Pulling An All-Nighter

By Mark Arana
British Columbia, 2010, Guided, Public Land
Pulling An All-NighterApr/May 2011 EHJ (Issue 124) - It was a surreal experience as my outfitter, Darwin Carey, flew me 45 minutes into a remote lake deep in the Cassiar-Kechika Mountains of northern British Columbia. After years of saving and planning, I was actually in camp and going Stone’s sheep hunting.

On the first day, we took a quick horse ride to glass, since I was going to be moved to another location for my backpack hunt the next day. As we glassed into the grassy basins, we spotted a few ewes and lambs and a small half-curl ram. I was amazed at the beauty of the mountains and how the terrain changed from heavy timber in the lower elevations to open tundra/willow on the mountaintops. As we came back that night, I knew I would miss riding those horses immensely, because the next day I would be on foot for the duration of my hunt.

The next morning, Darwin took me into a lake where many of his past clients had a hard time finding sheep due to rough terrain. He assured me there were big rams here, and if I was patient and searched thoroughly, I would locate them. After we landed on the lake, my guide, Tom Vincent, and the wrangler, Andrew, greeted me.

When we began the hunt, we spotted a ewe on top of a basin. After two hours of hiking up the ridge, we finally escaped the timber and could see the area around us. As we glassed, I spotted two wolves. One was black, the other a coyote color and we watched them as they trotted up the ridge. We kept them in mind as we kept climbing to the summit.

After a few hours of glassing, we had only seen one ewe and a lamb, so we started to work our way back down the mountain. I looked one last time across the long open valley to our north and spotted the two wolves we had seen earlier. My adrenaline hit high speed as we raced down the slope to try to intercept them. As I crawled to a small escarpment overlooking the area below, the black wolf was standing 180 yards away. I made a quick downhill shot and hit him in the front shoulder, which killed him instantly. He was a beautiful black male and after taking care of him, we worked our way back down to the cabins in the dark.

Within 500 yards of camp, three different wolves started howling and one even came within a few feet of us. As we walked, we could hear the grass moving and the sounds of something smelling us. It was a nerve-racking experience as we quickly made our way to the cabins. I wasn’t sure what the wolves had in mind coming in so close.

On day four, we headed 12 miles to the south. As we traveled, we spotted many goats and a few grouse, but no sheep. Once we were at the head of the basin, we made a spike camp, stayed the night, and Tom and I planned to backpack farther into the mountains, while Andrew took the horses back to base camp. The next day, the weather worsened and it snowed, so we decided to take day hikes and look into other drainages while keeping the horses and our gear at the spike camp. For four days we hiked many miles and glassed several different basins looking for sheep, only to find a few ewes and lambs and an occasional grizzly.

After days of rain, snow, fog, wind, and cold, we decided to let Andrew take the horses back to the base camp. Tom and I would check a basin farther to the east that we hadn’t seen yet and planned to meet Andrew later that night at the bottom.

Mark Arana

For a full account of Mark's adventure, go to page 18 in the April/May 2011 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.