Wild Sheep Forever- Summer 2022 Edition

Page 1

Wild Sheep Society of BC Magazine is published four times per year for the Wild Sheep Society of British Columbia by

Sportscene Publications Inc.

10450 - 174 Street Edmonton, Alberta T5S 2G9 Ph: 780.413.0331  Fax 780.413.0388 Email: info@sportscene.ca www.sportscene.ca

Summer 2022 Issue

Board of Directors.......................................................................................4

Editor in Chief Kyle Stelter (CEO)

CEO Message.............................................................................................5

Editors Bill Pastorek Nolan Osborne Peter Gutsche

M.ovi in the Fraser.......................................................................................8

Contributor Sydney Goward

Leaving Sheep on the Mountain................................................................20

Design & Layout Sportscene Publications Inc.

Mountain Shooting Fundamentals.............................................................28

Printing Elite Lithographers Co. Ltd.

A Three-Year Journey................................................................................38

Editorial Submissions Please submit articles and photos to communications@wildsheepsociety.com No portion of Wild Sheep Society of BC Magazine may be copied or reproduced without the prior written consent of the Wild Sheep Society of British Columbia. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of the articles in Wild Sheep Society of BC Magazine are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Wild Sheep Society of British Columbia.

Board Member Profile – Greg Nalleweg......................................................6 Finlay-Russell Sheep Project – July 2022 Update....................................14 Biologist Sydney Goward..........................................................................16 I Can’t Believe I Missed!............................................................................24 How to Avoid “The Bonk” on Extended Backcountry Hunts......................32 A Perfect Hunt...........................................................................................42 Recipe: Fireweed Jelly..............................................................................44 Monarch List..............................................................................................45 Women Shaping Conservation..................................................................46 Members Highlights...................................................................................50 Legends of the Fall....................................................................................52

Cover photo - Darryn Epp

PUBLICATIONS MAIL AGREEMENT NO. 43363024 Return Undeliverable Canadian Addresses to

Wild Sheep Society of British Columbia

#101 - 30799 Simpson Road, Abbotsford, BC V2T 6X4 www.wildsheepsociety.com Printed in Canada


Chief Executive Officer – Kyle Stelter 250-619-8415 ● kstelter@wildsheepsociety.com

Vice-President – Mike Southin 604-240-7337 ● msouthin@telus.net

President – Korey Green 250-793-2037 ● kgreen@wildsheepsociety.com

Secretary – Greg Rensmaag 604-209-4543 ● rensmaag_greg@hotmail.com

Past-President – Dave Heitsman 604-250-4732 ● david@fortressforwarders.com

Treasurer – Joe Humphries 250-230-5313 ● Joseph_humphries@hotmail.com

Vice-President – Chris Barker 250-883-3112 ● barkerwildsheep@gmail.com

Jesse Bone 250-802-7468 jessetbone@hotmail.com

Rob Englot 250-719-9607 renglot@telus.net

Josh Hamilton 250-263-2197 josh.wssbc@gmail.com

Colin Peters 604-833-5802 colin.peters12@gmail.com

Tristan Duncan 778-921-0087 tb.duncan@gmail.com

Peter Gutsche 250-328-5224 petergutsche@gmail.com

Greg Nalleweg 778-220-3194 greg@nextgenelectrical.ca

Robin Routledge 250-262-9058 Robin.wssbc@gmail.com

Communications Committee Chair: Kyle Stelter ● 250-619-8415 kstelter@wildsheepsociety.com Fundraising Committee Chair: Korey Green ● 250-793-2037 kgreen@wildsheepsociety.com Government Engagement Committee Chair: Greg Rensmaag ● 604-209-4543 rensmaag_greg@hotmail.com Hunter Heritage Committee Chair: Jonathan Proctor ● 250-352-2020 proctorj72@gmail.com Indigenous Relations Committee Chair: Josh Hamilton ● 250-263-2197 josh.wssbc@gmail.com Membership Committee Chair: Peter Gutsche ● 250-328-5224 petergutsche@gmail.com Projects Committee Chair: Chris Barker ● 250-883-3112 barkerwildsheep@gmail.com 4

Jurassic Classic Trevor Carruthers ● 250-919-5386 ● trevor.carruthers@shaw.ca Raffles Joe Humphries ● 250-230-5313 ● joseph_humphries@hotmail.com

Bookkeeper Kelly Cioffi ● 778-908-3634 kelly@dkccompany.com Executive Assistant Michael Surbey ● 604-690-9555 exec@wildsheepsociety.com

Danny Coyne Darryn Epp Jeff Jackson Trevor Carruthers WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

e are incredibly excited to share with you a new fresh look for the Wild Sheep Society of B.C. magazine. You will also see some branding enhancements on our website, merchandise, and logo. We would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on the branding face-lift. I want to thank Bill Pastorek for his years of dedication to wild sheep and in particular his contribution as Editor of the magazine. Although there is a new look to our quarterly publication, Bill is still involved, providing expert guidance and support as we move forward. A huge thank you must be given to our communications committee and the heavy lifting they did to bring this all together. As you read this, the 2022 wild sheep season is in full swing, and many hunters are now afield in search of their quarry. After a disappointing 2021 relating to illegal wild sheep harvest in British Columbia, the Wild Sheep Society has been actively promoting educational tools to assist hunters in making informed and legal decisions while in the field. Through the support of our Provincial Wild Sheep and Mountain Goat Specialist Bill Jex, we have been delivering educational seminars centred around making harvest decisions for wild sheep. Additionally, we have produced an educational video for sheep hunters both experienced and new that will provide strategies to help guide you in the field. Please take the time to visit our website and review this 37-minute instructional seminar before you head out on your sheep hunt. British Columbia experienced an extraordinarily high rate of illegal ram harvest last year and it is paramount that we do our part to avoid a repeat. WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

As a member of the Wild Sheep Society of BC there is no question as to your commitment to conservation. I encourage you to speak to your friends and fellow hunters about the importance of ensuring the wild sheep they harvest is not only legal, but ethical. Bill Jex speaks about this in his educational seminars, how sometimes the ram you are pursuing, although legal, might not be the best choice to harvest from a herd-health perspective. We encourage those new to sheep hunting to seek a mentor and rely on their experience and wisdom when on your hunt. Additionally, for those greying hunters with years under your belt, take the time to share your knowledge with new sheep hunters. They are the ones that will continue to fight for the resource we all know and love. It is important that we share the true virtues of the hunt; the majesty of our surroundings, the challenge of getting safely on and off the mountain and the connection we share with the wild sheep and their habitat. Experienced sheep hunters talk about the romance of sheep hunting and rarely is it just about pulling the trigger. In projects news, in the late spring of this year we successfully carried out four prescribed burns that will benefit wild sheep and those that share their space. We have been working hard for almost four years to bring this habitat enhancement project forward and we are excited to continue with more burns like this in the coming year. We are grateful for the support of the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Wild Sheep Foundation and you, our membership, for making this possible. We are incredibly thankful for our membership’s dedication, which has allowed us to reach a milestone

achievement of investing over one million dollars for wild sheep over the past three years. Due to your overwhelming support and passion, we continue to invest in every region across the entire province that holds wild sheep and will continue to do so. I want to wish you all a safe, rewarding and fulfilling fall as we venture out into the wilderness. I always find that my time in the mountains is an opportunity that allows me to recharge and face the coming year with renewed vigor and determination. I know many members support the Society for those very same reasons. You are passionate about the wild sheep and the mountains they inhabit. So, when you are in the high country be sure to soak up the majesty and splendour. Take it all in with every breath, with every step. Encourage those coming up behind you to do the same. We look forward to you sharing your stories in the new year as you return this fall. In Conservation and Wild Sheep. Kyle Stelter Chief Executive Officer


SSBC is pleased to introduce our newest Director, Greg Nalleweg. Greg has resided in Kamloops for the past twenty years, having relocated from Burns Lake to pursue an education in forestry. He ended up becoming a Red Seal electrician after a strategic change in studies following one thousand forestry workers getting laid off in the early 2000s. Like many who move to Kamloops, Greg fell in love with the warm summers and mild winters along with the numerous outdoor activities available year-round. Greg grew up learning that being a part of the community, giving back was important. His parents, both school teachers did a lot of volunteering and were also heavily involved in the local athletic programs. This required them to organize and participate in multiple fund-raising campaigns a year, be involved in planning weekend trips and putting together local tournaments. Greg continues this legacy of volunteering and giving back to his community through many different avenues. Whether it be cooking meals for the less fortunate, local food bank drives, organizing charity golf tournaments, or


donating his time to us, the Wild Sheep Society of BC. Greg has been an outdoor enthusiast his entire life. He caught his first rainbow trout at the young age of 4, and not many years later had proved himself as a skilled fly fisherman enjoying a lot of time on the local

streams and rivers around Burns Lake with his father. It was on those trips to the fishing holes in the fall that Greg started to fall in love with hunting. It started with harvesting grouse and rabbits and then progressed to moose and deer after passing his core at the age of twelve. At sixteen Greg was invited to go on a hunt in August for

mountain goat with one of his lifelong friends. This would be his first real climb up into the alpine and it ended in the group harvesting a beautiful mature Billy. This is when Greg really fell in love with hunting and the outdoor lifestyle. Greg has now become the patriarch of his circle of friends and family, planning and organizing annual adventures to pursue the various species of big game BC has to offer. Greg’s passion for the outdoors led him to join WSSBC first as an annual member in 2017. This then led to him attending his first sheep convention in Kamloops in 2017. Through these conventions, Greg met many fellow hunters and outdoor enthusiasts and became more aware of the positive work being done by our organization. This motivated Greg to upgrade to a life membership, and then again to a monarch membership shortly afterwards. Greg regularly attends annual sheep counts in Spences Bridge and also in the Fraser Canyon where he continued to develop relationships with more of our membership. Through these relationships, Greg’s desire to help out with whatever was happening at the time continued to grow until he decided it was time to put his name forward to serve as a Director. A father of two boys, ages eight and eleven, Greg continues the tradition started by his parents, bringing his boys to many of the outdoor events hosted by WSSBC. Greg believes it’s important to pass on to them his passion for the outdoors and hunting and volunteering. We enjoy seeing the next generation of Wild Sheep Society members at these activities and we look forward to working with Greg to achieve more positive change for wild sheep in our beautiful province. WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

on the Fraser by Peter Gutsche (WSSBC Director)

week before the Kamloops AGM and Convention in March of 2019 Wild Sheep Society Vice President, Chris Barker asked me if I had a couple of days to spare after the show for something, details to be explained. Fortunately for me, I did, and so I packed for adventure. My orders ended up being pretty simple: spend a couple of days along the Fraser River near Lillooet documenting sheep and, if luck allowed, hop on the Hughes 500 helicopter for a day with Region 3 Biologist Chris Procter and Pilot Ben Berukoff of Canadian Wildlife Capture for a day of net gunning bighorn sheep. It is an incredibly special experience to get to sit in the helicopter during captures due to the nature of the work. It’s not something I took for granted on that day and it’s not something we are able to do as much of as we would like to, as a Society, for obvious reasons. There’s an amateur video on the WSSBC Youtube channel that I made that will show you what was going on during those first captures. The video is not professional-level quality by any means but the content is and I highly suggest checking it out if only to get a snapshot of Chris and Ben’s skill in the field. Flying around net gunning sheep is some badass, highly complex work and they were both complete professionals who seriously earned my respect and admiration that day. We ended up capturing and testing 12 California Bighorn Sheep along the west side of the Fraser on the day I was able to get out with the guys, simply incredible in my books! In total, the team captured around 50 animals along both sides of the river, with the goal being to get a baseline data assessment of the herd as a whole, to determine how best to proceed. We were almost certain M.ovi was there, but we didn’t know much else beyond that. This week of capture work was the initial on-the-ground phase of what has become the Wild Sheep Society of British WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

Columbia’s largest project to date, a multi-year program designed to rid the Fraser River Bighorns of M.ovi and bring the Wild Sheep numbers back to their recently known populations of around 2400 animals from the current estimate of approximately 800. Back at the lab, the samples were tested and the results showed that M.ovi was indeed prevalent throughout the Fraser River metapopulation between Lillooet and Williams Lake, sadly as expected. A pilot treatment program focusing on the West side of the Fraser around Ward Creek was set for February of 2020. The plan was to capture all the sheep living in nursery groups in a local area and test them on-site using state-of-theart Biomeme machines. The positive testing animals were to be euthanized. That’s a serious, complex commitment to make and it was not done so lightly by anyone involved. This specific nursery group was selected for its complete lack of lamb recruitment(lambs surviving the first year) over the previous three years and its lack of known connectivity with nearby sheep. In other words, this nursery group was slowly dying out with each passing year as adults got older, due to a lack of new youngsters or outside support to replenish. 9

Over the week of work, forty-seven sheep were captured by helicopter, slung to the processing site, sampled, tested, and then either released or removed from the population, as was the case for eleven of these sheep. For those counting, that’s 23% of the group and almost certainly is the major reason why there were no lambs year after year both in this group and in the greater population as a whole. For everyone involved, and there were a lot of us from many differing backgrounds, it was a truly impactful time. A project with the potential to massively shift the population of a species back to a natural known state is not something that comes along every day. It’s also not easy. Remote testing using state-of-the-art equipment while capturing wild animals with a helicopter presents a potential host of issues I don’t feel confident in listing adequately myself, but I think we can safely say that it’s a lot. Equally as important, euthanizing animals is not fun work and having to do so eleven times was miserable for us all, but it was necessary. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I left Lillooet with a heavy heart but an optimistic hope for the future of the Fraser River Bighorns. 10

