Story and photos by Stephen Stidham
Several days of hard hunting had failed to turn up a legal ram; heavy rains had the river swollen and dangerous. The swollen river limited us to one side, preventing us from being able to climb up and get a good view of the terrain on our side. Finally we were blessed with cold, clear days that dropped and calmed the raging glacier fed river.
We crossed over and were able to survey some high hidden bowls and spotted a couple rams; at least one appeared legal. We dropped down and tucked into the alders to watch them and see if we could bed them and make a play. At first light we started our ascent to try to find them. I was determined to get my friend on his first ram. As we climbed we ran into a nice caribou bull and had to wait for him to move off, so he would not spook the rams. We pushed on once the caribou had moved off and reached the rim of the bowl we thought the rams had bedded in. The largest had been aggressively marking the brush near him, leading me to believe that this was his core area. The minutes turned into hours and before we knew it the daylight was slipping away.
I called it “my spider sense” but that little voice told me to have a look over the side at the back door. I told Chris that I was going to ease over and have a look on the other side. Sure enough the two rams were up and feeding down the backside. I quickly scrambled over and got him and we low crawled over to a vantage point to look them over. They were slightly above us and even with the ATX95mm with the angle the largest looked to be just under fullcurl and the other was clearly short. They were both within easy rifle range. We let them feed away from us and as they got level with us, and gave us a better angle we could see he was fullcurl on one side.
Chris decided he wanted to take him, but now they were out on a finger and well out of rifle range. We were above them with only open ground between us, no way could we make a stalk unseen. I have used whites before to close the distance and decided I would try to expose myself to them and see how they reacted. On all fours I moved into their view with Chris watching them to judge their reaction. The dominant ram immediately showed interest. He moved our way slightly and then stopped.
We waited for about 30 minutes and with it was getting darker by the second, I decided to try luring him over. I shared my desperate plan with Chris and reluctantly he agreed since we really had no other recourse. We both exposed ourselves facing each other and with a large rock in each hand I smashed them together to imitate two rams butting heads. The lesser ram was not impressed and started moving away, but the ram we were after started our way and kept moving closer and closer. We dropped out of his sight and that only seemed to intrigue him farther. Within 15 minutes the ram had closed to less than 400 yards.
He was across a draw from and level with us, giving us just the view Chris needed to deem he was indeed a legal ram. From a steady prone position Chris fired the shot that would drop his first ram and also be the only ram I have ever called in. I’m not sure who was the most excited, he or I.