Hunting in the Northwest Territories of Canada for a Dall Sheep has been a goal of mine for a long time. Sheep hunting has taken me to some of the most beautiful places on earth, and the Mackenzie Mountains of the Northwest Territories are no exception. They are some of the most beautiful mountains on earth.
As I was flying into base camp over the Mackenzie Mountains, I took in the beauty and started preparing myself mentally for the challenge the mountains would present on my backpack hunt for a Dall sheep. Once I arrived at base camp, I was greeted by Glenda Groat of Canol Outfitters and her team of professionals. We enjoyed a hearty dinner, after which I made my last-minute gear adjustments and went over the next day hunt plan with my guide, Brad Caley. We talked about hunting strategies as well as my previous hunting experiences. After our conversation, we were both comfortable with our hunt plan that we would begin to put in motion the next morning.
Having been raised in Wyoming, I feel very comfortable in the mountains. I spend as much time as possible pursuing the activities I love in the mountains. The mountains of Canada are no stranger to me either as I have pursued Dall and Stone sheep on multiple occasions in British Columbia, the Yukon, and now the Northwest Territories. I have completed my first grand slam of North American Wild sheep and am closing in on completing another one. I’ve been bitten hard by the sheep bug and Wild sheep have become my main focus to pursue in my hunting.
Starting the Hunt
The next morning we were flown from base camp to spike camp and dropped off. After preparing our camp we took a hike around the area and spotted some rams off in the distance. It was getting late, so we turned around and went back to the camp to eat our mountain house dinners and get a good night’s rest. Early the next morning we grabbed our packs, binos, and my rifle in hopes of getting a closer look at the rams. As we were getting closer to them, we could see there were one or two bigger rams that we needed to get a closer look at.
By mid-day, we were in close to the rams. The biggest ram we saw was a nice 9-year-old. I decided he was not the one for me, so we quietly snuck out of the area to not disturb them. We headed back to our campsite, arriving late in the evening. That evening we were talking about the area and decided to pack up and hike over the next mountain range to check out some new country and look for different rams.
Moving to our new area was a two-day process. The first day we hiked through the tundra and up a mountain pass. Once we got to the top of the mountain pass the sight was mesmerizing. I could see about ten mountain ranges in the distance from my vantage point. Because it was getting late in the day, we decided to camp on the top of the mountain. We had a great location to glass from and would camp for the night and utilize our location to glass in the morning. In the distance, we saw rams too far away to get a good look, but comfortable enough to determine they were four mature rams.
Spotting the Perfect Ram
The next morning, the view seemed more beautiful than the night before. After a cup of coffee and more glassing to confirm the rams were still in the distance, we packed up and headed down the steep shale side of the mountain. It took another day to go down and thru the next drainage to get to the next mountains where we saw the rams. There were lots of caribou and a grizzly bear in the thick willows bottoms as we hiked. By evening we had found a great spot to put up camp with water nearby.
The next morning, we made our way up another mountain and down a ridge where we spotted six more rams. Two of the bigger rams were nice but not old enough to consider, so we kept on hunting. After two more days of hunting and lots of hiking, we packed up again and moved to a new location in hopes of finding a mature ram.
Once we arrived at the new location, we set up camp and immediately saw another group of rams. We wanted to get a closer look at them the next morning. We started out early and hiked toward the rams. As we closed the distance, we realized we could not get closer than 1200 yards due to the wind and no cover. We hiked around the mountain to see if we could get a closer look. The wind did not work in our favor all day, so we returned to where we started the day. Late in the afternoon, the wind finally changed enough for us to try to go the other way up the drainage to close the distance.
When we reached a distance of 400 yards, we started to belly crawl for another 100 yards. We stopped to get a closer look at the rams. There were 16 rams in the group. Two of the rams were 10 years old. One was broomed off on one side and heavy. The other one was heavy and had a beautiful full curl on each side. I knew that he was the one. The rams were moving away so we just laid there with a good rest to wait for the perfect opportunity. All 16 rams were bedded in front of us on a hillside at a distance of 402 yards. We studied them through our spotting scope for over an hour, picking out the ram we had referred to as Fancy Ram, due to his wide flaring horns. The decision was made that Fancy Ram was the ram we wanted. The plan was to wait for him to present a shot opportunity. After an hour of patiently waiting on my opportunity, it was time. When I knew I was steady, I centered my focus on looking through the scope and making sure I was focused on the ram. In one clean shot, I was able to harvest a great 10-year-old full-curl Northwest Territory ram in the beautiful Mackenzie Mountains.