Mathews Inc.
Getting into Sheep Shape — Mentally
Wild Sheep
Contributors to this thread:
Pvdesert 07-Feb-20
Zackman 07-Feb-20
JTreeman 07-Feb-20
Bake 07-Feb-20
Treeline 07-Feb-20
Adak Caribou 08-Feb-20
Mark Watkins 08-Feb-20
JohnMC 08-Feb-20
Pvdesert 08-Feb-20
JohnMC 08-Feb-20
Mark Watkins 08-Feb-20
Ambush 08-Feb-20
KyleSS 08-Feb-20
Aubs8 08-Feb-20
kota-man 08-Feb-20
Jims 09-Feb-20
BTM 09-Feb-20
Pvdesert 09-Feb-20
Kurt 09-Feb-20
Paul@thefort 09-Feb-20
Busta'Ribs 09-Feb-20
Stekewood 09-Feb-20
Pvdesert 09-Feb-20
ground hunter 09-Feb-20
Ned mobile 09-Feb-20
JDM 09-Feb-20
geoffp 09-Feb-20
sheephunter2 09-Feb-20
FullTime 09-Feb-20
Bowboy 09-Feb-20
Keith in colorado 10-Feb-20
Sandbrew 10-Feb-20
Grey Ghost 10-Feb-20
kota-man 10-Feb-20
TrapperKayak 10-Feb-20
Grey Ghost 10-Feb-20
Waterfowler 10-Feb-20
IdyllwildArcher 10-Feb-20
'Ike' (Phone) 10-Feb-20
wkochevar 12-Feb-20
Bill Obeid 12-Feb-20
Pvdesert 12-Feb-20
Busta'Ribs 12-Feb-20
Scoot 13-Feb-20
Dale06 13-Feb-20
Pvdesert 16-Feb-20
g5smoke21 16-Feb-20
Cityhunter333 16-Feb-20
Tilzbow 17-Feb-20
altitude sick 17-Feb-20
Rocky D 17-Feb-20
Pforward 17-Feb-20
INbowdude 17-Feb-20
Pvdesert 23-Feb-20
Mad Trapper 24-Feb-20
Busta'Ribs 24-Feb-20
altitude sick 24-Feb-20
Chet 24-Feb-20
DoorKnob 24-Feb-20
Kurt 24-Feb-20
Nick Muche 24-Feb-20
Cliffhanger 24-Feb-20
Shug 24-Feb-20
Mad Trapper 25-Feb-20
Bowboy 25-Feb-20
sticksender 25-Feb-20
wkochevar 26-Feb-20
Pvdesert 28-Feb-20
Rupe 28-Feb-20
bogey 28-Feb-20
Pvdesert 01-Mar-20
Medicinemann 01-Mar-20
Pvdesert 01-Mar-20
tobinsghost 19-Mar-20
Pvdesert 21-Mar-20
tobinsghost 21-Mar-20
Aubs8 25-Apr-20
sticksender 25-Apr-20
ground hunter 27-Apr-20
GMC Trucks 06-Jun-20
GMC Trucks 13-Jun-20
Rock 13-Jun-20
bowbender77 13-Jun-20
GMC Trucks 08-Sep-20
Aubs8 08-Sep-20
Treeline 08-Sep-20
Rocky D 09-Sep-20
From: Pvdesert
07-Feb-20
A lot said about getting into sheep shape especially now that the 2020 Sheep hunters are probably hard at it? What about advice for getting into shape mentally? Any pointers for the first timers or even the veterans about how to get into ‘Mental Shape’ for the upcoming hunt?

From: Zackman
07-Feb-20
Realize that once the money is spent, it is gone. You will never get it back. Enjoy the experience as much as possible and with that, you will not only enjoy your hunt more but you will more likely have a better chance at success. Good luck!

From: JTreeman
07-Feb-20
Just realize and accept that you are probably gonna die. It’s hard. Don’t quit.

—Jim

From: Bake
07-Feb-20
Take some method of communicating with home. And something to read or do on bad weather days.

Other than that, I kept thinking “just keep climbing. Just keep climbing climbing climbing” ;)

From: Treeline
07-Feb-20
JTreeman gets it.

