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Kissed by an Elk
Sitka in the Khalarhi
Black and White
BC and back, in Optifade of course.
Aug 21, 2009
I just got back from one of those "trips of a lifetime". Two weeks of chasing Stone Sheep and Mtn Goats in Northern B.C.
It doesn't get much better. I was lucky enough to join Allan Larson of
Indian River Ranch
for an opportunity to experience some country that many dream of just seeing in person. In classic fashion, I didn't ask enough questions ahead of time, so I flew up to Whitehorse, YK expecting a backpack hunt. I can't tell you how many cliff bars I had stuffed in my pack, but I was planning on living off them and hopefully sheep and goat backstraps.
After driving down to Atlin, BC, we started unpacking the truck and I noticed a few cases of Kokanee...Glacier Beer! "Where are these headed?" I asked. "Camp of course", replied Allan's son Clint (
Kispiox Valley Outfitters
Oh man, I was way off. Not only were we going to have a roof over our head some of the time, but ice cold beers. We were off to an amazing start.
The next 40 minutes of flying offered breathe taking views as we left civilization behind. On horse, it was 2.5 full days of riding to reach base camp. We took the quick tour, flying in a Beaver. With me was Bob Nelson, from Louisiana. We had never officially met before, but came to realize that we had spoken on the phone a few times before. Bob has been a customer and ambassador for Sitka from the beginning.
With not a lot of time to waste, Allan had us saddled up and off for "Sheep Camp" quickly after landing. We spent close to 4 hours in the saddle, taking in an incredible sunset as we crossed over a small range of mountains and headed towards much higher grounds.
Right after getting our heads on our pillows, the alarm was ringing, and we were off again. After a quick breakfast of bacon and eggs, we shouldered our packs and began hiking...up. We were going to start BC's opening day on top. It's hard to truly communicate the scale and vastness of the land. Perched on ledges, we glassed bowls and valleys, rock falls, and caves. Sheep would materialize out of the ether it seemed.
Days were long with a lot of vertical covered. Even if we weren't climbing from one range to another, there was always another ledge to climb down and peak over, another wall to scale, or another cave to peak in. Right off the bat we saw a lot of sheep. Many younger rams, and several that we managed to get into bow range, easily. All practice for that mature ram...if our chance would come.
On day three, we sat 54 yards from a mature ram who's curl came full to his base, but not past the bridge of his nose, as regulations call for. My arrow was knocked, he stood broadside, without a clue. Allan poked his head up over the small mound between us to count his rings and make sure that he was at least 8 years old then...the other stipulation in the regs. All I had to do was draw, and stand up. However, another ram had moved 15 yards to the left and had us pegged. The gig was up.
"Don't worry about it, we'll see more."
A few more days passed, and we decided to head back to base camp for supplies and a move. Off to what affectionately became "Ram Camp", another spike camp that was a grueling 6 hours in the saddle, from base camp. Bob and his guide Russell had seen one large ram at sheep camp, and shot a Mountain Goat, but that was it. So, we were both excited to see some new terrain.
After getting there, we set up camp, and then headed up above treeline to glass. Immediately, we spied a goat hiding out in a cave, at the top of the highest mountain. I was a ready for a good stalk, and against Allan's advice, we headed off for the goat. "We really should head around the corner and look for rams" he said. Bob and Russell took his advice. After dropping down from one mountain, crossing a valley, and climbing another mountain, we were close. Very close. Old Billy finally poked his head out, curiously, and we realized there was no way to get to him with a bow. So, with a little help from Mr. Weatherby and Mr. Leupold, I confidently climbed down the adjacent ridge to a small grass ledge and took a seat at 134 yards from the cave.
"If you shoot him there, we're either not going to be able to get him, or there'll be nothing left when he hits the ground", were Allan's last words. My cheek hit the stock, steadied, and the 300 Weatherby Magnum jumped. He dropped like a box of rocks, and didn't hit the ground for several hundred feet. After cartwheeling for another 1000 feet, he came to rest. A little beat up, but not the end of the world. I was pumped.
The best part...Bob and Russell went around the corner as Allan had wanted and found four rams...two shooters.
They ended up covering almost two miles to get the shot, but in the end, Bob got his Stone. It was an evening to celebrate.
That night we ate like kings. Four courses of meat, and then some more for desert. We really couldn't get enough. The next day was spent caping and salting. Allan and I were back on the mountain, looking for my ram now. We covered mile after mile, glassing and glassing. We sat through storms and wind, and in the end, walked away with a great experience.
Although I didn't get a Ram, I made some great friends, and can't wait to go back again.
Congratulations Jonathan! Nice experience, BC it is beautifull! I suppose you are thinking again in when to go back to those mountains.
Nice pics, although they have very low resolution.
Thanks for sharing and good luck the rest of the season.
Pedro Posted At 8/22/2009 05:47 AM
Congrats on a true hunt of a lifetime! Thanks again for the "stress-relieving" pics, nothing like the high country to soothe the soul.
Luke Johnson Posted At 8/21/2009 04:42 PM
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