Stone Sheep: Inspiration

Camera, camping, DIY hunting, game processing, hunting, Hunting Culture, meat, public land, Survival, Uncategorized, Videographer

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We are always looking for great hunting stories and individuals to contribute to the Mission Alaska inspirational cause.   Well Mission Alaskan’s… I have found a story and a person who has inspired me to harvest a stone sheep.  Recently I was at Sean Lingl’s hunting operation on Vancouver Island filming a black bear hunt for 9x UFC champion Matt Hughes, while on this hunt I met some very skilled hunters and had the time of my life. Sean has several guides that work almost year round hunting the gigantic animals that roam this island in British Columbia, these guides I would argue are some of the most talented and professional individuals in the outdoor industry.  As for Sean,  It was such an honor to be hunting with the Dallas Safari Clubs “Outfitter of the Year” truly a grade A+ experience and just an awesome guy.   Not to mention that Sean lead us to a monstrous black bear that stretched the tape and the scales, and made awesome outdoor tv  for Uncaged with Matt Hughes on the Sportsman Channel.  Sean has surrounded himself with an impressive A-team of guides that have some great pictures and stories of successful hunts over the years.   Nathan French, the youngest of the guides has some fantastic hunting stories, some of the stories are with his clients and the others are of his personal adventures.

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Here at Mission Alaska our message is all about unguided, uncharted, untamed self made experiences.   We encourage hunters to get out and hunt as often as possible, testing themselves against nature and finding new areas to hunt.  Guides in certain situations are the only way to harvest certain species of animals, and one day I will need a guide to harvest my stone sheep… One man I will call on in the future is Nathan French, first of all he is a talented guide(phenomenal sheep guide), a great writer, and a developing videographer.  Nathan captures his clients hunts on film, and manages to squeeze in only a few days to personally hunt himself and test the boundaries of his limits.   After his guide season he manages to sneak back into the wilderness to fulfill his personal hunting goals, the hunt that follows is an epic one…

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STONE SHEEP:  Gray Ghosts with Golden Horns

By: Nathan French

After finishing a great guiding season with Ram Head Outfitter Ltd. It was time to drive out of the bush with my good friend and fellow guide Johnny Nikirk and head for our next hunting adventure.  A trip Johnny had planned months previous, and so kindly ask me to join. We met two buddies (Omar and Garrick) at Watson Lake and then drove down to Dease Lake where we flew in to a remote lake in northern BC to hunt stones for two weeks.

Next morning we all packed up are gear, got are eyes set on big rams and fun adventures.  On my back was six days worth of food, optics, tent, sleeping bag and pad, and miscellaneous gear.    Johnny and I parted ways to cover more ground.  Omar and I went south, Johnny and Garrick North.   We were carrying satellite phones to keep in touch every other night to relay the day’s adventures. 
Day 2 rolled around and we had spotted several rams already and lots of ewes.  Already 8 miles back from the lake, we continued to push further.  The wind from the minute we started was brutal.  Didn’t matter which way you faced, it was in your face!!!!  and strong!!  We found out later, winds were measured at 60mph! 
Later into day 2 we summited a high plateau and within minutes of glassing, we spotted two sheep far across the valley. With a closer look a 3rd sheep was spotted and right away I knew he deserved an even closer look.   The wind was howling and not making it easy to glass; I was huddled under a cliff just to keep the spotter steady.
After I made the decision to get closer , I was off like the wind.  Covering meters by the second.  I dropped 2500 feet within several minutes and dropped off my whole camp at the bottom by a creek.  We charged up the mountain with the camera rolling; Omar did one wicked job behind the handycam.
A long 2500ft ascent didn’t take long, I had one thing on my mind, and I was determined to get on this ram and nothing was going to stop me.   Peaking over the edge in hopes to be above the ram, there he was 300yards away, feeding away happily.  Without a doubt this ram was a shooter.

With a perfect steady rest I took my time and waited patiently for about 15 minutes for the shot and when it was presented the rest became history.  Ram didn’t go more than 50 yards before expiring and then came the celebration !  BIG RAM DOWN!!
I was like the happiest guy ever. Couldn’t believe it.  running up and down the mountain, hands on my head!  There may have been a couple cartwheels?   without hesitation it was time to go look at what I had just accomplished.
Walking over to the ram he continued to grow.    A beautiful 11 1/2 yr old ram broomed heavy 38X36.5 with 14 6/8 bases! More than I could have ever dreamt was laying there in my hands.   Speechless, and no one could wipe the smile off my face.  

After video and pictures we skinned and butchered the ram and made are way back to the gear left by the creek.   Midnight rolled around and we made er back.   Without wiping the smile of my face, we unloaded the sheep and started making camp.   Then came eating tenderloins from our days success and then followed several calls out on the sat phone to close friends.  Not realizing it was past midnight, I woke my boss, parents and close friends with shouts of excitement.
Next day we headed back for the lake. A steep brutal climb up and over several mountains, 11 miles total and after a full day of grinding camp and the ram on my back, we made it !!  Heavy load, long day.   Yet so rewarding.  There’s no better feeling than laying exhausted and looking at your pack with a ram on it.   I think we had a little camp celebration and waited to hear from the boys on their outings! 

I can’t thank the boys I hunted with enough!  Johnny, Omar and Garrick, this ram was made possible because of you!!  Thank you again!  I cant wait for this years outing!!I hope everyone gets to experience a hunt like this.  I was blessed to take such a beautiful ram, but the reason I hunt and live for it, is the experiences made with great friends and Gods beautiful creation.Get out there friends and give it your all!Peace!

