Northwest Territories, 2009, Guided
We had just stopped for lunch after a failed stalk on five Dall’s rams, and the sweat from my forehead dripped into my can of kippered herring. After eight tough days of hiking all over the McKenzie Mountains of the Northwest Territories, I was sitting there thinking that maybe I should have tried this hunt when I was 25 instead of 55.
I looked at my guide, Dan Stevens, through sweat-burned eyes as he asked me if I was up for one more brutal stalk that day. He was looking several miles through his 60x Swarovski spotting scope at a brute of a ram he figured would go forty inches.
As I contemplated another long, steep stalk, I also reflected back to when this all got started. Since I was a kid, I had dreamed of taking a Dall’s ram.
I had heard of McKenzie Mountain Outfitters and Stan Stevens through a guide friend in Alaska. I called Stan in December 2008 and asked him about the possibility of a sheep, caribou, and moose hunt for 2009. He told me he had one opening beginning August 26, 2009. My mind raced. Do I mortgage my house and ranch and go hunting? It didn’t quite come to that, but ultimately I booked the hunt.
Now all I needed to do was get in top physical shape so I wouldn’t be miserable. At my age, getting in top shape is a real challenge. I’m an active outdoorsman and cattle rancher in the steep country of central Idaho. I figured with all the hunting I’ve done in my home area I could handle a ten-day hunt in the McKenzies. My home area is as steep and rugged as any area I have ever seen. I went ahead and prepared for my hunt in a hard and dedicated way, hiking all over my ranch with a 40 to 60-lb. pack.
On August 25 I flew from Boise to Seattle, and then on to Edmonton. Early the next morning we flew to Yellowknife before going on to Norman Wells. At Norman Wells I left all my city clothes and hard gun case and jumped into a twin otter with six other hunters for a fl ight to Stan’s base camp in the McKenzies. Let the dream hunt begin!
For a full account of Aaron's adventure, go to page 32 in the April/May 2010 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.