Being French in Alaska

By Brad French
Alaska, DIY, Public

Brad French - Being French in AlaskaApril/May 2014 EHJ (Issue 142) - Darkness choked out the last bits of sunlight clinging to the hillside. The decision was made to make camp and the only suitable campsite lay on a timbered island surrounded by the rockslide. After 45 minutes of rain drenched gravel excavating the platform for our tent was finished. I fell asleep instantly. Zach said he tried to wake me and tell me about the several basketball sized rocks that were rolling past us, but I was out cold and I had no intention of waking up.

Opening day arrived, and thankfully we had survived the night. The rain stopped, but the tent and all of our gear was soaked. Reluctantly, we donned our cold, wet raingear and trudged 2,500 feet to our glassing location. I had drawn 1 of 15 permits to hunt Alaska’s Chugach Mountains, I wasn’t going to let a little rain spoil my trip and neither was Zach.

In no time, the rock that we’d been climbing on ran out. We began to notice that when kicked loose, rocks wouldn’t stop rolling at a few hundred feet anymore. Instead, they went careening over 1,000 feet down the slide. Steps had to be carefully planned so we would minimize both the fall risk and noise. After finding a sheep trail that led to a water source, we drank our fill and topped our containers off. We spotted a few ewes that evening as we dried out gear in the sun patches but nothing more.

The next day was a chilly one and after several hours of careful glassing, we decided to crest the mountain to the steep, opposite face. Halfway down, we were forced to leave the mountain face and take a 150 foot long, water-eroded chute to the bottom of a cliff. At a few points, we had to use rope to lower both us and our packs down. We were relieved to get through the chute alive. That night we slept in sheep beds, which were flatter than any of the surrounding hills. We had high hopes for what might show the next day.

Ptarmigan cackles woke us at first light. The mountains were just starting to become visible as a small covey of the white-plumed birds glided just inches from our heads toward their feeding grounds. Immediately, we started packing our gear to get out of sight of any potential sheep. It took all day for the sun to finally light up our glassing rock that we called camp.

We spotted two black bears and quite a few sheep from this location. At one point, a lone ewe walked within yards of us on her way to her to bed for the day. Five rams decided to show themselves a mile away and through the spotting scope we could tell that they all would make excellent trophies. We even snapped some pictures through the scope.

Brad French - Being French in Alaska

For a full account of Brad's adventure, go to page 34 in the April/May 2014 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.