Six-Oh Ram!

Paul T

A CHANGE OF PLANS
I missed my good friend, but I still wanted to get out on a sheep hunt. I talked to a few friends and was invited to join a group hunt, which morphed into Logan Paul and I going on an early-season hunt with the plan of checking out some new country.


MY HUNTING PARTNER
For those of you who have lost a great friend and hunting partner, you know how difficult it is to find someone new to hunt with. For a matter of fact, no one can ever fill the shoes of an old friend. As a guide for over 25 years, I have talked to a lot of hunters who quit hunting when that happened to them, and I feel very blessed to have met Logan last fall.
At the time, I was short a guide and after a pile of calls, finally met Logan and he came out guiding for us. He guided two moose hunters and got them each a nice bull. Logan is a top-notch hunter, and I would not have harvested a ram this year without him. I may have pulled the trigger, but it was certainly a huge team effort, and the success would not have happened without his skills, knowledge, and super-hard work.


HOW I PREPARED
I have been doing CrossFit workouts for the last 10 years to stay in shape, so all I did for this trip was add a couple of leg workouts to my routine and change my diet a bit.
My knees are a weak spot, so I did knee exercises daily. A leg broken in five places plus two torn meniscuses means regular maintenance to maintain mobility and strength, and to keep arthritis at bay. My routine is to put on a 50 lb pack and do 5 minutes reverse treadmill with the power off, working the eccentric movement of my knee, then 3 minutes of stair climb, and 5 minutes treadmill walking and 3 minutes stair climbs. Back to the treadmill for 5 minutes and one more set of stair climbs for a total workout time of 24 minutes.
As far as my diet, I started drinking moringa in the mornings as it has anti-inflammatory properties. I ate a little extra, trying to store a few extra calories on my bones as I knew I would burn them off on the hunt. I also did a lot of mountain biking prior to the trip focusing on climbing big hills. I climbed Pidherny Mountain 30 times, which is a 4 km mountain bike climb.


THE HUNT
Our expedition started on July 30th, two days before the season opened. We drove up the Stewart Cassiar Highway to the Cassiar Mountain Range and used my 8-wheel Argo to get into the back country. On opening day, we hiked up into the alpine with a spike camp and started glassing, hiking, and glassing some more. After three days we had only found one ewe and two small rams, so we packed up and drove 500 km to the Rocky Mountain Range on the Alaska Highway.
Upon our arrival, we were disappointed to find pickup trucks parked at every trailhead and drainage that led into sheep country. Logan recommended we check out his secret spot and were able to use the Argo to get back into some amazing country. I should note here that using an Argo in the mountains is legal only on certain trails. At the end of the road, we loaded up our packs with our spike camp and six days of food and packed into a drainage across a valley. That was a huge day of packing, but we finished the day on a ridge looking over sheep country where I spotted three rams up the valley bedded on a slide.
The next day we put together a plan. We figured that since we could only see one side of the slide from where we were glassing, there must be more than three rams up the valley. We prepared our day packs and headed out.


We spotted nine ewes and lambs with a small ram on our first scan of the valley so watched them for an hour. After they fed over a ridge, we continued our hike up the valley, where we arrived at a great vantage point for glassing but could not find sheep anywhere. We glassed for a long time until, to our surprise, a group came feeding over a small ridge in front of us with six rams in the group.
None of the rams had horns that cleared the bridge of the nose, so Logan started counting annuli, the rings on the horns that identify years of age. A stone ram is legal in BC if the horns break the bridge of the nose or is 8 years of age. We put the camera on the spotting scope and photographed the rams. A very careful study of the photos revealed that the biggest ram in the bunch met the 8-year-old requirement for harvest.


GO TIME
We let the rams feed back over the ridge and then started our sneak down the hill and to the top of the next ridge. Logan got set up with the spotting scope while I got set up with the rifle. I should mention here that some discussion must be made prior to this moment as to who will be the shooter and who will be the spotter. One method is spotter’s rights and I had spotted the rams first. Plus, Logan had said that he wanted me to have the first shot because I was turning 60.
We were on the rams and we each had a big job to do. I pinged the sheep to get the range, adjusted my Huskemaw turret as Logan kept on the big ram and gave me instructions as to which one he was in the group. The sheep were moving so I had to recalculate the distance and inclination and adjust the turret, reacquire the ram in my scope that was set on 20 power, and at 580 yards I made the shot.
There was no reaction from the ram, so I shot again. All the rams took off and things got crazy with rams running everywhere. I had lost visual of the ram because of the recoil so I was searching the cliffs. I knew the crosshairs had been perfect when I pulled the trigger. Where was the ram? An unsettled feeling began to creep in as I searched the rock ledges for the ram. Five rams made it to the rock ledges above – one was missing from the group. Finally, Logan spotted the top of a horn of the downed ram on top of a rock ledge. Relief!


We hiked up to the ledges thinking it would be an easy retrieval but when we got there discovered that they were higher than they looked. We built a ladder out of big rocks and Logan helped me up to the first ledge. The second ledge was manageable but operating on steep ground above two rock lodges was a little nerve wracking. I considered pushing the ram over the ledge to get it to a safer location but there would be a risk of breaking a horn. While I was on top of the rock ledges, I decided that my personal safety was more important so rolled the ram over both ledges. Logan controlled the second drop and made sure it did not roll away down the slide. Ram down!!


THE BIG PACK OUT
All hunters know that the real work starts when you pull the trigger and that is so true in the mountains. The day was getting late, so we cut up the ram and started packing it out. With the aid of our head lamps, we arrived at our spike camp at 12:30 a.m. After a truncated rest, we were back up at 7 a.m. to debone the meat to make it lighter for the long pack out, skinning out the cape and turning the ears and lips in preparation for salting. At 11 a.m. we were packed and ready for the big hike out with all our gear and the ram. We’d need to go down a mountain, cross a valley, ford a small river, climb a mountain and go down the other side to the road and to my Argo. No problem.
Wait a minute, I can hardly lift my pack. “Logan, can you help me get this heavy pack on my back?” What have I gotten myself into here?
When we crossed the valley and hit alpine on the other side, we took a big break. I looked up the mountain in front of me and thought, “This is impossible.” I caught my breath and then looked down the mountain. I had made it this far, so maybe it would be possible.


Seven hours later we made it to the Argo and what a relief it was to take off the pack. BUT WHAT HAD HAPPENED TO MY ARGO? The tarp that had been strapped on was shredded and my handle grips and back seat were chewed up. Apparently, a porcupine had enjoyed a little party at my expense, thankfully all superficial damage. The Argo still ran so we got out ok.
Was I sore the next morning? Surprisingly not, just a little stiff in the hip flexors. My preconditioning had paid off. That plus Logan and I had also pounded down a pile of magnesium, electrolytes, and water for hydration.


FINAL WORDS
Appreciate your hunting partners because all too soon you will be saying kind words at their funerals and crying with their wife and family. Eat healthy and train hard so you are ready to go the extra mile for the trophy of a lifetime. Take super good care of your family because without their support, these huge life adventures will not happen. And last but certainly not least, thank you, God, for your amazing creation and all your precious animals. Thank you that I get to be part of the circle of life.

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