Something that doesn’t typically get brought up in detail by the biologists in their presentations is what happens to the animals that are removed in these situations. In the first year of the project, due to the medicine used to sedate the sheep during the testing process, the euthanized animals were not deemed safe for human consumption. Instead, the meat was utilized for local trapping. Since then, the process has changed and the meat has been kept whenever possible for local indigenous communities. Additionally, those first hides that were judged to be of any value were professionally caped in the field by Ben Stourac of Arcadia Outfitting and have been used to continue to raise funds for the project in various ways. Ben has continued to help us in this capacity, in addition to offering his camps for use prior to losing them to the 2021 McKay Creek Fire. We have far more work to do here and any number of avenues to potentially explore moving forward, a larger-scale diorama featuring Wild Sheep and telling a portion of their story would look pretty good at one of our larger provincial airports in my opinion. Anyways, Covid-19 hit British Columbia for the first time just after this phase of the project took place,

something that proved to be both a blessing and a curse for our Wild Sheep endeavours. It disrupted many facets of our lives and caused all kinds of hardship to people all over the world and I don’t want to make light of any of that, but it also educated the greater population on respiratory diseases, which made M.ovi a whole lot easier to digest for folks whether they knew what a Wild Sheep was or not. This is something we would have had a far harder time accomplishing on our own. The Spring months passed by and we started up our Fraser River Sheep Counts around Big Bar, counting in June, July, and August with solid results. The ewes in Ward Creek had lambs as they always did but this year they were surviving beyond the first couple of months! This report was later followed up more officially by the professionals when they captured and tested approximately 25% of the surviving 10-month-old lambs finding no evidence of M.ovi by either PCR or serology testing. With these positive results, there was every reason to continue with the project as a whole! While Covid persisted so too did the team, performing another test and removal in the McKay/Blackhills area WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

of the Fraser in early 2021. Logistics were much improved this time around, a far smaller team and a revamped plan with all the sheep being quickly released after sampling using cheap VHF collars designed to rot off after a set time(months) proved to be far less stressful on the animals. Again, multiple samples were taken from each sheep and an initial test was performed back at camp with the Biomeme machine. As always, tests were sent to multiple laboratories to confirm the results. Of the 46 sheep captured in this area only two tested positive and were subsequently removed, a big relief to the team. Sheep Counts led by WSSBC Secretary Greg Rensmaag took place later that year, confirming again that the lambs in the treatment areas were surviving. Summer and Fall aerial surveys showed a significant increase in lambs within the McKay/Blackhills area as well with numbers rising from ten in 2020 to approximately forty. That’s all from


those 46 sheep captured earlier in the year, just incredible numbers to see in such a short time. In 2022, the project continued its Northward journey up the Western side of the Fraser from French Bar Creek up into the Gang Ranch country. It would also take in the migratory herd further up Churn Creek. The fierce winds and big country filled with varying escape terrains and spread-out sheep made capturing difficult but when Ben and Chris are coming at you, you’re done whether you know it or not. In total


there were 78 sheep captured this year, significantly more than in the previous two years. Using the same system as 2021, these sheep were put through the processing cycle and quickly released with VHF collars to be later removed, if necessary. Sadly, the results were more in line with our initial treatment area sheep than they were with the McKay/Blackhills herd. Nineteen California Bighorn Sheep tested positive for M.ovi and were removed from the population, this time being slung back to camp by helicopter to be put to as much positive use as possible. It should be noted that of the 28 Churn Creek migratory sheep tested, none were positive for M.ovi. Despite these great results, this herd has seen a continual decline in its numbers in recent years. There are likely a host of factors for this decline, loss of habitat can be attributed to lack of fire and increased industry on the landscape, which is followed by increasing predation from cougars and/or wolves. A reminder that there is so much more to do. With this year’s capture season wrapped up, we are now looking toward the future along the banks of the Fraser. There is still a ton of work to be done here and the plans are being put in place for the 2023 capture work. I don’t want to get too far ahead of things, but it would appear that we will be having volunteer opportunities for sheep capture work at some point in the coming years, be that on the Fraser or elsewhere in the province. The results for this project are proving successful enough from a scientific standpoint for us to consider doing this anywhere M.ovi may be an issue moving forward. Of course, it is a complex and expensive endeavour, but it is working and we are putting sheep on the mountain! Having swept the Western side of the river these past three years we are now moving back towards Lillooet, this time to work our way from Pavillion through to Big Bar. It’s going to 12

be another busy year with approximately 110 sheep to capture and test. Following that, we will continue our way North up the Eastern side of the Fraser in 2024 and 2025 coming to a halt somewhere in the Alkali area. We anticipate a further two years of work along the Chilcotin River and at the historically significant Junction sheep range for 2026, with the completion of the project in early 2027. There is every indication that this project will be completed in its entirety and the enormity of that cannot be understated, it will be a massive accomplishment for conservation here in British Columbia and a significant stepping stone for future Wild Sheep work, particularly as it pertains to M.ovi. It will also (hopefully) be a well-deserved feather in the cap for a few folks in the scientific community. But we’re not there yet and we have a lot of money to raise to finish the job. I haven’t touched on the financials of this project to this point because I wanted to keep this about the sheep first and foremost but as we all know, money is a necessity to solve life’s problems and we have been extremely fortunate to have such incredible support from our membership and beyond for our Wild Sheep mission. In the four years since this project’s inception, we have captured just under 250 California Bighorn Sheep along the Fraser. Of the 171 captured and tested for potential removal, we have taken 32, or just under 20%. We have an estimated 350 more to go to finish the job. To date, the Wild Sheep Society and its many funding partners have put over $400,000 into this monumental project with further projected costs coming in a little over a million to see it to completion. These are huge numbers for us and it would not have been possible to get this far without the incredible support of several organizations and individuals, of which I am sure to miss a few. WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

The Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) and the Midwest Chapter of WSF have each been huge supporters since day one, with Midwest furthering their annual commitment through to 2025 at USD $15,000 annually. Locally, the Abbotsford Fish & Game Club came through for us in a big way in 2021 with a $17,500 contribution. To no one’s surprise, the Jurassic Classic has dropped over $50,000 in 2019 and 2020 alone. Absolutely unreal support from the sheep community right there as that event is a gathering of the greater Wild Sheep family for a weekend of sturgeon fishing and fundraising. They are still working on the Bud Light sponsorship. Additionally, Canadian Wildlife Capture, aka Ben Berukoff, The Aerial Assassin or possibly Ambusher (I’m not quite cool enough to know if he has a codename within the wildlife capture community so I’m going with what comes to mind based on observation), I don’t know what to say really… This guy just gives so much all the time. He took 25% off his helicopter bill without us even asking. That’s not a little bit of money when we are talking about a multi-year project lke this. Then he goes and donates a Roosevelt elk hunt for the Society to raffle off on top of it, just wild! I don’t truly know how much he has given for conservation but I do know he should never have to buy another drink at a WSSBC event now that the word’s out! And I should also say, it’s not just us he supports when it comes to conservation. What a guy! As for the Wild Sheep Society itself, we have already spent over $225,000 since 2018 and are committed to securing funding for the coming years to ensure the completion of this project. We know there is a long road ahead of us and likely some bumps along the way, but the results we have seen so far continue to drive us forward. We had more healthy sheep in Ward Creek within months WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

of that first treatment than there were for years prior to our removal from that group, and even more again the following year. If the scientific projections are accurate, as they have so far proven to be, we could already be back around 2,400 bighorns on the Fraser River by 2027 with the potential to grow from there. That is simply huge! But the truth is, we don’t even know how good it really could be because wildlife management in this province has been a secondary priority since well before the first person decided to start recording anything about it, at least on paper. We don’t truly know when M.ovi was first introduced to the bighorns of the Fraser River or anywhere else in the province for that matter so we have no record of the first die-off event or of the total population numbers on the land prior to that. We simply know that they occurred in the 1990s most recently. Science has caught up to the identification of M.ovi and is now working to complete its understanding of it. We can test for it in both domestic and wild sheep, be they in a pen or on the side of a mountain. We are learning how to treat domestics and while we’re not there yet with 100% success, it’s getting closer by the day. We have figured out at least one way to help wild sheep, and while not perfect, it’s currently working. That is far more positive news than we can say for the vast majority of issues concerning wild sheep or wildlife in general, be it in British Columbia or elsewhere, and it gives us fuel to continue in our fight. We are going to get the bighorns of the Fraser back to where they should be, just as we will strive to do for all the wild sheep we share this Supernatural province of ours with. We’ll continue to do it as we always have, by putting one foot in front of the other. Wild Sheep Forever 13

by Sydney Goward

Figure 1. A group of biologists, First Nations, and public volunteers debriefing after a day of disease testing wild sheep. Credit: Darryn Epp

ildlife management should be science-based”: we’ve all heard and maybe even used this provocative phrase, especially when it comes to controversial wildlife decision making. But what does “science-based management” or “science-based decision making” actually mean? Is science the best tool we have to protect and conserve wildlife and habitat, or is the full picture of wildlife policy and management a little more complex? Scientific research is an important part of the holistic knowledge that should be informing our wildlife policy and management, but for humans, the value of wildlife extends beyond what is studied and measured by science. As hunters, outdoor enthusiasts, biologists, and general appreciators of wildlife, we all have an emotional or spiritual value of our own placed on wildlife. These social realities can not simply be ignored in decision making, but given the extreme divides in our province on human opinions of wildlife management, we’re left wondering how it all could possibly fit together. Science-based wildlife management has its roots in the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, where one of the seven principles is “scientific management is the proper means for wildlife conservation” 1–3. We can see a great local example of applied science in wildlife management in the recent Bighorn sheep M. ovi (Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae) control efforts. Through collaborative efforts, biologists, First Nations, veterinarian doctors, wildlife researchers, government, and nongovernment organizations are using tools and knowledge of how M. ovi spreads in a population, backed by science, to test

for the disease and control it by removing infected sheep 4. Through research, we also understand where the exposure risk for the disease comes from (interactions between wild and domestic sheep) and can then apply preventative measures to limit future occurrences and spread of the disease. Long-term monitoring of these sheep populations to gauge the effectiveness and continue managing the virus is part of science-based management. Without the rigorous scientific research in M. ovi and wild sheep, we could have seen complete extirpation of some herds of exposed Bighorn sheep, and may not have taken sheep separation measures in other areas of the province where disease has not yet been documented in wild sheep, which could have been devastating to Stone and Dall’s sheep. The science in the M.ovi projects hasn’t been fully implemented into policy in BC yet, but organizations are continuously working hard on the research and advocating for policy change.


Figure 2. M. ovi testing bighorn sheep. Credit: Peter Gutsche

To really get into our discussion, let’s recap the basics of the scientific method, using an example from one of my current research projects. The study area is in the Northern Richardson Mountains of the Gwich’in Settlement Area in the Northwest Territories. The project

is part of a broader, community-based monitoring program for Dall’s sheep, and is being done in partnership between the University of Victoria and the Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board. Step 1: Make an observation and ask a question – Observation: Surveying of wild sheep provides important information on how a population is doing, and these numbers are important for management decisions. However, helicopters and airplanes, used for aerial surveying, cause significant disturbance to wild sheep. – Question: Can non-invasive, remote wildlife camera traps obtain the population data required for tracking the health of a population and informing management decisions? Step 2: Background research – find out what we already know and determine the knowledge gaps – Review of all known information on the local Dall’s sheep population trends. Understand habitat use, behaviour, life cycles, predation, and response to human disturbances. Review the aerial surveying methods and remote wildlife cameras. Step 3: Create a hypothesis/ prediction – We are predicting that wildlife cameras can obtain populations metrics like the lamb: ewe and ram: ewe ratios, as well as accurate ram classification (based on horn size). Step 4: Design an experiment to test the hypothesis – We have 20 wildlife cameras deployed, that have been running continuously since 2018. We also have annual survey data from the study area (see Figure 3). WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

North America is actually science-based. This study defined the four hallmarks of science-based management as measurable objectives, evidence, transparency, and independent review 2.

