King of the Mountain

By Alan Klassen
Yukon Territory, 2011, DIY, Public Land

Alan Klassen - King of the MountainApril/May 2012 EHJ (Issue 130) - I have been at this game a while now. It can sure have its ups and downs and not just the physical ones. This day was definitely one of those moments in sheep hunting which you lay awake at night dreaming about. In the bottom of this big open green basin were five snow white Dall’s rams. The lead ram, well, you didn’t need a spotting scope or binoculars to see that this is the kind of ram sheep hunters drool over and climb to the ends of the mountains for. Rams like this rarely come along in a lifetime.

My son, Derek, and I had been planning this hunt since the end of our last sheep hunt the year before. That hunt was a very rewarding adventure in itself and we packed out of some awesome country in the Yukon with two great old rams. There are so many places a resident can hunt sheep in the Yukon, but the biggest decision is where to go. Should we go after Stone’s or chase Dall’s? Tough problem to have! But after a winter of poring over maps and talking endlessly about it, we decided to go right back to the same area from the previous year. Why not I thought? We saw more than 80 rams on that trip, killed 11- and 12-yearold rams and saw a few other shooters along the way.

So with a game plan made, backpack and gear checked, we were off a few days before the opener. The day couldn’t have been better for starting this hunt as we landed on a picturesque lake. Energy was high as we shouldered the familiar weight of our packs to the familiar cloudless blue sky in sheep country. Normally this time of year I am guiding sheep hunters, but I took guiding season off this year. Guides hunt too!

We kind of retraced our steps from the previous year for the first couple days and we weren’t disappointed. Rams seemed to be everywhere we were and Derek almost got the itch to pull the trigger on a nice broomed ram. The ram was in a good spot so we snuck in close and got a good long look at the old boy, but because we were seeing so many different rams so early in the trip, we decided to pass and keep looking. We could always come back…famous last words!

It was a typical sheep hunt; long days, worn out bodies at the end of the day and empty bellies. The weather was also "normal” sheep hunting weather; hot, cold, wet, windy, and sunny all in the same day. Derek and I saw tons of sheep, but still nothing we wanted to cut our tag on. We were neck deep in sheep and were having a blast.

Day six broke with the usual pot of coffee and oatmeal to get the day started. We decided we needed to make a big camp move into some new country so we stuffed everything in our packs and were off to new lands. That evening we shut it down, made camp by a nice little crystal clear stream and a spot with a post card view of the surrounding area.

You never know what you will see when sheep hunting and that is my biggest drive to climb that next mountain, not just to see the other side, but what could be living in those high basins. You could tell that this was going to be one of those special days.

Alan Klassen - King of the Mountain

For a full account of Alan's adventure, go to page 46 in the April/May 2012 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.