From: Adak Caribou
08-Feb-20
For what it's worth, I have been on a few Dall sheep hunts and Mountain goat hunts, it seems like there are hunters that have it and those that do not, mentally. If someone makes excuses in life, as a general rule, it seems they do the same in the mountains. When someone wants something bad enough and they are willing to "make it happen" then they will succeed. Put yourself into uncomfortable situations and push through it. Make your workouts harder and more miserable then you would normally, and push through it. Those that do that will succeed and those that make excuses and limit themselves should hope for a lazy dumb deaf sheep. :)

From: Mark Watkins
08-Feb-20
Having been fortunate to have done several archery sheep hunts, two things come to mind:

-ALWAYS be OPTIMISTIC! My daily mantra is: "Today is the day I'm going to kill my ram!"

-No matter how difficult it is , you are still sheep hunting in some of the most beautiful country the world has to offer!

Mark

From: JohnMC
08-Feb-20
I hunted sheep this last year. I had a long way to go to get into sheep shape physically. I think working hard to be in best physical shape between drawing tag and the hunt helped a lot with the mentally part. Then pushing myself in sheep country before the hunt by working as hard or hard before season with a pack of similar weight that I would be when hunting proved mentally I could handle the hunt.

I think mentally the hardest thing I had to deal with was that I hunted the first 13 days of a 16 day season before killing. As I began to run short on days and realizing the hard work put in before the season and during it. It dawned on me that I might come up short it was thought that you can't seem to shake and always in the back of your head. You really start second guess your decisions did you choose the right spot for the day, when I found sheep do I move on them immediately or do I watch them and see if I get a stocking opportunity I think is higher percentage.

From: Pvdesert
08-Feb-20
Great input. Anyone use affirmations to help with the mental part or just me? Helped me big time on my Desert Sheep.

From: JohnMC
08-Feb-20
One more thing I started a thread on getting in "Sheep Shape" before my hunt. Busta'Ribs posted the following on my thread. This is one post I remembered during my hunt and I think it really helps put into perspective when things get tough.

Busta post:

Another thing worth mentioning. Every sheep hunter suffers on a sheep hunt, and that’s all part of the mystique. You can be the most physically impressive stud on the planet, you’ll still suffer. The training simply reduces the suffering. And hopefully, it reduces it to a level you are willing to tolerate. Which brings up another really great point about sheep hunting and that’s the mental fortitude it takes to pull through the low points. I’ve hit those on almost all my high country hunts, the “what the eff am I doing here” moments when the elements, the terrain, fatigue, poor hunting or whatever just grinds you down. The funny thing is, I get back home and no matter how bad the hunt went, as soon as I’m back at my desk I’m wishing I was back in the mountains suffering again. So that’s what I focus on when I hit the low points. “Stay Positive” right? It’s easy to say, and seems so obvious. But you can get worn down. Just keep in mind the time we spend up there is a blip in our lives, it’s so precious, so suck up the pain and suffering and take one step and a time, and don’t give up, ever. Because you’d be shocked, a lot of guys do, they take that precious opportunity they have to fulfill their dreams and they bail because it’s too hard

From: Mark Watkins
08-Feb-20
Yep, Busta nailed it right there!!!

Mark

From: Ambush
08-Feb-20
I don’t have the same pressure as most because my sheep and goats are dirt cheap, mostly OTC and yearly if I want.

But you have to go into it with the hunt experience foremost and not the actual kill. You can hunt everyday, all day, for many days, but you will only kill once. We all get discouraged, then careless sometimes. It’s when we are trudging along, not really in the game, when we look up from our feet and there is that animal of a lifetime staring at you within bow range.

Mark has it right “ today I’m going to succeed!” should be our every morning mantra. It sometimes only takes a few minutes to kill a ram. Those few minutes can just as easily be the last minutes of a two week hunt as the first or second day.

Be ready for those few minutes!!

From: KyleSS
08-Feb-20
Starting Jan 29 2019 decided I was going to get in sheep shape and hunt sheep hard. I started at 303 lbs (6'2") and on Jan 29 2020 I was 228 lbs and the previous hunting season I had been on legal rams 3 different times; just couldn't get a good shot.

One thing that has always kept me going when training or going up the mountain is something someone once told me. "Your mind will give up long before you body does" I keep reminding myself of this as I will not let my mind break on me. I will keep pushing and I have pushed my body a lot longer than and harder than I ever thought.

The other thing for me is small goals. When I run on my treadmill I will start with a 1 mile goal, once there I will set my goal for another mile, once I enter a goal I will either complete it or pass out trying. When hunting I will commit to 10, 20, 50, 100 steps between breaks. These smaller goals really help me get up a mountain with out feeling overwhelmed

From: Aubs8
08-Feb-20

Aubs8's Link
I love the comments of Zack, Adak, Mark and Busta. You may be able to fool yourself, but you can't fool the mountain.

