/    /  March

As a career firefighter/paramedic for over 21 years I have had the distinct opportunity to learn lessons from others unfortunate circumstances.  It was during the first couple of years of my career as a firefighter, I went through paramedic school as part of my apprenticeship training.  Towards the end of the classroom portion of this grueling 9 months of paramedic school, we started the clinical phase of our EMS education.  This involved doing “ride-a-longs” with other fire departments and private ambulance companies.  What I soon found out is that I learned a great deal from these seasoned paramedics. The poise and ability of some of these street medics made a lasting impression on me but there were also some lessons learned of “what not to.”  I was educated as much from the impressive skills of some amazing medics as from the occasional mis-step.  It wasn’t so much the mistake that sticks with you, but your ability to learn and adapt and become better because of it.

How does one defend or even try and explain the need and desire to sheep hunt to someone else who doesn’t possess those same feelings?  It’s almost inexplicable to the non-sheep hunters of the world.  Even my close friends who are the most dedicated and driven mule deer hunters I know, seem to humor me with a polite smile when I talk about going back to Alaska to hunt Dall sheep.  My favorite quote is from one of the hardest core mule deer hunters I know and he asks me, “Why would you want to go all that ways to hunt a spike?”  My wife and daughters are unanimous in feeling that we would all be better off with a new horse trailer and a pick-up with more towing torque.

I couldn’t believe my eyes as I looked through my binoculars at the monster muley that was feeding on the opposite side of the basin. I couldn’t have scripted the opening morning glassing session any better had I tried. My hunting partner, Scott Mansor, and I both judged the huge buck’s typical frame right at the 190 B&C mark and with his long cheaters extending out from his G2’s on both sides, we figured his outside spread was pushing 35 inches wide. He also had a couple of other really small points and he was in full velvet. The buck was about two miles away on the opposite side of the extremely large basin we had been glassing and would require a very lengthy stalk.

I felt a sense of relief as I peeked over the edge of the rim rock cliff and saw the lone buck was still lying comfortably in his bed. The buck was perched on a long, narrow bench at 12,000’ where he was very contently overlooking the large alpine basin below him. His velvet covered antlers protruded well above the stunted willows as he laid there next to a lone rock on this cold and wet September day. Thankfully, the rain and snow mix that had been falling all morning, had kept the buck bedded during our entire 3 hour stalk.

While rangefinders are becoming more and more common, there are still a good number of hunters who venture afield without one in their pack. Although there was a day when my pack lacked a rangefinder as well, nowadays, it is an essential piece of equipment that I wouldn’t even consider traveling into the high country without. Over the past several years, I have come to rely on my rangefinder very heavily for multiple tasks while hunting, which is why it has earned it a permanent place in my hunting pack.

Living among the deer in the high country can be one of the most rewarding archery hunting experiences of your life. But in order to be successful at this type of hunting, there are certain camp placement rules you should follow when bivouacking in the backcountry. The next time you are considering where to place your camp, think of the word STEALTH! Stealth is the action of doing something slowly, quietly, and covertly, in order to avoid detection. It is also a great acronym for the seven camp rules that I live by when hunting high country bucks.

Sunpak Quantaray QSX 2001 Tripod

With all of the cool new gear available each year, it seems that the bulk of my backpacking equipment only remains in my pack for 2-3 years at best before it gets replaced with a newer and improved version. With that being said, I recently went through my gear list and noticed one piece of equipment in particular that has remained on my gear list longer than any other piece of equipment – my tripod.

*The pictures in this story are from back in the day of  35 mm film.  The quality of the pictures are not what it is now with digital. We watched the super cub fade away into the azure sky as we stood in the gravel bar with nothing but our backpacks and pure adrenalin, anticipating the adventure that was about to ensue. We were 50 miles from the nearest civilization.  We were surrounded only by steep shale cliffs and a roaring river that was too deep and swift to cross.  The violent river was blocking our path to where we had last seen a monster ram.  In order to get to our destination we would have to hike several miles up river to the headwaters of the glacier, find our way across the glacier, then hike all the way back down the canyon, just to get to the mountainside to begin our ascent to the monster ram.