It’s August 10th and again I’m not celebrating my birthday on the mountain chasing sheep. This is getting to be a bad habit and unlike last year I didn’t even get drawn for a late sheep permit. So, I guess the next best thing is to write about two special hunts in the majestic Wrangell Mountains hunting around glaciers. Both were very tough hunts and at my age now I don’t think I could make the trip out with a full sheep. Carrying a 100 pound pack in rough country for fifteen miles is a tough go, so I guess those days are over. With that let’s go sheep hunting!!
The challenge of taking a record book animal normally takes skill, perseverance and for many species lots of money and sometimes just a little luck. I personally have never taken a Boone & Crockett record book animal. I have come close on Dall sheep, caribou and Sitka Black Tailed deer. I have guided on two B&C record book brown bears and five B&C record book caribou but again none of my own. I guess I consider taking the number 3 Pope & Young record book Dall sheep with my recurve bow my highest accomplishment as a hunter. Now that I’m getting older my chances at a B&C are pretty slim but like most hunters I keep hoping. Follow along as I chase those elusive Dall sheep with my Kodiak Magnum bow.
Most hunters have a goal when looking for a trophy animal. Everyone would like a Boone and Crockett but that is hard to achieve. However, looking for a special trophy that might or might not make the record book is still a goal that is obtainable. Like a 10 foot brown bear, 9 inch Billy goat or a 60 inch moose. For Dall sheep it is a 40 incher. That was my goal after I took my second ram in 1967. I ended up taking three sheep 40” or better. Follow along on my quest for the magic 40 incher.
Over the years many friends and acquaintances told me that I should write a book. My wife has always been my biggest supporter and was always telling me to write it down, keep a journal, but that didn’t happen. The problem is, I’m a good story teller but not a good writer. English and writing have never been strong points for me. My oldest granddaughter Jaime Rapp, who has her Master’s Degree in 20th Century American Literature and has taught English at Cal State, volunteered to be my ghost writer. Man, I should have taken her up on that offer. I have written a few short stories for the Alaska Professional Hunter Association so maybe one of these days I’ll get that book written. My grandson Jared told me after writing my blog for a few years I will have my book. Again we will see.
This story has been laying on my desk for at least 15 years. I occasionally worked on it and even told numerous people that I was working on a book. This was to be my first story. One of my decisions I had to make was whether to write about Alaska hunting in general or write a sheep hunting book. I choose sheep hunting because sheep have always been my real passion. Once I began guiding I wasn’t able to devote the time needed to become the sheep hunter that I wanted to be.
It’s crazy how sheep hunting can get into your blood. It is the hardest hunt physically and because of the terrain which is beautiful, can also be the most dangerous. I guess it’s the challenge! It is hard for me to explain but every year when I start to see that little shade of red on the beautiful mountains and the weather starts to cool, my thoughts are always about those big rams.
Becoming a Sheep Hunter is the first of at least six stories that will follow this next year. Follow along as I climb after those beautiful Dall rams.