For many of us hunting is a year-round endeavor; planning, scouting, training, and finally the opening day is upon us. February of 2016 began no different for me, as I started training for the upcoming season. Hauling a fifty-pound bag of sand in my pack up the local “bitch hill” a few times a week, is my training of choice for upcoming backpack hunts.
Having explored most of the mountains near our homes, my hunting partner and I were ready for the challenge of unfamiliar terrain. Pictures and online videos of huge bucks — for Sitka Blacktails at least — from alpine hunts in the southeast sent to us by friends had been in the back of our minds for far too long.
On March 13th, 2018, the Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) was notified by Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) officials that Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (commonly referred to as M.ovi) has been documented in at least 4 Dall’s sheep and 2 mountain goats in Alaska.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. When I checked the results in May of 2017 and realized that I had drawn a once-in-a-lifetime mountain goat tag, it felt too good to be true. I had always dreamed of drawing the coveted tag, but never expected it to happen at the young age of twenty-six.
How does a bowhunter respond when his dream animal has pinned him down, and is staring through his soul from twenty-two yards away? Slowly, the animal — uncertain of what he saw move — circles around the hunter’s crouched position.
To classify all hunters with one broad stroke of a brush would be akin to using the term “mammal” as a descriptor for every ungulate in British Columbia. Certainly this term is not incorrect; it simply lacks the appropriate nuance. Unsurprisingly, the majority of my friends are hunters, though some of them couldn’t be further apart in their views.
As any seasoned hunter knows, the preparation for a mountain hunt starts early. Planning for an Alaskan Dall sheep hunt is certainly no exception. This was our third Dall sheep hunt in Alaska, but it seemed different this time. Not only would this trip be just my brother, Kenton, and I, but our common goal was for me to get my first sheep.
“Don’t drown him; Mom will be pissed.” The backpack straps dug deep into my shoulders and the black flies flew like kamikaze pilots into my eyes and ears. It was all I could keep telling myself as my younger brother followed me out on his first backcountry hunt.
Located within the Central Cariboo Region of British Columbia, Canada, at the confluence of the Chilcotin and Fraser Rivers, the Junction Sheep Range Provincial Park (Junction Park) consists of a diverse landscape, rolling grasslands, river valleys, forests, cliffs and hoodoos.