You are either "all in" mentally or you are not. It is just that many don't know what "all in" means until that point in the hunt. For some it is during their first climb when they realize "it" was just too big. For others it is later in the hunt after the first or maybe multiple failed stalks with time still left in the hunt.

It is the combination of will, endurance, and optimism. It is understanding the things you can control (effort, attitude, training and practice which all give you confidence) and knowing what you can't.

I think it is important to "be in the moment" from the time you arrive until the time you leave. One can not allow doubt to creep in. Keep putting one foot in front of the other with the constant reminder of, "Today is the day" ringing in your head. Know when you come down the mountain on the last day of your hunt, you gave it all you had and had more to give if you had more time.

With the ever increasing costs of a sheep hunt and the significant investment of time away from family, a very real challenge is to keep those external pressures at bay. I think one has to be very honest with themselves and their personal circumstances when considering the very real possibility of coming home empty handed.

The attached is a great video and one I thought encapsulates many of the points made in this thread.

Take care. Mike

From: kota-man
08-Feb-20
That is a GREAT video. Thanks for posting. Great advice/thoughts in this thread...Bustas comments especially hit true for me.

From: Jims
09-Feb-20
I've been fortunate to be on a number of sheep/goat hunts here in Colo and Alaska. Mine have all been self-guided. I try to cover every small detail possible prior to my hunt to push things in my favor. Whether it is researching maps, contacting pilots, updating and going through my gear, etc. I also want to have total confidence in my weapon and my shooting ability. I live fairly close to where I sheep hunt in Colo so I spend just about every possible spare time scouting and figuring out strategies for success. By the opening day of hunting season I usually have rams named and the entire unit almost memorized! This also physically prepares me for the hunt and gets me used to hiking with similar gear at high elevation. It's nice having confidence that I've done everything humanly possible for success.

Once hunting season opens...it's "game on!" I'm prepared for the worse weather and conditions. If things don't go as planning I have several back-ups in mind. It's always essential to have a positive outlook and attitude no matter what happens. Sometimes it's worth it to slow down and take a look around at the gorgeous scenery and animals! If things don't look favorable I tell myself that things can turn around in a flash for the best! I just have to make it happen!

With that said, there is nothing better than having a sheep tag in hand....and a great place to spend quality time in the outdoors!

From: BTM
09-Feb-20
A bit of a cliché, but it's still true: "The toughest sheep territory is between your ears."

From: Pvdesert
09-Feb-20
Thanks for the great input Everyone ... advice that is worth its weight in gold!

From: Kurt
09-Feb-20
Sisu, a Finnish word meaning guts, grit and determination has carried me through many a sheep hunt. It is a never give up, stubborn attitude that you go into the hunt with and don't let go of despite what the odds may appear to be.

From: Paul@thefort
09-Feb-20
PVDesert, where is your sheep hunt taking place? On a scale of 1-10, physically challenging? my best, Paul

From: Busta'Ribs
09-Feb-20
In the end it’s simple; no matter how tough it gets up there on the mountain, never forget where you are, how lucky you are to be there, and how quickly you will be back home wishing you were still back up there suffering. If you can do that, if you can stay focused on that through the low points, you will be prepared to handle just about anything the mountain can throw at you. Mentally, that’s the best you can hope for.

From: Stekewood
09-Feb-20
I agree with Busta 100%. When I hit the wall in the mountains, I stop and take a good look around and remind myself how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to hit that wall.

From: Pvdesert
09-Feb-20

Pvdesert's embedded Photo
Pvdesert's embedded Photo
I wish I had been better prepared mentally on my first Sheep hunt. I was prepared physically but was ill prepared mentally...lucky to have got my Stone Sheep. My second sheep hunt was better and I found that affirmations help me through the few low spots. The hunt ended with success quick so I didn’t feel the true mental test of a 10 day hunt. I guess I can feel a tough hunt coming for me in 2020. I want to be in the toughest mental shape of my life so thanks for all the great input. I may be a sheep hunter somewhere in between the just have its mentally and those who are trying to have it mentally?? Either way my goal going into 2020 hunt will be good physical shape and amazing mental shape!

09-Feb-20
Wanting it. I did that in 1976 thru 1985. Work till late July and hunt on the money. Wanting it....,

09-Feb-20
I ate a cheese burger and put one foot in front of the other. If a person wants it it can get done

From: JDM
09-Feb-20
Wake up every morning welcoming 'Lucky Day #X!' Don't guide the guide - he knows what he's doing; that's why you hired him. And when you start getting a little down, just remember 'How many guys are getting to do what I'm doing right now?' and be thankful you are. It's too great of experience to waste it on feeling sorry for yourself.

