It’s bound to happen eventually, that hunt that makes you wonder if someone has put a voodoo curse on you. This year’s sheep hunt, normally my comfort zone, had quickly turned into a nightmare. After things completely fell apart and I missed a beautiful ram, we put a stalk on an even bigger one. We were already discussing how we were going to pack him out, only to have him give us the slip when the deal was all but done. Having no choice but to forge ahead, we once again shouldered our packs. It took us several hours to work our way back uphill and into a saddle that dropped into a different river drainage.
As we eased our way into the saddle, we had to be careful. With every step we took across the top, more sheep came into view. They seemed to be everywhere. We had to slowly creep along, evaluating every ram that appeared as we made our way over the horizon. After watching one group of rams for about 20 minutes, we crept even farther so that we could see the steep slope directly below us. I was elated when we spotted the tight-curled ram that I had missed two nights earlier. He was 500 yards below us, feeding across a creek and up a grassy draw.
We had managed to find the ram again, but the valley was packed with more than 200 other sheep. They were everywhere! There were sheep to the left, to the right, above, and below us. We had a group of ewes and lambs walk within 50 yards of us. With so many sheep in the valley, there was no way to put a stalk on the ram. The only option was to sit tight up in the saddle and wait.
Over the course of several hours sitting there in all my clothes, rain gear, and sleeping bag just to stay warm in the wind, pretty much all of the sheep worked their way into and across that grassy draw and began to bed down in the same area for the night. We decided that this could be my opportunity. With darkness approaching fast, we carefully pegged exactly where that ram was bedded and waited. At about 11 pm, as it was really starting to get dark, Gary and I took off on the short but exposed stalk. Fortunately for us, sheep don’t see well in the dark, and half of them were already asleep. We quickly made our way across the hill, but spooked two rams that were below us. As the rams took off, all the other sheep, including my ram, stood up. They couldn’t see us, but they could see the spooking rams. Before they could move and get mixed up, I laid down and dropped the ram at 400 yards.
It was such a relief to finally take that sheep, especially after having missed him and spooked another. After I missed that ram I more or less wrote him off, thinking I’d never see him again. He ended up being not as big as I thought–because his curl is so tight–but he’s a trophy nonetheless.