Alberta, 2008, Guided
In early fall of 2008, I received a phone call from a friend letting me know that there was a cancelation moose hunt available. Being the sucker I am for hunting and good deals, I was on the plane the next day headed for Fairbanks, Alaska. I surely did not know that 36 hours later I would be in a plane crash that nearly could have taken my life. When the plane came to a crashing halt, I remember checking my fingers, hands and arms, making sure they still worked. It was a harrowing and humbling experience.
Sixty days later, in November 2008, I was walking in 12 miles near Canmore, Alberta on a bighorn sheep hunt, which was the last sheep I needed to finish my grand slam. By law we had to carry our bows in and if we were lucky enough to get a ram, all the meat and horns would have to be packed out, but clothing and food could be flown in by helicopter.
Only moments after starting up the trail we got a call to make sure we also had our sleeping bags with us, because the helicopter had some problems when they came over the mountain. The wind grabbed the chopper and accelerated it to 150 mph backwards. The overheat alarm, among others, was going off while the pilot was trying to get control, which he was able to do just moments before being slammed into the far side of the mountain. Jonas Quinn (one of the guides) was in the helicopter and said he has never been so scared. I could easily relate to that from my experience just 60 days earlier.
While on our hike, I ran into a good friend of mine, Tom Foss, and his son, Adam, who just came from the area we would be hunting. They had some good and bad news. The good news was they saw quite a few sheep; however, the bad news was that a cougar had been tormenting them. Awhile after that we made it to camp and prepared for the hunt.
The next day the winds subsided somewhat and the helicopter was able to land with no problems. After getting gear straightened away, we went up on the hill and spotted four rams and dozens of ewes. At least three of the four appeared to be legal size (4/5 curl). The other hunter, Lou, with a guide named Tanner Sinclair, would have first crack at those rams while Jonas and I waited and kept an eye on the bunch to see where they were headed. They were able to get 38 yards from the rams but were unable to get a clean shot.
Lou and Tanner pretty much stayed together, while Jonas and I stayed together and worked as a team. While they were stalking sheep, Jonas and I would stay put, using the spotting scope to give them signals where the sheep were, and they would do the same for us. I believe that strategy played a big part in us both being successful on this hunt.
I spent most of the next day watching two rams a mile to the north, waiting for them to move into our area. Finally, right before dark, they committed to coming our way but light ran out on us. We went to sleep, hoping that the next morning they might be in our unit.
Our camp was in the middle of sheep country, so there was no need to prepare for a long morning hike before checking right below us. The next morning, Tanner went to look and told us that the two rams we had seen were now 300 yards from camp. We got our things together and went out to take a look. One ram was heavy and broomed on both sides, but after a closer look, we determined he wasn’t legal. We had numerous opportunities to shoot him, but that’s the way it goes.
For a full account of Greg's adventure, go to page 36 in the May/June 2010 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.