They had no way of knowing the role they would play in the population of their species throughout the region, but those first sheep, along with the ranchers and eventually hunters who helped facilitate them, set the groundwork for what would later become a thriving business for landowners and hunting guides in West Texas. There’s a lot going on in that 8×12 oak frame.
The melodic thrum of the Cessna 206 filled the cockpit as the small gravel runway shrunk below us. Leaving the quiet community of Toad River, British Columbia behind us, we steadily climbed in elevation over the jagged peaks of the Northern Rocky Mountains. Our aerial path loosely tracing one of the many rivers, branching and braided in vein-like networks, deep into the heart of the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area.
On December 1st, 2018, at 14:00 hours, we arrived in Sonora, Mexico. My great friends, Wesley Sharpe, and Brad Fiege accompanied me to witness my Desert Bighorn Sheep hunt. Wesley said it was like having a friend in the Olympics — you just had to go watch not knowing if it would ever happen again. I was very happy to have them with me to share in this incredible journey and memory.
In September of 2016, I went on my first hunting trip to northeast BC in search of moose and elk. As a lifelong BC resident and hunter, I have no valid explanation as to why it took me that long to venture North. Nevertheless, the story unfolded as it has for so many before me, I fell in love. A deeply primal feeling was ignited in me on that trip and I yearned to be back in the wild the moment I had left it. I returned the following year to a nearby area in search of sheep. The flame burned hotter still. I made plans for this year to see yet another far-off corner of the province, the Cassiar Mountains.
The view was breathtakingly beautiful as the stunted trees finally gave way to meadows and rocks, but what I remember even more vividly from my first moments in the alpine was the smell. It was some glorious mixture of spruce and pine with various mountain flowers, I wish I could have bottled it up to bring home to Mom. To this day I can still close my eyes, inhale and bring myself right back to that moment almost twenty years ago. It is just one of the many reasons I keep coming back. Earlier in the year, my Dad bought four old horses from the local outfitter and my brother Carl and I were beyond excited to learn as much as we could in the month leading up to our first hunt with them; mule deer and mountain goat in the spectacular Chilcotin region of British Columbia.
As humans have expanded our reach across the North American continent, areas of raw-untouched natural beauty exist in dwindling numbers. Of the truly wild places left on this continent, those that weren’t carved out for National Parks have remained in their natural state only because of their ruggedness, remoteness, and lack of access. Few places embody these characteristics more than the North Coast of British Columbia. Towering glaciated peaks, rivers lines by sheer rock walls, valleys enveloped in thick fog and giant salt sprayed timber. Regardless of where your interests lie, if you partake in some form of outdoor recreation, British Columbia’s Coast is likely on your radar.
I sit idly, and thankfully restful in the Christchurch airport before a long flight home having visited, and hunted, New Zealand for the first time. This trip came together after winning the hunt of a lifetime with Joseph Peter of Hard Yards Hunting, through a subscription contest The Journal of Mountain Hunting held. My good friend, Erik Mitchell, joined me and Joseph gladly accommodated our request to hunt red stag during the roar. We would later learn that the roar is often slightly embellished through dramatic hunt reenactments shown on television, with farm-raised stag playing the part of a wild stag.
I’ve always felt a deep connection with mountain hunting; you may even call it a love. The mountains provide the perfect environment for the adventurous hunter, as some of the most incredible big game species call them home. Few places embody the spirit of mountain hunting like that of the Tian Shan Mountains of Central Asia.
I’ve made the trip up the James Dalton Highway, The Haul Road, a half dozen times and will certainly do so at least that many more before I ever leave Alaska. Each Haul Road venture usually has a different objective in mind as I attempt to learn every angle of hunting along its path.