Well, we got in about midnight last night (Aug 30th). We had an incredible time. We were hunting the Nutzoin Mountains in the Wrangells, just a few miles from the Canadian border, along the Yukon Territory. We had 4 hunters and covered some 50 or 60 square miles altogether. Must have seen 200 ewes and lambs, but the rams were scarce. Between the 4 of us, we saw 6 rams, but only two that were legal (full curl or 8 years old requirement).
We had two first time sheep hunters with us and one took a very nice full curl that turned out to be about 10.5 years old. He was pretty tight curl for that area and as a result of not having the "Wrangell Sweep", he went a tad over 36" even though he had 14+" bases. A beautiful and magnificent animal, nonetheless. The other first timer had an opprotunity at the other legal ram, but had a tough time getting into shooting position along the 6" ledge we walking on and didn't get the shot. Pickings were pretty slim and there was a lot of traffic through there for such a remote location. We actually came across two guiding outfits and 3 other groups of hunters in the same 100 square mile area.
Even with really good optics, we spent a lot of time stalking rams that weren't legal. I spent the one full day sneaking up on one that just barely didn't make the full curl requirement. Spent another day spiking out into a heavily glaciated area about 8 miles from our base camp only to run into an outfitter with 3 clients and about 8 horses.
Didn't see grizzly one, but saw 6 or 7 black bears (all pretty small), 5 woodland caribou including two really nice bulls (but there is no open season for them in that GMU), tons of moose, watched an eagle try to pick off a lamb and the ensuing battle with mother Ewe and the Eagle. Very interesting.
Altogether, I climbed more than the equivalent of Mount Everest in 10 days, we saw the northern lights every night that it was clear (and Mars shone beautifully), got snow 3 days, rain a couple, and summer temps the rest of the time, walked about 80 miles, got into places I had to pray to get out of, saw some incredible country, watched a wide variety of nature's finest creations, and just had the time of my life (well, at least for this year).
I'm already planning next year's sheep hunt. I'm going to try to get into the northern Chugach range, miles away from anyone else.
I have to run out to Mount St. Elias early in the week for work, but after I return, I'll try to post a few pictures and an image of the 1:63360 map of the area hunted.
I carried my Ruger No.1 338 Win Mag (veteran of every mountain range in Alaska and nearly every fall for the last nigh on 20 years). It wears a 2.5-8x Leupold VariX-III scope (old as the rifle). I carried the 338 as our flight service reported a large amount of grizzlies in the vicinity.
This area is supposed to be outside any guide/outfitter's area, but pickings must be slim in the north Wrangells this year. One group walked in from the front range about 30 miles to be picked up where we were and reported that they had only seen one full curl. I would not be surprised if this GMU, for the most part, doesn't become a drawing area because of the low number of legal rams. I've hunted near here before about 10 years ago and hunting was very, very good. I guess the airstrip isn't as secret as it used to be.
We may pull together a deer hunt in the Prince William Sound later in the year, after the snow and cold set in, but nothing is planned solid right now. Work is picking up quite a bit and other commitments are going to be taxing my free time. We thought we might try the Fourtymile Caribou herd if they had crossed the Taylor Highway this weekend, but they are still holding tight in the hills, so I doubt that caribou will be on the menu this year. May also get a weekend moose hunt at some point, but that will rely on the moon, stars, sun and planets aligning in perfect order. I'm not making any plans right now though.
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