Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hunting 2009

I was lucky enough to take two more trips up to the Brooks Range this August. Both trips were walk-in backpack hunts for Dall Sheep and both trips provided me with memories and lessons learned. I must say that the weather was less than desirable but the quality of the company and the sheep meat in the freezer will be tough to trump.

Luke and I walked in during a blizzard on August 9th. Once we made camp we were tent bound for the next 30 hours due to crappy conditions.

Once we started sheep hunting we realized that finding white sheep on snow covered mountains might be a bit challenging.

We ended up moving camp to get us in a more huntable location. It was a great valley but the sunshine did not melt the snow quick enough for our liking.

The bright sun and fresh snow was creating concerns for Luke and I. Neither of us had brought sunglasses and feared snow blindness. We created these sweet mesh masks from the ventilation panels from his hat. We also used a little duct tape for sun screen. I'm pretty sure we are not going to get accused of having too much extra gear on this trip.
We could not find any legal rams on that trip, but we certainly had some good laughs and a good time overall.
My buddy Shawn Verhulst came up from Wisconsin a couple of weeks later to chase caribou and I was still looking for sheep. We walked into the same place and found very similar weather...cold, windy, and mixed precip.

Shawn and I were enjoying a little down time on the tundra before we glassed some nice rams a couple miles away. From where we were sitting in this picture, we began a stalk that ultimately yielded a nice legal ram.

A nice 9 year old full curl ram.

I shot the ram almost ten miles from the road. We were able to get the field dressed animal back to camp at around 1:30 in the morning...it was not too late to have a few celebratory sips of whiskey. The next day we packed the ram and camp to the rest of the way out to the road. It was a heavy load on the way out. It was a good heavy though!
After giving up most of our elevation we were able to enjoy some of the colors of the late season tundra.
After Shawn and I got back from the Brooks Range we teamed up with Luke to do some trout and salmon fishing on the Kenai River. The weather was fantastic and the fish kept us very busy.
Luke had us totally outfitted. Here we are on our way back to camp after a day of floating and fishing. His rig looked pretty sweet stacked up with the camper and the boat.
We had a grizzly follow us for a few hundred yards one day. It was a pretty cool experience. He was just out for a nice swim and some salmon fishing too.

Luke hooks up.

This deformed catch really should have won fish of the trip but Shawn ended up with the title by landing a chubby 24+ inch Rainbow trout. (pictured below)
Our last day on the Kenai we took a little time to pursue Silver salmon. We had a couple on the stringer at the end of the day but several other fish showed us up by denying final capture after we set hooks into them.
When all was said and done Shawn got to go home with some fresh salmon fillets and a few prime cuts of sheep meat as well as a few memories I would suppose.

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