalo.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Montana Sunset
Zackman's embedded Photo
Montana Sunset
By evening, we decided to make some hikes to look for fresh sign. We covered a couple miles before dark, but never located anything worth investigating the following day. We watched a pretty sunset and enjoyed an authentic Native dinner cooked by Chaz’s wife.

From: Treeline
10-Jan-18
AWESOME HUNT, Zackman! Looking forward to this one for sure!

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Fresh Dust Wallow
Zackman's embedded Photo
Fresh Dust Wallow
Since we weren’t seeing any buffalo in the openings, the following morning Chaz and I decided to start trying to track them down on foot. We went to an area where they had seen a group of bison the week prior and started walking. Dad came with us on this walkabout, and in no time we found fresh sign. There were tracks leading across a small opening and I actually stumbled onto a very fresh dust wallow. This was exciting because I figured we would be into bison at any time. Four hours and several miles of searching later, we saw nothing.

We looped back to the truck to get a snack and hydrate in the warm weather before looking over more of the immediate area. Dad decided to stay at the truck for this loop and within 400 yards, Chaz saw some dust stirring a few hundred yards ahead of us. Although I didn’t see them, we had found our first group of bison.

From: No Mercy
10-Jan-18
awesome!

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Big, Big Country!!
Zackman's embedded Photo
Big, Big Country!!
The wind was wrong, so we made a large loop through the trees to get on the other side of the dust clouds. About an hour later, we crawled through the last bunch of cover to peek into the secluded opening only to find fresh track leading away. We followed the tracks across several openings in a large semicircle back up the hill. After a while, we were within a couple hundred yards of the truck so we went to get Dad. We found Dad shaking his head when we got back and knew that the buffalo had walked right by him.

Turns out, the group made a huge loop and walked within 150 yards of Dad. The buffalo spooked when they saw the truck and ran away. We went to find the tracks and continue to follow them when, from behind us, two cows and a calf popped out of the trees at 100 yards. They were by themselves and quickly busted in a cloud of dust and brown hair. We decided to move on to find other bison.

From: Brotsky
10-Jan-18
My productivity level at work will be 0 now today! Ha! Looking forward to following along Zack! Thanks for taking the time to share and tell your stories!

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Up-close bison
Zackman's embedded Photo
Up-close bison
Midday, Chaz and I decided to walk out a large canyon that we thought the bison might be hiding in. We dropped into the bottom before working through several miles of good terrain without finding much for sign. We may not have seen many bison, but we had found out where they weren’t so far, and I was enjoying this style much more than the “drive-and-glass” technique.

By late afternoon, we had moved several miles away to another area Chaz thought bison might be hiding from plain sight. We walked over a small rise into an opening only 100 yards wide when a pungent odor of sweet elk scent mixed with a barn full of cattle hit my nose—buffalo! We found lots of tracks and wallows in the opening and figured they couldn’t be far. We started sneaking from opening to opening, searching for any sign of bison but never saw one.

By the time we ran into thick trees, we were following tracks through jungle-thick undergrowth. It felt like we were hunting Cape buffalo in Africa! It was exhilarating! I kept waiting for the thundering of hooves and brown blurs to stampede by us at point-blank range, but that fantasy never turned to reality, and I’m glad it didn’t. After more than a mile of tracking, Chaz and I decided that the herd was probably heading to a large opening that ended on the point of this long ridge, so we started heading that direction.

We covered the entire length of the ridge and were within 200 yards of the next forest when I saw the head of a bison ahead. We dropped to the ground, circled back to the edge of the trees and slid in above the lone animal we saw. Quickly, that lone animal turned into 5, and then 10, and then 20 or more. Soon, we were between 25-50 yards from several bison that were bedded or feeding, waiting to see if a mature bull was in the herd.

We watched the herd for about two hours while they mingled about and the sun sat behind us. I felt the air start to cool and told Chaz we wouldn’t have long before the thermals switched and we would be busted. There were two young bulls through the only line of trees separating us and the herd, but nothing I was interested in shooting. Not long after sundown, the shift in our scent caused a thunder to erupt along the hillside below us, and hooves and hair were fleeing in a large mob.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Hornless cow
Zackman's embedded Photo
Hornless cow
Up close, even the cows look huge!