From: geoffp
09-Feb-20
Not much to add that hasn't already been said, by guys w/much more experience than I. One thing I would add. If/when you have those pain, fear and agony moments, just flush them out by stopping, taking a breath, and looking around you. Trade those in for...."I am hunting the most amazing animals in the most amazing place in the world. How can I be this lucky". And just soak it all in. Cherish it. Because there is 1 thing that I can GUARANTEE you. You will either love it or hate it. And, if you love it, once it is over and you are down off the mountain, you will give your left nut to be back up there chasing those phenomenal animals. I have been on 2 of these hunts. 1 as a hunter, 1 as a companion. There has not been a single day that goes by, that I don't think about hunting sheep again. That is no lie.

From: sheephunter2
09-Feb-20
I think most guys that like to hunt sheep appreciate the grind, the discipline. You either love it or you hate it. There isn't a lot of middle ground it seems to me. I'm with some of the other guys because on pretty much every sheep hunt I have been on (more than I should admit :) at least once during that hunt I asked myself, "Self what the f*** are you doing up here?" But as others have also stated as soon as I got home and healed up I was itching to go again. You have to learn to appreciate the country, the personal challenge. You really get to know yourself when you are a sheep hunter, what you can do and what you cannot do. You think you are tired but that was a week ago. Hiking is easy, you just put one foot in front of the other. When climbing a mountain the first hundred yards is a hell of lot harder than the last 100. That's when you commit to "I'm going up this sucker." Just my 2 cents.

From: FullTime
09-Feb-20
PVDesert...you could start your MENTAL training by doing a thousand deep knee bends with a pack while your pal sprays the garden hose on you. Then rest a minute...repeat for 14-16 hours a day for a week while sleeping each night in your rock garden in a sleeping bag. Keep telling yourself its gonna be worth it. At the end of a week if you still think it is going to be worth it you were successful getting yourself MENTALLY prepared. When you get done you'll be ready to go! Have an awesome experience. Good Luck!

From: Bowboy
09-Feb-20
You want to get mentally tough just go through Seal Training.:)

10-Feb-20
3 words, "Embrace the SUCK" It is gonna suck, but later you will grow to love it and even crave it!

From: Sandbrew
10-Feb-20
One suggestion I can offer is don't be in a hurry to get home. Things happen and conditions change. To many hunters get caught up in what going on at home and really there is nothing you can do that will change that. Relax and let the hunt unfold.

I've been on several adventures with JDM and like he says "today is your lucky day" is his motto. I wake up and say "Today is good day to kill a sheep" or whatever I am hunting or helping hunt for that matter is GREAT day. Enjoy the experience and good things will follow.

Mentally tough is not an overnight thing. Every experience you have be it successful or not builds that metal toughness. If your only hiking experience is walking a 1/2 mile from your truck to a stand and back in the darkr that's not much of a challenge. Hiking off a 14er and hunkering down in a blizzard not sure you are going down the right drainage towards the truck 3-4 miles away in a whiteout makes that 1/2 mile hike in the dark look like a cake walk.

Sandbrew

From: Grey Ghost
10-Feb-20
Personally, nothing gets me more physically and mentally prepared than extensive scouting prior to the hunt. You can hit the gym all you want, but nothing compares to actual hiking at altitude. Knowing that my quarry is there, based on my scouting, is what drives me mentally. I don't think I could stay in the game mentally without that knowledge in advance.

Matt

From: kota-man
10-Feb-20
GG...That's great if you live where you hunt. Being a "flatlander" I don't have many options for "extensive scouting". My mountain hunts are guided. A small hill near my house is my "physical" training ground. Climbing it all winter in snowshoes takes care of the "mental" part of the program. I haven't struggled much ever with the mental aspect of a mountain hunt with the exception of one Stone Sheep hunt that went on for 17 days without not only seeing a legal ram but only seeing ONE sheep. I was mentally checked out by the end of that hunt. But that hunt was the exception, not the rule for me. Doing everything you can physically before you go, goes a long ways towards the mental aspect. At least for me it does. "Embrace the Suck" is definitely my mantra.

From: TrapperKayak
10-Feb-20
Go train with the SEALS. Then you'll be mentally ready.

From: Grey Ghost
10-Feb-20
I can't relate to the "embrace the suck" mantra. I enjoy hiking at high altitude. I do it even when I'm not scouting or hunting. But, you're right, it helps to live where I hunt.