Figure 3. A band of rams captured by the remote wildlife cameras in the Northern Richardson Mountains. Credit: Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board

Step 5: Collect and analyze the data from the experiment to test the hypothesis – Once a year, we service the cameras and collect the memory cards with all the photos. – The photos are manually classified and data is extracted from each image. Certain seasons of data that match when the aerial surveys occur is then analyzed to calculate population metrics. – Aerial surveys are completed annually, and population metrics are calculated from these surveys (see Figure 4 on next page). – The metrics from the cameras are then compared to the aerial surveys. Step 6: Communicate your results and conclusions with others – This project has been presented at many science conferences and meetings in Gwich’in communities, and has been shared widely over social media platforms. – The goal is to publish the results in a scientific journal to help further this field of research. – With this new scientific information, First Nations and governments can improve monitoring programs and update management plans. Now that we have some great science, where does it all actually get used on the ground in the wildlife world? Generally, opportunity exists through policy and management tools. Wildlife policy is the overarching principles relevant to wildlife management that are not legislative. For example, BC wildlife policy is what provides general policies on game harvest management. These are the policies that guide the development of the hunting regulations, which are management tools. Wildlife management is more about the actual tools on the ground that decision makers use to manage wildlife, like hunting regulations. A person can make quite a compelling case for science-based decision making, which is why some advocates have recently raised alarms at the lack of, or at least a perceived lack of, science being applied in controversial wildlife decisions. Even though there are vast numbers of universities, government, non-government organizations, and industry groups producing thousands of scientific publications related to wildlife and habitat every year, a trend of increasingly political decision making has been clearly identified. A technical review by The Wildlife Society and the Boone and Crockett Club in 2012, concluded that wildlife management has been increasingly politicized in Canada and the USA 1. Further, a 2018 study recently concluded that there is also little evidence that wildlife management in WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

Figure 5. Infographic from Artelle et al. 2018.


Figure 4. Dall’s sheep photographed during the 2021 aerial surveys. Credit: Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board

When it comes to wildlife, we have a good handle on what science-based management is, but of equal importance is understanding what science-based management isn’t: a catch-all, one-stopshop, be-all-end-all for decision making. So although science is an important part of wildlife policy development, and an even more important part of management, we also know that science is not the sole information that guides decision making. Recently, there has even been a push from both the biological and social science communities that modern wildlife management should include more human dimensions. But is managing the human dimensions (economics, public opinion, politics, etc.) the best for wildlife, or what is best for people? If we are engaging disproportionately in what people think, feel, or want, are we risking humanizing wildlife and taking away from the actions needed to truly benefit them? Science is one way of making ourselves believe we are taking a “trueto-the-best-of-our-knowledge” approach to decision making, but we also need to recognize that all decisions at the end of the day will almost always come under a vail of the perceptions, opinions, and biases of the decision maker.

Maybe we can find solutions, in the complex situation in our province, starting with understanding how both sides of the extreme generally want to see a similar result on the land. We see this play out strikingly in the case of caribou conservation: most people agree we want to see caribou exist on the landscape. While rigorous scientific studies (and Indigenous knowledge) have determined that predator control, maternal penning, and habitat restoration are amongst the management strategies to make that happen5,6, there is also competing science that questions the unintended effects and statistical significance of these efforts7,8. On top of all that, social and public pressures on alternative strategies based on public opinion have created a hotpolitical-potato that makes it extremely challenging to implement these strategies effectively, while creating an even bigger divide among British Columbians. How do we reconcile that some people have little experience or knowledge of wildlife, but have strong feelings or emotions about decisions that impact wildlife? It is reality that decision makers need to consider a holistic approach to managing wildlife. This not only includes science (both biological and social sciences), but also Indigenous perspectives, economics, politics, and other stakeholder perspectives. In fact, the more we work together to build relationships and strengthen partnerships, the more effectively and efficiently we can move forward with projects the benefit wildlife. It is true that social perspectives can strengthen conservation by sparking innovation and creating communities that come together for wildlife. Everyone has different experience, knowledge, and understanding of wildlife, but the double-edge knife in our province is in

Figure 6. Concerned stakeholders and members of the public gather in Williams Lake in 2019 during a meeting hosted by the Province to discuss a controversial proposed wildlife management plan 9.

this diversity. Though it seems to create significant divide among us at times, we need to understand that a diverse set of social experiences and perspectives could be a huge benefit to collaborative, holistic decision making. At the end of the day, we have to respect that all types of knowledge and public opinions do have a place when managing a public resource like wildlife. The question remains, where do we find the balance that puts wildlife first, ahead of the diverse set of opinions they face in determining their fate? Sydney is a wildlife researcher and forestry professional (nonpracticing), with a degree in Natural Resource Science. She is currently working on her Master of Science degree at the University of Victoria, where she is partnered with Gwich’in organizations, studying Dall’s sheep and mammal community ecology in the Northern Richardson Mountains, NWT. She is also currently working on BC’s Thinhorn Sheep Stewardship Framework, as part of the Indigenous perspectives working group. Born and raised in the Interior of BC, Sydney is an active hunter, fly fisher, forager, wildlife photographer, and overall backcountry enthusiast.


1. Organ, J. et al. The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. (2012). Available from: https://wildlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/North-American- model-of-Wildlife-Conservation.pdf 2. Artelle, K. A. et al. Hallmarks of science missing from North American wildlife management. Science Advances 4 (2018). Available from: https://www. science.org/doi/full/10.1126/sciadv.aao0167 3. Mahoney, S. P. & Geist, V. The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. (JHU Press, 2019). 4. Province of British Columbia. Domestic and wild sheep and goats, and the risk of Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/ agriculture-seafood/animals-and-crops/animal-production/sheep-and-goats/mycoplasma-ovipneumoniae (2022). 5. Frenette, J., Pelletier, F. & St-Laurent, M.-H. Linking habitat, predators and alternative prey to explain recruitment variations of an endangered caribou population. Global Ecology and Conservation 22 (2020). Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2351989419301969 6. McNay, R. S. et al. Demographic responses of nearly extirpated endangered mountain caribou to recovery actions in Central British Columbia. Ecological Applications 32 (2022). Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/eap.2580 7. Harding, L. E. et al. No statistical support for wolf control and maternal penning as conservation measures for endangered mountain caribou. Biodiversity and Conservation 29, 3051–3060 (2020). Available from: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-020-02008-3 8. Frey, S., Tejero, D., Baillie-David, K., Burton, A. C. & Fisher, J. T. Predator control alters wolf interactions with prey and competitor species over the diel cycle. Oikos e08821 (2022). Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/oik.08821 9. Williams Lake Tribune. Forestry, recreation squeezed by B.C. caribou recovery strategy. https://www.wltribune.com/business/forestry-recreation-squeezed- by-b-c-caribou-recovery-strategy/ (2019).



by T.J. Schwanky

I was reading a post on social media awhile back and someone asked the question... “Who was North America’s best sheep hunter?”



began scanning through the most remote corners of my grey matter as to who I felt fit that bill. I’ve had the good fortune to share camps with and get to know some of the most successful sheep hunters and guides in the business but to pick one was a daunting task. As I read through the answers to the post, there was a list of the venerable who’s who of sheep hunters and guides mentioned but one response really caught my attention. I know I’m paraphrasing here but it was basically that the best sheep hunter was the one that had passed on the most legal rams. It struck a chord with me because it was right on the money. If you put enough time in or spend enough money, killing sheep isn’t really that difficult. But a true measure of a sheep hunter is one that is willing to consistently walk away from legal rams because they are too young or not as big as a last one or just because the hunt doesn’t feel right. Wild Sheep has coined the phrase, “Putting sheep on the mountain,” but equally if not more important is leaving sheep on the mountain. In my mind there’s sheep killers and there’s sheep hunters and the true sheep hunters have walked away from countless more rams than they have killed. I had an opportunity to join Kyle Stelter and Steve Hamilton on the Wild Sheep Society of BC’s podcast, Talk is Sheep, and the conversation ultimately led to why are so many sub-legal rams being harvested and more importantly, what can we do about it. I think I well addressed the several of the causes for this phenomenon in a previous issue of this publication but what can we do to stop it is a million-dollar question. No doubt, with increased social factors like being successful on social media, increased hunting pressure and the rising costs of hunting sheep, there is a lot more pressure these days to be successful than there was 20 or even 10 years ago. Ultimately, hunters are taking too many risks on rams that are borderline legal on age or curl, just to be viewed as successful and it’s catching up with them. There were a staggering number of sub-legal rams killed in BC in 2021. WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

So how do we turn these would be sheep killers into sheep hunters and make it a bigger badge of honour to walk away from a ram rather than killing it? How do we make #leavingsheeponthemountain a trending hashtag? In my circle of sheep hunting friends the number of rams killed in a year is typically less than one. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a bit of bravado in the group and during a season, it’s pretty common to see a dozen or more pictures of well-legal rams that were left on the mountain. While many of these sheep hunters are longer in the tooth with several rams under their belts, not all are but they’ve been mentored by some of these sheep hunters. I have one good friend that took over a decade to kill his first bighorn but walked away from countless legal and borderline legal sheep during that time. I have far more respect for him than someone with a wall full of squeakers. Could lack of mentors be part of the problem. Certainly, there is a bravado among some sheep hunters that comes from taking newbies out to kill a ram and the higher the score they amass, the higher esteem they are held in by their peers. But this isn’t mentoring. They quite literally lead a new sheep hunter up the mountain, point out a


ram and then move on to the next new hunter. I’d venture to guess that most of these first-time sheep killers never go on to become sheep hunters. Mentoring involves teaching and instilling values. Mentoring means investing time. I know several very successful sheep hunters that are happy to take new hunters along, but rest assured you’ll earn your ram, and you likely won’t be the shooter for the first two or three years. This is how we create sheep hunters. One of the problems these days as well, is that it’s easier than ever to go sheep hunting, well other than the issues with getting a tag in BC now with recent changes to regulations. But for the budding sheep hunter, there are endless resources on the internet on how to kill a sheep. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti internet at all but it has created a new phenomenon of instant information but without the dose of values that comes with mentorship. It’s all about being lighter, traveling farther and killing a ram. For a fat guy like me, it was critical to understand sheep movement and behaviour so I could increase my odds. My 22

bibles on sheep hunting were books like Geist’s Mountain Sheep, A Study in Behaviour and Evolution. Now with mountain athletes, a lot of that study in behaviour has been replaced with just being able to cover more country faster. The more country you look at, the greater your odds but are we losing something by not being intimately familiar with the behaviour and habits of sheep? I’d say yes. For many it’s become a race to kill sheep, not interact with and understand them. There’s a good possibility that all sheep hunting may go on draw in British Columbia if hunters don’t start leaving more sheep on the mountain. Unquestionably, there are countless other factors at play with sheep populations and habitat, but the government will look to manage hunters first. They proved that this year. While issues like predation and habitat are daunting, it’s pretty easy for the culture of sheep hunters to take a collective look in the mirror and decided if what’s looking back is ultimately good for the future of sheep hunting in the province. Let’s make #leavingsheeponthemountain trend. WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

by Stu Rhodes After the shot I just stood there in total disbelief as I watched the great ram spin around and charge out of sight. And my son, Darcy, who was standing but a few yards away, watched both his ram and mine disappear as I exclaimed, “I can’t believe I missed!”

ur pursuit of these sheep had begun almost six years to the day in advance of me blowing the shot from (if you can believe it) less than 30 paces. This was a return trip to a remote area of the Northern Rockies with transporter, Jeff Browne of Steamboat Mountain Outfitters. While packing out a pretty nice 37” ram on the previous trip from the same general area I bumped into a massive old grand daddy that totally dwarfed the ram that was on my back. The mass of that ram has occupied my thoughts ever since and fueled my desire to return for a second adventure; this time with my seventeen-year-old son and long time friend Mike Engel as my partners. Three days on the road, two days on horse back and two days walking on foot is a lot of traveling time and distance to spend getting into place to miss a shot like that. But that’s what happened. 24

The exciting part of the story really began a little before noon on our second day of backpacking into position. After summiting the crest of a long ridge we gained a vista that provided spectacular views of prime sheep country characterized by ugly, black gorges and steep slopes of lush grasses. We started spotting sheep almost immediately from our vantage: several groups of lambs and ewes then, before long, a couple of banana rams followed by a couple that really deserved a second look. Careful scrutiny through the spotting scope determined that they were likely just short of making full curl. We continued to dissect the black holes and shale slides with binos and spotting scope until Darcy said, “Hey, check those big boys out!” For no apparent reason two magnificent were rams running, side by each, diagonally down and across a distant slide. Even at that distance of several miles away it didn’t matter that they didn’t stop and turn their heads

perfectly sideways for us to size up their curls. Judging by the shear mass of their horns it was certainly worth hiking all the way over there just to take a closer look. All we would need was a little luck finding them again once we got there since they had run right out of our view into the deep canyon below them. “Well, that’s what we came here for. Let’s go take a look.” Since there were only two rams Mike opted to stay a little closer to our spike camp and investigate the region to the east of where we were headed. The distance was way too far to be able to go there and get back the same day. It was even doubtful that we could make it before dark, which is pretty late that far north in August. We dropped all the gear we could afford to, including almost all our food, stove, extra clothes, sleeping bag and tent. We took just the essentials: a couple bottles of water, a few snacks, rain gear, guns, optics, and our bivy sacks. Thank goodness we took our bivy sacks. WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

