Sheep Hunting: Part 1

 A sheep hunt is a true test of intestinal fortitude. It is similar to an alpine hike, but with a heavier pack — due to meat-care equipment, a rifle, and ammunition. And whereas backpacks are lighter coming down on hikes, if your sheep hunt is successful, the trek out includes hauling 75-90 pounds of meat, cape, and skull. Two hunters can divide the load, but packs are 30-40 lbs heavier on the way back. A solo hunter, or two hunters each taking a sheep, requires two trips each. It is possible to recover from that effort, while you’re in the midst of it you will question whether or not you will be able to. You appreciate quality boots and external frame-model backpacks while bringing in your catch. External frames are suited to heavy loads. All a hunter’s gear should be lightweight and of high quality. If one is injured in an alpine adventure, it’s on the descent more often than the ascent. The additional weight of meat, along with fatigue, top-heavy loading, gravity, and loose footing requires careful route planning. One must continually look ahead to avoid coming to a dead end at an avalanche chute or precipitous drop, either of which requires you to retreat back up the mountain until another route is found. Many bad decisions are brought on by fatigue, which can push you to take foolish chances. Getting to where the sheep live is a real grunt; your gear list should be as pared down as possible, but everything you need must be with you. There are lots of items it might be nice to have, but research with experienced sheep hunters or publications on the topic will guide you to pack as light as you can, while still having the true essentials. When you reach the alpine areas where the sheep live, you can be proud of yourself for having made it somewhere where very few people will ever get to, and where probably 60 to 75 per cent of them couldn’t make it if they tried. You’ll find it is your brain, not your body, urging you to quit, and the whispered or often shouted, “I’ll never do this again as long as I live,” soon disappears from your thoughts when you get back to camp, off the mountain, or when you stop and look around at a view that most people can’t even imagine. Sheep hunting is one of life’s few activities where you are cold, wet, tired, hungry, hurting all over, overdosed on Ibuprofen, and longing for a hot-scotch or a cold beer all at the same instant. 

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