Good luck, Robb
Good luck and enjoy every second.
You know it's time to go when:
-you are driving your family crazy! -you can't sleep at night -you are going through your "gear list" 4-5 times a day when you know you already have everything you need -it's all friends and family ask you about -you run 5 miles, pick up your bow and shoot 3 arrows with your heartbeat pounding out of your ears....and call it good -you have taken over the family workout room and have turned it into your gear collection spot for the past 6 weeks -your co worker has loaded oodles of new music your I Phone to help keep your mind off of the long, steep climbs ahead -you are absolutely worthless at work -you are going to your youngest daughter's college freshman orientation day with all your gear in the truck and then proceeding to the airport -your lovely and endearing wife of 28 years looks and smiles at you and says (in front of a group of 10 friends )....."You better not shoot this sheep on the first day of your hunt and come home early". Where is the love?:)
Yes, it is simply time......time to go!
Quoting (or getting close) one of our very own Bowsiters (Tom Foss)....."We are lucky to do the things we do, in the places we do with the people we do!"
Remember.... you're FAST..... not half-fast like me....
Have a great hunt.
Exactly when do you leave?
Yes, I have the backpackable archery target you gave me packed! It proved to be a good luck charm last year!:)
First flight is Tuesday.....MSP to Edmonton. Wednesday is Edmonton to Ft Nelson, BC. Thursday is Ft Nelson into Base camp and then get on horses for 15-20 miles. Saturday....it's game time.
Bearhunter, Perfect.........a dumb full curl ram in Twister Jr! Hopefully his eyesight isn't so good and he is deaf as well so this flatlander can put the sneak on him
Best regards, Scott Alberda
Thanks agin for keeping this hunt in the family....without you I wouldn't be headed on this adventure. You will be with me in spirit!
You know me too well.....great advice!
Just leaving the house to take our youngest daughter for freshman orientation today uat the University of St Thomas in St Paul. Will be a great day starting her new life adventure !
Best of luck on this incredible hunt. Please enjoy every moment of it and take lots of pics so we can follow along as well.
What a journey, just to get into the sheep! I'd be pulling my hair out right now!
Looking forward to the story
At least that was one of my thoughts 1 week in. I
Seriuosly, I've got a feeling he's kicking back at horse camp getting a lesson on caping and watching sheep ribs simmering on the fire. Yeah man!!!
...possibly the best meal I ever had, walking over and just slicing one off as the rack hung from a stake.
Now I'm going to be disappointed in anything else I eat this week.
Anxious for his report.
PS - There's no reason I posted that other than writer's comments above. Even if I knew I wouldn't tell.....
Had an incredible "trip of a lifetime" for sure!
Hunting the most incredibly regal critter I've ever laid eyes on in a pristine mountain wilderness does wonders to recharge the battery pack!!!
Pics, stories and tales in a few days
"Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience"
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Good luck, Robb
Yes, these adventure trips are about harvesting (and the pursuit of) the animals we seek in some really incredibly beautiful and remote places, but equally important factor is the great people we get to meet along this journey!
After having dinner with my Mother, I head to the hotel in Bloomington, MN. 125 miles from where I live.
And who do I run into?...... one of my best friends Jeff.
Our families do vacations together and a fun things on a weekly basis.
Crazy small world and of course we have to "celebrate our good fortune" (of running into one another) with some cold ones at the hotel bar!
This trip is starting out right!
Life is good!
Jerry is on his first Stone's Sheep hunt. We will end up 40 miles apart in the wilderness and we find out we live 35 miles apart in MN!
Dick and Geri are on their third Stone's Sheep hunt. They've been married 58 years! 58 years! Dick is 20 days shy of his 82 birthday! People of great conviction in all facets of their life!
An 82 year old Stone's Sheep hunter....Are you kidding me? Here lies a great source of inspiration! I call these people "gifts" because it is simply a gift that your lives cross paths and you have the privilege of getting to know them and their life's stories!
No superstitions here!
I mean, Mark is in great shape, but that dude looks AMAZING!
82 years old and heading out on a sheep hunt!! That my friends is dedication!