Traveling light hastened our assault and we hoped it would minimize the strain under heavy loads on the return trip. We bid Mike a farewell and departed on our quest. As we traversed over several mountains on our ever-deepening journey we spotted many other groups of sheep including a couple of groups of rams that were much closer but unfortunately, not quite what we were looking for. It was getting on for 6:30 when we reached a point that finally provided a first glimpse of the canyon in to which the big boys had disappeared. Diligent searching with our glasses produced nothing. Eventually my binos started to wander until finally, on an even further ridge, I spotted two good rams bedded in the evening sun on the crest of a lower hogback. They looked pretty good through the Leicas, catapulting them to the status of target rams in spite of the complications presented by a difficult stock. We hurried to close the distance before dark and tried our best to stay out of sight, a near impossible task given where we and they were each situated. I’m not really sure if they spotted us and moved because they were spooked or if they were just doing their typical sheep thing, but at about eight o’clock they got up from their beds and fed over the edge, out of sight. Upon their disappearance I must say I was a little let down. We’d been givin ‘er bullets for eight hours and now they were gone. Maybe it was the wisdom of experience, or maybe it was wishful thinking, or just a gut feeling but I told Darcy we should still head down off the peak to the lower hogback to where the rams had disappeared. “Maybe they’ll just feed over the edge and rebed,” I said. The two rams, now being out of sight, certainly made the last hour of the stalk a lot easier. We closed the distance by about a half before dropping our packs and leaving everything behind except our guns and optics then fairly running down the hill to the last spot the rams had been seen. When we approached the vacant beds we slowed our pace and switched to stealth mode as we crept over the edge. Turns out it wasn’t WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

actually an edge at all, but more of a rounded off dome that slowly dropped off with increasing steepness. We sneaked down a hundred yards or so. It was still light but the sun had just dipped behind a distant peak. I was certain the rams were going to be revealed to us. I whispered to Darcy, “The good hunting starts now.” We began to spread apart at that point and sneaked further forward and downward, inch by inch in a squatting posture like a couple of ducks waddling along, raising our heads ever so briefly from time to time for a quick peek down the hill. A couple of hundred yards further I rose up for a peek then dropped to my knees and signaled to Darcy to do the same. I eased my head up just enough to peer over the bump between us and sure enough, the ram had me made and stood out of his bed. As it turned out, Darcy had spotted the other ram at about the same instant, lower down the hill standing fully broadside but unfortunately with his head obscured by a scrubby spruce tree. Curl confirmation was impossible preventing him from taking a shot. I didn’t see the one Darcy was looking at, or the big bull elk that had fed uphill from the depths of the valley below offering added distraction for Darcy. But I did see that I probably had about one second to get a shot off before the ram bolted. And yes, I completely blew it missing him clean at less than thirty yards. All hell broke loose.


Elk and sheep and hunters were running in all directions. Darcy ran downhill hoping for a clearer view, curl confirmation, and a shot. I ran side hill in the direction my ram had gone, hoping desperately for a second chance after my botched attempt. I felt like an olympian running the hurdles but am convinced I probably looked more like a gymnastic garden gnome hop scotching across the hillside. Amazingly, as I went around the corner of the hogback, the ram came trotting out of the draw between us and crossed the opposite flank. And wouldn’t you know it if he didn’t pause for a second to take a quick look at whatever it had been that caused all the commotion. In fact, he paused just long enough to present an opportunity for a second shot. A well placed shot this time that pounded him down onto the slide with a visible gore patch precisely where I’d aimed, right behind the shoulder. Still charged with excitement I continued to run, full tilt, across the steep hill side but was unable to close the gap. He kicked once or twice then showed me why they call slides “slides”. Down, down he went. Never getting up, but never stopping. Sliding, flipping, tumbling, right out of the picture, with me in hot pursuit. Down I went too, right after him, calling for Darcy to help direct me. He looked, I looked. Deeper and deeper until Darcy lost sight of me too. By then it was dark. I felt sick. It seemed that my ram had escaped me for a second time only this time a much greater loss with the likelihood that he was dead, or worse, wounded. Dejected we climbed back up to the scene of the crime. My spirits were marginally lifted when I saw what a good job Darcy did of marking the shooting spots and the “last seen” spot with some survey tape from his fanny pack. Always the optimist I thought this might help when we resume the search in the light of day. We gloomily trudged up the hill in the dark to our packs and prepared for a long, cold, miserable night in our bivy sacks. Around about midnight I was awakened by the sound of a pack of howling wolves in the valley below us; the same valley that our ram had tumbled and slid into. I was saddened to think that the best prospect for the morning might be to only manage to scavenge the horns from a mutilated carcass. We awoke early and returned to the orange ribbons with our packs and what little optimism we were able to muster. Indeed, Darcy had done a good a good job of taping and making mental notes of the mayhem that had transpired the previous evening. Something I had not done in my panicked state. He directed me to the last spot he had actually seen the ram slide and there were indications of him having passed that way. Then, while I stayed put, I directed him to a good vantage to further direct me and scan the increasingly steeper slope below us. Anxiety and despair were the emotions that engulfed me. My optimism was fading. Only a sense of 26

Stu with the ram.

duty spurred me on to keep looking. Then, to my overwhelming delight Darcy yelled down, “There he is!” No, the wolves had not gotten to him first. After reaching the bottom of the slide his momentum propelled him across an expanse of grass where he finally came to rest in a crumpled ball against a spruce tree facing up hill just enough for the curl of one horn to poke up over a couple of boulders in front of him. Darcy had done a fantastic job of spotting our ram. He directed me to the ram then quickly rejoined me for a celebration characterized more by a sense of relief that exhilaration. A celebration that was short lived as we soon started thinking how it had taken over nine hours of easy travel with empty packs to get there and we were faced with a grueling job just to butcher the ram and return to where we’d slept, before retracing our steps back to where we’d left our tent the day before. We got ‘er done though. We “Sevied” our way back to camp. Sevy is a friend whose technique is to walk so slow, and with such small steps, that regardless of the steepness, you never break a sweat or get out of breath. It works every time. It always amazes me to see how quickly we cover ground walking so slowly. The key is never stopping for a rest. It was a full-pull day but we managed to make it back to the tent before dark that night where we were welcomed by a committee of one. Mike prepared us a well deserved meal before we hit the sack in preparation for the next day. With the new day dawned the opening of the elk season and the start of another chapter in our continuing adventure. That particular day was uneventful and that suited us fine as we all plodded on toward the base camp where the horses and our packers awaited our return. WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

This Article has been contributed by the fine folks over at Beyond The Kill and can be found in its entirety here: https://beyondthekill.net/mountain-shooting-fundamentals-by-caylen-wojcik/

Photo: Guiderite Adventures Photography

by Caylen Wojcik

f you’re a hunter and you hunt in the mountains, learning to shoot in the mountains is a valuable skill to learn in order to facilitate your success in notching your tag. In the tactical/practical shooting community, we hear incessantly about “high angle” this and “high angle” that. These shooters think it’s all about the angles, but angles are actually a small part of being a proficient mountain shooter. Mountain shooting can be broken into three parts, and not all parts are equal with regard to workflow and comprehension. Once we understand the geometry of the firing solution, the rest is largely up to us as the shooter to correctly interpret the environmental conditions that influence our bullet in flight, and then be able to build a stable enough shooting position from which to deliver that shot as precisely as possible. Not an easy feat at all, as the shooter workload is intense, especially if time is of the essence. We’ll break this stuff down in a systematic way so you can devise a system that works for you.



The first step is understanding the geometry behind the firing solution. We’re going to spend the majority of our time on this topic because there’s a lot to be understood about it. To the unenlightened, “high angle” training locations are somewhat tough to come by, but are they? Again, what are we looking for in a training environment? Of course, we’d like to be able to simulate the decline angle, or incline angle, that best matches the environment we’ll be hunting in. For hunters, what would be your most extreme angle versus the range to the target? Once we understand the geometry of the angles and prove that the firing solution will provide us with the correct elevation to hit the target, this is now repeatable, it won’t change. Once that’s done, we should be training to perfect our workflow of incorporating that angle solution into our current shot workflow. This is really why shooting angles are dubbed an “advanced skill”. There’s nothing really tricky about angles, other than figuring out how to insert that part of the firing solution into your current workflow. When we shoot up or down, what happens to the bullet’s flight path? For years I’ve heard all kinds of explanations, but the most popular explanation is always “when you shoot uphill the bullet will land short, and downhill the bullet will land high.” This isn’t 100% true, and it’s not 100% false either. So, the way most people know how to correct for angles is to use the Rifleman’s Rule which is a simple WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

mathematical formula of; Line Of Sight (LOS) Range X Cosine of the shooting angle = Corrected (or Shoot To) Range. It’s really very simple geometry, but man, that’s a lot of data to crunch under time, right? Well, lots of folks have created products to help us out, most notably an angle cosine indicator that mounts to your rifle. Simply use your non-shooting eye to read the number on the dial while you’re in your shooting position. Multiply the range to the target by that number and boom, done. In theory, that’s it, but in reality, it’s a bit more complex than that. For years, this was the only way we as shooters knew how to solve for angles. It didn’t matter if we were shooting up, or down, the geometry was the same. But, I started noticing some things that were not quite lining up with regard to the prediction versus the actual performance I was seeing. Myself and my students we seemingly always hitting higher than anticipated with shots that were about 15 degrees or more. I

don’t subscribe to blaming equipment on misses, so I chalked it up to wind being present that I just couldn’t see, but with some recent advancements with trajectory mapping, we now see what’s really going on, and it’s an interesting phenomenon. Modern ballistic computers are incredibly powerful instruments in the palm of our hands. Smartphones abound, we have the ability to solve complex firing solutions on the fly with mountains (pun intended) of data and sleek user interfaces. Hornady’s new 4 DOF solver has brought the shooting community highly accurate bullet performance data through the use of Doppler radar mapping of bullets through their entire flight path. This allowed the ballisticians at Hornady to unlock some secrets with regard to bullet performance with inclines and declines. They discovered that the old rifleman’s rule of Range x Cosine wasn’t accurate past 10 degrees of incline or decline. The Hornady solver takes into account


several aerodynamic and environmental factors such as velocity vector alignment with gravity, the change in air density either up or down in elevation, and the relationship of the bullet path, line of sight, and the target, factors that geometry cannot account for. By seeing actual bullet performance with doppler radar mapping, we now have incredibly accurate solutions for angles that match bullet performance. For me as an instructor, learning this advancement solidified that I wasn’t, in fact, a crappy wind caller, but I was seeing the aerodynamic limitations of the Rifleman’s Rule. Now, how do we get this angle information and apply it to our firing solution? I suggest making a simple spreadsheet with your data broken into 10-degree increments to about 40 degrees. If anyone has shot at 40 degrees down or up, you know that looks can be deceiving and a 40 degree down angle is pretty much shooting off of a cliff. I’ll carry this pocket-sized spreadsheet with me in the field that goes along with my rifle’s data for quick reference in the event I need to account for an angle. For those of you that are saying “that’s a lot of work, making a spreadsheet when all I need to do is use my phone.” Solid plan, until it’s not. I rely on technology to a point, as in the modern world it’s foolish not to, but trying to navigate a smartphone screen with seconds to spare 30

won’t help you get that tag notched. Once we understand what’s going on with the bullet’s flight, that’s the easy part. Now the rubber meets the road and it’s up to us to put the last two pieces of the puzzle into place. Reading the environment, and building a solid shooting platform. Being a proficient mountain shooter is all about understanding, and correctly interpreting the conditions that influence our bullet’s trajectory, and that’s wind. Mountain wind is a crazy phenomenon because in true mountain conditions; it’s rarely the same and wind indicators are tough to come by. We can have prevailing winds which will get us a good starting point, but unless you’re shooting/hunting in the same area over and over again, each location you go to will be a new wind reading challenge. A proficient mountain shooter should be able to go to any mountainous location and be pretty close in correcting for wind simply based off of knowledge of what wind flow does and how terrain will influence that flow. It’s the baseline knowledge and experience here that separates the novices from the professionals. In mountain shooting, you can have all the knowledge in the world, but it means little unless you’ve got the experience in applying it. The key is getting to as many mountainous shooting locations you can and start watching the wind. Shoot in as many mountainous locations

as you can, and seek professional instruction. What you’re doing is building a database of experience from all those different locations so that when you’re hunting and see a certain condition you’ll have a reasonable course of action with regard to your wind call. We’re playing for keeps with animals, make your mistakes on steel where misses are costless learning experiences. The next part of the puzzle is being able to set yourself up in a solid shooting position to deliver your painstakingly calculated shot. That, for many, is a significant challenge, and without the proper equipment, you’re going to be limiting your ability to make shots that would otherwise be well inside your comfort zone on flat ground. This is where being trained in the fundamentals of marksmanship pays off in a big way. Knowing what to do with your body and your rifle so you can establish a natural point of aim is what this is all about. Know what your equipment can do to help you; a tripod, a rucksack, or a strategically placed wadded-up puffy jacket, is also a huge help. Again, this is where seeking professional instruction can pay off big time by having an experienced instructor show you the what, the why, and the how. Shooting in the mountains requires some specific gear, and now I just don’t go anywhere without it. A quality tripod that you’re intimately familiar with, a rucksack for additional support, and a rifle sling are all required equipment in my eyes. Mountain shooting isn’t all about math as we’ve discovered. Once we understand those fundamental concepts, the data is what it is. Being a successful mountain shooter is largely about understanding and interpreting mountain winds and being able to build a solid shooting position from which we deliver our precisely calculated shot. Moreso though, mountain shooting is all about building a level of experience that will help you understand your capabilities and limitations as a shooter in some of the most difficult shooting scenarios that the planet has to offer. As hunters, we know that the moment chooses us, and luck isn’t anything more than an opportunity meeting the prepared. Be consistent, be repeatable, and know your limits. WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC