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Cozy Cabin
Zackman's embedded Photo
Cozy Cabin
It was exciting to be so close to such large animals for that extended period of time. I had been close to bison in Yellowstone before, but these animals were different. Even when they didn’t know we were there, the buffalo seemed like completely different animals than those I had encountered in the park. I was even more motivated to close the distance on a big bull than before. I hoped that tomorrow would be the day!

After hiking more than 15 miles in search of bison, we returned to the rustic cabin for a quick dinner and some needed rest. I felt good about the following day.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Tons of country
Zackman's embedded Photo
Tons of country
Everyone was a little slow moving the next morning, but we were headed out to a good glassing point not long after sunup. For as long as the previous day was, and as much ground as we covered to find buffalo, this day would be much easier. About three miles away, I saw something dark move through my 10x42 binos. It was in a brief window between trees and I thought it might have been a bear. I pulled out my tripod and settled behind the 15x56 Swaro’s. It was bison – a whole bunch of them!

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Road hunting bison :)
Zackman's embedded Photo
Road hunting bison :)
We closed the gap with the truck until we couldn’t hide anymore, and then took off on foot. About 300 bison were scattered all over the mountainside above and below a road. We dropped out of sight and closed to within 500 yards, hoping the bison would continue in our direction. At one point, we thought a small group with several bulls would walk right down the road to us, but things wouldn’t have been any fun if they were that easy.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Half of the herd
Zackman's embedded Photo
Half of the herd
When they stopped filing towards us, we again dropped into cover and waited for the wind to steady before moving forward. By the time we closed within 200 yards, most of the herd had fed up over the hill and out of sight. About 50-70 still remained in the rolling fingers ahead of us. When we ran out of cover, we crawled to get within 100 yards of the closest animals. The herd had been visiting a spring that had a wallow below it. Cows and calves were drinking while a few bulls splashed around in the mud. There were several bulls, including one specifically aggressive bull at the tail end of the group.

Since we couldn’t get any closer without detection, we waited for something to happen in our favor. After a while, all the bison moved away from us, and it appeared they would all head over the mountain and we would have to start chasing again. Then, luck turned our way when a mature cow came back toward the spring and brought about 30 buffalo with her, including a few mature bulls. I had sneaked closer to the mud hole while the herd was heading up the hill, so I was nearly close enough for a shot if they came back.

I was lying flat on the grass while a couple dozen bison filtered into the spring to drink. I was hoping to get a chance at the aggressive bull, as he seemed to be the largest in this group, but he headed down the hill and out of sight. A few minutes later, another mature bull made its way to water, and I was preparing to shoot him when I saw the larger bull make his way toward the mud while nudging cows out of his way with his horns. I would wait for him!

As luck would have it, he turned out to be the closest bison to me; and when I rose to my knees and came to full draw in one motion, I was ready to capitalize on the good fortune. The arrow sailed toward the quartering-away bison and entered at the back of the ribs before passing completely through and disappearing in the mud. The bull lurched forward a few yards and looked around for the perpetrator. I knocked another arrow and watched it bury to the nock. Again, the bull moved only a couple of yards and looked pissed that another buffalo was poking him. Not one to be shy with putting arrows into still-breathing animals, I drew and stuck another arrow into the bull. This time he ran about 30 yards before lying down.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Just before my last shots
Zackman's embedded Photo
Just before my last shots
Chaz and I were both trying to hold back our excitement, and I told him I was going to slide down the slope and put another arrow in the bull to finish it. A few minutes later, I crept within range and quickly put two more arrows into the bull’s chest before he rolled to his side. I’ll be the first to admit, that is a lot of arrows, but it was all in a short period of time, the bull went only 60 yards from first shot to where he died, and I am a firm believer in using as many arrows to end things as quickly as possible. In relation to what could happen in this situation, arrows are cheap.

From: njbuck
10-Jan-18
Bring it on! you had one hell of a year!

What was your set up for the buffalo?

From: t-roy
10-Jan-18
Keep it coming Zack!

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Bison down!
Zackman's embedded Photo
Bison down!
When things settled, Chaz and I celebrated a 4-hour stalk that ended in an archery bison! I looked up the hill to see Dad coming down toward us. Turns out, he had walked closer toward the herd after most of them had left and was actually watching the bull through his binos when I shot it the last two times. He was wondering why the bull kicked twice in a few seconds and then fell over. Now he knew!

