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Sitka in the Khalarhi
Black and White
Athlete Insider: Donnie Vincent
Quest for the "Four:" Part I
Author: Sitka Ambassador Adam Foss
Mar 30, 2012
Editor's Note: In the next two weeks, Sitka Ambassador Adam Foss could become the youngest person to take all four species of North American Wild Sheep with a bow. Of course, it's hunting, so there's no guarantees. On Monday, April 2, Adam leaves for Carmen Island, Mexico, with his brother Cam and his Dad, Sitka Athlete Tom Foss. All of them have tags for Desert Sheep, and Sitka Athlete Mark Seacat will go along to document the experience.
Part I is the account of his first sheep harvest, an Alberta Bighorn, accomplished at the age of 18.
Still to come: accounts of his successful hunts for Dall's and Stone's Sheep. Stay tuned to the
Sitka Facebook Page
for updates on the Foss' Desert Sheep hunt.
Every muscle in my crouched body contracted as I tried to resemble the stoic evergreen saplings around me. At 32 yards, the closest ram halted his insatiable feeding and glared at my outline — he sensed an imposter. My clammy left hand clenched the grip of the bow, while the right instinctively clipped release to string. Our eyes met for an intense moment. And then he'd seen enough. The ram bounded out of range, and 13 others followed suit.
The sun was dipping below a ridge as I watched the band climb a rockslide with ease. The hair on the back of my neck stood straight. My mouth was dry. Heart pounding. At the age of 18, it was safe to say I’d become addicted to sheep hunting for life.
I hiked the short mile back to camp in the quiet of dusk. In mid-September, winter was just around the corner in the Alberta Rockies. I sat alone in my tent and reflected on the day's events, grinning. I couldn’t wait to share the experience with my Dad and brother: finally getting to within bow range of a ram. I felt a sliver of confidence grow inside me.
But the morning brought a sheep hunter’s worst adversary, thick fog. I tried to find a window in the rain and sleet, though my efforts proved futile. Drenched and ill-prepared for the conditions, I put on every piece of clothing I had and trudged the five hours back to the trailhead.
When the weather broke, I was determined to make another attempt – though this time I needed to tilt the odds. I invited my Dad, a bighorn bowhunter of 25 years, to come along. Under his guidance, I knew we had a chance, or, more than likely, have a pile of fun trying!
The weather report was accurate, predicting two days of heavy snowfall that made traveling deep into the mountains a difficult task. But the unwavering memory of my last encounter, coupled with Dad’s presence, pushed us through the knee-deep snow. Every step put us that much closer to the excitement that lay before us.
The thick evergreen trees gave way to Volgswagen-sized boulders, and again to loose shale. As we passed every distinctive curve in the path, I thought of my first backpack hunting experience. Dad had brought me to this very spot five years before. I remembered the feeling of a new, deep soreness in my legs, the sweet smell of alpine air, and the taste of my first dehydrated meal.
We steadily gained altitude, and the snow grew increasingly deep. It was early evening by the time we made it to my creekside camping spot.
“You sure this is it?” asked Dad.
“Pretty sure,” I said, a touch of doubt in my voice.
I paced around the small clearing trying to hide my panic. And then, thankfully, I noticed a patch of light green poking through the snow. The weight of wet, September snow had been too much for the tent poles. Dad patiently crafted a duct-tape solution to keep my rookie mistake from compromising our hunt.
Under fading light, we crept around the cliff band to our glassing knob. Dad punched through the crusty snow ahead, and I caught movement directly across the steep valley. I reached out and grabbed him by his belt.
“Rams!” I hissed.
Less than 120 yards away, the band of 14 I’d left three days ago fed eagerly on a steep grassy slope that held less snow than their high-mountain hangouts.
We quietly pulled out the spotting scope, did our best to melt into the rock around us, and assessed the situation.
“He’s legal,” Dad whispered, manipulating the focus dial. A pause.
“So is that one…”
With shooting light fading quick and the unspooked sheep feeding away, we retreated cautiously into the shadows of the spruce forest.
We laid quietly in our sleeping bags, and it felt like we were among the sheep.
