Day 11: A Day of Firsts

A bittersweet day for the sheep: first day without rain and first day of hunting season. Small tents sheltering bow hunters have popped up across the plateau. Todagin Mountain is world-renowned for its Stone's sheep hunting. A Stone's sheep kill is one of the requirements of a Grand Slam, a coveted award for which a hunter must kill one of each of the four North American wild sheep species -- the Dall, Stone's, bighorn and desert bighorn.

Hunting on Todagin is not a simple task. While one may use a rifle to shoot Stone's sheep elsewhere in the province, Todagin is limited to bow hunting and its conditions aren't ideal.

First a hunter must confirm that a ram is "legal", meaning they have to get close enough to ensure there are at least eight rings on the horns or see that the horns breach the height of the nose. Getting this close to an animal that has been conditioned by years of hunting to take flight from humans would be difficult in any environment, but consider that Todagin is essentially one big open field. There isn't much to hide behind and even the grass is only an inch in height. I watched as a pair of hunters attempted unsuccessfully to "be the grass" -- disappearing into the ground via camouflage.

Then the hunter must get even closer to kill the sheep with one arrow. Again, difficult enough in any condition, but consider that one of Todagin's defining features is high wind.

Because of these challenges, only a handful of rams are taken from Todagin each year.