Thompson River Bighorn sheep face population declines by 50% New collaboration determined to find out why Victoria, British Columbia - July 14, 2022 Thompson River bighorn sheep populations have seen a drastic reduction by up to 50% over the last 6 to 8 years from approximately 750 individuals to approximately 350-375. The cause of this is currently unknown, but data suggests poor lamb survival and recruitment are the dominant factors. An alliance of concerned conservationists has taken a stance to get to the root cause of this situation. The Wild Sheep Society of B.C (WSSBC) and its members have so far committed $72,500 to this critical undertaking. $52,500 will be used to purchase 40 GPS collars with a further $20,000 allocated to helicopter capture time. We are incredibly excited to announce partner funding from the Eastern Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation to add to this vital project. Additionally, the Eastern WSF and WSSBC are asking their members to support this project which will result in a 3-to-1 dollar match. The Eastern WSF, WSSBC and the Jurassic Classic fundraiser will each match every dollar donated. “The collaboration among chapters and affiliates is paramount to the preservation of our Wild Sheep. The ECWSF is a proud partner of the work being done for the Thompson River bighorn sheep and look forward to continuing our support on this initiative and others, in conjunction with the Wild Sheep Society of British Columbia” added Robert Rogan, President of the Eastern Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation. “We are incredibly thankful for the support of the Eastern Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation, who are standing alongside us in our mission. This is a great opportunity for membership involvement to continue to make a significant and meaningful difference on the landscape,” said Kyle Stelter, WSSBC CEO. Multiple stake and title holder groups have come together in a collaboration like no other, with a purpose to find out the root cause of this decline and to act to stabilize, and then reverse it. The Wild Sheep Society of B.C is proud to be collaborating with the Skeetchestn Indian Band, Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓ pemc, BC Wildlife Federation, and Thompson Rivers University on this project. ### About the Wild Sheep Society of BC The Wild Sheep Society of BC is a non-profit registered Society dedicated to the protection and enhancement of wild sheep and wild sheep habitat throughout “Beautiful British Columbia”. Putting tens of thousands of volunteer hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars into conservation projects in BC since 1998, the WSSBC is committed to its vision statement of “Putting more sheep on the mountains”. Kyle Stelter Chief Executive Officer 250-619-8415 kstelter@wildsheepsociety.com WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC


This Article has been contributed by the fine folks over at Beyond The Kill and can be found in its entirety here: https://beyondthekill.net/how-to-avoid-the-bonk-on-extended-backcountry-hunts-by-dustin-diefenderfer/

n this article, Dustin Diefenderfer, founder of MTNTOUGH Fitness Lab, covers the science behind why backcountry hunters often struggle in the mountains. While most people assume that performance boils down to a combination of fitness and grit, there is more to this equation. If you’re not accounting for “caloric burn rate”, you’re not maximizing your potential or your chances of success. What is MTNTOUGH? MTNTOUGH Fitness Lab located in Bozeman, MT, has established itself as the elite source for improving mental toughness, physical preparation, and performance research for the backcountry hunter. They have assembled an impressive team for this task, including Alex Fichtler (Former US Navy SEAL), Ara Megerdichian (US Army Ranger, Lieutenant Colonel and former West Point Instructor), and Jimmy Alsobrook (Mountain Training Legend & National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer). Lifelong backcountry hunter and MTNTOUGH’s founder, Dustin Diefenderfer, explains, “ We strive to find out what makes the excellent tick, and what gives them the indomitable, 32

never quit, next ridgeline mentality and strength. We study it, measure it, test it, unpack it and then teach it to others.” R&D MTNTOUGH is continuously researching backcountry performance in “The Lab”, their Bozeman location where on any given day you will see some of the worlds most committed backcountry hunters strolling in for a workout alongside elk hunting guides, SEALS, Bozeman locals, city cops and firefighters. “Research and development has always been at our core, we are always looking for new ways to enhance performance & grit in the high country, and we learn from many different demographics, but always test things first on ourselves”, Dustin Diefenderfer explains. The “Bonk” Enter Dustin… This past spring we kicked off a new research project that endeavored to answer a critical question for the backcountry hunter. Why do many physically & mentally prepared hunters unexpectedly crash on multiday, intense, backcountry trips under heavy load? The crash would come on slowly at first with some fatigue, loss

of strength, and brain fog… but at some point during the hunt, they would always hit a wall. That moment when their mind and body would completely shut down. Something was missing, these hunters were in phenomenal shape…it wasn’t a physical problem, or mental, they were simply running out of fuel. It’s hard to explain to someone if they’ve never experienced it. One minute you are doing ok and the next, you are convinced you might not make it out. Endurance athletes have a name for it… it’s called “Bonking.” As soon as you bonk, you lose your mental capacity tenfold and the hunt might as well be over. Your energy is gone. You can’t think straight. And fear sets in. For those that have experienced it, they usually describe it as “my body just shut down.” So, what’s going on here? We launched an in-depth study on “bonking” as it relates to caloric needs, caloric burn, caloric deficits, and its impacts on backcountry performance. Over this past year we’ve been tracking mountain athletes’ caloric burn rates at high elevation, over rugged terrain, and on extended trips with both light packs and heavy packs. Being properly fueled WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

in the backcountry can be complex and clearly each individual responds differently based on their unique physiology. But we did discover some general findings that can change the game for many backcountry hunters… Here’s What We Found Most hunters, even experienced backcountry hunters, aren’t aware of how many calories they burn in the backcountry. Many pack breakfast, lunch, dinner and lots of snacks with no understanding of their daily, hourly or total caloric needs. The Bottom Line? They weren’t eating enough. They were burning far more calories than they were taking in, and over a 3, 5, or 7-day period, they were crashing. Their “caloric burn rate” was out of balance. On the other hand, we found that hunters with the best on-mountain performance (strength, stamina, mental clarity), consumed more volume, ate more frequently each day, and selected foods that packed more punch, than other hunters. They understood how many calories they were burning given the conditions of the trip and followed a plan to ensure they were staying fueled daily. Each trip is unique and an early season hunt with warm temperatures and less gear requires far less fuel than a late season endeavor. But, hunters were packing the same amount of calories regardless of trip type, leading to a significant caloric deficit under longer days & harsher conditions. The combination of elevation, cold temperatures, rugged terrain, and heavy backpacks all combine to burn more calories than you’re used to. Additionally, altitude will suppress your appetite, and when you are focused on hunting, many people simply forget to eat the food they bring. The key to preparing for your hunt so you can avoid “The Bonk” boils down to planning for your caloric burn rate…and managing it throughout your hunt. What This Looks Like On a 7-Day Backcountry Trip Here is an example of what this starts to look like on a 8-day Montana DIY backcountry elk hunt. Far from the WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

truck, with no food drop, the fuel for your 8-day trip is on your back as you cover 5-8 miles per day. So, planning for your caloric burn rate is critical. Let’s look at John, a 33 year old backcountry hunter that weighs 180 pounds. Based on his body type, he typically burns around 2,500 calories during a normal day. On Day 1 of his hunt, John hikes for 6 miles carrying a 50 pound pack. He’ll burn close to 5,000 calories that day, almost 2X what his body is used to. Let’s say he harvests an elk on day 5 and hikes out with the rear quarter and back straps. John will burn close to 5,500 calories that day, and will need to go back in for a second trip of meat the next day. As you can see his caloric burn rate is significant on a trip like this and he needs to watch it closely to avoid “bonking”. This is how many calories he’s going to burn during that time: Day 1

Day 2

Body Weight (lbs)


Body Weight (lbs)


Pack Weight (lbs)


Pack Weight (lbs)


Distance (Miles)


Distance (Miles)


Elevation Gain (Feet) Avg. Hiking Speed (mph)

2400 1.5

Basic Caloric Requirement


Calories Burned Hunting Total Day 1 Calories Burned

Elevation Gain (Feet) Avg. Hiking Speed (mph)

1000 2

Basic Caloric Requirement



Calories Burned Hunting



Total Day 2 Calories Burned


Day 3

Day 4

Body Weight (lbs)


Body Weight (lbs)


Pack Weight (lbs)


Pack Weight (lbs)


Distance (Miles)


Distance (Miles)

Elevation Gain (Feet) Avg. Hiking Speed (mph)

1250 2

Basic Caloric Requirement


Calories Burned Hunting Total Day 3 Calories Burned

Elevation Gain (Feet) Avg. Hiking Speed (mph)

4 1145 2

Basic Caloric Requirement



Calories Burned Hunting



Total Day 4 Calories Burned


Day 5

Day 6

Body Weight (lbs)


Body Weight (lbs)


Pack Weight (lbs)


Pack Weight (lbs)


Distance (Miles)


Distance (Miles)

Elevation Gain (Feet) Avg. Hiking Speed (mph)

1500 1

Basic Caloric Requirement


Calories Burned Hunting Total Day 5 Calories Burned

Elevation Gain (Feet) Avg. Hiking Speed (mph)

6 1500 1

Basic Caloric Requirement



Calories Burned Hunting



Total Day 6 Calories Burned


Day 7

Day 8

Body Weight (lbs)


Body Weight (lbs)


Pack Weight (lbs)


Pack Weight (lbs)


Distance (Miles)


Distance (Miles)

Elevation Gain (Feet) Avg. Hiking Speed (mph)

1500 1

Basic Caloric Requirement


Calories Burned Hunting Total Day 7 Calories Burned

Elevation Gain (Feet) Avg. Hiking Speed (mph)

6 1500 1.5

Basic Caloric Requirement



Calories Burned Hunting



Total Day 8 Calories Burned



What you’ll notice is that John is burning far more calories than his body is used too. He will burn nearly 40,000 calories in this hypothetical 8-day trip. Look more closely at day 5. That’s when he’s started to really crank up the demands on his body with his heavy pack. His risk of “bonking” is through the roof at that point, and it all depends on what he’s been doing to manage his caloric burn rate leading up to that point. During our initial research, we tracked several 200 pound male mountain athletes and found they burned upwards of 6,000 calories during 12-hour, high elevation, heavy-pack shed hunting trips this spring. But Here’s the Problem Many of these individuals only packed and consumed 2,000 calories, leaving them with a 4,000 calorie deficit. When your body burns more calories than it consumes during heavy exertion, especially during a multi-day event like hunting, it creates the conditions for a severe energy crash. On-mountain performance (strength, stamina, and mental clarity) will gradually decrease as a hunter’s calorie deficit increases 34

day after day. Basically, you’re trying to manage the calorie gap, between your daily burn and daily consumption, especially over multi-day expeditions. As you can see, being properly fueled in the backcountry can take some planning. Especially when you consider the impacts of altitude, the weight, mass and cost of calorie dense foods, and simply forgetting to eat because you’re too focused on the stalk. 3 Tips to Manage Your Caloric Burn Rate for Extended Backcountry Hunts If you want to have better performance during your hunts, and avoid crashing in the mountains, follow these three steps to build your backcountry nutrition plan. The idea of a having backcountry nutrition plan is simply to calculate how many calories you will burn per day versus how many calories you are packing per day on a given trip, and then manage it the best you can, given the restraints of backcountry hunting. The plan doesn’t need to be complicated, it can actually be rather simple. Building your backcountry nutrition plan can be done in these three steps:

Tip 1: Estimate Your Caloric Burn Rate For Your Hunt This first step is an eye opener for many backcountry hunters as they often aren’t aware of the significant number of calories they burn per day in the field. That’s why we created The MTNTOUGH Backcountry Calorie Calculator to help you with this step using a calculation based on bodyweight, pack weight, distance, elevation gain and average hiking speed. To calculate this number, we utilize what’s known as the “ACSM” or “Pandolf” equations, which were initially developed for the military and has been used since the 1970s to estimate how much energy it takes to hike with a heavy pack on. Remember, not all hunts are equal. High country mule deer hunts above tree line will likely require more calories than a lower elevation antelope hunt down in the plains. The important part is understanding what each hunt will require from your body. Once you’ve calculated how many calories you’ll be burning each day during your hunt, you’ll need to plan your meals to support them. WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

A big mistake many hunters make is to pack their meals without planning them. In other words, just throwing a bunch of food in our packs and calling it good… Your food needs to be planned to accomplish specific calorie goals! If your hunts are anything like ours, you’re likely still going to be operating at a calorie deficit. That’s ok, the most important thing to remember is to optimize your performance and not let the calorie deficit get too far ahead of you day-after-day. For most people reading this, that will mean packing more food, so you eat more calories than you would during a normal day at home, and eating every 1-2 hours. The MTNTOUGH Backcountry Calorie Calculator will help with this step and has a tab to plan your daily meals based on your burn rate, and allows you to manage your caloric deficit.

packing out his bull, then he bumps up his consumption to 4,550 to manage his caloric deficit. Packing and consuming over 5,000 calories per day is typically unrealistic in the high country. Most individuals can’t consume that much food anyway, and if they could, most don’t want to pack that much weight. Certainly hunters can get by on much less than their daily caloric burn for short periods, but it really boils down to a matter of performance over an extended period of time. The most important thing is to manage your caloric burn rate so it doesn’t get out of control as your hunt progresses.

