By Sitka Athlete Tom Foss
Dan Reynolds of Reynolds Outfitting in the Yukon doesn’t take just any bowhunter for a client. In fact, never before had he taken a bow-only hunter.
But sometimes you pull a rabbit out of a hat.
Years ago, I befriended a young guide at Ram Head Outfitters, in the Northwest Territories, named Carson Nutting. It was only destiny that Carson found himself blabbing about some crazy bowhunter from Calgary, yours truly, to a guide named Franklin Ross as they shared a campfire. Franklin often guides for Dan, and despite Dan's record on taking bowhunters, Carson ensured Franklin that I could very well be his first.
A few years later, I ran into Franklin at the Alberta FNAWS
banquet. He walked up behind me as I was admiring a huge life-sized mount on
display. Turned out, Franklin had taken the magnificent ram himself. We
hit it off, and it took Frank four years to talk Dan into letting me bowhunt
for sheep in his northern Yukon concession.
Outfitter Dan Reynolds gassing up his bush plane.
Guide Franklin Ross.
The plane landed in Whitehorse, and soon I was humming down the Dempster highway in a beat-up KIA rental car toward Dawson City. I turned a few heads, but it was a beautiful ride.
In Dawson City, a friendly young lady at the tourist information booth was able to track down where my outfitter was staying. I had left the hotel reservations to another hunter who was flying in at the same time, but he got delayed, so I had no idea where we were staying or how to contact Dan. As I was trying to talk the clerk into giving me the last room at the Eldorado, I heard a voice from behind. It was Dan and his lovely wife Andria. They were in town to pick up hunters, so we made plans to meet up and head out in the morning.
The other hunter finally made it and we were off in Dan’s Cessna 185 to base camp at Sheep Mountain. Franklin shared the stories of 11- and 13-year-old rams he guided already this season, and he was chomping at the bit to get back out hunting.
Already this summer I had taken a Tule Elk and a Boone and Crocket Blacktail, and my son Adam took a BC Stone sheep with his brother, Cam, guiding. The Foss family was a hot streak, which I hoped to keep going.
Dan and Frank know these sheep, and they felt confident that a big old ram was still holed up near a camp they called Crosswinds. It was a relaxing day as we set up our tents and glassed for sheep. Again, Franklin came through when he found three rams. Was ours with them? It took some close inspection, but Frank confirmed that he was at least 12 years old. This was our ram.
The two-thousand-foot gain in altitude seemed easier and more urgent as we were actually hunting sheep instead of just going on a sheep hike. Two hours to the top and then another two sneaking and poking down through the jumble produced the rams we sought. There were times when I had to move the plate-like shale out of the way to keep my footsteps quiet as we moved down the mountain. I knew another smaller ram was somewhere on the face, but I hoped he would not spook and take the big one with him.
Best of all, the Foss train is still rolling.