A Dall sheep hunt is considered by many to be one of the most rewarding and physically challenging big-game hunts in all of North America.
The opportunity to pursue Dall sheep is a dream hunt for many. Sixteen-year-old Marcus Deuling has not only had the opportunity to hunt these sheep with his family since he was 8 years old, but he had the good fortune of harvesting a B&C class animal at the young age of 15.
The 171 5/8- inch sheep qualified him for a spot as a Boone and Crockett Jack S. Parker Generation Next award winner, along with other young people who've taken outstanding trophy animals over the past few years.The Leica Sport Optics-sponsored awards, which were presented during the Boone and Crockett Club 28th Big Game Awards, July 17-20, 2013, in Reno, Nev., honor youth who recently took a Boone and Crockett record-book trophy.
Keith Balfourd, B&C Club's director of marketing, said 160 kids, 16-years-old and younger, have had their names and their trophies added to the record book of native North American big game in the past three years.
“The Jack S. Parker Generation Next program is Boone and Crockett's way of recognizing our next generation of hunters/conservationists, which is critical to the continued success of North American conservation,” Balfourd said.
Although Deuling, who lives in Whitehorse, Yukon, has hunted Dall sheep with his family since he was only 8, the trophy Dall sheep was only his second one to harvest.
Deuling and his grandfather, Paul Deuling, had decided to hunt for Stone's sheep during the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, but they ran into several obstacles.
“We tried to hunt two different locations, but the bridge to one location was washed out, and the bridge to the other location was under construction, so we decided to pack it up and return home for Thanksgiving,” he said. “The next day, we decided to hunt Dall sheep, so we hiked to Kusawa Lake, which is approximately 100 kilometers from Whitehorse.”
Deuling said they didn't see much that morning -- only a small ram -- but Deuling's grandfather recommended they wait and watch, as a bigger ram could be nearby.
After awhile, Deuling decided to go for a short hike to see what was over the ridge. He spotted sheep walking over a small, grassy knoll 700 yards away. Through his spotting scope, he could see one legal ram that was 800 yards away.
"I decided to walk around one ridge to try to get at them from above," Deuling said. "My grandfather decided to go up an icy patch, and we got separated. My grandfather got to within 200 yards of the sheep, but he didn't have a gun. The sheep moved on, so he moved back along the mountainside until we joined up again."At approximately 6 p.m., the hunters decided to climb up the mountain in an attempt to find the sheep again. Believing the sheep had probably been spooked, the duo climbed over another knoll and were shocked to see the animals standing only 200 yards from them.
Deuling’s Dall sheep scored 171 5/8 inches, the largest of anyone in his family. (Courtesy Marcus Deuling)
"We set up quickly," Deuling said. "I put my bipod down and prepared to shoot the one in the back of the band. Suddenly, my grandfather said, 'No, shoot the one in the front. He's bigger.' When I tried to jack in a bullet, the base plate on my gun popped out. The bullets fell into the rocks."
Deuling said the sheep stood there and watched them as they scrambled to recover the bullets."My gun became a single-shot rifle as I lost a lot of the vital pieces," Deuling said.
Shaken, he still managed to get in a bullet and fire, but he missed. Much to his surprise, the sheep didn't budge and he was able to get off another shot, which downed the monster ram.
"We walked up to the ram believing he was a good 38 inches, but as we approached him, he just got bigger and bigger,” he said. “We certainly didn't expect him to be so massive. When we finally reached him, we just sat there and stared at him for a while."
Darkness began to fall, and the two hunters knew they needed to pack him out. So they field dressed the ram and started their hike back to their tent. Their headlamps weren't working that well, and they both fell a couple of times, but they made it back to the tent at approximately 10 p.m. They were so exhausted from the day's efforts and excitement that they placed the cape on a snowbank and fell into bed with no dinner.
The next day, they got up and phoned Deuling's uncle, who agreed to meet them down the trail and help them pack out the 80 pounds of sheep meat.
Deuling and his grandfather left camp and began their hike. Approximately ½ mile down the trail, they looked up to see a grizzly bear standing only 80 yards from them.
"The gun was strapped to the back of my pack, but my grandpa was able to grab it and fire a warning shot a couple of feet from the grizzly," he said. "The grizzly meandered off, but it didn't want to leave us. We continued to walk while the bear just fed on the grass nearby. Suddenly, we realized we'd left the cape on the snowbank, so we ran back making sure the bear didn't follow us."
Deuling grabbed the cape and they continued on their trek. They met up with Deuling's uncle an hour later, who couldn't believe the sheep's massive size.
“We couldn't wait to get it back home so we could get it green scored. In the end, it scored 171 5/8 inches,” Deuling said. “I was so very excited.
“My family has been hunting sheep for more than 40 years, but none of them have ever killed one as big as that one. I actually think my grandfather was more excited than me."
For more information about B&C Big Game Awards, see http://www.biggameawards.com/.