John Zent's Stone Sheep Hunt, Day 1

After nearly six months of preparation, I'm off to British Columbia.

Day 1, 5 a.m. EDT
Today—finally—I am departing for my Stone sheep hunt in British Columbia. It hardly seems possible. This is one of North America's premier hunts, a coveted animal because of his ability to grow magnificent horns and because his limited home range straddles the game-rich mountains along the B.C.-Yukon border.

For an Easterner like me, it is a long journey. Most of the miles will be traveled in commercial jets. That's the easy part. The final parts will be covered in a bush plane and on horseback. When I get there I will be in the remote Spatsizi Wildernessliterally and figuratively the other side of the continent.

The preparation for the hunt began in March, and was much more demanding than getting there will be. And now all that's doneor as done as it can be.

It's time to go.

7:15 p.m. PDT
Waiting to greet me at today's destination—Smithers, B.C.—is my partner, Drew Goodlin, from ATK Federal. Drew put this hunt together, and I am fortunate that he and his colleagues chose me to chronicle what surely must be the grandest field-test ever for Federal Premium cartridges.

Smithers will be our jumping-off point into the mountains, and while we have traveled most of the miles we must go, we are not yet close to the halfway mark in the time it will take to arrive in "sheep country." We still have the bushplane and horseback legs, and, if you want to get literal, ultimately the final miles will be up these mountains on our own two legs.

So now we head for dinner and then off to bed. Soon enough we'll be sleeping on the ground.

Quick Sheep Fact: Stone sheep are found in relatively dry country and try to stay in a special combination of open alpine ridges, meadows, and steep slopes with extremely rugged ground in the immediate vicinity, in order to escape from predators that cannot travel quickly through such terrain.

Go to Day 2.

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