The original plan was to leave on the morning of the 7th for the long drive north. Unfortunately, I had a job interview on the afternoon of the 7th, and had to wait until 4 o'clock on the 8th to find out I was one of the final two candidates but the job was offerred to the other person. No big deal, I thought to myself, now I get to go sheep hunting!!!
I quickly get on the horn to my hunting partner and he heads over. We leave my house at about 4:30 and finally arrived at our destination at 3am August 9th. We grab some shut eye until about 9 and load up and head out. We are hunting the same area as last year, in which we were successful in bagging a nice, mature, delicious ram. There were 2 other rigs in the parking area, so we knew we would have competition, but we hadn't driven that far for no reason.
The hike in was typical of sheep hunting, exhausting and wet. After glassing our competition (all 5 of them...seriously, who goes sheep hunting with a basketball team?), we decide to take a gamble and look into hiking into a canyon and hunting the other side where we had seen rams the year before. When we reach the edge of the canyon we immediately realize there is no way we are going in- 1500-2000ft straight down...it was one of the more impressive sites I have witnessed in the mountains.
So now we have decisions to make. Our area from the previous year is taken and its now 3pm on the 9th of August. We finally decide to hike around the hunters, to a spot about 3 miles north of them, that way we all should have enough area to hunt comfortably. By 10pm we are both pretty wasted so we throw up camp.
We wake up on the morning of the 10th and eat a hearty breakfast of instant oatmeal, hot chocolate and instant coffee and set off to the area we had picked out on the map the previous day. After some grueling side-hilling in giant boulders, we begin seeing sheep, primarily ewes, lambs, and immature rams. We actually almost got stampeded by a group of about 19- we had to stand up so they wouldn't keep trotting towards us!!
At about 3pm we are topping a rise and we see the butt of a sheep below us about 300 yards. We know immediately its a ram, its butt is really big and dirty. We sneak back so we are out of sight and bust out the spotting scope. We determine he's definitely legal, but he has bedded down in a spot that would spell disaster if he falls downhill- which sheep seem to enjoy doing after being shot. Eventually he gets up and feeds away- not spooked so we like our chances of being able to get into a better location.
After moving, we glass a group of 5 rams about a mile away across a small canyon. We can tell that 2 are definitely legal- and one of them looks to be a REALLY nice sheep. Our problem at this point is that we are about 6 miles from our camp, and its about 6pm. Even with bivy sacks, we would have a tough go of it goint after them where they were. We decide to wait and see where they feed when they get up. Being the restless person that I am, I tell my buddy that I am going to sneak around the butte that we are on and get a look at what's below it. As I slowly make my way around, a nice, green grassy area appears below me. Before I can even think about how nice a spot this is I see sheep. I quickly break out the nocs and find 4 rams below me. 2 are close to legal and the other two have a few years to go. I go get my partner and we set up the spotting scope on the rams. It is his year to shoot first and we quickly determine that one of the rams looks to be about 9 years old and a nice low dropping curl on his right side and he's broken a bit on his left. He decides to take him and his .300WSM does the trick from about 320 yards. We de-bone the meat, load up and head back to camp at 10:30pm- finally making it back to camp at about 3am...without headlamps...can you guess what range we're in?
It is his biggest sheep to date- 38x13 on the right side, 34x131/4 on the left.
We were crunched for time, and we had competition, but we were very fortunate to harvest a ram and have meat in the freezers to compliment whatever else fall's bounty brings...now on to moose, goat and deer
Yes, that is my new barneys pack- I never thought I would get one, but it was my father's day present- best pack I've ever had on my back- I even had to pack the horns due to my partner's lack of room...don't worry, I'm making him buy one so he can pack my horns next year!!!