Fairbanks, Alaska - No matter how you start, hunting is rife with challenges. It's never as easy as aim and shoot. That may be the final step, but reaching that final step is what separates the would-be from the accomplished. Add the formidable Alaskan terrain into the mix and you might be biting off more than you can chew. Despite such a challenge, Charles Tate Moots, Tate to his friends, decided it was time to embrace the weather-beaten terra firma and go after one of his dreams — a Dall Sheep.
"A Dall was on my bucket list," explained Moots. "An opportunity came up and I jumped at it,".
But hunting Dall sheep entails more than throwing a rifle in your truck and heading to your favorite spot ... unless your favorite spot is somewhere along Alaska's Trident Glacier. Based in a mountain range almost a hundred miles south southeast of Fairbanks, the Trident is an unforgiving region of rock and ice. Getting there is an accomplishment all to itself.
"We hiked one of the meridians of Trident Glacier for about eleven hours," said Moots. "I’ve been in law enforcement and a federal agent for almost 19 years, but that was the most brutal, rugged terrains I’ve ever seen. Brutal."
With ten days put aside for hiking, tracking, hunting and returning, the group made their way through the glacier to the base camp and ultimately the hunting ground. On the seventh day, the Dalls finally appeared. From 300 yards, Moots and his party combed through a herd of twenty in search of their quarry. Their target – an eight year old ram as defined by the number of rings or curl of the horn. But the congestion was too severe to get a good look. After identifying a prospect, they spooked the herd in hopes of a clear shot.
"My guide/outfitter pointed one out as they ran," said Moots. "I got the go ahead and shot. He stumbled, started slowing down and I followed up with a second. Unfortunately, he turned right and and I shot left."
Repositioning for a better shot, Moots zeroed in and fired again. Hit. A final shot dropped the ram for good and the hunt of a lifetime was complete ... almost.
"That was just the beginning," explained Moots. "We dressed him, cleaned and prepared the meat, filled the packs and headed back to the meridian. Again the most rugged terrain ever with a few extra hundred pounds on our back."
Twelve hours later they traversed the meridian. A day later they made it to spike camp and another day to the base camp. One day more and they were out.
Returning to the outfitter's command post, Moots and his guide performed a more thorough inspection of the Dall. Picking a choice piece of his prize, Moots and his party gathered round the fire to recount the trek while the flanks reached the perfect state of sizzle. Tomorrow would easier. A trip to the Alaska state fair for a show, some funnel cake and maybe a game or two. Then it was back to glacier. For while Moots had his quarry, the hunt was not complete.
"My father always wanted a moose. It was time to go get one."
Read about the Alaskan Moose hunt here!