Follow in the Footsteps of Jack O’Connor
Jack O’Connor was first and foremost an outdoorsman, but he was also an English professor, which led to the marriage of the two and his prolific writings on everything from firearms, wildlife history and hunting. But his passion was hunting wild sheep. He hunted sheep not for a trophy, but for the experience. He loved the country in which they lived. Well, having had the opportunity to hunt and help guide on a number of sheep hunts I couldn’t agree more. I have been from the far North of the Yukon, to the Mojave Desert in the South chasing these amazing animals.
But, to this day Stone sheep (Ovis dalli stonei), remains my favorite sheep, and British Columbia and Southern Yukon my favorite places to hunt sheep. Ovis dalli stonei, otherwise known as Stone Sheep can be challenging and expensive (just like Desert sheep)to pursue as they are only found in Northern British Columbia and parts of the Yukon. They live in big, rough and wild places, so getting to them is no easy task, let alone finding a trophy ram. In fact it has been said that when you look at the country they live in you have to laugh, otherwise you will cry. I would say that is a pretty fitting way to put it. An adult Stone ram will weigh between 180-250 pounds and will have an awesome headset that can go well over 40 inches. They are truly one of the most majestic and beautiful animals on the planet.
Hunting Stone Sheep
Stone sheep are one of the most sought after trophies in North America, if not the world. The best part is the areas a hunter gets to spend time in while pursuing these awesome animals. British Columbia and the Yukon have some of the most incredible scenery on this planet. I still find myself daydreaming about the time I have been blessed to spend in both of those areas. To date I have been able to spend 45 days in these incredible sheep mountains and would not trade those memories for a million dollars. The land is prehistoric, immense and totally un-populated. When you are hunting in these areas, you can get a real feel for what it must have been like for the early settlers and mountain men, who punched trails, explored the unexplored and survived with nothing more than their wits, their determination and a trusty gun, bow and trapline.
Stone sheep hunting can be extremely physical, but I am excited to be working with a great outfitter out of Dease Lake, BC who has a very unique area where you can hunt almost exclusively from horseback. This means that if you are older, have bad knees, or maybe aren’t in hardcore backpack sheep hunting shape, this outfitter can still get you on great rams. In fact he has been running 100% success on getting guys an opportunity at a Stone Ram over the last 6 years, with rams harvested averaging 37’ x 14’. Not to mention depending on when you schedule your adventure, you have the opportunity to add a Mountain Goat or Mountain Caribou on a trophy fee.
All I have to say is saddle up. The more time you can spend in the saddle prior to your hunt the better, because even though going on horseback saves your legs for the moment of truth, it can still wear on you. You will also want to make sure you get lots of practice shooting up and down hill to prepare for the terrain and the opportunity for that shot of a lifetime.
So let me ask you this, does this quote from Jack O’Connor describe you?
Sheep Hunters are Romantics, who love high places and solitude. To them the wild ram embodies the mystery and magic of the mountains, the rocky canyons, the snowy peaks, the fragrant alpine meadows, the gray slide rock, the icy dancing rills fed by snowbank and glacier, the sweet clean air of the high places, and the sense of being alone on the top of the world with the eagles, the marmots, and the wild sheep themselves. The sheep hunter is willing to climb until his lungs are bursting, to walk until his legs are dead and weary, to grow hungry and thirsty for great rewards. There is no halfway.
~Jack O’Connor | English Professor, Sheep Hunter
If this quote grabs you and resonates to your very core, you may just be a sheep hunter. So if you grew up reading Jack and have always dreamed of following in his footsteps and chasing stone sheep in the high and wild places, this may be just the hunt for you.