I could never do a guided sheep hunt, or any other guided hunt for that matter. Figuring out an area and the animals, and calling my own shots, is as satisfying as punching a tag, for me. I guess that's why I don't do a lot of out-of-state travel hunts.

Matt

From: Waterfowler
10-Feb-20
All good advice above. Don't forget about the mental side of shooting in sheep conditions. That in itself can be mentally taxing come the moment of truth. Practice far and short and angles standing kneeling , sitting on your butt. Be prepared to drop a bomb or be point blank. My desert was at 11 yards !!

10-Feb-20
Good post by JohnMC above.

10-Feb-20
I miss Nva....

From: wkochevar
12-Feb-20
As said, "Wanting it", "Self-Pride" and "Not going to be THAT guy" was what got me thru the down days last summer. Wanting it - I spent most of my adult life to date, wanting to be a sheep hunter, but circumstances of work, $, family, etc., etc., kept me from going. I completed those jobs and then after 35 years could finally be a sheep hunter. Did I want it? Words cannot describe!! Not being THAT guy - I'll never forget the story my guide told me while we waited on the strip for our apprentice to show up...a couple years previously in this exact spot, his client climbed out of the cub and refused to walk 1/2 mile up the ravine in front of him for a shooter ram my guide had been watching while he waited. It turned out Daddy had bought this trip for his boy (30 something yr old man, I guess) and told him he was going sheep hunting. He refused to go up and they camped on the sheep for 2 days hoping it would drop lower Basically the river bottom was the next level) which it never did, and then proceeded to call in the plane to fly the hunter out early. "Not going to be THAT guy" Day 6 of my hunt the weather moved in and it started to snow. On top of the mountain, under a full pack my pole stuck in the rocks and threw me off balance and I proceeded to fall smack down on my right hip on a big rock. It took 2-3minutes to get myself up and a horrendously long, grueling time to get back to camp. It continued to snow for 2 days. Locked in my tent and dealing with a badly injured hip, my guide asked what I was thinking (trying not to sound like he might already know the answer)? Deep in my brain I wanted to tell him I was thinking I'd be better off getting off this god forsaken Mt and back someplace comfortable to take care of my hip, but what I was really thinking was "I was NOT going to be THAT guy!!" and told him that the only way we were not going to finish this hunt was if I physically could not stand and walk where I needed too... His slight nod and upward grin told me he believed we were in this for the long-haul and it made me proud to know he believed me. The next day I killed my ram!! BTW, my hip still hurts, but I get to look at that ram on its pedestal while I suffer thru it!! ;-) Mental toughness comes in many forms and no two are the same. Prepare yourself for what you can control and then deal with what you can't, if and when it happens! Good Luck, be prideful, want it and "DON'T BE THAT GUY!!" It worked for me.... Kip

From: Bill Obeid
12-Feb-20

From: Pvdesert
12-Feb-20
Thanks wkochevar— I love Don’t be that Guy!

From: Busta'Ribs
12-Feb-20
That’s the mental side of sheep hunting right there, WK, great story!

From: Scoot
13-Feb-20
Kip, that's a GREAT story! It's also an analogy for life on what to do and not do and who to aspire to be and to not be! Congrats on your ram! Hard earned and definitely something to be prideful.

From: Dale06
13-Feb-20
I was a little older when I went on my sheep hunt (rifle). It was a horseback hunt. I doubt I walked two miles in 8 days. We spotted sheep, climbed I suppose 1500 or so feet, in about an hour. There was a group of eight rams. My buddy and I each dropped one of them, about two seconds apart. Advice about having something to read or occupy yourself when it’s too rainy or foggy to hunt, is a great idea. We were socked in a couple days and that was miserable.

From: Pvdesert
16-Feb-20
I love the quote by the late JasonHairston of KUIU....”I wish I knew” Thank for everyone’s input it will all help me and others I am sure! I wish more was talked about on the mental side of sheep hunting but I guess it is not that easy to discuss. It is hard to put into words or video just exactly what it is? A lot is talked about as far as gear and being in physical shape to help with the hunt but when it comes to mental it seems to be described mostly as you either have it or you don’t. I believe it can be developed and I hope to share more down the road...thanks again for all the help on this thread.

From: g5smoke21
16-Feb-20
I have not hunted sheep but have done a mountain goat hunt in BC in some pretty rugged terrain and climbed up to shoot a beauty 100 inch Sitka blacktail at 2200 feet that we watched for several hours. I think it comes down to how bad you want it and having the mindset to just not give up. I was in very good shape for both hunts but being a flatlander especially in BC at the altitude I was not prepared for that. Keep pushing one step at a time to make your dreams come true! Good luck!

