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bonecollector

My Sheep Hunt

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It all started on July 7th when I looked to see a couple charges from G&F. Without realizing it I see the normal $45 charge for a deer tag and above it was a $300 charge. I had to do a double take to see what the charge was from, yep G&F charge for $300 for a sheep tag. I’m now shaking trying to text my wife and friends telling them I drew a sheep tag. I then realize I put my daughter in for sheep this yr and it could be her tag. So we wait for the results to be posted and sure enough I drew tag #4 out of 4.

The sheep obsession officially began. I started looking over google earth, googled everything I could about Desert sheep in the unit, bought a map and started planning my scouting trips. I was able to talk to a couple past tag holders and picked their brain. Went to the sheep clinic put on by ADBSS, met the raffle tag winner from last yr, talked to him about his hunt and he gave me some spots to check out.

 

Early Oct rolls around, my buddy Mike (MT CAT) and I are headed up to the unit for the first time. After the long drive we find a spot to setup a small camp, cots and table, Mike figures out he forgot his sleeping bag and would be sleeping the next 2 nights in my Tacoma which isn’t very comfortable. After the first evening we found a bunch of the burros I kept hearing about, 1 Ram and 1 Ewe. That night I would learn these burros make god awful noises all night long and the coyotes are thick in the area. The next morning was a little slow; we didn’t find any sheep in our first spot. Went to another area and found 3 different rams. The next morning we drove out to another spot to get a look on the backside of where those rams were hanging out the previous day. We get there and I notice my front tire on the rhino is coming apart, still holding air but coming apart. We glassed for a bit then decided to head back to camp and pack up. First trip was a success, learned the lay of the land and found a few rams.

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Late Oct comes and we are headed up for another scouting trip. We stop at G&F to check out the pictures from their recent survey of the unit. There were a handful of class IV rams, some really good rams with only 1 horn and some good looking class III rams. We head out setup camp and head to a spring we found that we set a couple cams on. We set cams then glass the rest of the evening finding quite a bit more sheep than our first trip. Next day we head to the southern part of the unit, find a few sheep before the heat got to us. We headed to the town of Oatman for lunch which was an interesting place. We head out hitting some spots on the way back to the North, finding quite a bit of sheep which was promising. The next morning we head out, find a few more rams and call it a trip. I think we have a pretty good idea where to be. This would be our final trip before the actual hunt. My daughter had her coues hunt a couple weeks later so that split up the time waiting for my hunt to begin.

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Food prep all done, grocery store trips all done, the truck is fueled up and its time to head to NW AZ. The spot we have been camping for our scouting trips wasn’t an ideal place to setup a bigger camp. I had found a better place on google earth but when I got out there it wasn’t the same, no way to get to the spot due to the roads being washed out and the overgrowth. Eventually found a spot, should have found it before on scouting trips to save a little stress. I get camp all setup, by that time its getting prime time for glassing and too late to go out anywhere. I pull out the glass from camp, find a lone ram.

 

Thurs morning, making my morning coffee and packing my pack for the morning glassing trip and someone comes up the road and passed by camp. Thinking crap, I haven’t seen anyone else in here and now there is. I get ready and head to the area only to finds a vehicle parked there already. I see these guys glassing up on a ridge where I have been scouting so I don’t go to my usual spot, I decide to just glass from the road. I find a few rams and the most ewes’ I have seen out of all my trips scouting. As I’m sitting there another guy drives right on past me and walks into the area. I decide to hike in and pull the cameras off the spring. By the time I get back the last guy that drove by me is sitting at his quad. I BS with him for a while, he tells me he will be hunting the area in the morning. I’m now thinking 3 out of the 4 tag holders are hunting the same spot, worse than a deer hunt. I go back to camp grab some lunch, look through the pics, nothing good. My partner Mike shows up, I tell him the news about the other hunters. We head out for the evening to the spot. We end up finding about 8-9 different rams that night and the best looking one had come down crossed over to another ridge and out of sight. It’s getting dark so we hike back to the rhino, we see the guys that have been there all day long sitting at their truck. We talk with them, I’m sure we all watched the same rams. They tell us they will be in there in the morning as well; it’s going to be a party in this area on opening morning.

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Opening morning is here, we get up early, earlier than usual to get a head start. Well it turns out we didn’t get up early enough, the other guys were headed in already as we were at camp still. We had talked to the guys the night before and let them know where we would be hunting so we went on our way. We hiked up high in the dark, find a couple rams right away in grey light, nothing we want to shoot on opening morning. We keep on heading up to higher elevation where I thought I saw a good ram the morning before while glassing from the road. We end up not seeing much and its getting hot pretty quick. We decide to head on down to get to the shady side of the ridge and spend the rest of the day there. Well on our way we saw the other hunter going right where we were headed. Well that foils our plan, we decide to head off the mtn for good to go to another area. We end up spotting a ram up on the bluff across from us where the other hunter was at, it was a decent looking ram, wasn’t sure if that was the ram they were after or not. We went to another area, took a nap, found some sheep pretty far away, nothing worth pursuing. Day 1 was a wrap. Around 9pm that night sitting around the campfire the entourage is headed out, figured they killed whatever they were after since they were leaving the area so late.

