Author’s note: Pat Reeve and Nicole Jones’ TV show, Driven with Pat and Nicole, airs on the Outdoor Channel Tuesday nights at 8:00 p.m. and Friday nights at 10:00 p.m. EST. For the last three years in a row this husband and wife duo has won a Golden Moose Award for excellence in TV production from the Outdoor Channel.
On the third day of our Alaskan Dall sheep hunt, wearing our Mossy Oak camouflage and climbing high, we finally spotted a Dall sheep ram that was potentially a legal shooter. To get to that ram however, we had to climb further up a steep mountain over jagged and loose rocks. We came to a waterfall that made the rocky terrain wet and even more dangerous to climb, and encountered a sheer rock face that we just could not climb up.
To get around this rock face we had to walk across a narrow path of loose shale. By the time we started on that path I was so physically exhausted that my body just locked up. My mind was willing to go but my body said no and I just could not move. On top of that I was scared to death and I couldn’t look down because I’m terrified of heights. The guide said, “Come on, Pat. All you have to do is walk across this path.” The path he wanted me to take was only as wide as one of my feet though, and I told the guide, “I ain’t doing it. This is where my stalk stops. If you want to continue, I’ll wait right here while you check out that ram.” This rock face was so steep that when I stood up my shoulder was touching rocks.
I couldn’t get my camera out of my backpack because I was afraid that if I let go of the rock and tried to get it out that I would fall and would not stop rolling until I reached the bottom of the mountain. I was so scared and nervous at one point that I actually started laughing. After what seemed like forever I finally reached a place where I could get my camera out. I kicked a rock and watched it bounce down the mountain and thought, “That rock is doing exactly what I would do if I fell off the side of this mountain.”
Nicole and I stayed by the waterfall while the guide went up that mountain just like a mountain goat. When he finally got back to us he said, “I’m glad you didn’t climb with me, because that ram wasn’t big enough to be legal.” I thought to myself, “Thank God. I won’t have to make that climb.” When we turned around and started walking back the guide said, “Why don’t we go down this way? We can shale-surf.” He pointed to a shale rock slide, jumped, hit the shale with both feet, slid, jumped again, and in a few seconds he was at the bottom of the mountain. Nicole is an adventure junkie and as soon as she saw the guide shale-surfing she jumped off the rock and slid. Just as she was about to come to a stop she would jump again and slide. I knew how much Nicole would kid me if I didn’t shale-surf down the mountain as well, so I said to myself, “If Nicole can do it, I can do it,” and jumped down. Even though I had to shale-surf to do it, I finally got down off that mountain.
We hunted Dall sheep for another eight days when finally, on the ninth day, we found a legal ram. Each day of the hunt we traveled 20 to 25 miles on horseback or on foot and at night we ate warmed-up Spam and went to sleep. We got wet most days, and endured that kind of hunt for all nine days until we finally found that ram. We had seen about 50 different rams before this, but none of them were a legal size.
In the next article Reeve concludes his nightmare hunt.
Image courtesy John E. Phillips