Few people spend more time in Sitka Gear than Athlete Dustin Roe. As the owner of Back Country BC and Beyond, Dustin has guided his clients to over 20 species, his specialty being wild sheep. He lives in his Sitka Gear for 200 days a year, while he helps his clients achieve their dreams. We've kicked off the New Year by looking back at another banner Dustin Row season. From World Records to Grand Slams, if 2013 is anything like 2012 we can't wait to see what's in store for Dustin. Enjoy!
Happy New Year from the Sitka Team
It began with a very close friend and repeat client, Matt Comment, VA. Matt and I traveled to Northern BC in search of Stone Sheep. We flew in to a remote strip and were dropped off for 10 days. The first few days were filled with rain and almost no visibility or trails.
On day 3 we spotted some sheep on the next range and decided to go for it. 15 hours of hiking and one wet night put us on the same mountain as our hopeful prey. Sheep were spotted but the rams we were after were not to be seen.
Day five was the day. Right off the bat we found a shooter but wanted to find the rams we spotted from six miles away so we kept him in our back pocket and searched on. Matt and I knew they were close and then, there they were. Matt spotted one ram bedded in the cliffs which turned into five. The one ram we wanted.
After a slow and deliberate stalk, Matt , Sitka and Myself were laying prone on 5 bedded rams at 147 yards. The low slung ram slept with nothing on his mind in the sunny August day as the other smaller rams carefully tried to watch for intruders. Time seemed to move slow and Matt was ready for the moment he stood. A chipmunk was our friend on this day, he ran right past our Sheep and enticed him to stand up and stretch.
One well placed Shot and Matt became an official sheep hunter.
We decided to try and hike back to the strip a different way then our trip in, this turned out to be one of the hardest hikes of my hunting career. 14 hours with a 120lb pack on the first hunt of the year wasn't what I was hoping for but I guess you can do anything with a big sheep on your back!
It was a great hunt and another memory I'll never forget.
After the Stone hunt in Northern BC, I was headed to Montana to participate in the Montana Governors Tag hunt with another good friend and client, Jim Hens of New York. He purchased the auction tag at the Wild Sheep Convention and asked me to come help him. Jim put together a awesome team of guides and helpers to hopefully harvest a Montana Monster. Willie Hettinger, (one of the best sheep guides I have had the pleasure of hunting with) and I spent a few days in search of the target rams or if by chance a new true legend of the Breaks. So have it we didn't find either of the target rams during our miles of hiking and hours of glassing but we did find a few other sheep that were truly amazing to see. They just weren't the ones we wanted. On the second day of hunting Willie, our friend Chris and I found the ram Willie had named FLARE not 120 yards from us and 500 yards from where we started looking that morning. We froze and didn't move until we were able to sneak out unseen. That night I don't think anyone got any sleep at all but 5:00 AM came quick. The plan was to get in the area before light and pick him up while feeding, watch him bed and hope he did in a spot allowing us to get close for a bow shot. As luck would have it we were able to find him feeding on the top of the canyon at first light.
Let me tell you, it was exciting! We all devised a plan. The plan was to watch the monarch and hope he stayed put until the morning wind became steady and in one direction. At 10:00 after hours of painfully waiting, we were off and nothing but this ram was on out minds. Tyler Johnerson with the camera, Jim and I wrapped around the top of the ridge and snuck our way closer and closer as the rest of our party watched and continually gave us the universal "Bedded" signal so we knew he hadn't moved. We crept within 22 yards of the bedded ram but were not able see him until he stood up. As he stood he knew something was up and took off before we could shoot. Things happened so fast there wasn't time for disappointment. Jim quickly drew his bow and I hit the range as he stopped for a second at 60 yards. Before the arrow was sent, off he went again. Jim still at full draw and Tyler's quick sheep 'Bahhhhh' the ram gave us one... last... chance. Jim touched off and the arrow flew like a missile and hit its mark. Words cannot describe the feelings we each had. The ram took off down the mountain side and wrapped the corner heading down the draw. We dashed across the top and picked him up just below us. We froze not to let him see us and watched as he started to stagger. The Giant tipped over and mayhem broke loose.
I have been fortunate enough to be part of quite a few great sheep hunts but the last two with Jim are going to be hard to beat and this one I'm certain will be the biggest sheep I'll ever be on. Jim's Montana Bighorn scores 202 2/8 gross and net 200 1/8 official P&Y making him the largest North American sheep ever killed with Bow and Arrow and is the New Archery World Record.
Jim Hens is a true hunter and is a pleasure to hunt with. Killing three world record sheep and two in 11 months is something that will never happen again. My guess is that both Jim's Stone (179 1/8) and his Bighorn (200 1/8) will stand for a long, long time.
If you get a chance to watch the video of this hunt, you will want to. It is truly amazing!
I just wanted to add something quick about the Montana hunt and this tag. The Montana Governors Tag is an auction tag awarded to the highest bidder at the Wildsheep Foundation Convention. The hunt is given by the Montana Fish and Game to raise money for the sheep in Montana and create opportunity for other hunters. It has raised money to put many sheep on the ground and helped Montana to become one of the best places on earth to hunt Bighorn Sheep. The tag from this hunt is just that "a tag" It does not give any advantage over anyone of the other 25 hunters that drew this same tag in Montana's draw system. All it is, is a tag allowing the hunter the opportunity to hunt Montana.
After an exciting Montana trip I was headed back to Northern BC, this time to the North West with another friend and client
Derek Blake from Alaska. Derek and I met at a trade show in Reno NV and have since become good friends. This hunt would take place with one of my partners Blake Williams of Golden Bear Outfitters. The three of us would pack for 5 days and be dropped off in search of a Stone Ram.
The first day of hunting we were able to find some rams way off in the distance but to far for us to go that day so we decided to set up camp. Just as we dropped our packs Blake spotted one rams about 1500 yards away then disappeared over the ridge. We decided we better run over there and have a look what else was with him. When we got there the one turned into two and a beauty of a ram at that. We were loosing light fast and a long debate on whether or not to take him on day one was finished by Derek letting us know this ram was his ram. We snuck within 300 yards and set up. 300 yards "a chip shot" with my Gunwerks that he was shooting. I rolled the camera and after an awesome display of dominance, a stone sheep showdown, Derek put one perfectly place shot and dropped him in his tracks.
In the mist of the mad dash we had left our knives in our packs so we had to leave him until morning on the large snow patch. The next day we took some incredible pictures and packed the sheep out to our pick up point.
Sometimes its that easy and Ill take them when I get them.
After the short hunt at Golden Bear, Derek and I decided to keep hunting. We headed into a patch that I had hunted in back in 2006, many sheep were seen with about 35 rams but nothing I wanted to shoot. We passed on 6 legal rams throughout our 38 mile trek. It was alot of fun spending the time with a good friend hunting, without the pressure. Derek flew home on the hunt change day from Golden Bear and I met my best friend Kent who was now finished his hunt, guiding with GBO. We decided to hunt for the next week for Stones as well. Kent and I headed north and were hiking the next day just in time to meet the first sign of winter. Snow, snow and more snow. The backpacking in a foot of snow began to make us question our sanity but we pressed on. When we reached the top the snow was deeper and we were struggling to find any sign of sheep until day three. Day three we spotted a bunch of ewes and one small group of Rams but still nothing worth shooting. We decide that this trip just wasn't what fun was all about. Frozen boots, frozen water, frozen everything. No client, I'M OUT!