16-Feb-20

Cityhunter333's embedded Photo
Cityhunter333's embedded Photo
Shooting skills Are most important ups downs standing sideways will wreck havoc for many practice odd shots! I only hunted sheep once not a challenge in my opinion! Especially with a great guide like I had. No reason to ever give up! I had one shot 58 yards 53 degree slope below me ! Mental side lol what’s so mental guys make this chit a lot harder ! Go hunt don’t overthink it ! Enjoy. The mountains

From: Tilzbow
17-Feb-20
Enjoy the hunt and remember what you’re doing this for. It’s not life or death and in the scheme of things being successful or not doesn’t matter so don’t put any unnecessary pressure on yourself to succeed. Enjoy the mountains and if your body is in shape it’s all attitude from there.

17-Feb-20
Don’t know where your hunting. How steep or how high. But read up on “Mountaineers rest step”

Also learn your optimal at work heart rate for you. Then try not to exceed it.

Blasting for short periods at 100% of heart rate and you won’t last long.

If you stay under your optimal heart rate. You can last for weeks.

What ever training regime your doing

Set a time interval. Or pick out an object in the distance and hold your breath while until you get to that object or the specified time has elapsed.

Then next time go past that distance. And hold your breath while busting your ass.

That will let you know what it’s going to feel like.

They sell masks that restrict air intake also

Remember pain is weakness leaving the body

From: Rocky D
17-Feb-20
Altitude, great post! “ Blasting for short periods at 100% of heart rate and you won’t last long. If you stay under your optimal heart rate. You can last for weeks.”

Highly competitive athletes refer to these burst operating in the red zone or close to to your lactate threshold. Do this at the cost of your next day not being up to par. Maybe not physically but emotionally. Overtime it will wear on you both physically and mentally. Remember, “fatigue makes cowards of all”!

“ Set a time interval. Or pick out an object in the distance and hold your breath while until you get to that object or the specified time has elapsed.”

This is the foundation of becoming mentally tough. Setting a goal and achieving it is the bedrock of confidence which the foundation of mental toughness. This is not swagger but an inner strength in one’s ability to control the outcome. Confidence is best tempered with a large dose of humility. Remember, pride cometh before the fall. Too much hubris has been the downfall of many.

Altitude, thanks again for a great post.

From: Pforward
17-Feb-20
I've done a lot of sheep and goat hunting with my bow in Alaska, almost always extended solo trips. The low points of blowing a stalk or not finding the animals can be tough but, as others have alluded to, the real pleasure of these hunts is spending time in the amazing places where they live. When I remind myself of that it keeps things in perspective. As soon as I get up into the alpine, I consider the hunt a "success". I've been fortunate to kill my share of sheep and goats with my bow but the actual kill is only a very small part of the experience and enjoyment.

Regarding the mental aspects of dealing with the dangers and rigors of mountain travel, it really helps to just spend a lot of time in the mountains. I know that's not an option for people who live far away from mountains but for those who do, there's no comparison to spending the rest of the year climbing, backcountry skiing and just generally scrambling around on steep terrain and knifey ridges. For example, if you can backcountry ski tour and ascend 5000 feet per day all winter with 5+lbs of ski and boot on each foot through fresh snow, the ascents involved in sheep hunting aren't usually too daunting. Being in the mountains all year also sharpens your general mountain skills and allows you to focus your mental energy on the hunting and stalking and not the mountain travel. Even just acquiring basic rock climbing skills at an indoor climbing gym would likely pay dividends in your mental game.

From: INbowdude
17-Feb-20
I tore my left hamstring on a Bighorn hunt in Wyoming a couple of years ago. I had to cut the hunt short, rehabbed like crazy, went back (may or may not have been against Dr's orders) made it only 2 days before the pain returned. Once in a lifetime tag (for me) and I came up empty handed with a ram but not in my soul. You learn a lot about yourself when you are put in these kinds of situations. I'm glad I got to bow hunt sheep but obviously wished I had gotten a ram. Go out, give it Hell and if you kill a ram, great, if not, at least you tried. Lots of other hunters will never do a hunt like that. JHMO

From: Pvdesert
23-Feb-20
Came across some great stuff on you tube today. Greg McHale’s “Be the best mountain hunter” Part 2 of the series is about mental preparation .. great stuff!