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2nd morning is here, we decide to give the area a rest where those guys killed their ram the night before. We head to the area where we were the evening before, pretty slow morning. I finally found a ram and a ewe together pretty far away. I could see he was a longer horned ram but really couldn’t tell for sure. After we watch this long ram chase the ewe he was with all over the ridge top, we lose sight of him. We head their way to figure out how to get up to where we lost him, no easy way to get up there. We were headed back, Mike says ram, it’s the long ram. We had him at 400 yds on a bluff looking down on us. He had moved quite a bit from where we lost him in the morning. I get a pic and a short video of him, he’s an impressive ram. We just cant figure out how to get up there to him. I send the video to a friend, she tells me, if that’s the ram I want, getting to him is just part of the adventure. I tell Mike lets try it, see how far we can get going up one of these shootes. We get to just about as far as we can get, Mike spots a ewe about 125 yds in front of us. She takes off then another ewe crosses through the same area. I get setup expecting the ram to follow as he was earlier in the day but he never showed. We head back to camp to meet Amanda, she was able to take time out of her busy schedule to come help a couple days. We have dinner, look at google earth to figure a way up to where the long ram was hanging around at but we couldn’t find a way up. I decide we will go somewhere else the next day. Amanda broke out her cigar box guitar, played a few songs, had a couple beers before heading to bed.

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Day 3 crawl out of the tent, I hear a vehicle with a loud exhaust racing up the road, I think oh great, I’m late again. As the vehicle got closer to camp I realize its most likely not another hunter as they were moving at a high rate of speed and blasting their radio. They drive by and go another direction than the way I was planning on going so I was relieved. 20 mins goes by, they come racing down the road again, weird. Then about 10 mins later 2 quads are coming down the road, I thought these guys were hunters, they go the way the other vehicle went. A short time goes by, these 2 guys on quads come back down the road. I don’t know who’s taking joy rides in the desert at 5am besides tweekers. Lol

The 3 of us head out and get to our glassing spot. Mike spots a ram down low but loses it. Amanda finds a “dead” ram bedded in the rocks, wasn’t really dead, just didn’t move for a long time. I found 3 rams bedded together way up high. We decide we need to get a closer look. We get ready to make the stalk up the ridge with minimal gear. Amanda would stay behind staying in contact via radio while Mike and I went to get a closer look. We make the hike, everything is perfect, we get to where we thought we could get a shot off but from down below we couldn’t see there was a dip we would have to cross in order to see the rams. We had turned off the radio when we got into closer range, so Amanda was trying to get us on the radio asking us what we were doing walking right in front of the sheep. Well we crossed the dip, crawled to another rock outcropping going unnoticed by the sheep. Mike gets the spotting scope setup, I pick the ram I want, I get back in the rifle and cant find the ram. The ram had walked behind a tree putting him out of sight, Mike saw it but I didn’t. I was starting to get nervous, saying “I cant find it, where did he go”? There were 3 rams together so I didn’t want to shoot the wrong ram, I am already dialed for 405yds , just need the ram to walk out. The ram finally walks out, turns broadside, I squeeze the trigger, clean miss over his back. I reload the ram runs a bit closer looking down at us not knowing what just happened. I have the ram in my scope, squeeze the trigger again, ram flops over, “DEAD RAM”! I shed a few tears, I couldn’t believe what just happened. Mike calls Amanda on radio tells her ram is dead and to come on up. We take pics, skin and qtr ram and head down the mtn. with heavy packs getting back to camp at dark. I had many beers that night along with a shot of homemade whiskey that Amanda had brought along, we cooked up a piece of backstrap that night. It was a fun journey shared with family and friends. I wasn’t guided but I had help from a few different outfitter friends like Jay Scott, Craig Steele, and Eric Hunt. I have never met any of these guys before only exchanged messages but they were willing to help out. I have to thank Mike a ton, he was there from the beginning. Amanda came up on short notice and was vital to my success that day. Sorry for the long read if you stuck it out, Thank you!

 

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what a great write up! Congrats on a beautiful ram and what sounded like one heck off a hunt. God Bless

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Sounds like an amazing hunt and a grreat write-up, thanks for sharing. Congrats! Trophy of a lifetime right there!

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Now that's what I'm talking about! Love that ram! That flaring look is so cool. Sounds like you had the kind of hunt we all dream about and try to make happen as often as we can. Thanks for sharing your hunt with us. Congratulations man!

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