July 25, 2018 Duncan's NWT Dall Sheep Hunt: (16 Photos)
Story By: Duncan
Edited By: Mike Smith
Photo Credit: Duncan
This is an awesome camping/hunting trip my buddy Duncan took earlier this year in the North West Territories.
16. Dall Sheep and Caribou hunting season in the North West Territories opened on July 15th, 2018. Riley and I left Norman Wells on July 25th taking a charter float plane (Twin Otter) into a remote lake about 100ish miles from Norman Wells. The flight took about 40-55 minutes. This hunting area is located in a range of the Mackenzie Mountains, and sees probably one or two hunting parties a year. Most of the hunters are self-guided charters like ourselves. We camped on the east side of the lake which afforded us easy access North, South and East which was a bunch of hunting territory.
15. The next day leaving our base camp we hunted south and were prepared to stay out but we got an eye on a young ram and wanted to get a closer look at him. We ended up getting close, and realizing he was immature we let him go. At the end of the day we had covered about 15-18 km, but ended about 3km from base camp so we headed back and stayed there again for the night.
14. Friday we hunted Northeast and our goal was to work our way past the lake we were camped on and get into some less hunted area. We were able to follow a creek bed for about 3 miles, and then had to transition to a pretty steep pass. Once we got up there myself and my hunting partner split up. He went high and I was going to take the low route.
13. Our plan was to hunt different terrain and meet up in the afternoon/evening. Our overnight tent was a Hilleberg Rogen in red, so it would be easy for Riley to find me. Just after we split up, about 5-6 miles from camp, I spotted a legal ram and took him with one round at a distance of 217m with my Sako Grizzly 30-06 (more rifle details later). My hunting partner had been watching the same ram through his spotting scope and came over to help. After we got my ram down and started working on him a larger ram came up over the hill in the same spot. He also dropped his also with one round.
12. We brought our meat back through the steep pass and eventually ferried it back to camp over the next 24 hours (we got a nights sleep in between).
10. Gear that worked well:
Kuiu Bino chest harness: This is a reasonably light but also pretty tough binocular chest harness. There is a Velcro strip on the bottom for mini pouches that are sold separately, I bought a rangefinder pouch for my Leica 1600B. It works great and when carrying a pack everywhere itís the only way to keep those binoculars and rangefinder handy. The side pouches were big enough to hold the included rain cover for the harness and a few extra batteries for the rangefinder. I may add a strip of Velcro across the front so I can slap on 8-10 spare rounds of ammo. That would let me get by with no spare ammo on my belt, and make hauling the pack that much more comfortable.
9. Stone Glacier Pack: I hummed and hawed over buying this. I had a Mystery Ranch NICE 7500 Pack that would have worked fine for this trip, but the Stone Glacier offered a very similar carrying capability at half the weight of pack and frame (5lbs vs. 11 for the Mystery Ranch), plus the stone glacier seemed to break apart easier for hauling meat in between the frame and the bag. I would say the upgrade was worth it, and the pack definitely performed as advertised.
8. From carrying over 90lbs (I think 110lbs was the heaviest I had it loaded) to sliding up and down rock scree, I wore this pack for every mile I hiked. It compresses right down to a day pack size, and will also haul a big load like the mystery ranch, and was very comfortable to carry with. It was my seat, my rifle rest and pillow on all the days we were out. Also that 5-6lb weight savings helped me to keep my camping gear weight to under 40lbs without water.
7. The lone negative was the waist belt kind of bunched up when wet. We hauled for a few days in pouring rain, and once that waist belt became saturated, it had a tendency to fold over when I was trying to tighten in. I believe this is a negative of making the belt of a slightly lighter, but still over strength type of webbing material (possibly less polymer weave or similar). If that's the case, it's a good trade and was very easy to deal with.
6. Sako Grizzly 30-06 Rifle and Leupold VX6 2-12: This is definitely not a "Sheep" rifle, but it has been my go-to hunting rifle since I got it in 2013. It's racked up Muskox, Moose, Caribou, and now Dall Sheep. While it's not typically what you see on the sheep mountain, and tips the scales at something like 9.5-10.5 lbs, it performed flawlessly and again showed the versatility of the 30-06.
5. Riley with his successful harvest!
4. The Sako will print under an inch at 100m with my ammunition of choice (Nosler Trophy Grade Accubond 180g, and also 150g Nosler Partitions) and still has the energy to drop big game at over 400m. Being a 30cal bullet it gets pushed around by the wind a lot more than a 7mm mag, and isn't as flat shooting as the 300's, but the recoil is mild and it performs very well inside 500m. Meat damage is very little compared to a lot of the magnums, and it's just a cool old calibre.
3. The wooden stock on the rifle endured 3-4 days of straight rain. I keep it sealed up with boiled linseed oil, and other than a bit of swelling in the field I didn't notice any issues with it. The optic gives true "both eyes open" capability when dialled right down to 2X, and I have shot moose at very close range very quickly at this setting. At 12X it gives a very clear image, and at around 12.5" long it's still a lot shorter than many 3-9 scopes. I purchased the "Boone and Crockett" reticle with this scope, and the graduations in the reticle work very well with the 30-06 giving me instant shot graduations for 100, 200, 300, 350 and 400.
2. The magazine capacity on the Sako is 5 rounds, which gives me at least one more than most brands, and Sako's also come with the ability to leave the magazine in and "top load" as you go, similar to a .303 Lee Enfield. Riley was having issues with his rifle setup and he actually used mine to drop his sheep as well, so this Sako now has two sheep on it. Our shots were 217 and 226m respectively.
1. Biggest changes I would make next time:
I would plan out my meals daily. I brought about 10 times too much food and it just added bulk. If I planned out each days food I would have saved a lot of money on shipping and effort. In addition I should have pared my gear down a little bit more. I could have gotten by with about 1/3 of the gear I brought. Hope you like the pics!
Copyright © 2011 Michael Smith