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Happy guide
Zackman's embedded Photo
Happy guide
Dad and I rejoiced in sharing this moment together and realized that we had done something that had been a life-long goal for us both. Also, Chaz told us that as far as he knew, this was the first bison shot by a non-Native with only a bow. I was shocked because I had seen several videos of bowhunters on the reservation over the years, and it seemed they had killed several bulls with archery equipment. It turns out that for one reason or another, each of those “bow buffalo” were shot with a rifle before they died. I don’t know if it is accurate, but I felt good knowing that we were successful with a bow.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
Chaz and I sharing a moment. I think he was excited as I was we killed that bull with a bow.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
What a thrill to be close to such huge, amazing animals!

From: Nick Muche
10-Jan-18
You had one hell of a year my friend! Excited to see all the photos now. Congrats on all of them!

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
After thinking about this opportunity for most of my life, it was a tremendous feeling to sit next to this behemoth. I had read Steve Rinella’s American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon prior to this hunt and now knew some of the emotions he described during his encounters with truly wild bison. It is something I will cherish and remember fondly throughout my bowhunting days.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Bison at nearly 9000'
Zackman's embedded Photo
Bison at nearly 9000'
Although it took nearly two full days before I saw a bison, the couple of stalks I made on them were some of the most exciting moments of bowhunting in my life. There is something about an animal that is that big and typically travels in large herds. It was overwhelming at times to have so many huge animals in front of you and feel like you would not be able to even breathe without causing a stampede.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Life-long goal realized
Zackman's embedded Photo
Life-long goal realized
My favorite bowhunting partner—Dad—and I with our first free-range bison. I hope he can be in the same position someday soon.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Leaving the Crow
Zackman's embedded Photo
Leaving the Crow
It took a while to get down the mountain and back to the lodge where we boned the meat and slid it all into a freezer to cool. Although only three days, my experience on the Crow Indian Reservation was action-packed and very unique. I had never hunted on a reservation before and never really spent much time around any Native Americans. I learned a lot about their lives on the reservation and what an amazing place the 2.2 million-acre reservation is. I hope to head back someday because it is a beautiful place that few outsiders will ever get to experience.

From: Bliz6
10-Jan-18
Incredible year Zack!! Congrats!

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Racing home
Zackman's embedded Photo
Racing home
Later that night, we packed up, loaded all the frozen meat and made the 18-hour drive through the night back home. I enjoy bowhunting. A lot. But I enjoy time like that long drive with Dad after a successful hunt even more. It is the real reason why I bowhunt.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
Graphic image!!! Sensitive eyes beware.

For this hunt, I used my regular setup: Hoyt bow at 71 pounds. Gold Tip Pro Hunter with G5 Montec CS weighing more than 450 grains. My first shot was a complete pass through. Each follow-up shot at least buried to the nock, including two that had more than 50 inches of penetration into the lungs.

From: Iowa_Archer
10-Jan-18
Wow, great thread, thanks for sharing and congrats!!

From: buc i 313
10-Jan-18
Congratulations on an amazing hunt.

Thanks for sharing your adventure and photo's.

From: Stoneman
10-Jan-18
Very nice! Thanks for sharing...

From: TrapperKayak
10-Jan-18
Zack, I lived in Fort Smith for three years from '86 - '88, and used to hike up to Black Canyon looking for these bison. It is vast country, and one day I crossed over the canyon and got into the bison big time. I was only about 40 yards from them when they all broke and ran past me, up into the next ridge, and I snapped a few pics. if I can find them in my storage unit, I'll scan and post a few. I think that is the Pryor range off in the distance in a couple of your pics, to the west (place where wild horses roam). Congrats on your bull, that is a hunt of a lifetime. If I can do that someday, I'll surely go for it. I know the country pretty well. They are definitely wild bison. What does it entail getting on a hunt like that? BTW, did you fish in the river? World class trout on a fly. And we even used to fish for carp with a fly rod in the reservoir above. They hook up, and sound, taking you straight down into your backing - talk about fun!!! We used griffiths gnats to imitate cottonwood fuzz. Called them Orange Ovals! LOL!

From: Scoot
10-Jan-18
Phenomenal in all regards!