All flights have gone super smooth...on time and all luggage has arrived with me....
This is a pic of what will be the new main "cook shack/dining hall" for all Tuchodi team and visiting hunters to have meals when in base camp.
Incredible hearty family style meals of moose, sheep and elk are created by Kirbi (Larry and Lori Warren's daughter). Pretty sure I'm gaining weight rapidly at this stage of the trip!
Larry grew up in Whitehorse in the Yukon, wrangling horse at a young age and he started guiding at 17. His ability to remember phenomenal detail and his story telling skills of great horse hunting adventures gone by is legendary!
I told him he needs to write a book about all these bush adventures...seriously!
I kept hearing about "Larry's horses." So, I kept asking, "How many does he have?" "A lot" was the most quantitative answer I ever got!
This is in the airport in Ft Nelson, BC
This is inside the "hunter's cabin".
OK, by now I've seen enough pics of big rams (and moose, elk and grizzlies) on the walls of the Tuchodi camp that I have adrenaline overload and energy to burn!
It's time to get this hunt rocking!
Jake, you recognize this target? I've hauled it about 6K miles thus far in the past two years!
Thanks a million....a great way to "check the rig" everyday providing the confidence to make it happen when the opportunity arises!
In light of my vast experience and skills as a Horseman (about 8 hours in the saddle in 52 years of life)....they put me on "Buckeye."
Just what I needed, a low slung trusty mountain steed!
Time to get comfortable with the horses and quick!
How cool is that? The luckiest guy in the world!
Take note of my place in the pack string....
A severe understatement.....no question about it, this flatlander was flat out scared! Especially after they told me it would be about an 8 hour ride to spike camp where we would begin the hunt.
He starts bucking like the a competitor at the Calgary Rodeo and succeeds at his mission and along the way spooks the life out of the rest of the horses!
Tristan, the wrangler and Jesse my guide are obviously "horse gifted" and quickly get things under control, calmed down in a matter of a few minutes we are repacked and ready to go.
I had heard about train wrecks with horses...so I asked..."was that a train wreck?"
They both chuckled and said oh no, that was no train wreck....you'll know when we have a train wreck!
So, I defined it as a "sh*t show" They got a good laugh and we continued on.....
Remember my placement in the pack train....dab smack in the middle!
We had made it a whopping 1/3 mile up the trail when "Fiddler" decides it's time to buck off the panniers again!
Once again he is successful and sends terror through the string (and me)!
Good "ol Buckeye rears up and does a 180 degree pirouette and at this juncture this bow carrying one armed horse rider is trying to bail!
Whether I got bucked off, bailed off or fell off is open to interpretation, but anyway you look at it I hit the dirt.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw this brown freight train heading my way and I knew enough that the only "safe haven" was to get into the timber!
Ok, no broken bones, only a severely bruised ego and a broken bow...
No problem, I always carry a back up bow so we head the 4/5 mile back to base camp, exchange bows. I shoot the new bow, its "on" and we are on our way.
Pretty sure Buckeye could hear my teeth rattling of fright for the remaining 7 3/4 hours of the trip into spike camp!
We cooked under the front tarp and the two of them slept in the back of the modified wall tent.
I slept in a two man tent which was probably the best for everyone as I tend to thrash around like crappie in a fish basket at night.
Tomorrow is August 1st! The sheep opener!
Let this hunt begin!
There is something about photos of a packtrain that really captures the spirit of a true back country hunt in the wild. This hunt is going to be etched into your memory for the rest of your life....regardless of outcome. There are few things that can rival these remote access sheep hunts.
You can probably understand why I walk instead of ride horses. You can also understand why I always take two bows. Horses are great to help pack out large animals....and when it comes to a large river crossing, I'll ride one across. I just never felt that I could trust their temperment. In their defense, I have about as much time on horseback as you do....that might have something to do with it, too. I have seen three hunts compromised by broken gear as a result of a Sh*t Show.....(luckily, none were mine, because I don't ride them). I am impressed that you were able to ride one for 8 hours, having never ridden before....I wouldn't have been able to walk the next day!!
