Ok its been a while since I got back and Im now calmed down enough to even talk about it. I was a lucky individual that drew a TMA sheep tag, actually a partner hunt tag with my buddy. We went in for 7 days. You know, its funny how as you get older the more inexperienced you get. I made some mistakes and had some bad luck. Ill take them one at a time and tell the story as I go. Maybe some of you guys can learn from my troubles and have better hunts because of it.
1. I/we, hired a local air charter who gave us no choice where to go into, just got the old "Its a great spot, youll love it" routine. This is the TMA remember. (Mistake 1, No recon) If your going this route AFTER your paid in full for the hunt and IF theyll do it, pay extra to get a recon flight so youll know what your getting into. Local charters have secret strips and secret names for drainages. Even after your paid up they are VERY reluctant to show you in detail on a map where your going into. In fact they wouldnt.
2. Crooked Air charters. OK this is my second unsuccessfull and my last attempt to use a local air charter. In my opinion several are crooked. they wont put locals in good areas that are reserved for high paying guides or clients from elsewhere. When just as a test, you tell your charter on the day of the hunt that you have more money than you had planned, could he put you on a better spot? And he replies, How much more are we talking? Your hornswagled, now its just a question of how bad. If you dont pay what the big boys pay, your not going to get what they get. Me and a buddy a couple years ago ran into this . A charter wouldnt put us into the sheep area we wanted because it was reserved for the guides. Then a few seasons later he got put in the area only after all the legal rams were harvested out. Enough said.
3) Hunting conditions.
Heat drove the rams HIGH. We only seen 1 legal ram 4 sure on the last day. More later. Drainages to skirt, wow the creek was so high we could neither skirt of cross. They put us where we had to climb a mountain in order to get to sheep country. Took us 2.5 days to get 6.9 miles from the drop off point. according to the GPS Charter said just skirt the creek and youll get in through the gorge OK. Yea, right.
4) Legal rams
I think we had a miscommunication. I said Legal Rams, charter must have thought we said Legal Lambs. They put us in 2 day striking range of ewesbekestan. Ive always been told the rams hang out not with the others but high in the crag rock and bowls close to them. So what do you do when even the Lambs are on top? Ist day of season we saw a 7/8 curl that I tried all manner of voodo majic to make legal but no matter how we looked he wasnt. We counted annuli and concluded he was legal, but I wasnt about to take a just "close enough" ram out of the TMA. F/C or nothing. Not another legal ram till the last afternoon. probably glassed 30 sheep lambs ewes and sublegal rams. Last afternoon we saw old dad. The biggest sheep Ive ever seen in any movie, fullcurl and a half double broomed, 56" ,OK maybe not 56" but huge anyway. He would have been a book ram Im sure. We would have never seen him if it wasnt for the USAF who was out chasing sheep with a C-130. He blew over the ridge we were glassing at no more than 100'. He spooked the sheep and caused old dad to stand upand give us the look that will torture me for years to come. Now talk about security, this guy had it down. He was bedded down at the base of a vertical cragrock mountain that went above 7K his bed was on top of the left side of a 100' vertical highwall above a crevass infested blue ice glacier. to his right were 4 sublegal rams, to there right were 10 ewes and lambs all on the same level spread out over 500 yards leading down the shale slide trail. at the midpoint of the slide trail was one bannana ram all by himself. (forward lookout) Needless to say he will grow old there as far as Im concerned. They had us busted sooo bad. Couldnt get over, under or around. As for the trojan sheep trick,HA they held up signs rating our performance, thanked us for playing and inviting us back next year. Dont ask where there at, I wont tell you. If I cant have him. Im not sharing. Other than that, had a great trip, weather was if anything too hot.
One tip for you over 45 guys. I dont care what the hard core sheep hunters say, this is the last time I take a POS cut off light wt. sleeping pad. I have arthritus in my back and that makes a miserable hunt. Next year its going to be my thick macdaddy comfy pad even if it does weigh 5 lbs.