I have been on several different sheep hunting adventures before, most every journey had at lease one butt puckering moment. Dall Sheep hunting is extremely dangerous, mostly due to the fact of the steep terrain and unknown ascents or descents. While climbing up a mountain maybe easy, climbing down maybe be the most difficult or dangerous part.
The climb down the mountain is dangerous as you may have hiked to an area that is almost impossible to climb back down. This situation of unknown mountain territory proved to be almost fatal for my brother and I. We were deep in the Brookes Range and hundreds of miles from anykind of help and found ourselves stranded. After hiking the ridges of brutal mountains all day, Auggie and I decided we needed to climb to a different mountain vantage point. Instead of hiking back 3 miles to climb down the same location we crawled up, we decided (not so wisely) to climb down the nearest safest decent we could find. We started the unknown climb down the mountain in a promising location, after three consecutive 50 foot cliffs, we knew there was no turning back. We found ourselves like Sylvester Stallone in a bad scene from the movie the Cliff Hanger. Danger at that point was at a critical level and we both knew we were in a serious situation. We opted to not call (from our sat phone) a rescue helicopter to retrieve us from our debacle. We put our own lives in eachothers hands and decided we need to use our safety rope to lower ourselves from cliff edge to cliff edge. We ended up running out of climbers rope and had to tie our hunting packs to our jackets and pants, lowering our gear in incraments. After about 2 never ending hours of torturous descent, one of our packs came loose from our Gore-tex jacket knot tied to the pack. The pack completed a 3000 foot descent in almost 5-10 seconds, a brutal reminder that death was very evident.
“Oh well, one less pack to carry down to the bottom of a mountain” ahah We laugh in the face of danger, mostly in part because of relief that that pack was not one of us. A very sobering reality that life could be a short run way. With less weight and less worry, we made it to the bottom of the mountain. Many prayers, and Hail Mary’s, maybe a tear or too. Upon examining the now empty pack and picking up the litter that was tossed from the pack, we found several major broken items. Firstly, the contents of this pack explain my brother August in a nut shell. Upon the obvious broken 3-12x Leupold scope and a 350 Remington Magnum rifle deemed broken, we also found auggies broken binoculars. I had a back up rifle so we were ok in that regards… I also found several intersting items that one should never take on a Dall Sheep hunt. Auggie is a unique indivudal and sees food slightly differently than a normal human being. Since Auggie knew that we would be killing a sheep he decided he would pack a four pack of butter, a 1/2 gallon of condensed milk, an onion, and two ornges (not to mention two PB&J sandwhiches). On the contrary to having an ultra light weight pack, easier for hiking up large mountains, Auggie would bring all the treats from home his pack could fit…. Not a good idea. His exploded pack had a 1/2 of milk, smashed up butter sticks, eloctrolyte powder, and freeze dried food, all mixed into a concoction surely to bring a bear out of hibernation. Auggie became a moving scent stream, the equivalent to a bear hot-pocket..
We were happy to have our lives and another shot at harvesting a Dall Sheep, we left our location of “Death Valley” with new energy. We ended up not killing a sheep that trip, however we learned a very valuable lesson of respect for the mountains and trust in eachother. We couldn’t have been happier to snap this picture. Relieved to have our lives.
Anyone else out there had a similar hunting situation while in the mountains?