Editor’s Note: Brenda Valentine, the "First Lady of Hunting" ™ - from Puryear, Tennessee, represents women in the outdoors for the (NWTF) National Wild Turkey Federation and co-hosts Bass Pro Shops' outdoor TV shows on the Outdoor Channel and the Sportsman Channel. She’s been a member of Bass Pro Shops National RedHead Pro Hunting team for 17 years, a Mossy Oak ProStaff member, a pro staffer for Hunter Safety Systems and Orca coolers and a past national archery champion.
After we got off the plane in Anchorage, Alaska, for a Dall sheep hunt, we took a charter flight into base camp. We unpacked and repacked all our gear and left base camp on horseback and traveled a couple of days. We got to the bottom of a mountain where we thought there should be some sheep. We’d already spent more than 1 week trying to get to a place to start hunting. Every morning we would get up and ride our horses to the top of the timberline or to where the terrain was so steep the horses couldn’t go any farther. Then we’d take our backpacks, spotting scopes, binoculars and bows with us, and the cameraman would take his camera. We’d climb and glass all day looking for sheep. We’d hike back down the mountain, often after dark. We were tired and worn-out. We’d eat a quick supper, go to sleep and start again the next morning before daylight. I never felt like I got enough rest – but that’s sheep hunting.
After 3 or 4 days, we rode our horses to another place and started looking all over again for sheep. Every step I took was a struggle, because where I live is mainly flat ground. Each day we went to the top of the mountains, hiking and looking for sheep. Every day I thought, “All I have to do is put one foot in front of the other one.”
Finally, on the last day of the hunt, we spotted some sheep on the opposite mountain from the mountain where we were hunting. Using the terrain to hide our movement, we crawled to the top of the mountain and peeped over the other side to see if the sheep were still there. When we could see them, they were still 1,000-yards away. Each step I took I was afraid I would start a rock slide or step on a rock that would scoot out from under me and cause me to fall. We kept creeping closer and closer. I realized I’d have to shoot from one mountain to another mountain across a wide-open air space. Then I thought, “If I shoot one of those rams, I don’t know how I’ll get over to the other mountain to recover it.” However, the outfitter assured me that if I shot a nice ram, we could go down the mountain we were on and ride to the backside of the mountain where the sheep would be, then climb up that mountain and recover my ram.
I had been crawling on my belly for several hours trying to get into position to take the shot. Both of my cameramen were right behind me. I knew I would have to take a 400-plus-yard shot to take my sheep with my rifle. I was trying to determine what effect the wind drift would have on the bullet once I squeezed the trigger. I knew that I only would have one shot to try and get this ram, and the wind was blowing like crazy. I had to count on my guide to pick-out the ram that would be a legal ram for me to take. Two or three times as I prepared to take the shot, just about the time I was reaching for my trigger, a big gust of wind would blow through and move my gun barrel. So, I wasn’t aiming where I should have been aiming. I would have to readjust to take the shot again. Two or three times I got ready to take the shot, and the rams moved. I kept thinking, “I’ve got to take the shot. I’ve got to take the shot.” Then something would happen, and I would know that I wasn’t supposed to take the shot right then.
Just as I was getting ready to take the shot, knowing I had to take one soon, I felt something hit me in the face. When I looked up, I saw what appeared to be a solid wall of white ice. That white cloud hit everybody in our party at the same time. Instantly, I couldn’t see the sheep. I could hardly see my cameraman. I felt like I had a white garbage bag over my head. I finally learned this was what a whiteout was like. A whiteout is when snow is falling so fast that you can’t see through the snow. The wind was blowing the snow in our face with such a strong force that it seemed like it almost would push you off the mountain. The guide hollered, “We’ve got to get out of here now, or we won’t get out.” Immediately, we tried to get off the mountain. Every time we took a step, we were stepping on slick rocks covered with ice and snow. I used my gun and my shooting sticks like they were crutches. We were all holding on to each other trying to keep from falling. After about 2 hours of fighting the whiteout, we finally reached our horses and rode back to base camp.
The whiteout lasted for about 2 days. All we could so was stay in our tent, eat and sleep. Finally, our guide told me, “Brenda, if you had shot that sheep on the other side of the mountain, we would’ve had to wait until next summer to go look for him. I’m really glad you didn’t take the shot.” However, we were able to make a TV show out of the hunt on “100 Percent Real Hunting TV” produced by Bass Pro Shops. This was one of the very few times that Bass Pro Shops showed an unsuccessful hunt. This hunt lasted for about 3 weeks, and I never was able to take an animal - but that’s real hunting. On television 99 times out of 100, you’ll see the host take an animal. But in truth not every hunt we go on produces the harvesting of an animal. I never did get to go back and hunt for a Dall sheep. Maybe I’ll go in the next couple years.
Check out Brenda Valentine at http://www.brendavalentine.com, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BrendaValentineFirstLadyOfHunting/info.