Where to start? I guess the beginning is actually when I moved my family to Wyoming 25 years ago. As a hunter it is a great place to be. I started applying for a sheep within a couple of years of arriving. Not every year, but probably every other year. Then things changed in 1994 as Wyoming went to a preference point system for moose and sheep. Each year you apply you get a preference point. 75% of the licenses are allocated to those with the maximum number of preference points. Wyoming issues less than 250 sheep licenses each year, but eventually I knew I would draw a sheep license. I had applied for areas 2, 3 and 5, depending on the year. I missed a year when they moved the application date cutoff up a month a few years ago. In 2011 I had spoken to John Porter of Morning Creek outfitters and decided to try area 2.
Note the flare out in the horns.
No luck with the draw. I eventually called the Wyoming Game and Fish dept. They showed me with two short of maximum points. I apparently had missed another year. In looking at the numbers I was unlikely to draw area 5 for five more years. But area 2 was still a possibility depending on how many applied for that area. So in 2012 I applied for area 2. I was headed fishing when I got a call from a guide I had spoken to telling me that I had drawn an area 2 sheep license. I was thrilled and very excited.
Pack string leaving John's cabin.
Now I had a big decision to make: whether or not to hire a guide. One of my friends asked, when will you draw a sheep permit again? I said probably never. So time to get a guide.
Then the question was who. I had a recommendation from a friend who lives in Cody, and another recommendation from my gunsmith who used to guide there 30 years ago. I had seen John Porter on the Best of the West so I knew about him. So I asked the question to the Long Range Hunting sheep forum. They were about 80% for hiring John Porter. I called John and booked my hunt.
The scenery going in.
It was tentatively set for Sept 23 as a 10 day hunt. He had 2 hunters in area 5 to start the season and 2 ahead of me in area 2. He suggested that I come over to Cody and do some shooting with him before the hunt. I agreed it would be a good idea.
I knew I needed to get in condition to hunt the high country. So I changed my eating habits and started to exercise. By the time the hunt rolled around I had lost 17 lbs and had my legs in decent condition.
I also had to decide which rifle to take. I have a 25-06 Rem SS that in 2011 I had found a load w/ Accubonds that it just loved. One ragged hole at 100 yards. I also have a Tikka T-3 that I used on Ibex and in Africa, 300 WSM. With 150 Gr Barnes TTSX I can get a 1/2 inch groups. The BC sucks for long range shooting. My other choice was a new rifle being built for longer range shooting.
I'm a left handed shooter, but every rifle I've ever had was right handed. I had thought a few times that I'd like to try a thumbhole stock, but doubted that a left hand thumbhole was available for a right hand rifle. Then on the Long Range website that stock came up for sale along with a Savage action for $360. So I bought it and took it to Mac's Gunworks just south of Gillette. I told him my requirements: rifle no more than 8lbs and I wanted it in a 6.5. He suggested a 6.5-06. That sounded good to me. So he ordered in a barrel and had everything titanium nitrided. It was finished about mid-August so I started working up a load. Between Chuck and I we got a load with 140 gr Bergers with H4831SC that had a velocity of 3004 FPS. I got around to calling John to see If we could get together to shoot. I took the new 6.5 with me. I had pretty well decided that was the rifle I was taking sheep hunting.
I drove to Cody and met with John and one of his friends to do a little shooting. I got to shoot one of John's 7mm's and .223's. Talk about sweet. I loved the Huskemaw scopes they had and decided I needed one. My wife was kind enough to make that my birthday present for this year. So back to Cody I went to get the scope mounted and to shoot it for the data to make the turrets. It was interesting shooting the data. At 650 yards there was a hole in the rock I was shooting at, first shot. John said, “If that was a chipmunk it would have been dead. That rifle shoots good.” 2 days later I had 2 turrets for my scope and just had to wait my turn to hunt.
John had a pretty good streak going. In area 5 his first hunter killed a good ram opening day. His 2nd hunter took 3 days. Then in area 2 his first hunter got a great ram on the first day. His 2nd hunter was young lady who drew first time she applied. She killed her ram on the 3rd day and then it was my turn.
I met John at his home at noon on September 20th and we headed to town. There we met his cameraman for the hunt. His name was Terrance. We then drove to John's cabin to load the horses and make the 12 mile ride into camp. We loaded the horses and headed in. The Aspens had just turned color and it made the ride in beautiful. I got off to walk once for about a half mile. By doing that I could keep from getting saddle sore. One of the real treats coming in was seeing a bull elk in the creek. Just 20 minutes earlier John had told us it was about time to see one. John felt like it was a 365 class bull. We took pictures and moved on. It gave me a itchy trigger finger as I've never gotten an elk that large. At camp I met young lady named Chelsea that was the wrangler.