As long as John keeps it reasonable, he should be ok to manage his energy levels and on-mountain performance throughout this trip. Make sure you’ve added up your meals and snacks to hit your goal each day to lessen the impact of the miles on your body. Tip 2: Eat Foods That Pack More Punch Many people stop at the gas station and grab whatever food they can find before a hunt. If you’re reading this, you’re probably not one of those people. You probably plan your food and calculate weight and mass into the equation. With

Here’s an example of John’s meal planning for his 7-day backcountry hunt: As you can see in John’s plan, he is packing for and consuming about 4,000 calories per day, until he starts WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC


this new “caloric burn rate” idea, it’s important that you choose foods that pack more of a punch to keep your burn rate lower. The old backpackers adage of “take foods that have 150 calories or more per ounce” is something you’ve likely heard before. The only problem with that rule, is that sometimes those types of foods are actually unhealthy and won’t help your body stay fueled in the backcountry. Here are two foods that you can add to your pack this fall that pack a strong punch: Coconut Oil – These can be found in small 1oz packages and usually deliver around 212 calories per that one ounce. Virgin coconut oil will give you more of that coconut flavor, but if you’re not a big fan of the taste, get “refined” coconut oil, which has most of the flavor removed. Packing high fat foods, such as coconut oil has been a difference maker for us. Fat has the highest calorie per gram ratio, is an awesome long term energy source, aids in keeping your body warm and promotes better sleep. Dark Chocolate – Getting a more pure dark chocolate, like something in the 72% range, will usually deliver around 164 calories, and it tastes great. Our favorite aspect of dark chocolate is, depending on the source, it is packed with natural stimulants, keeping your brain focused and alert. An excellent quick energy source that you can keep handy and snack on throughout the day. Consider adding these two foods to your daily rations when you plan your next hunt. Tip 3: Eat All Day The key is to continuously fuel your body throughout the day to reach your daily calorie goals. But, you need a plan to make sure this actually happens in the field. Elevation and fatigue will work together to suppress your appetite, adding to your risk of bonking so, break your food out into daily rations and make sure you are consuming all the calories every day. Ensure that the snacks you need to meet your calorie goals are easily accessible so you can eat throughout the day without stopping. 36

Make sure you’re getting fuel every 1-2 hours to maintain performance. To make this as easy as possible, eat while you move and while you sit. If you’ve packed right, you’ll always have snacks and things to chew on handy so when you’re sitting in a stand or moving up a trail you can be eating small items by hand. Continuously fuel your body throughout the course of each day. Trying to jam in 2,000 – 3,000 calories by the fire at night is just going to make you bloated and weak – you need to spread your calories out over the day. If you’ve planned it right, packed it right, and carried it right – you’ll have food with you all the time and you’ll notice your backcountry performance will be improved. Avoid the Bonk When You Plan Your Next Hunt Many times, the difference between a successful hunt and going home early comes down to how your body performs. The demands of the backcountry can sneak up on the best of us and increasing your backcountry performance can set you up for more success. When you’re

short on time, you’re just going to gravitate to what you’ve done before to prep for hunting season. But what’s familiar isn’t always the best… Bonking can happen to anyone, but the guys who properly prepare their nutrition plan for the backcountry have a much lower risk. Just grabbing whatever food is handy and throwing it in your pack could be a huge mistake… and one that can put you at risk in the mountains. Start building your backcountry nutrition plan to have more energy, more endurance, and more success this hunting season. And as temperatures drop, this concept of your “caloric burn rate” becomes even more important, so it’s not too late to make changes. If you’d like more help planning your next hunt, download the MTNTOUGH Backcountry Calorie Calculator to estimate your caloric burn, plan your meals, and prepare your gear for whatever the mountain throws at you. You may be fit enough, and you may have the grit to push through anything in your path, but if you don’t eat properly, you’re leaving performance on the table that could make the difference between a full freezer and a cold bowl of tag soup. WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

by Taylor Nairn have been a big game hunter for the past twelve years. In the spring of 2020, I sparked an interest in bear hunting after hearing so many good things about bear meat through podcasts and 1Campfire. The first two seasons were filled with day trip adventures with the family in the southwest corner of the province. During those seasons we were able to show bear tracks and scat to our young son. Despite positive sign

early on, due to travel restrictions we had to explore new to us and different areas and ultimately were unsuccessful. We continued to get out and explore a variety of areas where we would find mule deer or black tail and the occasional moose. The spring colours and animals we were able to show our son would make up for the slow bear hunting days. 38

Fast forwarding to 2022 we relocated our family to the interior, a place where the outdoors was right at our back door. During the winter months we were fortunate enough to see bighorn sheep on their winter range which for the whole family was an amazing experience. From our home we could see mule deer regularly spending their winter on the south slopes of the surrounding mountains. As the snow receded, I kept an eye out for the first signs of bears, and at the end of March while I was glassing for animals on the mountains, I found a cinnamon sow and cub right at the top of the mountain. That was enough evidence for me to think it was it was time to get out and look for bears more seriously. I looked at the same mountain range as where I saw the sow and cub thinking maybe there are more bears out of their dens due to the low snowpack. I did some E-scouting of that mountain range and found what looked to be an alpine pond, I decided it may be a good spot to head to as there is not much open water in the area. On April 10, 2022, I had breakfast with the family, then left for a hunt and figured I would try to be home for our Easter dinner around six. We had a ten-

month-old puppy, Archer, at home and I thought this short day would be a great training and exercise opportunity for him. Not too long into our hike I noticed he was chewing at one of his paws. I managed to remove the cactus thorns he was chewing at, and we carried on. We made it up to a nice vantage point where we would stop for a snack, we watched for movement and looked for fresh sign. There was about another kilometre to go before reaching the lake near the top of the mountain range. As we worked our way up the mountain I would check the wind direction, and as we crested the plateau, I noticed the pond had a thick tree cover. We began to make our way around the trees surrounding the lake looking for a view of the shoreline. Finally, I found a break in the trees and saw a large cinnamon bear at roughly 100 yards. I backed up and dropped my trekking poles and backpack, when I had the bear in view again it was laying down in the dry lake bottom eating the new grass shoots. After two unsuccessful seasons I was very nervous finally having a bear in my sights. Looking at my shooting lanes there was tall sage brush in front of me and a small window at standing height through the branches WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

of the shoreline trees. Putting my sights on the bear I was way too shaky to make a comfortable shot, so I pulled out my tripod and set up for a supported standing position. This was just what I needed at the time and provided me an opportunity to verify that this was not the sow and cub I saw two weeks prior. After about ten minutes of watching this bear, I had determined it was alone. The bear was not focused on anything but the grass in front of it, had it been looking around more it would have led me to believe it could have been a sow with cubs. I had never exposed Archer to a gunshot yet, but I was able to get him to sit just behind me. After the shot he startled a little but stayed almost in place. The bear took off to my right out of the little bowl that the dry lakebed was in. I followed it with my rifle in hopes of a follow up shot; however, the bear was incredibly fast, and the cover was too thick. After a few minutes I went down to where the bear was, the ground was frozen, there was no blood or hair, and the tracks were non-existent. I followed in the rough direction I had seen it run, glassing ahead to see if I could find the bear, I ended up finding one good track on a main game trail that I followed until I found it about 250 yards from the lake under three big trees. The bear had not expired yet, I took an additional shot and made my way down to it. This bear was bigger than I expected, and I realised the work ahead of me was going to be difficult as this was my first solo backpack harvest. WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

Archer was unsure of the bear and barked and growled at the boar, I used my paracord as a lead so Archer would stay close. After all the excitement, Archer took this opportunity to eat, hydrate and take a nap. He would wake every so often to look around and bark at who knows what. This terrified me as I regularly thought another bear was coming in. After three hours of processing the bear and hanging the hide over a branch and a game bag in the tree for the night we began our trek home. Archer was carrying all my pullouts from my backpack, which was roughly 10 pounds; however, that helped with volume inside my pack. I was able to fit all four quarters inside my Kifaru Ma Deuce and secure the load. We had 2.6 km and 400 m of elevation to descend back to the truck. I made it back to the truck just before 6 pm and was almost on time for ham dinner. Never carrying an animal off the mountain like that before I immediately had to know how heavy the pack was. I weighed the pack alone and it was 97 pounds without my rifle or chest harness attached. Despite it being a difficult hike out I was comfortable with the pack system.

The temperatures overnight were a few degrees below zero at our house, which meant it would be colder than that on the mountain. I didn’t get to bed until after midnight as I began processing the meat I had already brought home. I woke up next morning a little sore but ready to go, I headed back up the mountain, without Archer, to collect one game bag of meat, the head and hide. I was able to find a little more direct route up the mountain and made quick work of getting up to the remainder of the bear. The hide and meat were both frozen solid, this made folding the hide to fit into my pack very difficult. I assumed the second days pack was going to be a much lighter pack; however, it turned out to be only a couple pounds less. Once home it was time to finish butchering, trying to keep as much of the bear in whole muscle groups for meals at home. I broke the bear down into meat for ground, shanks, hams, roasts, loins, trimmings, and fat. We have enjoyed this bear, in a multitude of ways, including jalapeno cheddar smokies, landjager, polish garlic sausage, shank roast, and a number of other home cooked meals like the BBQ bear bowl.


his is my first attempt at rendering, and I have read about a variety of methods. I chose to do it in a slow cooker, not knowing if it would have a strong smell for my pregnant wife. It was perfect because of the lid and I could move the slow cooker to a window or outside if necessary. There are several things I have learned from this experience. When removing the fat from the bear it is important to try and keep it clean, this bear did not have large deposits of fat, but lots of smaller ones. I cleaned the fat by removing hair or debris and then rinsing the little bit of blood from the fat. I rendered it even with a slight reddish tinge otherwise there would have been no fat to render after trimming. I then transferred it back to a pan in the fridge or freezer for it to firm up before cutting into cubes, or strips for the grinder. Once cubed or ground I put it in the slow cooker for a couple hours, the ground fat turns to oil faster. As it cooks the ground or cubed fat will reduce in size, at some point

INGREDIENTS For the roast

● 2 pound roast ● 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce

For the yams

● 3 yams ● 2 tsp of chilli powder ● A pinch of cinnamon ● Enough oil to toss and coat

For the coleslaw

● ¾ cup mayonnaise ● 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar ● 1 Tbsp soy sauce ● ¼ tsp salt ● 14 oz bagged coleslaw Inspired by 40aprons BBQ chicken Bowl.


you will notice the shrinking stop. From what I can tell other than squeezing it into a strainer that’s the maximum yield you are going to get. The next step is to get the oil into containers. I used 500 ml jars for myself and 250 ml jars to give to friends and family. I used a ladle to spoon the oil into the funnel with cheese cloth. I tried not to pour the oil at all as it was just previously boiling and would burn very easily. Finally, I put the lids on immediately and as the yellowish oil cooled and solidified into a bright white grease the lids popped down. I understand that the oil can be stored on a shelf or in a cool place. I have chosen to keep it in the freezer and just take them out as needed. In the fridge they will be more of a solid grease like store bought lard. If you choose to keep it out of the fridge it will be more of a semi-solid oil depending on temperature if it separates at all just stir or shake before use. I tried both grinding and cubing the fat before cooking and they both have different outcomes. If you like eating pork rinds I would recommend cubing

the fat as the cracklings that come from cubing the fat are larger. If you want more oil from the render grinding is a better option, my cracklings from grinding were closer to the size of rice. Both ways of preparing work well. The cracklings were a very mild flavour and work well as dog treats.

