THE DEMANDS OF SHEEP HUNTING
Tremendous sacrifice is required for the ultimate prize
The pursuit of wild sheep is widely defined as the most demanding and adventurous hunting that North America has to offer. Most of the remote and rugged country which sheep inhabit provides extensive logistical difficulties for a hunter in planning travel alone. Once on the mountain, a sheep hunter must be physically and mentally prepared to endure 10 days or more of traversing miles upon miles of steep, high-elevation terrain while carrying all of his or her own essentials to survive in a pack. Sheep hunting pushes the hunter’s body and gear to their limits. A failure of either costs more than the chance of success, as sheep hunts are some of the most expensive hunting endeavors on earth.
Chasing species like Dall and Stone sheep requires travel to Alaska, the Yukon, British Columbia, or the Northwest Territories. Hunting bighorns in the Lower 48 and Mexico can mean a day or more of hiking or horseback to get into the premier areas. Tags and outfitters are expensive due to a low supply of mature animals relative to the high number of outdoorsmen and women looking to pursue them. Outfitters typically book hunts two years or more in advance, leaving the hunter with plenty of time to prepare their body and gear.
Because of the unforgiving terrain and the unpredictable conditions in those corners of the world where sheep live, every ounce of gear must measure up to the demands. Subpar apparel, boots, tents, and packs commonly fail in these mountains. The same goes for the rifle. It must be able to handle the abuse of commercial airline and bush plane travel, incidental impact due to falls in rocky terrain, heavy moisture or submersion while crossing fast-moving rivers and driving rain or snow, and glacial silt and other fine particulate that can work their way into a rifle’s action, often rendering it useless.
To make the shot count after all of the sacrifices described above, a sheep hunter must carry a rifle that’s specifically built to endure the worst conditions imaginable, yet be lightweight to avoid unnecessary bodily fatigue while carrying it over countless miles. As with anything related to sheep hunting, a rifle designed to withstand those enormous demands comes at a premium.