Keep the stories and pics coming. Lovin' it!
Good luck, Robb
In case you guys had not figured this out already, I was not the Valedictorian of my high school class.....but I did figure out that I wanted to be the last one in the pack string AND about 25 yards back.
If the sh*t hit the fan, then I could: A: Get myself and my horse off the trail in the timber B: Bail and get my carcass off the trail in the timber
Think rain forest....moss on the spruce trees, alder thickets, popple thickets, you name it. At times we had to walk and lead the horses in light of the thickness of the vegetation.
Every morning you put on rain gear whether rain was in the forecast or not....heavy dew en route to the hunt.
The hunt begins.....it looks good, it smells good and it feels GREAT to have bow in hand "one top of the world!"
After about two hours of scouting for rams, fresh tracks, beds and droppings, I comment to Jesse about the lack of fresh sign. He concurs.
We continue on down the spine of the mountain, peeking off each side looking for rams and/or fresh signs when we come upon the "scene of the crime."
A wolf kill....a 7 year old ram that didn't make it 60 yards....we estimated it to be 5-7 days old...a few flies still hanging around and a bit of stink.
We now found fresh beds....fresh wolf beds. Basically each member of the pack grabbed a quarter and went and laid down and gorged.
As we all know, hunting is often a process of elimination. We weren't happy to find this dead ram on a mounting that I liked for bowunting. BUT, at least we knew...this mountain was "dead" for the foreseeable future.
Time to move.
Jesse talks to Larry and we head back to base camp and then on to Plan B.
We rode the entire day in moderate to heavy rain.
Have another incredible Tuchodi meal of fine food and great fellowship. These folks are nothing but fun and awesome!
We will pull out in the morning for Plan B!
The crick is now a class II raging river complete with the thunderous sounds of river rock being redeposited and moved downstream. It's impressive to say the least.
I came to hunt sheep, not allow my wife to enjoy the fruits of my life insurance policy:)
We are loaded up and headed out with the same pack string.
Except I am now on one of the largest horses at Tuchodi.....Ringo. They had good reason to put me on big boy...to fight the 12-14 MPH current.
Ringo was tall (I had to be on the upside of the mountain to get on him or off a rock or log). However, his biggest attribute was he was built...like a tank.
As Tilzbow had discussed a year ago....These Tuchodi horses are the most incredible four wheel drive mountain machines imaginable.
Even I felt comfortable aboard Ringo...and the view wasn't bad either!
I told Jesse and Tristan I felt like I was riding an albino cow moose.
We were rewarded with this view of remnant snowfields from last winter.
although it is common for a band of rams to hang out at this time of the year away from the women and children.
But the bottom line was, these are Stone's Sheep.
There has got to be rams in these cliffs somewhere!
The weapon of choice (complete with my good luck charms) that harvested 7 critters last year.
The first two yarn bracelets were made by our youngest daughter. The 550 cord bracelet was made by a good friend of mine's son.
I always take all the good luck I can get!
And oh yeah, Jesse and Trisan wanted to listen to some ACDC this mornig before we left camp...a bit unconventional, but we all liked it....nothing like a little Thunderstruck and SHoot to Thrill to provide a little extra propulsion for the climb!
He is such a great man, that has assisted thousands of people in the creation of great jobs which in turn creates self worth!
Tom continues to be a great mentor for me...for over three decades!
I asked him to pilot my arrows again this year.....he smiled and said of course!
And yes, they are protected by law....
I back off the ledge, go get Jesse and it's game on!
Legal Stone ram is located!
Four rams in total.
They are below us. We need them to bed in a location where I can put the sneak on him down the mountain without getting busted!
They are 224 yards away.
We sit like a pair of starving vultures....patience!
Good luck, Robb
Don't shoot that "Dink", save him for ME!!! LOL
You do know that a lot of us can't sleep because we just keep checking the site, looking for an update, about every 17 seconds, right?
Show that kind of ram, without the rest of the story, is just plain mean.
Nice pics so far Mark!
Here's a better pic for showing horn length....