Morning came and the stalk was on. We crossed the creek to the other side of the valley, and climbed the slope, heading towards the sheep's last location. Methodically glassing the hillside and adjacent cliffs, we could feel their presence.
Coming to a clearing, Dad’s instincts told us to sit down and wait. The rams would soon be up feeding, and we had to spot them before they spotted us. We hunkered down in the wet snow and waited attentively. As if by magic, three sub-legal rams appeared, feeding our way.
One by one, more rams filed across the hillside from right to left. There were eight, no nine, now visible. Dad punched the rangefinder on the main sheep trail stamped in the snow. 62 yards. With the steep upward angle, a 50-yard shot.
We huddled behind a large tree, and I tried to steady my nerves. As if knowing my intentions, a ram we recognized from the night before made a beeline along the trail.
He stopped on a rock outcropping, sky-lined as though he were a cutout tacked on a bright blue canvas.
I drew my bow and coaxed the 50-yard pin to settle behind the ram’s shoulder. My Dad watched through his binoculars as the arrow disappeared into a coat of brown. The ram hobbled off and bedded, not 30 yards away. Seconds later, he put his head down for the last time.
We embraced, feeling lucky to share another amazing moment together in the outdoors. I think having my Dad there meant as much to him as it did to me.
Great story and memories, Adam! Congrats on a great Ram! I have experienced the moment when you become addicted to sheep hunting and although it's HARD work, it's all worth it! Congrats on an incredible Ram!
Josh Zedek- Money has nothing to do with Adam's success on this hunt. It's a hardcore hunt for a hardcore hunter with nothing shy of pure determination. I have hunted the same mountains as Adam and it's only $50 for a resident sheep tag there. This hunt is available for any resident with an over the counter tag. Don't be too quick to judge, especially when you don't know the person or situation you are judging.
Craig Temple Posted At 1/25/2013 10:56 AM
Awesome story and great determination,great job and keep the dream alive.
Darin Green Posted At 5/02/2012 02:46 PM
It is obvious that you have no idea what you are talking about and are just speculating. Adam hunts as hard and in most cases harder than most guys and he has worked for his critters. Adam took both his Bighorn and Stone on DIY hunts. I can attest to how rough the weather was when he shot his bighorn, I was out in the hills that week as well and he earned that ram. As far as you saying he has had the "opportunities presented to him"...its more like he has made the most of opportunities even when the odds were stacked against him in some cases.
Its to bad you had to post a negative comment about someone/something you have no idea about, jealousy is an ugly thing! Posting negatively about someones accomplishments only shows you in a negative light!
The Foss Family have done more for bowhunting than 99% of the other hunters out there and anyone who knows them will attest to that.
Anyone can do what Adam or his family have done...all it requires is a positive attitude and HARD WORK, which most people lack. Not sure if you know this but...Money doesn't grow on trees!!!
Mike P Posted At 4/09/2012 11:21 AM
This is not a story or accomplishment based on hunting ability near as much as it is a young man fortunate to have money and opportunity presented to him.
Josh Zedek Posted At 4/04/2012 02:21 PM
Thanks. Enjoyed the story.
Ken Posted At 4/03/2012 05:58 AM
Well told and looking forward to the rest of a great adventure.
May the wind be in your face and the sun at your Back !
John Wambach Posted At 4/02/2012 11:42 PM
Great well-told story.
Marvin Head Posted At 4/02/2012 10:08 AM
What a memory! Nothing short of inspirational and I hope that we soon will be hearing, seeing and reading about the youngest Grand Slammer...all chronicled by Mr. Seacat. That will be amazing to achieve that with your dad, your brother and a great friend...oh, and boss! Good Luck Adam!
Chad Bell Posted At 3/31/2012 10:41 AM
Good write up Adam...can't wait to see how you guys make out next week...pick a spot and shoot straight :)
mike p Posted At 3/30/2012 05:19 PM
Good read! Good luck on your trip Adam.
Chris Harrell Posted At 3/30/2012 05:11 PM
Danny Posted At 3/30/2012 03:55 PM
Awesome story Adam. You guys inspire me. I hope to be hunting sheep sooner than later. Keep up the good work!
Dale Pearson Posted At 3/30/2012 03:55 PM
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