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
A good buddy winning a sheep hunt at the Less than 1 drawing
Zackman's embedded Photo
A good buddy winning a sheep hunt at the Less than 1 drawing
Unlike my pursuit for bowhunting bison, I never thought I would bowhunt sheep in my lifetime. Even though I always found stories about sheep hunting interesting while growing up, I never knew anyone that had done it. I was surrounded by deer and elk hunters and didn't entertain that one day I might try to stalk sheep.

A few years ago, I got involved with the Wild Sheep Foundation and immediately appreciated how the organization was run and how they helped wild sheep. After several years of attending Sheep Show and other wild sheep banquets, I finally decided that I might try it for myself.

The final push came from fellow bowsiter Matt--the Matt! He came back from a successful Dall sheep hunt in the Northwest Territories and when he said he thought about going back someday, I asked if I could tag along. That's when things started to get serious...

From: kota-man
10-Jan-18
Next adventure please...

From: elkmtngear
10-Jan-18
Well done, Zack!

Beautiful Country, and a great Trophy bull! Something I'd love to experience someday!

Best of Luck, Jeff

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
Full disclosure: I can't share all my story or photos from my Dall sheep hunt because of an upcoming publication, but there is a lot of stuff that happened before and after the hunt to share.

Here is my packing setup the day before leaving for the NWT. For this hunt, I received help from many bowsiters about how to prepare for a sheep hunt. I'd like to thank all of them for their help!

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Some "real" food
Zackman's embedded Photo
Some "real" food
Since I enjoy at least some real food, and had a good experience the previous year on an Alaskan backpack hunt with similar food lists, I decided to bring some items to supplement the Mountain House, etc. that would be provided by the outfitter. For those interested, each bag weighed 9.5 ounces and contained about 850 calories.

On top of breakfasts, snacks and mountain house dinners, this is what I would be eating every day on the hunt.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Spying on Matt
Zackman's embedded Photo
Spying on Matt
Let the travel portion begin! From Sacramento to Edmonton on day 1; then Edmonton to Norman Wells, jump on a charter plane to base camp and Super Cub out to spike camp on Day 2. Sounds easy, right?

That’s what I thought.

Oh yeah, here I am practicing my stalking skills and snapping a covert pic of Mr. Matt in the Seattle airport.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
We made it to Edmonton on Day 1 with a beautiful flight over the Canadian Rockies on Alaskan Airlines.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
I love flying Alaskan Airlines and try to do so whenever I can. What is better than a free beer while flying??

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
Trick question…it’s two free beers!

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Friendly faces
Zackman's embedded Photo
Friendly faces
Once in Edmonton, we settled into our hotel where we met a buddy—and fellow bowsiter—Scott (DEMO-Bowhunter), who was also on his way to the Territories for an archery sheep hunt.

Step one of the travel portion was done, so we decided to do some sightseeing at the local pub.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
The next morning, we boarded our flight to Yellowknife early and were on our way to the NWT. We landed at the airport and that’s when things started to go “off schedule.” Turns out our plane—the one we had just flown two hours on to Yellowknife—was apparently non-functional now. And since there is only one flight a day to Norman Wells, we were stranded.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Yellowknife Brewery
Zackman's embedded Photo
Yellowknife Brewery
So, we decided to go sightseeing in Yellowknife…

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
The following morning, our new plane was deemed highly functional and it successfully carried us all the way to Norman Wells. All of mine and Matt’s stuff made it, some of Scott’s stuff did not, but he said he had enough to make a go on his hunt. It turns out, we would have plenty of time to locate his missing bag because…

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Places get more classy the farther north you get
Zackman's embedded Photo
Places get more classy the farther north you get
We would be stuck in Norman Wells for at least a day because the weather was so crappy. Not much sightseeing to do in Norman Wells, so the Northern Canadian drinking tour continued…

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
The following day yielded poor weather again. By mid-afternoon, the weather improved and it looked hopeful we would get out that day to at least basecamp.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
Matt was ready to get out to camp!

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
We arrived at base camp for Gana River Outfitters just in time to be told the weather was too bad to fly out that day. So, the exercise in patience continued.

At least we had a good dinner and were able to get all our gear ready with the hopes we would make it out the following day.

10-Jan-18
Quit slacking and get back to typing!!

Can't wait for the rest! Some good times in the North country!

10-Jan-18
Great year !! Keep it coming...the Crow reservation was beautiful...thx for sharing..