No brainer at least one legal ram in the band and a second one might make it as well. If you have to have multiple sets of eyes, you might as well have multiple targets!
As indicated before, I ease out when the rams aren't looking, get on top of the mountain and go get Jessee.
Looking forward to the full recap, and thanks, Mark, for taking us along.
At this juncture, the rams are feeding/milling around between 205 - 225 yards doing what rams do. The big ram beds, but not for long and he is back up on his feet.
Jesse quickly rules out the two smaller rams (5 and 6 years old). I must have asked him 3 times during the 10-15 minute evaluation if the 4th ram is legal.
"Jesse, do I have two potential rams or just the one?"
In BC (and someone can comment about the Yukon) a legal ram must be full curl or at least 8 years of age.
At this point, you are trusting your guide 100% to make the right decision on legality. They will have a tendency to play it safe as no one wants to shoot an under sized ram (obviously). You go with whatever he or she says...
Jesse tells me I have one ram to focus on...
We are now camped on these rams, waiting for them to make the next move as we couldn't do anything with them on their feet at 200 yards. We needed them to do one of two things:
-A: Bed (not the ideal scenario because of minimal terrain features and very little vegetation to use for a stalk to close in for the shot. Also, dealing with 8 eyes and sheep never bed all facing the same direction)
-B: Come up to the top to feed (this was the preferred scenario as there was a 3-5 foot "rock wall" that was about 25 yards off the edge of the top of the mountain that I could hide in front of blending into the terrain)
His reply... "about 5:00PM."
OK, we have about 2 hours for something to happen...otherwise you just have to back out, come back the next day and relocate them and put a new plan together.
"Jesse, grab your sh*t! They are coming to the top!"
The 7 year old made the decision to lead the band to the top to feed for the evening.
We ease out when the rams aren't looking, grab our spotter.
We run like a pair of scalded whistle pigs for about 110 yards and jump down in front of the little rock wall using this little wall to break up our outlines.
Perfect, I love this position. We have cover and this is going to be close!
We knew one thing...the rams would not all come over the top at the same time. The big ram hadn't made one decision in the two hours we watched them.
He was always dead last. (Make mental note)
I feel like we need to move down about another 30-40 yards to be 99% confident the wind would be right. If these rams smell us it's game over.
Jesse and I move quickly to get the wind right....there is literally no cover. I'm scanning for a small tree or bush to grab to use...zero in this alpine environment.
I suggest to Jesse to get behind me to reduce our outline(s) and to be over my left as he will be running the range finder if we need it.
Arrow is on the string and the release is locked and loaded.
The 6 year old steps up next to the 7 year old. They know that something is "new" in their world but not quite sure what it (us) is. The wind is perfect.
They would look in our direction, look at each other..."What the heck is that?" They then begin milling (not comfortable enough to feed) out to about 40 yards.
We wanted them to just move on out, gain some distance but it was imperative that they stay on top of the mountan!
This would be a sign that "all is clear" to the 5 year old and the big ram would follow putting him in my lap at 25 yards.
This did not happen. At about the 40 yard mark, the 7 and 6 year old rams decide to go back over (down) the top.
This whole event took probably 3-4 minutes but felt like days! We knew the big ram was just over the top of the mountain..maybe 60-80 yards max from where we crouched.
Stand up, draw your bow and walk to the edge, locate the big ram, make a quick decision on distance and if he is within 40 yards, make the shot. My first pin is 30 yards.
There would not be time to range (and besides my guide didn't have and angle adjusted range finder). I knew the downward slope was 32 degrees which meant that I would simply take 85% against what I thought the actual distance was to quickly arrive at an "angle adjusted distance"...ie...40 yards becomes a 34 yard shot.
If it works, its all high fives.
If it doesn't work, I'm going to blow this ram out to the Yukon.
It is day five. This is the first legal ram we have seen.
I decide against it as we have a lot of the hunt left, none of the rams smelled us, the 7 and the 6 year old didn't blow out of there and the big ram was clueless not knowing what danger lurked just above him.
If the big ram was the first, second or the only ram, he's a dead ram.
A question for all of you.
