So, the stage was subsequently set for October 2008. Three things would be different from the first hunt, though. First, by spending a lot of time shooting, I had extended the effective range with my muzzleloader another 50 yards over the 2005 hunt, to 250 yards. Second, although the division of labor would be the same, Jordan and I would hunt as friends this time. My job, as before, would be to follow Jordan, the always expert guide, wherever he went and then execute the singular responsibility that might determine the outcome of the hunt—make a good trigger pull when the pressure is on. However, our relationship had grown since the first hunt. My wife Janet and I had spent two summers visiting and working with Jordan and Natasha at their lodge in British Columbia, as well as spending significant time with them at the annual Safari Club International conventions in Reno, Nevada. Consequently, we were no longer merely guide and client. Third, Janet would be accompanying me on this trip. Even though she wouldn’t be sharing our tent, I expected we would occasionally see each other at the lodge during the course of the hunt. And, I hoped there would be an opportunity for mutual celebration in the immediate aftermath of a successful hunt.
Janet and I arrived in Cranbrook on the evening of September 30th, tired from a full day of traveling. Just as important, my gun and all my hunting gear arrived with us, and in good condition. The next day everyone made the two-hour drive to the main camp north of Whiteswan Lake. Early the following morning, Jordan and I headed to an area at the northern end of his sheep range, which I knew well from our first hunt. After a 2,000 foot climb with full packs, we made camp in the beautiful high-alpine setting.
The rest of the first day was spent glassing nearby semi-wooded basins for sheep. Just prior to dusk we returned to our campsite, where I busied myself glassing the basin below our tent. Almost immediately, I spotted a group of sheep that I thought were rams. Shortly thereafter, Jordan confirmed my finding. I surprised myself with my glassing prowess and I’m sure Jordan was pleasantly pleased. After the first hunt I jokingly told everyone there wasn’t a single sheep I missed seeing—after Jordan pointed them out to me. It was too dark to tell if any of the five rams were legal, but we were sure we’d get that opportunity at first light the next morning.
We saw the rams early and often the following day, but no matter how hard he looked, and from whatever angle, Jordan couldn’t make the best ram long enough to be legal. That was a shame because they were in a perfect spot to approach within range—very low in the basin and in the sparse timber. For the next two days we checked the adjoining country but found no other rams, although we did see several groups of lambs and ewes. Finally, deteriorating weather and low clouds forced us to bail off the mountain just before things really took a turn for the worse.
Our decision to leave had proven to be a wise one, as all the high country was covered in significant snow the following morning. We were up early and spent the entire day glassing from various strategic vantage points afforded us by the extensive system of logging roads in the area. Although very tiring, our efforts produced two distinct possibilities for the remainder of the hunt. Through Jordan’s expertise with the spotting scope, we located one legal ram among a group of four sheep that were residing in a very obscure and heavily timbered area. We had also observed a group of four rams as they crossed a ridge laden in heavy snow, and dropped into a neighboring watershed. Although we couldn’t tell if any of these rams were legal, we decided to make them and the area they now occupied the object of our attention for the next few days.