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
I apologize that the details will be left out of this because it is a good story, but you can read about them in print once they are published. The cliff notes are:

We had only 7 days to hunt on a 10-day trip. We made 5 spike camps and hiked more than 75 mountain miles over the 9 days afield. We made three moves on legal rams. And on the last day, we made a 4-mile stalk to get 57 yards above a 9-year-old ram.

I know, I know, the details and more of the pictures would be nice. Soon...

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
The end result was me having the opportunity to hold my first archery ram high above the river valley. There were a lot emotions that surrounded the entire experience, but I will forever remember this hunt as my greatest adventure.

From: midwest
10-Jan-18
This is great....thanks for taking the time!

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
Some random pics from the adventure

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo

From: EliteFan
10-Jan-18
Some sweet stuff there. Well done on the bison and ram. Look forward to ready the complete ram story.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
The "getting-back-to-camp" portion of the hunt was not quite straight forward. It included some extra hikes to proposed landing zones, running out of food and a raft "rescue". Just your typical day in the NWT wilderness!

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
My guide Scott caping the ram on the mountain

From: Heat
10-Jan-18
Awesome adventures man! Thanks for sharing.

Bison sure are different than any other critter I've ever hunted that's for sure!

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
One more day on the beach

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
Glassing for sheep

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
My only disappointment was not having one day to hunt mountain caribou. It gives me an excuse to travel back to the Mackenzie Mountains.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
More random critters

From: DL
10-Jan-18
Well done. Wonderful memories.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
Lots of different animals around. We even saw a beautiful blonde grizzly

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
Graffiti back at camp

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
Some big country

From: Bowboy
10-Jan-18
Awesome thanks for sharing!

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
I was a very tired--but very happy--bowhunter on the flight back to base camp

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
The Mackenzie Mountains from the air. It is some amazing country! A place that I don’t think was made for humans to live in, but it sure was nice to visit them.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
A well-earned drink back in civilization

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
Even the sun shines on a... you know the rest

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
In hindsight, I am fairly young and in above-average shape. Due to an injury earlier in the year, I was not in the best shape of my life for this hunt. However, I was in very good shape and I am more stubborn than most so that carried me a long ways in this adventure. These feet are the result of a backpack sheep hunt...

Going into this trip, I wanted a true backpack hunt for Dall sheep. Sometimes you need to be careful what you wish for because you might just get it. And boy, did I get it!!!

My two cents: If anyone is considering an archery sheep hunt, please be honest with yourself. If you HAVE TO KILL A SHEEP, please don't do it with a bow. It is hard enough just to live in that country, let alone try and kill a mature ram. If your goal is to have a life-changing experience, archery sheep hunting is a wonderful way to achieve that.

I wouldn't change it now, but it has made me consider things for the future. For about a month after this hunt, I told everyone that asked me if I would go on another sheep hunt, "Hell no!! Never again!!" After some time to let my body heal and my mind clear, it turns out "never" will come sooner than I thought...

From: kota-man
10-Jan-18
;)

From: Ron Niziolek
10-Jan-18
Absolutely good stuff Zack!

From: BOWUNTR
10-Jan-18
You're a bad ass... and consistently becoming a bigger bad ass. I'll live through your adventures. Congratulations. Ed F

From: Paul@thefort
10-Jan-18
Zack, I just returned this morning from an archery goose hunt here in Colorado and just 5 minutes from the house. I do believe you UPed me with two great hunts, both not soon to be forgotten. my best, Paul

From: Medicinemann
10-Jan-18
Zack, Outstanding thread. Thanks for sharing. For a bowhunter, I believe that free ranging bison are one of the most under-rated big game animals in North America. Regarding your Dall sheep, I can only hope that you and Scott were able to cook some backstraps on a flat rock, over a fire....and that maybe you even had a flask of something in reserve, to wash it down. I tagged my Dall ten years ago this July, and I can still remember how good those backstraps were, not to mention the Crown Royal that went with it. BTW, what publication will be publishing your article?

From: Mad Trapper
10-Jan-18
Outstanding!!! Congrats!!!

From: SDHNTR(home)
10-Jan-18
Wow! How rad to see these pics again with more commentary! Amazing display of nature's grandeur and a bad ass bowhunter! Congrats buddy. Well earned!