I'd like to get your thoughts and opinions (as Ive relived this moment about 1M times in my head).
What would you have done?
I did not plunk down enough money to buy a decent car to shoot a stone sheep.
I would have taken a rifle. :-)
I would have listened to my guide's advice, what ever he suggested you do at that point.
Really enjoying the photos and the text, Mark.
Speaking of the Yukon...Same rules. 8 or full curl.
Great story telling Mark. I love it. No doubt you made the right call that early in the hunt.
Fortune favors the brave....
Thanks for sharing!!!!
PS - there is a hint here that you have run this though your head a million times since. had it worked out and you killed the monster later in the hunt I doubt you would have been dwelling on this moment.
therefore i will go out on a ledge (pun intended) and hope you got another ram by the end of the trip
I think you made the right call but you will always second guess yourself. I did the same exact thing on my bighorn hunt in Colorado, the second night of the hunt I had the band we were after around 80-90 yards. There was alittle cover that I could have probably gotten to which would have closed the distance another 25 yards or so but I figured that I still had plenty of time left on the hunt and I didn't want to blow them out of the unit. I stayed put and let them walk off and I never did get another opportunity on that hunt.
Anyway, who cares what we would do...what did you do?
In lieu of responding or discussing them right now......I GOT to get this thread done:)
We find them after about an hour and half of glassing. We found them in very nasty (almost cliffy) type of terrain. We can only assume they retreated into the nasty stuff because of running into the "new rock" on top of the mountain the day before.
We camped on them for the rest of the day...watching them for total of 6 hours until we were concerned about the downward thermals busting us.
YES, YOU DO!!!
He didn't have a care in the world, all stretched out like a cat (with his head down) sleeping on the black shale.
This pic was about 550 yards away.
We took this as a good sign that he wasn't spooked a bit. Interesting that he always had one buddy that would bed in the wide open as a sentinel.
Remember, the big ram never did make a decision and was always last when they would move or reposition.
This one trait saved his life yesterday.
Bottom line is we continued to look for the big ram (and the other three) for the next 8 days to no avail.
We traveled to other mountains (which we glassed every day with binos and the spotter).
He seemingly gave us the slip....not uncommon for these rams to drop down and live in the timber....thus their nickname...."timber rams."
Here she is at 12 yards.
Goat season was not open or he would have gotten a free ride to MN.
It rained 10 out of 14 days. I lost 4 1/2 days to weather and horse travel.
You get up in the Am and the first thing you do is put your rain gear on....riding the horses through wet bush whether it rained overnight or not.
I kidded Tristan and Jesse that BC rain is really British Columbia sunshine!
Jesse informed me about the season not being open...good thing I ask before I started shooting:)
The young of the year could barely fly...very good thing the province protects them at this time of the year.
I had these young ptarmigan come up and sit on the rock near me one day.
We had a good talk.
We called him "the skinny ram"
Too bad the wolves got to him a week before I did!
Incredible experience and journey in some of the most remote places left in the world!
I loved it and will be going back for Stone's Sheep Round II to finish this mission!
Thanks everybody for all the well wishes and following along on this thread....it is much appreciated!
We all know if you were 24 you would have been dumb enough to take the risk with the outcome probably not great.
If you really wanted to kill one you would have picked up the rifle and shot it but it was more than just "killing" a ram but about doing it on your terms.
I would have shot him with the rifle at the end but that's just would I would have done - not right or wrong. Just what I would have done given the chance.
Thanks for taking us on the journey!!! It was fun.
WRT what to do.... I have a hunting partner that is super aggressive and pretty successful, kills way more animals than I do for sure. But then he probably hunts two or three times more than I do, I'd say 3 or 4 days a week minimum, year round. He freely admits his aggressive style blows up on him time to time.
I'm pretty slow and conservative. And wind up second guessing myself if I should have been more aggressive or not when it doesn't come together.
We argue time to time when we hunt together....
Bottom line..... you never know. Both styles can and will FUBAR. It's hunting, living with choices that need to be made sometimes in a split second. sigh....