From: Mad Trapper
24-Feb-20
I live to mountain hunt. However, I think that the mountains get steeper every year! One mental trick that I use when I am at the bottom and facing a grueling climb is to break the climb into small pieces. I pick a rock or clump of grass a couple hundred yards up the mountain and focus on getting there. Once there, I select another one. As I start to wear out, the distance between the landmarks get shorter. I do this until I get to the top. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

From: Busta'Ribs
24-Feb-20
Althought not on the mental side, I learned a secret mountaineering trick a long time ago on a Goat hunt from Spike Lewis of Bolen Lewis. It’s called the “Rest Step”. It’s an ageless, but simple technique where a very brief, almost unnoticeable pause occurs between each step, with your downhill leg locked straight, just before transferring your weight for your next step. The length of the pause varies depending on the steepness of the terrain. Using this this technique correctly, you can climb any hill (no cliffs included) and never get winded. Throw in a set of climbing poles (and knowing how to use them properly) and combine these physical “tricks” with your mental and physical training and it will go a long way on your hunt.

24-Feb-20
If done properly, The rest step works great. Flat foot not the ball of the foot using your calf muscles. Then lock leg using bones not muscles

From: Chet
24-Feb-20

Chet's embedded Photo
Chet's embedded Photo
I am no Olympic athlete by any means but I have found the mental aspect to be harder to overcome than the physical aspect when sheep hunting. For me, I had to build confidence over time and just want it incredibly bad. I hate hiking but I love hunting. My first rifle bighorn came on an a very difficult hunt. I could not have done it without my hunting partner who is tougher than me and would never quit. I got one because I did not want to let him down. Confidence grows and goals get tougher. I always considered killing a Bighorn with a bow the greatest hunting achievement. I wanted it more than anything in hunting but the process still sucked. I am not one to sugar coat the experience. It was brutal. The hardest thing I have ever done. I wanted to quit several times but I could not let my friends who helped me down and I knew if I quit I would regret it the minute I recovered from the hunt. Knowing you will recover is an important part of the mental process. It only sucks while you are doing it. You have the rest of your life to sip a glass of bourbon and enjoy your accomplishment. When you want to throw in the towel, try to picture yourself 2 weeks after the hunt. Are you going to be proud of your effort or know that you could have done more? You don't have to be THE best but you have to be YOUR best. Knowing you will recover and knowing you have to answer to yourself when you do are the key things for me to keep my head in the game. Good Luck.

From: DoorKnob
24-Feb-20

DoorKnob's Link
If you really want to get into sheep shape there is a web site for that get61.com

From: Kurt
24-Feb-20
Chet, Heck of a nice ram!!! Congrats on the ram and staying tough! Kurt

From: Nick Muche
24-Feb-20
Great post Chet!!!

24-Feb-20
Chet,

That’s a dandy ram. Congratulations!!!

From: Shug
24-Feb-20
A friend ( Len Cardinale) went on a goat hunt in BC. He took a goat very early in the hunt. The outfitter had 3 sheep hunters cancel that year one the week my friend was there. Len asked the outfitter what it would cost to hunt sheep... When the outfitter said pay him $200 a day he jumped on it.

A few days later his knees were giving out badly and as they climbed to where they had spotted a good ram Len gave up. He told the guide he can’t do it he was done. The guide asked what can’t you do? You can’t put one foot in front of the other? That’s all you have to do one step at a time. He took his time put one foot in front of the other and a short while later arrowed a near 160” Stone that cost him $800.

Just remember one step at a time

From: Mad Trapper
25-Feb-20
Chet outstanding ram and good advice!

From: Bowboy
25-Feb-20
Chet's post is spot on!

From: sticksender
25-Feb-20
Chet said: "just want it incredibly bad". Those 5 words pretty much summarize the whole trick. Physically, most guys can get prepared by training in various ways. But ultimately, success comes from a genuine, immutable, hard-wired thirst for the hunt.

From: wkochevar
26-Feb-20
In hindsight, the mental conquest really was making myself strap on my pack and hike my training mountain 3-5 days a week plus doing my calisthenics for the 4 months prior to heading out on the trip. After that, even with the hardships, I'd solidified the mental toughness to endure whatever was thrown at me, regardless of taking an animal or not.

From: Pvdesert
28-Feb-20
So many great comments and it is always interesting which ones you grab onto and relate with the most. Everyone has their way of accomplishing the goal...A cart full of them in this forum that should help us all!

