Sheep hunt with no sheep, but caribou!

cooperjd

WKR
Joined
Dec 30, 2016
Messages
472
Location
Mount Pleasant, SC
My Dad booked a sheep hunt with Joey Klutsch, and I went along as his packer, but Joey graciously allowed me to shoot stuff on a trophy fee basis.

Dad and I hunted the northern Brooks range; flying from Fairbanks, AK via a tiny cessna for a couple hours to the gravel strip along the river valley.

A very large number of residents had flown in as well and covered the outfitters main area. This was a big problem... normally the outfitter deals with 2-3 resident hunters a year, there were 11-13 in there this time. They did kill 7 rams out of the 'honey hole'.

The outfitter/guides flew in a couple days before we did and scrambled to find some sheep before we arrived. Dad and I had 2 guides, and the outfitter guided another hunter himself. One of the guides found a legal ram, an old double-broomer about 6 miles from "main camp" set up at the airstrip. Me, Dad, and the 2 guides packed 6 days worth of food and headed northwest to find this ram. Long story short, we camped on him for several days waiting for him to get to a shootable place on the mountain that Dad could climb, and he never did. I didn't want to separate from him and hunt on my own, I wanted him to get his ram first. In hindsight, I should've gone after this one and had Dad go find a different drainage to look for more sheep. I am 90% confident I could've killed him on day 2 or 3 of the hunt, but hindsight is always 20/20. On the way out of the drainage, we went up and over a pass to shave some miles, and when we approached the main river valley a small herd of caribou passed under is in rifle range. Dad picked out the biggest and got a nice bull.

We camped near that bull after quartering and moving the meat from the carcass, and took him the remaining 4 miles back to "main camp" the next morning. We re-supplied, and went a couple miles south to set up a new camp on the main river, and glass up in the honey hole for any remaining legal rams. At this point the residents had cleared out and it was day 6 or 7 of our hunt.

While at main camp re-supplying, a muskox walked within 20 yards of us, which was freaking awesome!

We saw a TON of sheep from the second camp. At one point I counted 70 visible sheep all around us. We did see a couple of rams that were borderline, but too difficult to make the legality call on. They didnt' want to hike dad up the mountain on something they didnt know was legal, just to have him not shoot it and burn all his energy. Again, I probably shouldl've gone up on one of them just to at least see, if it wasn't legal, no big deal for me.

We saw a big group of caribou on top of one of the mountains a couple days in a row, and I decided that if they were there on the last full morning, I wanted to split up and go get one with one of the guides. At this point finding one legal ram was gonna be difficult, finding 2, impossible. I wanted to punch at least one tag, so Chris (guide) and I took off the last morning at 930 climbing up the mountain after these 'bou. There were 5 or 6 shooters in the herd, with 2 real studs as standouts. 15 hours later we rolled into camp with my bull just after midnight. We got near the top of the mountain and got pinned down by the herd, as they were at the top of the peak and could see us. We crawled around to get the best position possible, and waited them out for 5 or 6 hours until they started feeding in the evening.

Finally after changing positions a few times, then a last ditch 100 yard crawl/scoot, I got a clear shot at one of the big ones. I dumped him at 217 yards.

Took pics, quartered him, split the bounty in half, and took his big ass down the mountain 4 miles back to main camp.

never did find another legal sheep unfortunately. Dad wore 2 giant blisters on his heels, even though he put over 200 miles on his boots this year prepping for the hunt. The super uneven tundra sponge/rock did a number on him and he should really have gotten 1/2 size smaller boots. This really impaired his mobility. The other hunter was 49, in good shape, and got a grizzly on day 2 of the hunt, and a nice sheep on day 6ish. They got his sheep 14 miles from base camp.

The outcome wasn't exactly as we had dreamed of, but damn it was a great hunt. I set the outfitter's record for caribou elevation. We were watching a young ram way, way below us while waiting for the caribou to move. We brought him down a mile before we ran into the band of lambs/ewes. I earned that bastard. The river valley was right at 2,400', and i killed the bull at 4,860'. Most of his hunters don't climb above the sheep to kill a caribou, but we didnt see any more in the river valley.

we saw a couple sows with cubs, so no shots on grizz.

IDK how, but I need to get back up there. I need a sheep, and I need to spend more time in AK. That was a place where we truly felt that very few humans had ever seen, especially once we got off the river valley and up and over some mountain passes. You felt very very remote. It was simply breathtaking.

Technical details: Dad shot his at 250 yards with a 7RUM and 175gr ABLRs. They performed well, though he prefers a better exit hole.
I used my 7RM with 160gr ABs loaded just over 3,000 fps. My bou was 217 yards slightly quartered to. I hit him forward in the shoulder and exited in the crease. He took one step and folded over.
 

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Last edited:

sniper61

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Apr 20, 2016
Messages
192
Thanks for sharing with us all. 1st trip was bou ,and fell in love with AK..
Packing for trip 7 now.
 

mcseal2

WKR
Joined
May 8, 2014
Messages
2,667
I also fell in love with Alaska. Packing for trip 2 though, you have me beat by a few!
 

alaska_bou

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Aug 9, 2020
Messages
225
Great story, great caribou. Did the outfitter give you and your father an offer to return for another chance at a sheep? Some do, some don't. Just curious.
 
OP
cooperjd

cooperjd

WKR
Joined
Dec 30, 2016
Messages
472
Location
Mount Pleasant, SC
Great story, great caribou. Did the outfitter give you and your father an offer to return for another chance at a sheep? Some do, some don't. Just curious.
There's always an offer to come back if you break out the checkbook ;)

We did have a chance at a legal ram, he was just in a bad spot for Dad. In hindsight, I should've gone after him on day 2 and let Dad go find another ram in a more hospitable mountain. I think the results would've been different, but that is hindsight thinking. I will be saving as aggressively as possible over the next several years to go back after another one. But I also want to do other hunts with Dad in the meantime, he is 67 and we only have so many years and adventure hunts left together, so we need to make the most of them.
 

Voyageur

WKR
Joined
Feb 12, 2020
Messages
1,009
I also want to do other hunts with Dad in the meantime, he is 67 and we only have so many years and adventure hunts left together, so we need to make the most of them.
Good job of prioritizing. You will never regret prioritizing hunts in order to spend time hunting with your dad.
 
OP
cooperjd

cooperjd

WKR
Joined
Dec 30, 2016
Messages
472
Location
Mount Pleasant, SC
Good job of prioritizing. You will never regret prioritizing hunts in order to spend time hunting with your dad.
(y)
We have been very fortunate to have some pretty great adventures over the past several years. This one tops the list as far as just going for an absolute dream hunt/adventure. With a wife, mortgage, and a 2 year old it's a bit more difficult for me to save up and get away than when i was single. But, we do as much as we can together. I have come to the conclusion that I will just borrow money if I need to, I'd rather work a few years longer before retiring if i have to in order to have these adventures now. I just hope my boy has the hunter's instinct and passion that Dad and I do. I can't wait to do a 3 generation deer hunt.
 
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