Not being there, hard to say, but I think you made the right call, you did get on them then next day, but they don't get big by being careless and stupid. (rut might have helped some with that...=D) my $.02 and worth every penny....
Thanks again. Great question posed, gets a person thinking.
Love to hear more and see more when you get the rest of your head above the work surface.... =D
Thanks for sharing! Great story and excellent pictures. Did you book for next year already!?!?
FWIW I was in nearly the exact situation as you but it was day 13 of 15 and with only 1 or 2 days left we decided to go for it and it worked out with a close shot of 35 yards. We were also pretty aggressive with the first stalk on Twister Jr (day 3) and had it not taken me as long as it did to get set to execute the shot he would've died early in the hunt. That said I might've done the same thing you did in the same situation, early in the hunt. But, many of my successes have resulted from aggressive tactics, so.... If you have no regrets then you may the right decision. See you in Reno in Jan!
From one story teller to another, your hunt, pictures, and narrative was 5 Star excellent.
You came home with a life time worth of memories, ie, a troply of a life time. You left your heart and soul on the mountain.
This sheep hunt is one "trophy" you can surely hang on the wall, in your mind, and then still share with others.
My best, Paul
Looking forward to your next adventure.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I agree with those above, 5 stars my friend. You will cherish those days on the mountain as long as you are taking in oxygen. The trip of a lifetime, regardless of the outcome. Have a great weekend.
I hope you get him in round #2!
You're just better equipped and more likely to succeed the next go-round.
And I like horses as long as I don't have to sit on them.
YOU made the right decision because it was the decision you chose to make. You had a choice and went with what you thought was best at that time. If it was totally wrong a good guide usually makes a suggestion before it's a totally gone opportunity.
Thanks for sharing your story and pics. (My one and only Stone hunt was def one of my special hunts over the years)
Looks like about 80% would have played it safe just as I did.
The other 20% would have "been more aggressive."
In light of it being Day 5 of a 14 day hunt, I would do the same thing again. However, had it been Day 10 or after, I would have stood, drawn my bow and walked to the edge of the mountain with the intent of making it happen or blowing the ram out.
I have a few more pics that I will post up when I get back to the office on Monday.
Can't say what I would have done on Day 5...
You did great Mark
Good luck, Robb
Prior to the hunt I was diagnosed with "sheep fever" in a pretty bad way (I have two more sheep hunts booked and as indicated will hunt Stone's Sheep again).
Your perspective is right on...great advice...thank you!
However, when the going got "too steep," you get off and lead your horse. One of those things when you are from MN and been on two pony rides at the county fair, I just didn't think about.
Well at first when I had 1,500 lbs of white thunder above me trailing me down the mountain I thought about it.
My buddy Ringo...
6+ inches of rain while I was there had everything, wet, muddy and slippery.
Everytime I thought this might be happening (something hitting the fan) , I would glance back at Ringo and he usually had all four brakes locked up and skidded to a stop with a look of bewilderment on his face.
"Why are we stopping?"
"Because I was scared, that's why!"
And then I would start talking to him like he was my long lost dog....it worked for us.
Anyway, I certainly grew to love riding these horses on their home turf.
Clayton holding dead ram that was found by one of the hunters...
As with most of life's great adventures, one of the best things is you get to meet some really great people.
Here John Hubbard (another sheep hunter..from Texas) and I are getting ready for our flight back out to Ft Nelson, BC.
Someone is calling my name at the Delta check in Edmonton.
Rob Register and Bill Tittle were just returning from sheep hunting in the Territories.
Great guys, great stories, great times!
Yes, life is good!
It is easy to sit here and type and say I would have been aggressive as I have experienced more success than failure in doing so. In hindsight I am sure it is even easier to 2nd guess yourself knowing the outcome of your decision. Unfortunately one never knows the answer to the 'what if' scenario. It may have worked or you may have blown them out of the country!
Curious if you encountered any resident hunters during your time on the mountain?
You have many years of sheep hunting experience...thanks for your input and insight...always a tough call.
I look forward to you killing your #4 sheep next November and helping you celebrate!
I did not see hide nor hair of any resident hunters.