 

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-Nathan French

 

Thanks for the article Nathan:  More videos and stories to come in the near future.  -Mission Alaska

New Age Thrill Seeker

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Ever since my father took me trout fishing in a local stream after my first day as a kindergartner at Pioneer Peak Elementry School, I was hooked for life.  I had recieved a new telescopic (totally BA) trout fishing rod set up and I could not wait to test my new implements of attack upon the majestic rainbow trout.  My dad picked me up after school and we headed to Wasilla Creek. It wasn’t too long before we found ourselves 50 yards from the road, in a perfect trout hole.  My Dad rigged me up with a small spoon lure and told me to cast in the dark, deep hole behind the log…. I did so expertly, as if I had been a bass master my entire 5 year old life, after my third of fourth perfect cast I felt my pole tip jerk directly toward my line..

Trout Killer: the Great Northern Pike found in my secret trout fishing lake

What happened next was almost unexplainable, to this day I still have a hard time finding words for it. My tiny stomach lurched forward and downward at the same time, and for a split second I swore I was levitating.   For a brief moment, my body seemed to have defied gravity. I did not know what was happening but I knew I had a trout or something on my line and I did not want it to get away.  After landing the trout my dad and I shared a moment of silence and awe at that little trout flopping on the bank. My body let me feel the ground once I got a hold of my very first self caught trout.  My body experienced one of my first adrenal highs. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but if fishing could give me that knee shaking experience….then I would catch more fish!!!!   At a very young age I knew I was a thrill seeker, and believe it or not fishing gave me that thrill.  It was only later that I experience hunting for the very first time, which brought the thrill to a completely different level.

Everyday after school, between sports and home work, I would head to the woods or the streams carrying my fishing pole on my mountain bike. Later that bike would become an ATV..   Yeah sure I had video games, but getting to the next level was not gratifying for me because I knew the next level would always be there and I would always be able to beat the game.  There wasn’t too much fun in video games for me, deep down when I played them, I knew there would be a monster trout sitting under that log that I wasn’t fishing.  The outdoors was a challenge for me, every time I left the house I knew I would have to be clever enough to outsmart a fish or a squirrel.   My next personal metaphoric “video game level” would be my next small animal target, or my next dream hunt for Moose or Dall sheep.  After many years of small game hunting, I wanted to challenge myself, I wanted to to start hunting big game animals.

I will not tell a lie, the outdoors gratifies me beyond words.  The only way to break the experience with nature down such as catching a fish, harvesting an animal, or even seeing an animal, is the chemical response in the brain linked to adrenal release.  Adrenaline so to speak is what I chase, this chemical is released when your “rod tip jerks” or when you spot a grey squirrel and you’re hunting for dinner, or when you’re hunting for bull moose and a trophy 60 plus incher walks out with a rack thats wider than a door frame.  Your body’s natural instinct is to release this super human chemical giving you seemingless power, you must seek a thrill to experience it.  The harvesting of an animal is not the thrill, I get just as much satisfaction releasing a 26 inch rainbow trout as I would harvesting and eating the fish.  The kill is not as important as outsmarting the game animal, for instance letting a legal but small antlered animal walk by you instead of needlessly taking a life just because you can.  The taker of a life involves maturity and respect for the animals as well, close relationships are formed with the animals we pursue.  A last second buzzer beater, a half court 3 pointer  shot with no time left to beat the other team, that feeling as the ball goes in the hoop is a similar feeling to the experience of catching or harvesting an animal.

I don’t discriminate. I follow each U.S. state Fish and Wildlife regulations and within law, pick several legal game animals to pursue whether it’s big game or small game the thrill is the same.  I have been an accomplished big game hunter most of life, in part to a father who at one time was a Master Alaska Guide.  We have hunted both big and small game together and to me the adrenaline rush is nearly the same.  More exciting to me than hunting or fishing for myself, is sharing the sport with someone new, sharing the experience (the rush) of animal encounter with someone who is interested.  This last winter I decided to take my best friend and high school sweetheart Jordan Pokryfki small game hunting.

In high school her father, Vince, would teach us how to make port orford cedar arrows and osage orange self made D-bows.  We both had a love for the bow and making beautiful arrows, it was now time to put these arrows to action in the next challenge.  Noticing that Jordan was deadly with a bow I suggested we purchase a hunting license together, she asked me if we could actually hunt legally if she had purchased the license. I told her yes we could hunt small game (Snow shoe hare, ptarmigan, red squirrel, and spruce hen)because thats the small game open this season and off we went.

Jordan and austin

Bunny Hunting

Our first time out, we definitely looked deadly, however we spotted no bunnies during our snow shoe adventure.  Un-deterred  we decided we would head back out to a different bunny hunting location the following weekend, and this time we would use snow machines to get further from the road and deeper into bunny country.

One bunny, one zwickey doubled bladed broad head.

Our new game plan, using snow machines to get further into bunny country worked!  Jordan and I would succesfully harvest several bunnies this day, and had a blast doing it.  Jordan liked it so much we decided to go the following weekend to the same place, this time we would bring her dad and have equal success.

What a beautiful Alaskan winter day, an amazing moment.

Like I said, I don’t discriminate in the adventures I go on, the satisfaction I received would only be comparable to the happiness of  Jordan and her first successful hunting experience.   Seeing Jordan come to full draw with her home made refinished bow as bunnies zoomed through the willows, would bring me to a full draw smile and many awesome memories.