20 replies [Last post]
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Location: Idaho Falls
Joined: 05/25/2005
Posts: 35
Sheep Hunt Delayed - Again!

Well, I haven't been sheep hunting yet. Just before I was to go in to my area on foot, a friend from work was able to get free to take me in with horses but I would have to wait a week cause his kids had 4H stuff going on at the fair. So it was backpack in with 50lbs on my back for 16 miles or wait a week and go in with horses ..... HMMM. I think I'll wait. So we were supposed to go in last Friday. We loaded up the horses and headed for the Crags Friday PM. Stopped in Challis for supper and you could not even see the mountains for the smoke. Called the FS dispatcher and he said the fire on Waterfall had not been moving for the last three days and that the mountain range along Ship Island lake was all rock so we should be safe to go in. As we reached Cobalt about 9:30PM the rain was starting so I was feeling pretty good. The further up the mountain we went the worse it got. The snow was coming down so hard it was difficult to see the road. Nearer the top it was beginning to stick and cover the road. My buddy with the horses said if the snow got deep enough that he couldn't stay on the dirt that he would never get out of that road with 12000lbs of horses and trailer pushing him downhill. Since we did not know what the weather was going to do and the prediction was for more snow all weekend we decided a sheep hunt was not worth somebody's life and turned around a mile and a half from the trail head and went home. Waiting on the weather and may go back up tomorrow if it looks like we'll have a week or so without snow. Brick Wall,) Tune in next week for the continuing saga.

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Location: Idaho Falls
Joined: 05/25/2005
Posts: 35
Goin' In !

Talked to my buddy with horses and he says he's bringing the chains for the truck and we're going in this coming Sunday. Thumbs up Long term forcast from the NOAA for that elevation shows a 30 to 40 % chance of snow showers Thurs. and Fri. but that begins to taper off through the weekend and into the next week so we outta be fine if Mother Nature doesn't come up with any surprises. I'd welcome a little snow but don't want a foot of the stuff! With a little luck I'll be hunting sheep by next Monday. About time! Looks like this will be my last shot at getting in there so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Tried to go in on foot on the North side of my area last week but it was just too rugged climbing out of the canyon to be safe. I made it to the top of the first major ridge out of the river canyon and looked ahead at what I was facing and decided I didn't want to die out there for a sheep. It was so steep that one misstep would have sent me to the bottom of the canyon. If I had fallen I'd have never been able to stop myself on that slope. A friend told me that Jack O'Conner once wrote that the Salmon River Canyon was the most rugged sheep country he ever experienced anywhere in the world. I believe it!

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Location: Idaho
Joined: 06/01/2004
Posts: 1068
Sheep Hunt Delayed - Again!

Yeah, man ... keep us posted.

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Location: Idaho Falls
Joined: 05/25/2005
Posts: 35
Goin' in - Finally!

Weather report looks good. My buddy has his horses ready. We're goin' in tomorrow! Got delayed again cause my buddy got stuck in Wyoming overnight. He was working on a ranch over there and the bad weather turned the road into a mess and he had to stay there till it dried out today. Leaving at the crack of dawn. Losing a day of hunting though and that sucks! Man this trip has been a real pain. Hope it's all worth it in the end.

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Location: St. Paul, MN
Joined: 02/07/2004
Posts: 90
Sheep Hunt Delayed - Again!

Good luck Hambone! Keep us posted

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Location: Idaho Falls
Joined: 05/25/2005
Posts: 35
Hunted Hard - No Sheep

We finally got into my area, after more delays, rounding up horses, buying more feed, getting everything packed on the pack team took 3 hours at the trailhead - all that stuff that adds up to hours. Rode in with good weather and reached the area I wanted to hunt in the late afternoon of the second day. We needed to camp where there was grass and water for the horses so we had to go down to a lake to set up base camp. After looking at the trail down into that hole I said to my buddy, please don't tell me we have to go down there. But there was no water anywhere else so down we went. My horse slipped into a steep gully on the way down and I thought we were going over backwards. Thank God that he was able to catch himself, find his footing and lunge out of the gully. That left me a little shaken. My buddy said he did not want to have to go out that trail more than once and that the horses would need to stay at camp until we were ready to pull out of there for good. If the weather turned on us we would have to get out before any snow hit.

