Idaho Sheep Hunting – Hunt #1:Idaho sheep hunting has been a challenge this year due to all of the smoke from forest fires. We hunted in the smoke for seven days before finding a ram for our first hunter. He wasn’t huge, but we figured he would go about 160 or so. We called Clayton on the Sat Phone and let him know that we had a ram spotted for him and he flew in that evening and we picked him up at the airstrip with the horses.
The next morning we went after the ram. George and Kris got across the canyon to spot the rams and motion directions to us. It didn’t take them long to spot sheep and we started our climb. It didn’t look bad, but it was definitely a pull to get up as high as the sheep. After a few hours of climbing, we finally saw the rams, but it wasn’t the ram that we had seen the day before. We were kind of disappointed because this ram wasn’t nearly as big, but Clayton wanted him anyway. I ranged the ram at 366 yards and Clayton made a great shot with his HS .270 Short Mag. After a week of Mountain House dehydrated food, it was heaven to have sheep back straps that night… we’re glad Clayton was willing to share. It’s not a huge ram, but Clayton was super happy and he is now down to his Desert Bighorn Sheep hunting to complete his Grand Slam. Good luck Clayton, it was a pleasure hunting with you.
Idaho Sheep Hunting – Hunt #2:
After Clayton left, we had about a week of smokey conditions with near zero visibility. On the first day we could actually see, we called our next hunter, Wayne. He has already gotten the other three species of sheep needed for his Grand Slam and this ram would be the last one he needed. We were excited about our prospects and completing his Slam.
On the first day of his Idaho hunt, we found a little ram right out of camp that Wayne passed on, then we went five days without seeing a sheep. It was alternately smokey, snowing at almost blizzard conditions and raining. Conditions were terrible! On the afternoon of the fifth day, Kris and Jeremy found some tracks near camp. The next morning, Cory and Wayne followed the tracks while Kris and Jess got to a good glassing spot. At the end of the tracks, Cory spotted a nice ram (165-170). Wayne liked the ram and was going to shoot, but before he could the fog rolled in and the ram was gone when visibility returned. Kris and Jess found two more rams 30 yards below them in the rocks and one of them was HUGE! Around 180! Unfortunately they spooked and we couldn’t find them again. Ultimately Wayne ended up going home empty handed. It was a heart breaker for everybody. Bighorn sheep hunting can be tough.
Idaho Sheep Hunting – Hunt #3:Jess and I flew in to camp with our hunter, Bob Newton on the 29th. We had high hopes of getting the big ram and everyone was excited. The day before we flew in, our second hunter, Wayne had called me and said that when he flew out of camp he had seen a good ram on the ridge just above base camp. Thanks for the tip Wayne. We decided that we would spend the first night at base camp and try to get a look at this ram before we headed up after the big one. Jess and I went different directions to try to get a look at him, but all we saw were a few ewes… oh well, we had bigger fish to fry!
On the second morning we packed the mules and saddled the horses and headed up to sheep camp. Bob is seventy years old and has broken his back a few times so riding a horse is hard on him so he walked the whole way. He is one tough bugger! It’s no walk in the park to get up to this camp and he kept right up with the horses without hardly even breathing hard. I hope I’m able to walk like him when I’m his age! We got to camp late that afternoon and after we got set up it was dark. The next morning, we woke to a blizzard and it was blowing so hard we thought the tent would blow over. Needless to say, we were stuck in camp all day. We found out today that not only is Bob tough, but he’s funny too.
On the third morning we had great tracking snow and calm winds. Right off the bat, we found ram tracks on the ridge right next to camp and began following them and glassing ahead of us. It didn’t take us long to find the sheep a few hundred yards below us feeding up a ridge. I was kind of sick and coughing, so I stayed at the spotting scope to keep track of the rams and Jess and Bob went after them. Talk about stressful having to stay there and watch! There were six rams in the group; two small “Banana Heads”, one three-quarter curl, the ram that our last hunter Wayne had a chance at, and the two big rams that Kris and Jess had seen on that hunt. The biggest ram was an absolute monster! With huge, heavy bases, he carries his weight all the way to the end of his broomed off horns. He is a little over full curl, drops below his jaws and flares out pretty well at the end. Great ram! Anyway… I’m up there on the spotting scope drooling over this big ram and waiting for Jess and Bob to get down there when Jess walks into my line of sight through the scope! I can tell he hasn’t seen the ram yet and they’re right on top of each other! I’m sweating bullets. It seems to take forever, but they finally find the rams all bedded down. The rams were in two groups bedded on the hill, smallest rams on the bottom and the larges rams up higher. The two groups were only yards apart from each other and Jess and Bob were only eighty yards from them. Jess told Bob to shoot the top ram and Bob shot… the highest ram in the bottom group. The three-quarter curl ram. It is a nice ram, but a bit of a disappointment for all of us, especially Bob. He called it an “accidental shooting”. At least he took it with a good sense of humor. The rest of the rams just trotted slowly over the ridge.
Bob is now only one Desert Bighorn sheep hunting trip away from his second Grand Slam and has been on ten sheep hunts. That ram is the biggest ram he has ever seen. Oh well, we still have one more sheep hunter so hopefully we can get him!
Congratulations Bob, and good luck on your Desert ram.
See our sheep hunts here.