After my complete breakdown on that tight curling ram, we spent the night on the mountain. The next morning we packed back down to spike camp, filled up on food, and took off up the drainage. While Steve and I were up on the mountain, Gary had spotted a really nice deep curling ram about 2 miles upriver. We had a suspicion that he might be the ram we had been trying to kill for a couple years now. By 9:30 p.m., we had set up camp and climbed farther up the ridge where Gary had seen the ram, but we weren’t seeing much. We walked up past 2 drainages without seeing a sheep. In the third one, we finally spotted a nice ram.

Steve spotted him, but decided that he didn’t want to shoot. However, after Gary and I gave him a closer look over, we knew he was a big one. He was kind of deceiving, barely coming up over full curl, but his horns dropped well below his jaw line, and we were about 90 percent sure that he was the ghost ram we had been after for years.

He was about a mile away, so we quickly cut across a low saddle and into position 400 yards from the bedded ram. Here’s where things went to pieces. I got into position behind the rifle with the ram in the crosshairs. But, he was bedded in a position where his horns were in the way, so I had to wait to shoot. I told Steve to get him to stand up because normally, rams will stand up from their bed and look at you for at least a few seconds before walking off. Steve gave a couple of howls, but the ram didn’t hear him because of the wind. So he stood up and waved his arms. With my finger on the trigger, I watched the ram stand up and immediately turn around and disappear into a draw. He was booking it as he came out the other side. All I could do was lay there in disbelief.

Before this year, I had taken every sheep I made a stalk on. So to have two of them slip away in a row was really throwing me for a loop. We made another late night stumble back to camp with no choice but to keep going and try to break my curse.