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18
After I returned in the beginning of August, I enjoyed a break from hunting for the next few months. I do work on occasion and also have a wife that sometimes likes my company, so I spent most of my time on those two endeavors until mid-November rolled around.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
After several years of gaining points in Iowa, myself and three friends finally drew some tags. We arrived in the Midwest and hoped that over the next 6 days luck would be on our side.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
I took very few photos during the whitetail hunt because I spent 5 days on 11-hour sits and didn’t see a ton of deer. And the ones I did see, I didn’t want to chance spooning them by reaching for my camera.

This was one little buck I called in that I snapped a quick photo with my phone. Later that day, I did pass an old 11-point with very short tines that walked down the same trial. It just wasn’t quite what I was hoping to see.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
On day 5, this buck walked near my stand and I was able to get an arrow in him before he walked out of range. This is my biggest whitetail to date.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
At the end of November, I made a trip to Northern California to try another hunt for late-season blacktails. I have hunted blacktails my entire life and never has an animal given me so much joy and so much pain.

I missed my only opportunity on a nice blacktail when I miss judged the yardage and sailed a harmless arrow over the old buck's back.

For those that have bowhunted true blacktails on the ground, they understand the frustration and excitement that comes with such an experience. There is nothing like bowhunting an old blacktail spot and stalk.

From: YZF-88
10-Jan-18
Thanks for taking the time to document an awesome trip.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
My first bowhunt for big game came in the Arizona desert when I was just 10 years old. Since then, I have tried to make it back as often as possible to enjoy the winter sunshine and rutting deer action.

It has been several years since I have been able to hunt rutting bucks in Arizona and I was looking forward to this trip for a long while.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
To save on this thread being a mile long, I will skip right to the culmination. On the third day, luck was on my side and a hot doe brought this old desert muley right to me as I was making a stalk on them. I will take luck on any day of bowhunting, especially when it comes to spot-and-stalk desert mule deer.

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
This is by far the biggest bodied desert muley I have ever shot. I don't know how old he was, but his teeth were very worn. I could barely reach my arms around his neck.

His antler configuration was exactly like a big 10-point whitetail. He was a cool, old buck that I am very fortunate to have tagged.

From: kota-man
10-Jan-18
What a year...

From: Zackman
10-Jan-18

Zackman's embedded Photo
Zackman's embedded Photo
This past season has been full of adventure for me. It has been a pleasure to spend it with family and friends—both new and old. So many people have helped me with the dreams I have chased into a reality. I have seen new places and revisited old stomping grounds. Pushed myself beyond what I thought possible and came out a better bowhunter and person. I am lucky to be able to see the things I’ve seen, travel the places I’ve traveled and experienced the adventures I have. And it is all because of my love affair with the bow and arrow.

Is it possible this next season will be as good??? Time will tell...

From: kota-man
10-Jan-18
I don't know about 2018, but I have a feeling 2019 is going to be "EPIC"! ;)

From: Owl
10-Jan-18
After hanging up yesterday, it dawned on me I never asked how you did on your hunt (How rude of me...) Glad you went home heavy. Congrats on a great year.

From: Scoot
10-Jan-18
What a year! Congrats!!!

10-Jan-18
Congrats stud! Pretty dang good year!

From: Gus
10-Jan-18
Great read. Thanks for sharing. Congratulations on your success! Keep it up.

From: TD
10-Jan-18
Way cool Zack congrats! (hope you're not quite done though....) What a year..... incredible..... But I'm not going as far as saying "once in a lifetime..." in your case....

That guy with the finger..... looks familiar..... I've seen that finger somewhere before......

From: Shug
10-Jan-18
Great Stuff... Great Year..,congratulations

10-Jan-18
Congrats on making memories!! What a great year!!

From: JTreeman
10-Jan-18
One bad ass year right there my friend, congrats on all of it. You make it look easy and I know it’s not!

—jim

From: trkyslr
10-Jan-18
Again great year!!! Freezer full

From: wkochevar
10-Jan-18
That muley's rack looks like a whitetails...is that a common trait in that area? Congrats on a great year!!

From: No Mercy
10-Jan-18
Awesome year Zack. Congrats

From: t-roy
10-Jan-18
Congrats on an epic year, Zack!

From: HUNT MAN
10-Jan-18
Simply amazing. You are what bow hunters should strive to be! Thanks for posting ! Congrats again and best of luck in 2018! Hunt

From: buzz mc
10-Jan-18
Awesome!!!! Simply awesome!!!