From: Rupe
28-Feb-20
Bump up. What an amazing read. Great info

From: bogey
28-Feb-20
About 2 months before this years sheep hunt, my first, my girl friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. The surgery was to fall when I was gone. I said I was going to call about switching dates and she said no and if I did she would change her surgery dates. She said its the one animal she has always wanted me to get and I dang sure better not come back with out a sheep. The inreach message the day before said get me a sheep. An entirely new, BIG mental challenge on a hunt, way more then the 38 hours from the time leaving the tent tell back with a Dall sheep on our backs

From: Pvdesert
01-Mar-20
4 skills seal fit (training program) teaches for mental toughness Breath control, Positivity, Visualization, Micro goals

Good you tube videos to watch

From: Medicinemann
01-Mar-20
I did four sheep bowhunts in 2008. Three of them were back to back to back. There are a lot of great "pearls" listed previously. 1.) Few things can beat the power of a positive mindset. 2.)I probably shot 5,000 arrows preparing for those sheep hunts.....all were at a sheep target.....I found that it really helped me when visualizing the actual animal.... 3.)Confidence is important....the more you train and practice, the more you'll believe in yourself. 4.)Busta'Ribs x 2 - the "reststep" is a very helpful trick to have in your arsenal. 5.)Mad Trapper X 2 - How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.....how do you climb that next slope? One step at a time. 6.)Be honest and know your limitations. Because I had trained and practiced shooting so much....I learned that I simply do not shoot as well when both of my feet are not level. However, by learning that about myself (and being honest enough to admit it), I learned some tricks that I could employ (even on steep slopes) that would allow me to keep my feet level....which really helped my accuracy. I wouldn't have bothered to learn them if I had professed that "I'll get it done" when crunch time arrived. That's where the honesty really comes in. 7.)Whochevar x 2 - don't be THAT guy. 8.)…..and my personal favorite.....Ensign's don't quit. Take out my name, and put your name in it's place....that'll keep putting one step after the other. 9.) Trekking poles. (Black Diamond worked well for me....clips, not twist rings). 10.) There are literally thousands of bowhunters that would love to be where you are right now......do them all proud. 11.) When looking at a ram that is miles away, don't focus on the 3 mile uphill climb, the loose shale, and the devil's club (if there is any). Make it to that big white rock, then take a ten breath break....and find your next "goal".....then start the next journey of a thousand miles with the first step, then the next step.....keep breaking down the end goal into smaller, manageable accomplishments. 12.) Learn to become comfortable, being uncomfortable......maybe that is the same as "Embrace the suck"? 13.) Keep a journal. Re-read it from time to time. It may refresh some helpful hints, and it may remind you of what you are capable of accomplishing. 14.) Constantly prepare.

From: Pvdesert
01-Mar-20
I have hunted big game for 37 years and never knew about the rest step. A few helpful you tube videos and now I know. Can’t wait to try it this week.

From: tobinsghost
19-Mar-20
I'm going as an observer into Unit 13D in Alaska with my buddy this year. I'm so jazzed after reading this thread. Can't wait to do this!

From: Pvdesert
21-Mar-20
Have to give a shout out to Greg Mchale’s instagram posts and you tube videos...some good stuff for mental work—“Do the Work”

From: tobinsghost
21-Mar-20
Yeah, he's my new hero in life. He helped me with boot selection for this August.

From: Aubs8
25-Apr-20

Aubs8's Link
Another inspirational video on point...

Take care. Mike

From: sticksender
25-Apr-20
Wow......that's a great story!

27-Apr-20
That beautiful young lady, is a inspiration, to everyone. Some lucky guy, will meet her, truly has the grit. Great video. When you see that my aches and pains means nothing.......

From: GMC Trucks
06-Jun-20
Looks like we can make it work in AK this year so let’s keep grinding

From: GMC Trucks
13-Jun-20
Do the work... anybody else sore today! Less that 2 months to the opener in AK

From: Rock
13-Jun-20
Just remember every blown stalk and every blown shot get you one closer to pulling it all together and filling your tag.

From: bowbender77
13-Jun-20
Both those videos were great and very inspirational.

From: GMC Trucks
08-Sep-20

GMC Trucks's embedded Photo
Got it done with the Rifle. Time not on my side due to 4 straight days of rain in base camp. Mental prep was very helpful during those 4 days we were rained out
GMC Trucks's embedded Photo
Got it done with the Rifle. Time not on my side due to 4 straight days of rain in base camp. Mental prep was very helpful during those 4 days we were rained out

From: Aubs8
08-Sep-20
Congratulations!

From: Treeline
08-Sep-20
Congratulations! Beautiful ram!

From: Rocky D
09-Sep-20
Great looking ram, congratulations!

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