Two Boone & Crockett Stone sheep rams were hunted in the Yukon Territory recently. Canadian correspondent Ken Nowicki sent us the news in late September, just after the October issue had gone to press, and we issued an email bulletin on September 28 with the basic details. The sheep were taken by clients of new operator Shawn Raymond of Yukon Big Game Outfitters, formerly Teslin Outfitters (250-264-2512). The rams were both in the 43-inch class and measure in the low- to mid 170s. They are expected to net-score enough to make the record book minimum. We had hoped to get photos by now, but were still waiting on Raymond at press time. Raymond was in the bush busy with moose hunters when we got the initial news.
Nowicki contacted Raymond’s partner, Don Loewen, in Fort St. John for the initial report on this exciting news.
“Loewen has hunted all over the world, and when I met him at the Wild Sheep Convention in Reno last winter he was hinting at an impending purchase of a hunting area. But all the i’s were not dotted and the t’s not crossed until just before hunting season,” says Nowicki.
Loewen and Raymond scrambled to get hunters their first season. “With these rams down, it should be easy to get five or six Stone sheep booked for next year,” Loewen told Nowicki.
Formerly owned by a First Nations Band, the area was hunted previously by horseback only, and Loewen reports that he is going to have more area opened up next year with airplane access. This area is the largest in the Yukon and has been only moderately hunted for some time, so Loewen expects hunters will find some dandy sheep and moose. “Raymond left me a message from his satellite phone saying they are thick with moose on this hunt,” says Nowicki.
An Old Hand at sheep hunting, Nowicki says that the Stone sheep scene continues to change. Quotas and reduced opportunities have skyrocketed prices and dropped success rates. He is also concerned with what he says is “a disturbing development to classify any Dall sheep with a couple black hairs as a Fannin or Stone sheep for the record books or as a Stone for the purposes of the North American Four. The record keeping agencies like Boone & Crockett, Safari Club International and others will have to wrestle with these distinctions and come up with some rules. We long for the halcyon days when the Stone was called the ‘Black Sheep,’ and there were no bones about it.”
For those who also long for the “halcyon” days of sheep hunting, Nowicki suggests reading Garry Vince’s new book, Reaching the Dream, available at www.garryvince.com. “I had a hand in copy editing the book and learned a pile from reading the stories by Garry and Sandra Vince, who sold their area and retired to write in Creston, BC,” says Nowicki. “I reported on the Vince operation many times over the past three decades of writing for The Hunting Report and am proud to give them this unbiased plug because the 500-plus-page tome is a classic for any sheep hunter’s library and replete with pictures and stories of the who’s who in hunting.”
Given the quota cuts to bighorns in south BC, rumblings in Alberta about new restrictions next year, and constant turmoil with Stones, Nowicki promises to follow-up on the sheep scene in coming months and give you some perspective on booking your next mountain hunt. Nowicki is presently serving as a Director of the Wild Sheep Foundation.