Now, I'm fired up about 2018.

From: Treeline
10-Jan-18
Awesome, Zack! I see that you were in good hands up at Gana! How was Scott? He did a great job with me on my hunt for sure. Makes me want to make another trip up there for sure. Very special place for sure...

10-Jan-18
Congrats on a phenomenal year! Great pics! Looking forward to the entire sheep story.

From: Treeline
10-Jan-18
Lots of desert mule deer have racks that are more like whitetails.

Most are big 3's - like a whitetail 8 point with no back forks though. I have one from southern NM that is 27" inside and scored 165" - looks like a really big 8-point whitetail. He was a really old deer, too.

That one that Zack got is really unique in that it has G4's like a whitetail. That is an awesome trophy for sure!

BTW, those desert mule deer are really good eating...

From: JW
10-Jan-18
Strong work Zack! Love the write up and pics. Thanks for taking the time. Congrats!

From: Brotsky
10-Jan-18
Awesome stuff Zack! Congrats on a special year! Thanks for sharing it with us!

From: BULELK1
11-Jan-18
Very Cool man!!

Thanks for sharing

Congrats

Good luck, Robb

From: midwest
11-Jan-18
Thanks again for the write up and congrats! Wish that Matt guy would share more of his hunts!

From: deerhaven
11-Jan-18
What a season Zack!!! You sure had a great run!! Thanks for sharing the story's.

See you next week in Reno. Hope to share a couple of cold ones with you.

Mike

From: deerhaven
11-Jan-18
What a season Zack!!! You sure had a great run!! Thanks for sharing the story's.

See you next week in Reno. Hope to share a couple of cold ones with you.

Mike

From: elkstabber
11-Jan-18
Thanks for sharing your awesome year with us here on Bowsite Zack.

I have a special fondness for Buffalo as well and took one on the Kaibab Plateau in AZ in 2014. It went down quickly with one arrow from a 55# recurve. I'm confused why the rifles were needed on the Crow Reservation but very glad that yours was a true archery kill.

Congratulations for an incredible year. That will be hard to top!

From: Stekewood
11-Jan-18
Congratulations on some great trophies and even greater experiences. Thanks for sharing them.

From: otcWill
11-Jan-18
Truly awesome, Zack! That bison hunt is the American bowhunters dream. Thanks for sharing

From: TXCO
11-Jan-18
Great trips and stories! Congrats. What publication will your dall hunt be in?

From: njbuck
11-Jan-18
Hell of a season Zack, congrats on some fine animals and amazing adventures. What do you have planned for the 2018 season?

From: Beav
11-Jan-18
Now that is one hell of a year! The only way 2018 could get better is if you switched to Busch Light! Congrats!!

From: SBH
11-Jan-18
WOW! This is truly off the charts. What a year! Those are all amazing hunts and tremendous success too. Thanks for posting. I don't know how you pulled it all off. Congrats.

From: OFFHNTN
11-Jan-18
Congrats on a great year! Thanks for sharing!

From: Bake
11-Jan-18
Congrats on an awesome year!

From: Bliz6
11-Jan-18
Awesome thread Zack!

From: Bliz6
11-Jan-18
Awesome thread Zack!

From: Helgermite
11-Jan-18
Congrats Zack! Love the thread with all the pics and brief write ups are awesome!

From: Zackman
11-Jan-18
Thanks everyone. Good luck to all in 2018

12-Jan-18
Good for you taking advantage of your youth and dreaming big. Congrats on a special year and that beautiful Iowa Whitetail. I hope you have many more great hunts! C

From: Kurt
12-Jan-18
Zack, Great ‘17! What is the ‘18 agenda? Keep it rolling! Kurt

From: Shiras
12-Jan-18
What a great year! Congrats and good luck on a great 2018.

From: deerslayer
12-Jan-18
Really, really awesome. Great hunts, trophies, and pics. Thanks for the share.

From: Bou'bound
13-Jan-18
Great year and thread thanks for sharing

15-Jan-18
Awesome stuff Zack! Some incredible hunts and animals. Grats again! Great thread, thanks for taking the time to post it up. PM me if you know where/when your sheep article is coming out so I can look for it.

From: TEmbry
15-Jan-18
Super cool my man. Great year, hope AZ was a sign for good things to come in 2018.

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