Items used for rendering: Slow cooker, meat grinder, metal funnel, cheese cloth strainer, glass jars & a ladle

1. Thaw the bear roast overnight in the fridge, first thing in the morning add to the slow cooker with your favourite BBQ sauce and let cook for 6-8 hours or until easily pulled. 2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. 3. For the yams, toss in chili powder, cinnamon, in bear, avocado or refined coconut oils on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Stir them well before returning to the oven. Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until they are browning on edges, but not too crunchy or crisp. 4. While the yams roast, chop your favourite pickles into bite sized pieces 5. To make the coleslaw dressing, mix all remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Then place the coleslaw mix in a medium bowl and pour the dressing over mixing thoroughly. 6. Assemble the bowls by dividing the sweet potatoes, BBQ bear, and coleslaw evenly among 4 bowls. Top with a couple of pickle slices, and garnish with fresh chopped parsley if desired. WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

August 19 We woke up before 7. Checking the weather, today was our golden day. Scheduled to rain the next few days we were determined to make some miles. We packed up light, leaving out tent behind and headed down the ridge. Crossing a shale slide (my favourite) to start the journey. We glassed and hiked, glassed, and hiked. We walked narrow (I mean N A R R O W) goat trails on top of the world, crossed large shale slides and even did some parkour (not the fun kind) through some boulders. It felt like a video game, where you have to pass so many obstacles until you get princess peach. Except princess peach is the elusive big ram you dream about. Everywhere you think they would be tucked away, nothing. Only a few ewes and banana heads passed out on a lower bench. We hiked 8 kilometres that averaged around 4 hours. We almost reach the end and Danny’s spirit suddenly rises. A flock of sheep in the distance. Hoping for a band of rams, we raise our spotters and spot nothing but ewes and lambs, our hearts sink, and we proceed to sit and snack. What to do, what to do. Danny takes another look through the spotting scope and sees 3 new sheep arise from the hillside. All rams, here to push the ewes out of their 42

feeding zone. We instantly start gauging them and notice a really nice white-faced ram, with a possible breach? Hard to tell. Plot twist is, there are about 20 ewes benched up between us and the rams. We currently sit 800 yards away. Danny decides to get a better look while Krüz and I hold down the mountain top bench. He side hills it out of sight and pops up close to the ewes. Wind in our favour, Danny takes a better look. He is now 400 yards closer. The rams start feeding and end up in a low spot, out of his sight. The ewes slowly start to wake and feed downwards. Giving Danny another chance to get closer. We watch as the rams take turns grazing and bedding. Danny makes another move to get around 140 yards away. I watch as he leaves his spotter and goes for his gun. 3 hours pass by (flies by for me) as we now wait for the perfect shot. The rams are bedded, occasionally switching spots while chewing their cud. We wait them out, while a ewe decides to join them. First making a grand appearance next to Danny. The wind is in still in his favour. She smells his boots and casually canters onwards. The rams are

unalarmed and seem more so annoyed that she showed up to see them. Boom. Suddenly one ram stands up, casually grazing. Next one is the heavier based ram, probably 7 years old. He stands up, leaving the white faced broomed out ram bedded. It seems to happen so quick, but in slow motion. The last ram stands up. From my view, he is broadside to Danny. I watch through my spotter as the old ram stiffens up. The gun shot echo shortly follows and echoes through the valley. The ram quickly falls to the ground. Excitement fills my chest. I cannot imagine the emotion that Danny feels. Krüz and I pack up and jaunt over the next 800 yards to meet up with him. We pass a banana head on route while the two rams run around confused and WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

unaware of what just happened. Perfect shot. Perfect ram. We admire his beauty. Such a beautiful animal. It is just past 6 now. We start to fight the light, caping and harvesting the meat. Packs full we try to make the sketchy boulder climbs before the night hinders on us. Danny with the huge head and cape and the meat on my back, we hike 8 km back to camp. Sheep eyes in the headlights. Walking shale slides in the pitch black, I could hear sheep knocking shale rock from above us. Trying to keep my composure through it all. We arrive to sheep camp with a broken tipi tent that had succumbed to the wind. It is 1:30 am and I am broken but feeling accomplished. August 20 We wake up at 4:45 am. 3 hours of sleep in us we pack up our camp and add it to our pre-existing weighted packs. This is a ‘you had to be there’ moment to understand the amount of weight on our backs that we were both going through. We leave just around 6 am, headed down. S L O W and steady we move. The rain slowly follows us. We try for a shortcut bypassing goat camp and taking an avalanche shoot. This would soon be a big steep mistake, but we made it. I struggled, I cried, and I slid down the grassy slopes of the mountain. Danny and Krüz keeping me going as they paraded onwards. We step onto flat ground and my rubbed bare back struggles, but boy did stepping foot in camp feel nice. Did I mention Danny shot a Ram? Celebration started as the meat was hung, and the stories


Shoulder Mount by Craig @ Artistic Wildlife Creations.

were told. After 3 years of pursuing sheep, Danny cut his tag on a beauty old white-faced Ram that had a double broom and breached his nose who is believed to be 9 + years. Noon at camp is when we arrived. What a perfect hunt.


Fireweed Jelly e have all seen the incredibly vibrant fireweed that seemingly grows everywhere. From along the roadside, to up in the backcountry, this plentiful ‘weed’ is amazing for the forager. Sustainable and renewable are key to living off the landscape. Fast to pick, and fun for the whole family – the colour and flavours that pop from this tasty treat is sure to keep you coming back year after year. A helpful tip that makes picking fast – Strip the flowers and buds from the stalks by running the stalk through your fingers. Once you get the hang of it, it is super easy. I don’t wash the flowers and buds – but I do keep the bucket outside for an hour or so to give the ‘hitchhikers’ time to escape.

Makes roughly 3 ½ cups of jelly

● 8 cups firmly packed fireweed flowers and buds ● 1 teaspoon lemon juice ● 1 package (57g) powdered pectin – do not use liquid pectin ● 3 cups white sugar ● ½ teaspoon butter


1. Put the fireweed flowers and buds into a large pot and add enough water to JUST cover. You will be able to add more water after. 2. Bring the goodies to a boil and let it go until the colour is gone from the flowers and they look almost ‘grey’. 3. Strain the liquid through two layers of cheesecloth, and twist to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. It might look brown or dark, but do not despair! That will change. 4. Add as much fresh water as needed to bring the amount to 2 ½ cups of ‘juice’. 5. In a clean pot, add the lemon juice, butter, and pectin to the juice. 6. Bring to a full boil and boil hard for 60 seconds. This is important to get the pectin to ‘activate’. 7. Add the sugar and boil hard for another 60 seconds, stirring constantly. 8. Remove from heat and pour into hot sterile jars and process with snap lids in boiling water for 5 minutes. 9. Once processed, remove carefully, and set on the counter. The satisfying sounds of the jars popping as they seal will happen as they cool. The vibrant pink you are waiting for will appear as it sets – up to 24 hours. Make sure you do a double batch, as this is something your friends will want to try. 44


Thank you to our Monarchs for elevating us to new heights! Monarch Platinum: (30)Don Lynum (79)Tom Foss

(9)Omer Hrbinic (12)John Davies

Monarch Gold:

(1)David Heitsman (17)Malcolm Bachand (31)Bill Pastorek (24)Mike Southin (29) Erik Skaaning (94) Cameron Foss

Monarch Silver:

(4)David Hale (21)Jeff Glaicar (37)Peter Gutsche (52)Terry Earl (15)Chad Rattenbury (49)Adam Janke (6)Kyle Stelter (33)Oliver Busby (8)Kevin Hurley (55)Chris Barker (85)Casey Cawston (53)Benjamin Matthews (56) Scott Albrechtsen (64) Ricky Roman


(3)Barry Watson (5)Darryn Epp (11)Ken Kitzman (13)Gray Thornton (14)Brad Moore (16)Colin Peters (19)Rodney Zeeman (20)Josh Hamilton (22)Korey Green (25)Kelly Cioffi (27)Carlos Dionisio (28)John Woodcock (34)Neil Armsworthy (35)Stefan Bachmann (38)Justin Leung (39)Sean Davidson (42)Robin Routledge (43)Kyle Southgate (46)David Pearse (47)Frank Briglio (51)Branden Adams (53)Ben Matthews (56)Scott Albrechtsen (57)Clint Gill (60)Greg Rensmaag (61)JT Hansen (63)Mike Tomlinson (64)Ricky Roman (66)Sabrina Larsen (67)Magnus Mussfield (69)Darren Thomson (70)Dean Bergen (72)Levi Reid (73)Nick Negrini (75)Glen Watkins (76)Caelin Folsom (80)Jeff Jackson (81)Nolan Osborne (83)Jesse Wuerch (86)Greg Nalleweg (88)Daniel Mclaren (89)Russ Burmatoff (91)Tyler Sawicki (92)Joey Prevost (95)Mark Gushattey (97)Melanie Stelter (99)Gabriel Krahn (100)Michael Surbey (102)Alex Kairouz (103)Ben Stourac (105) Kyle Burritt (106)Anthony Klubi (109) Don Stevenson (110) Joe Eppele (112) Andrea Mussfeld (113) Ryan Jones WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

(10)Daryll Hosker (2)Frank Miles (96) Adam Foss (41)Steven Rochon (58)Nolan Wannop (45)Rob Englot (78)Trevor Querel (84)Jeffrey Brown (92) Joey Prevost (108)Barry “Bear” Brandow (7)Waylon Vipond (50)Lawrence van der Peet (18)Chase Oswald (23)Foster Thorpe -Doubble (26)Fred Vitali (32)Nathan French (36)Rebecca Peters (40)Rod Deighton (44)Mike Kirk (48)Chris Wheeler (54)David Heathfield (59)Ben Berukoff (62)Jeff Agostinho (65)Stu Rhodes (68)Rhett Pedersen (71)Glen Cartwright (74)Craig Stolle (77)Jonathan Proctor (82)Steve Hamilton (87)Darcy East (90)Devon Stuart (93)Don Willimont (98)Arnold Zwiers (101)Kyle Noble (104)Chuck Peeling (107)Jonathan Viel (111)Michel Beaulieu (114) Dale Hislop 45

ack in 2020 I attended the Wild Sheep Foundation Sheep Show in Reno, Nevada and met many wonderful women engaged in hunting or supporters of hunters. It was a fantastic experience to witness many women at their annual Ladies Luncheon, cheering for the cause and having a great time. What really touched me, however, was one of the conference seminars I attended. During the meeting, there was a discussion about creating a platform where women could learn to hunt or become supporters of hunters and conservationists. This seminar was led by Renée Thornton, the Chair of Wild Sheep Foundation’s Women Hunt initiative. I was in awe of Renée and what these ladies had created together. Dr. Helen Schwantje, a retired British Columbia Provincial Wildlife 46

Veterinarian was also in attendance, and I sat near her and a group of women. I recall Helen speaking about the birth and death cycle and how important it is that we learn to accept both. She discussed that it’s a part of life; they go together, and you cannot have one without the other. Helen’s comments resonated with me, and as the seminar concluded I came away with a renewed perspective and an incredible level of respect for Helen. I felt empowered and touched, by these amazing established women, listening and speaking to others about improving the hunting community for women and becoming better conservationists. Many wonderful ideas began to emerge for me, and I started to imagine how nice it would be for the Wild Sheep Society of BC to offer a women’s luncheon or seminar. I felt strongly about giving

women something they could attend and providing a more inclusive environment at the Society’s fundraising events. Fast forward to the summer of 2021, when I first heard of the Women Hunt program on Wild Sheep Society’s Talk is Sheep podcast. I heard Renée’s voice and instantly I connected with her program - this was something I really wanted to do. I had been hunting for several years; however, I had not successfully harvested an animal and I was struggling. I was afraid of my rifle, but mostly I lacked confidence. On our hunting trips on numerous occasions, I patiently watched my husband pursue, harvest and process the animal. I just could not find my groove and started to become discouraged. I was almost ready to give up and thought that maybe hunting just is not for me, even though I had been around it for many years. WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

When I applied to the Wild Sheep Foundation’s Women Hunt program, I felt that if I was to be selected it was going to be a pivotal point for me. I spoke to my husband Colin that if I am not chosen as a candidate, I was okay with it. I had the opportunity to apply to the program and I really did not want to be chosen unless I met the criteria of the committee. I was extremely excited when I found out I was chosen to represent British Columbia and the Wild Sheep Society of BC at the New Hunter course in San Antonio, Texas. I can say that I am incredibly grateful, blessed and honoured to have the opportunity to participate in the Women Hunt initiative. However, if I dig deeper, the program actually changed the direction of my life in terms of hunting and conservation. A further outcome of having been chosen to attend the Women Hunt New Hunter course was how I wanted to participate in volunteering with the Wild Sheep Society. It was the little steps along my journey that brought me to this point – it has come full circle. I had a vision, and it was time for me to give back, which is how Women Shaping Conservation began. The Wild Sheep Society of BC – Women Shaping Conservation (WSSBC – WSC) is a platform dedicated for women who would like to take part or play a part in conservation efforts but do not necessarily know where to start. Our goal is to bring more women together through conservation, an all-encompassing women’s platform, and building connections through community. Our women’s platform offers many areas of interest such as learning about conservation at our fundraising events, becoming a WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

volunteer, assisting ‘new’ women hunters or for women who just love the outdoors and want to give back. Women Shaping Conservation isn’t just about women though. Our goal is to create awareness and in doing so we invite everyone to join in. This means that men and youth are welcome to participate. We have an amazing volunteer committee in Melanie Stelter, Cory Mitton, Rebecca Peters and Kyle Stelter along with our event volunteer members, Colin Peters and James Mitton. The Women Shaping Conservation team is here to help in any way possible particularly when it comes to conservation. For example, our team volunteered at the 2022 Wild Sheep Jurassic Classic this summer by hosting a wine and cheese reception on registration day. We also hosted a great evening of laughter, empowerment, and conservation at Krause Berry Farms on June 17th. We had a great turn-out with special guests Dr. Helen Schwantje and Renée Thornton. The event was packed with excitement, music, food, silent auction items, prizes, and a private screening of the new WSSBC film ‘Transmission’. The committee had so much fun organizing the event which took place in the lower mainland and we are proud to say it was a successful evening. WSC is an organization to connect easily and develop strong relationships while working together to raise awareness and funds for wild sheep and their habitat. In early July, Wild Sheep Foundation’s Women Hunt Committee announced their twelve candidates for the 2022 New Hunter course. Women Shaping Conservation congratulates Kirsten Surbey who was selected as the successful applicant representing the Wild Sheep Society of BC in San Antonio, Texas this fall. We are so excited for you Kirsten and wish you all the best!’ 47

