Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Braggin' Rights. . . part 3
Continuing with some more hunting stories about my friend Dave Keiser and his quest for a Grand Slam on North American Sheep.
The year was 1985 and the state Nevada. He put in for a Desert Sheep tag, of which there is only 1 out of state tag per year and 3 in state tags. As luck would have it, Dave got his tag on the first try. He was hunting in an area dedicated to managing sheep called Desert National Wildlife Range. Sparse vegetation and limited water availability, which meant having to pack in your own potable water. The sheep got much of their water needs met by eating cactus, grass and what little brush was available.
On the third day of the hunt he and hunting partner went to the S. end of their unit and set up a modest camp near the mountains. The next morning on their way uphill to a glassing area they jumped a large Ram. Not much time for talking so Dave fired a shot off hand and the Sheep didn't go far. Dave was only able to see one side of the Rams horns and knowing it was a legal Ram, yet didn't see the busted horn on the other side. All in all a great animal and nothing to feel bad about.
Well now, his next quest is the Stone Sheep and hunting an area which Jack O'Connor made famous with a story titled "A Day In Ram Heaven". This was not going to be an inexpensive hunt considering you had to have a guide. The guides in fact were the ones who controlled the permits and made the final decision, plus he had to get himself up to British Columbia.
The year was 1987, Dave and his wife had 5 kids at home and were a bit strapped for cash. He had a chat with his wife and she agreed to cash in their life insurance policy to fund the trip. They both drove up to B.C. together then she wished him luck and flew home. He then flew 80 miles into base camp out of Fort Nelson B.C. and was at the foot of the Canadian Rockies. Here the guide had his main headquarters set up next to a lake, with Moose feeding and creeks choked full of Artic Grayling. He ate more than his share of Grayling on this trip.
He had quite the trip this time. His guides were 2 American Indians, one young and one very experienced. He waited and watched as his guides loaded the pack horses and figured he didn't need to keep to close an eye on them, as they must know what to bring and how to properly pack. So with his 2 guides they headed up the Muskwa River drainage going cross country with 4 packed horses. On the way one of the horses fell and ended up dieing from its injuries. Eventually they got to their base camp and set up for the next days hunt. The next morning Dave was without coffee as the guides drank only tea. He wasn't very impressed with their packing job now, and felt maybe he'd been better off to have kept a closer eye on them when they were packing. Anyhow tea it was, and after a quick breakfast the older guide took off and Dave followed. On foot they crossed a creek and began heading up a long series of benches and waterfalls. Never seeing any Sheep this day, although they saw many Caribou as they got into a very large basin. So back to camp they went. The next day they rode up to a good glassing spot in a different basin from the previous day. As they began to eat their lunches, they were glassing the slopes across from them and saw it was full of Sheep. In total 25 Rams they sighted with their spotting scope. No time to waste they got moving downhill, crossed a creek and large ravine and started uphill. It took hours to get above the Rams and then Dave had to wait for his Ram to stand up. Finally he stood. . . Boom! Missed, just over his back. From 400 yards above the Ram he had no idea where the shot came from and was confused. Dave chambered another round into his pre '64 270 cal. and shooting off hand this time, he connected. The big Ram rolled and rolled to the bottom of the canyon breaking off about 3" of horn on the left side. The curl measured 40 1/8 Long. He didn't get a width measurement, although from the photo it is quite wide!
The Ram was beautiful and what lie ahead was a very enjoyable evening at camp followed by riding out the next day. Completing his North American Sheep Grand Slam.
The photo is of his guide with his Stone Sheep.
Well, I hope you are beginning to understand why I wanted to brag a bit about Dave. He is an exceptional individual, a great story teller and just a pleasure to be with. I might have one more tails to tell of a trip he and I took many years ago.