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November 2018
Story by Nick Cottrell
Hunters: Claude Warren, Nick Cottrell, and Jason Palmertree
State: British Columbia
Species: Sheep - Stone

The three men who were booked on this Stone sheep hunt were Claude Warren, Nick Cottrell, and Jason Palmertree. Prior to their arrival, these guys had never met, but they became fast friends and hunting partners in the wilderness of British Columbia. The threesome each signed on to hunt with Jerry Creyke, the renowned owner/outfitter of Kiniskan Lake Outfitters (KLO) in the Tahltan Nation of northern British Columbia.

For the first day of the hunt, Palmertree and Cottrell partnered up to hunt with Jerry Porter, a Tahltan native. With a successful career as a sheep guide, he decided to take the two on a ride downriver. Warren would go with Jerry Creyke up the mountain trail behind camp. Palmertree and Cottrell only saw a few ewes and lambs on the first day, but on the way back to the horses, they caught a glimpse of a dark, mature ram passing over the saddle below them. The ram, regrettably, didn’t wait to see who was coming down the trail above him. Porter led the hunters off the mountain and back to camp, ready for an evening meal.

Arriving in camp after dark, the two were eager to find out if Warren had had a good day. It was obvious he had as there was a caped full-curl Stone ram resting next to his Winchester Model 70. His day began with an hour ride up the trail, but they never made it further than their lunch spot only a few miles away from the tents. While Cottrell and Palmertree were glassing lambs and ewes, Warren was setting up for a shot at a ram. He and Creyke watched the rams pick up some scent and reverse course, heading straight for them. Once the chosen ram got close enough, Warren dropped the beast on the first report of his .300 Winchester Short Magnum, taking his second North American wild sheep.

Cottrell and Palmertree split up on day two. After a quick breakfast, Porter took Jason back toward the high point from day one and Creyke took Nick back up the trail to the scene of the crime where Warren had killed his ram. Palmertree hunted on the opposite drainage from the previous day. At midday, he spotted a few sheep bedded a mile across the bowl. After a long evaluation, it seemed that a couple of the rams were potentially legal. While glassing, a shot rang out from across the drainage that fed into the bowl they were hunting.

An hour before the gunshot, Cottrell was finishing up his sack lunch a quarter mile above the site of Claude’s ram kill. As the sun moved across the noonday position in the sky, Cottrell was following Creyke on the ridgeline trail. After about half a mile along the trail, Creyke decided to walk the horses closer to the cliff edge to look for sheep. At a point where the valley culminated at the bowl, the master guide spotted some sheep. From 425 yards, Cottrell could see a band of rams bedded below the cliff. The grayish-white sheep spaced themselves strategically in a diamond formation.

To get into better position, Cottrell and Creyke belly crawled to the edge of the cliff and took another look with the binoculars. One particular ram fit the bill. He was a nice, mature ram with a bit of calico in his coat, black in the chest, gray in the shoulders, and tan throughout the haunches. He was nearly full curl, wide and heavy. He was posted on the point of the diamond.

Jerry evaluated the ram through the spotting scope while Cottrell set up his Sako Finnlight .270 on a makeshift gun rest of daypacks and puffy coats. The first shot squared the ram in the back, centered between the shoulder blades, but the ram stood up. He walked slowly, dazed a bit but with a limp in his step. He looked ill but stable. He finally laid himself down in the grass, but the Sako cracked again, placing a second Winchester Ballistic Silvertip next to the first. The dying ram took a position on a grassy knoll nearby, looked up the rocky cliffs in the direction of the hunters, and toppled over. Cottrell had accomplished three-fourths of the sheep grand slam on the second day of sheep season.

Meanwhile, Palmertree and Porter had seen a band of rams moving up the drainage from the direction they had heard the shot earlier. However, they lost sight of them working their way onto the cliff edges. As the hunters crested the cliff above the rams, a new group of younger rams dropped into the bowl. The juvenile sheep spooked the older rams, and both bands moved out to 800 yards or more. At that point, the consolidated band met another group of rams, now comprised of 10 legal rams, 3 of them shooters. With the sun headed for the horizon, the men headed back to camp.

Palmertree started hunting on the morning of day three with an unfilled Stone sheep tag. He and Jerry Porter rolled out of camp a little early and went back to their original lookout point trying to relocate the rams. Jason discovered a line of white specks 900 yards below across a huge shale slide. The white specks turned into faces and rumps under the scrutiny of high-powered spotting scopes. This was the consolidated band of rams from the night before. They began to find bedding spots about 400 yards below Palmertree. As Porter was designing a stalk, Palmertree was considering the option of shooting from 400 yards. The stalk would entail a difficult climb downward into the rocks and cliffs with no direct route to the lead ram, now bedded at 410 yards, yet Palmertree had confidence in his range.

After a brief discussion, Palmertree persuaded Porter that a good shot could be made, but a stalk could spook the rams out of the province. Palmertree hurried to get his Weatherby rifle across his pack. Even though the angle was steep, the .257 Weatherby Magnum barked only once. The bedded ram breathed his last as the bullet from the quarterbore entered the left shoulder, stopping under the skin of the right hindquarter. Jason Palmertree had now accomplished his three-quarter slam of North American wild sheep.

The three hunters, the guides, and the wranglers will never forget how amazed they were that three hunters took three rams in three days in the Tahltan hunting grounds of northern British Columbia.