I woke in the night suffering from altitude sickness which usually hits me the first day or so when I get above 9000 feet so I got a late start the first day and missed the daylight feeding time. Felt good enough to climb out of the hole and glass by late morning and spent the afternoon moving slowly and glassing all the terrain I could see - no sheep! That night in camp my buddy told me about a large meadow he had seen on the other side of the mountain that he thought we could get to. Next morning we climbed to a vantage point and glassed the park and the entire drainage that we could see till the sun was well up and saw nothing. No sheep, no deer, no elk - nothing!

I decided to spike camp about three miles west of base camp in a saddle on the west side of a large burn on the opposite side of the mountain. The wind had been coming up all day and it appeared a front was coming in. We decided to pack up base camp and get out of the hole while we still could. My buddy would dry camp on top of the ridge and I would spike camp on the other side of the mountain. We would stay in contact via radio and keep an eye on the weather. I got to the new area mid afternoon and moved slowly, glassing every burn, meadow and little opening I could see - nothing. I sat on a point and glassed the opposite side of the drainage - nothing. I glassed the lakes and streams in the bottom of the canyon - nothing. I planned to drop in the saddle and glass the back side of the mountain in the morning but I was gettin a little nervous about the weather situation. By evening the wind was approaching gale force and dark clouds were building on the southwest horizon. I bivvied in the shelter of some pine trees but the wind sounded like a freight train going through the forest. In the night it got so wild and wooly that I moved away from the trees and laid down the the lee of a dead log afraid of getting pinned under a tree if they started going down - it was that bad. Back at base camp my buddy, who has spent his entire life working cattle and living out in the mountains, was having trouble sleeping in the gale as I was. At first light I was up and packing and wet snow was hitting me as I rolled up my pack. Dark clouds were now coming in and it was obviously raining and snowing to our southwest. It was time to go! 20 miles of treacherous trails lay ahead and they would be very dangerous with snow on them. I bid farewell to the sheep I never saw and covered the three miles back to camp in record time. The horses were nervous, I was nervous and my buddy was packing our stuff as fast as he could. Thank God we got out without any wrecks but again we had some very close calls with the horses in nasty places. On the way home my buddy told me before we left that a friend who had ridden cattle up in that area for many years told him there was story after story of horses that went into that area and never came back out. I'm glad he saved that story for the drive home.

It was a great experience, a very frustrating and difficult hunt, but I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing even if it was nerve wracking dealing with the horses, weather and terrain. What an amazing area! It would have been nice to at least seen some sheep though! The only sign I found was old dried droppings. We saw one mule deer doe near camp and a little bear sign, it seemed the entire country was devoid of any game. Very discouraging.

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Location: Washington
Joined: 02/09/2003
Posts: 18
Sheep Hunt Delayed - Again!

Hambone,

I feel your disappointment. You had a full plate of adversity throughout this hunt, but seem to have handled it well. Sheep hunting is an incredible experience, and I hope you get the opportunity to do it again someday. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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Location: Idaho
Joined: 06/01/2004
Posts: 1068
Sheep Hunt Delayed - Again!

Hambone - let your posts be a testiimony that Rocky Mountain Sheep are NO SLAM DUNK. And you are certainly not alone - especially among those who take on Idaho Unit 27.

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Location: Idaho Falls
Joined: 05/25/2005
Posts: 35
Sheep Hunt Delayed - Again!

Those that haven't been in this area can't appreciate just how tough it is. I have great respect for anybody that has taken a sheep out of there on their own. The ridge we hunted was at least 15 -20 miles in by trail and I did not see another area in my zone that I could have reasonably hunted till we got there. Everything else was mostly vertical rock. What really bothered me was the total lack of any wildlife. I glassed prime feeding areas for days and did not see a single animal. My buddy saw one mulie doe near camp. You would think you would at least hear a distant elk bugle or see a deer feeding in a meadow. I was very surprised by that.

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Location: Idaho
Joined: 06/01/2004
Posts: 1068
Sheep Hunt Delayed - Again!

Hambone - despite the bad news - going into the Middle Fork country - whether on your side in 27-2/3, or on the other side in 27-1 ... is still an INCREDIBLE experience.

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Location: Idaho Falls
Joined: 05/25/2005
Posts: 35
Sheep Hunt Delayed - Again!

Edited by Hambone.

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