Rebecca Peters, Committee Member Rebecca was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba as the middle child of three girls. At the age of four years old, her parents decided to move west to British Columbia and they were raised in the lower mainland, in Burnaby. Neither parent was a hunter, however, both enjoyed the city life, outdoors and had a great love for animals. Most summers were spent at their cabin on Hornby Island where Rebecca would fish with her Dad while her Mom would enjoy her time at the beach. Living so close to the ocean, Rebecca’s family decided that all three girls would learn to swim. Years into her swimming lessons she then became a member of a swim club and swam competitively into the start of high school. From there, Rebecca’s interests developed into fitness, health and wellness and she completed her lifeguard program and fitness training programs dedicated to weight training, and aerobics which helped fund part of her college tuition. Rebecca’s educational background includes a Diploma in Fine Arts. Much of her career has been in an office setting, in the downtown area of Vancouver, BC, with a variety of responsibilities, the latest being a Manager, Administrative Services for a mortgage and investment firm. Rebecca is passionate about the outdoors, hunting, fitness, health & wellness, nutrition, and cooking. She is also an accredited Yoga Instructor which lead her even further down the path of meditation and spiritual practices. Back in 2018, Rebecca fell ill which changed the course of her life and she made the decision to follow her passions and decided to further her education. She is currently studying to become a Practitioner, in Holistic Nutrition. She has great respect for healing techniques and positive philosophy, and she has learned to create more wellness through the mind, body, and spirit connection. Rebecca has compiled her own personal guide to the development of positive thought patterns for healing and reversing her own illness, and creating health and wellness for herself, and her family members. Rebecca has a love for animals, and she currently resides in Port Coquitlam, BC with her husband Colin, and their dog Charlie and is a stepmother to two beautiful children, Reghan and Ryan. One of Rebecca’s favourite things to do is laugh, believing that laughter can change 48

the course of anyone’s life. She believes that if we continue to live in gratitude then our love will continue to Bless others around us. One of her favourite Tony Robbins quotes is: ‘Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you’, we all have the power to make choices and take control of our lives. Rebecca can now say she is a confident hunter as back in June 2022 she was successful in harvesting two black bears. She and her party arrived at their hunting area, and she shot her first bear within two hours. This was incredibly exciting for her - the start she was hoping for but never expected! Everything happened so fast but Rebecca recalls feeling calm. Rebecca is incredibly proud of herself and her journey as a hunter. She harvested the bear in a cut-block area and it went down instantly. It took about an hour to retrieve her quarry with the help of my husband and dog Charlie. Her second bear came four days later. The nice-looking dominate boar wasn’t afraid which allowed Rebecca time to set up on the ground in the prone position. Muscle memory kicked in employing all the techniques she learned at the Women Hunt New Hunter course at FTW Ranch in Texas. Rebecca knew even before putting her finger on the trigger that the shot was going to be perfect. There is only one shot which is how we were taught at the ranch.

Again, the bear went down instantly. We had to move quickly to retrieve the boar as this area contained grizzlies. Cory Mitton, Committee Member Cory was born and raised in Port Moody, British Columbia. Cory’s love for the outdoors started at an early age by exploring forests, rivers, and lakes in her own backyard. She has early memories of camping and recalls the joy sitting around a campfire brought her. WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

When Cory married a hunting enthusiast, she started to tag along on his adventures and her love of hunting grew as she gained respect for hunters and the passion they have for conservation. Being able to harvest and cook a meal that she took part in, from start to finish, quickly got her behind the scope. Sadly, Cory’s husband passed away just weeks after their daughter was born, however, he left an amazing legacy. Cory plans to continue this conservation legacy for their daughter and future generations. Cory has witnessed firsthand how amazing the hunting and conservation


communities are, and how willing they are to help anyone in need. Her past husband’s passion has inspired her to give back and help where she can. Melanie Stelter, Committee Member Melanie is a Life Member, and Monarch Member of the Wild Sheep Society and a dedicated volunteer on the WSSBC’s Women Shaping Conservation Committee. Melanie has volunteered throughout her entire life and recently served on committees involving youth sports and performing arts. Melanie has a passion for long-distance running having participated in several marathons and half marathons. Currently, she has taken a break from running in order to concentrate on her studies in the paralegal field. She has been exposed to the sheep world for years, however, it wasn’t until her sons were both away at university that Melanie took a keen interest in conservation. Melanie has always valued wildlife on the landscape and supporting wild sheep. These iconic animals have been a great fit. Although she is not a hunter, Melanie appreciated hearing the experiences of the women in the WSF Women Hunt program and having viewed the WSSBC movie “Transmission” felt moved to do more. Melanie is enthusiastic about supporting this exciting new Women Shaping Conservation movement and ensuring wild sheep continue to thrive on the mountains of British Columbia for generations to come.


Members, send us your hunt story (~50 words plus a picture or two) to communications@wildsheepsociety.com.

Peter’s First Buck: We spotted the buck far below us in the late morning of September 1st, opening day. The stalk went perfect and Dad had me lined up at 70 yards on the bedded deer without his knowledge of our presence. I proceeded to miss him twice at full broadside before dropping him on the third try. First buck down for me. – Peter Gutsche

May 27/2022. Northern BC. Ben was able to take 2 bears that day. Having fun and doing our part for the ungulate population. The first one squared 6’8” and the second was a 6’6”. – Daryll Hosker 50

Got lucky and drew a mainland Roosevelt LEH in 2021. We scouted hard, got lucky some more, and hunted quickly! We found him on Day 2 with a few cows in a cut block. He ended up being an 8x6, not bad for my first elk! – Carl Gutsche

June 1/2022. Everyone was busy working, so went for a solo mid- week evening hunt. Definitely no shortage of Black Bears in the north. The brown colour phase was the biggest coloured bear I’ve taken at 6’6”. The 2nd of the day was a big black with a V chest that squared 6’10” and was a really old bear. – Daryll Hosker WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

I was the lucky winning bidder of the 1-day Helicopter Fishing Trip on Beattie Lake, BC with Bailey Helicopters in the WSSBC-Salute to Conservation auction in 2022. In late June, I took my pregnant wife and 4-year-old son on this adventure for some Northern BC monster rainbow trout. The weather was fantastic and the fishing didn’t disappoint as we hooked into a dozen big rainbows. Some fish were hogs in the 8-10 lbs range and gave us a big fight before they were landed. Many thanks to Bailey Helicopters and Sikanni River Outfitters for the great family fishing adventure in Northern BC. – Scott Albrechtsen

’m Wyatt, I live in Burns Lake. I’m 10 and love being outdoors doing pretty much anything in any weather. My favourite thing to do is to go hunting with my family. Last fall I had a junior licence and hunted with my Dad, but I was hoping to get my own. This spring I had my parents help me sign up for my CORE course, I haven’t done a lot of studying before, but every night and longer when I could I studied. I passed and got to buy my first hunting license with my own name and number on it! It was exciting. The practicing with the rifle started and I was anxiously awaiting the season to start. We started our bear season off, the weather has been cooler then normal so not much was moving at the beginning. We went out as much as we could, looking at spots, checking grass and putting in time. The weather started to get a bit better, grass started greening up and we started seeing a few more bears. Dad and I stalked in on a few, I found it really awesome to watch them grazing and digging. We even saw a sow and boar fighting. It had rained for a couple days and started to clear a bit in the evenings, that’s when we were seeing the bears. So dad and I made a plan, after school we were going to get geared up and go sit. Luckily after school it was starting to clear off. So off we went, snuck into our spot as quiet as a mouse. I was ready to sit in our spot as long as I needed to. We had a great vantage point to look over one of our favourite spots. We hadn’t been there long when we spotted my bear feeding out into the field in the sun. I was so excited to see it. We were above it on a hill. We made a plan to sneak down and get with in a better range for me. We snuck down, we were creeping along WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

the field walking a few steps at a time to not scare the bear. We snuck into range, dad helped me get set up, and I got my scope on him. I waited till I was comfortable with the shot. I pulled the trigger, the bear fell down right where it stood. It didn’t take one step. As excited as I was dad and I waited to make sure I had got a good shot on him. We went over and got the bear, I got to cut my first tag! I had a smile I couldn’t wash off! My mom and dad (and everyone) said they were super proud. We went back for the quad to get him out of our spot, and then I spotted a bear for my dad. Dad got him all lined up and dad was successful too! We had a double header. Then we got both boars loaded, took them to nana and papas to skin him and get the meat off. I am going to get the hide tanned so I can have it for a rug for my room. The skull I’m going to have cleaned up to keep the memory of my first bear with my Dad. The meat I want to make some sausages, burger and maybe some jerky. We use everything we can. This will be a memory I will have for a long time, it was a great day, great hunt and everything worked out perfectly. I can’t wait to go out on my next hunt. 51

or most people, Legends of the Fall is an old movie of questionable value that starred Brad Pitt. But for a hunter, especially a sheep hunter who likes the Spences Bridge area, where the season opens in midSeptember, it speaks to that time of year ripe with the potential for legends, ripe with the possibility to rise above the drabness of day to day life and become part of the history of the sport. And so, legend has it that in the early 1960’s there lived the world’s unluckiest hunter. His name was George. I suspect he was never keen to reveal his last name, for the infamy of the incident I am about to relate to you would have haunted him for all time. The story goes that George was hunting one of the more rugged areas in Spences Bridge, though I have never seen an area there that is not rugged. He found himself high up a mountain, peering over into a small basin. Below him fed a herd of Rocky Mountain Bighorn rams, with four of the rams not being legal. But the fifth ram was the stuff that legends are made of. George had never seen such a ram, not even in his dreams. The ram was an absolute monster, way past full curl. From his view point from far above, it seemed to George the base of that sheep’s horn might have been as thick as his own thigh. The horns were so spectacularly heavy it looked as if the ram was having trouble lifting his great head. George knew that it was not only the biggest ram he had ever seen, but that it was, without a doubt, one of the largest in the world. With his destiny flashing before his eyes, George slid into shooting position. To his dismay, he found he could not hold the cross-hairs steady. His sights, unsurprisingly, wavered on and off the magnificent animal. But the next time they were “on” he took his chance. The rifle crack echoed off the mountains. Through the shaking scope, George watched the mighty beast stagger. This was George’s moment, his chance for greatness. This was the place where his life intersected with destiny, where a legend was about to fall, and he would be part of it. And then, to George’s horror, the great ram shook it off, like he was shaking off a bothersome horsefly. He righted himself, his body never going to the ground. In seconds, before George had so much as a chance at a second shot, all five of the rams stampeded over the rocks and into the timber, gone as though they had never been at all. Doing his best to compose himself, George raced down to the small clearing, with a sense of having been in a dream. Had he really seen such a legendary ram? Had he really taken a shot? Was there any possibility at all that he had wounded the ram? There was not a single drop of blood in the clearing. Not one. But then, he caught a glimpse of something nestled in the grass that did not belong there. He recognized the shape of the ridges, the light walnut brown color. He moved to it slowly, his heart sinking, already knowing what he was going to see. It was a piece of the mighty ram’s horn. The tip lay there in the grass, over a foot long, the thick WILD SHEEP SOCIETY OF BC

edge of it shattered by George’s bullet. That was the only part of that ram George got to keep, besides his story. It was a story that he was likely not particularly proud to tell in the first place, and even he could no doubt see that his tales of the size of the one that got away were clearly seen, without proof, as an exaggeration. One has to wonder if to this day, George sits morosely, nursing a beer, mulling over different endings. Mourning that moment when his part in a legend took such a bad turn and became the legend of his own fall, instead of that of the fall of a mountain monarch. It might have remained just a story – a legend in poor George’s mind – except that two years later, that very same ram, identifiable because of his shot-off horn, now old beyond old, lay down in the deep timber in the dead of winter, and he did not have the will nor the desire to rise again. The following spring, a timber cruiser named Tom Harvey, apparently luckier than George had ever been, stumbled upon the remains of the ram. Tom knew enough about sheep to know that this ram was exceptional enough to warrant the effort of carrying the head over miles of broken, steep ground without a pack. I suspect Tom was not a sheep hunter, because after the novelty of his find wore off, he put it in his back tool shed. Yes, his shed. And there it remained for twelve whole years. Shortly before his death, Tom gave the head to a fellow by the name of Dennis Zerb, who had seen the ram in Tom’s shed, and had asked if he could have it. Sometimes, all you have to do is ask! 53

What did Mr. Zerb do with his prize? Well, it sat at his place for another twelve years, not in a shed, but gathering dust for the most part. Now and then he hauled it out for its great value as conversation piece. But at some point, someone must have pointed out that the ram was more than a conversation piece – possibly when a sheep hunter turned white and began shaking at the sight of it -- and he wanted it to receive the recognition it deserved. It was taken to a British Columbia wildlife biologist who scored the ram.


After a quarter of a century of drying, the right undamaged horn measured an astounding 49 5/8 inches. Conservatively, the ram would certainly have been well over the 50-inch mark when it was alive. The horn measured out at 102 points. That makes it, as George always knew, one of the largest bighorns of all time. His genetics are up there in the mountains around Spences Bridge. That means an opportunity to be part of a legend is up there. Maybe you will see one of his progeny up on Arthurs Seat or over in Rainbow Canyon. Maybe one of his great grandson’s is watching you from the timber, his horns so heavy he can barely lift his head. In the shadows of every sheep hunter’s mind, he knows he has what few men have, that opportunity to have a moment when destiny intersects with greatness. Each sheep hunter knows he could see a legend, and become part of it. But will it be through colossal failure, or through triumphant harvest? These are the legends of the fall. This is sheep hunting.