Dall sheep hunt
Things are going well .
We make our way up the rotten and crumbling mountainside to set up our ambush. We gain the top of the ridge, drop our packs and, are about to belly crawl for a peek over the other side when I hear, "****!". "What !?!" said I. "There are 3 rams above us that just came over he top" says Craig. "Don't move". "****" I say.
We are in plain view. 3 rams at my backside, 275ish yards away and we have to act like rocks. Craig tells me 1 is legal, broomed on both sides and heavy horned. Do I want to shoot him, he asks? Hell yes ! I replied. The big ram actualy lies down braodside to us with the other two just staring. I squirm around on my belly, have to move twice, settle in with my rifle across my pack and take aim 2/3rds up the center of his front shoulder with my 06' and squeeze the trigger. BOOM! Up jumps the rams and does a 180 and disappears !
I jump up in disbelief saying, "I missed ? I missed ? There is no way I missed !" Then I realized I heard my bullet hit rock but Criag was sure I hit the ram maybe just too far back. " Go look for him, look for blood. He may be piled up in a draw below the ridge. While you do that I am going down the other side to get a look for that ram we saw last night." He says.
Off I go, feeling bad for myself the whole while sure that I would find nothing to indicate a hit . I looked,I looked closely for blood and for an impact somewhere in the rocks nearby. Nothing. No sheep piled up in the draw behind where he had been. I decide to continue looking further along the mountaintop and other draws on each side. Still nothing.I gain the highest point. I look through my binocs across the ridge as continues on and see 4 rams. The 1 I had shot at was in the front of the group, they saw me at the same time and started to move off across the mountainside into a no mans land. I confirmed I had missed entirely.
I make my way back down the ridge, almost to where Craig should be and hear a rifle shot ! I get low and take cover, rifle at the ready. Below me sheep come into view and are crossing the mountainside. I see none that appear wounded and maybe 1 legal sheep. Can I get a shot at him ? Should I shoot if I can ? Hell no I won't shoot, I just missed for some undetermined reason. Not taking the chance.
I find Craig on the other side with a nice ram down ! He got the ram from the group we originaly targeted. We dress and pack the sheep back to camp, the whole while my thoughts consumed by what could have been and the why of how I could have missed.
Fri. aug. 15) We sleep in this time, 7:00am. Have a good breakfast and pack the meat anything we can to take, back to the river camp. It is about 6 miles one way and we intend to sleep there for the night. The next day we come back for the spike camp.
Now where were the bears ? We have alot of brush to get through. The wind is in our faces and we have to travel beside a very loud stream and through windblown brush, packing bloody meat. We can barely hear each other ! Well, as it turned out we never saw a bear again. Our base camp tent and other items were undisturbed. The beer I brought along was still there and tasted great that evening.
Sat. aug 16) We go back up the drainage, the sun ablazing,and collect our camp. We eat lunch and head back down, the sun still ablazing, to the river camp. We collect wood and build a fire, cook up some sheep ribs and tenderloin then stuff our bellies with sheep meat, beer and a little rum. The next morning we headed home.
Overall I had a great trip along with a great hunting partner. I will however lament the fact that I missed that ram forever. That is and has been for over 30 years, a lifetime goal of mine. Hopefully I get another chance and will succeed.
I do find somewhat amusing, the cost to my gear, patience and sanity during the ordeal. I suffered damage to a brand new drybag and tarp, lost a favorite knife, had my water purifier nearly fail completely and missed a really nice ram with a rifle and scope I had complete confidence in yet, I managed to enjoy the experience even so.
Yesterday I went to the shooting range to recheck my rifle. Prior to my hunt, the last visit to the range, this rifle printed 4 inches high at 100 yards (which I wanted) 2 groups of 3 rounds inside 3/4" with 165grain Nosler ballistic tips @ 2850fps. It is a very accurate handload for this rifle. I have a target on my wall with a group of .6" at 200meters.
The result at the shooting range yesterday astounding. 1st round was 3" high and 3" left, then 3" high dead center, 3rd round 3" high and 3" right ! A 6" group at 100yards !?! This was the same lot of handloads I sighted my rifle in with prior to the hunt and the same lot I took hunting. The only conclusion I can reach, is that a fall while hiking up the drainage damaged the internals of my scope. I find this a bit surprising as I have done worse to Leupolds (and far cheaper scopes)in the past and it has had little or no affect on them. The rings and mounts are tight so must be ruled out.
Lesson learned here is that, no matter how trivial one thinks a fall is while on such an important and meaningfull hunt, recheck your sights when you get to your destination. A least your hunting partner has a rifle for you to use.
I hope at least some of you enjoyed this and that someone learns from my experience here.