35 days of hunting and scouting, thousands of dollars in gas and expenses, and thousands of acres of the worlds most rugged terrain glassed over, uncle b and I found this ram. And what a beautiful place to find it in! And it went down to the wire too. It was the last week of a two month hunt that you only can draw out on once in your lifetime. Talk about pucker factor.
The morning of this kill, I was giving us less than a 30% chance of being successful on this hunt. The rut was three weeks late this year and something happened to the core herd of sheep that I and my dad shot our rams out of in previous years. So, in a last ditch effort, we decided to rent a boat and head out on Lake Powell to get a look at some canyons not otherwise accessible. Although the biggest herd lives on the lake, the unit only holds about 40 sheep and the sheep density is something like one sheep in every 1500 acres! The unit is huge and the sheep are not found everywhere in it. It is like trying to find a needle in a hayfield. But the lake was our last hope so we tried it.
We rented a boat at Wahweap (at a cheap 300 bucks a day) and used it for hunting for three days and two nights. Gas at the marina was a cool $4.20 per gallon and we promplty dumped $175 bucks worth into the tank. We roughly put on about 140 miles on the water and glassed all the canyons we wanted to except for the ones that were cut off from the lake level being too low.
First day out, we spotted 15 sheep at Dangling Rope marina and only two of them were rams. But the biggest one was a shooter for sure. Only one problem, he was living on the lawn of the marina living quarters! And when approached by park rangers on 4 wheelers doing their duties, the sheep actually followed them asking for handouts!
So we hopped back in the boat and went into the marina to ask what the legal distance was that we had to be away from the marina to shoot. The park ranger told us that there weren't that many sheep around but if there were, we would have to be 1/2 mile away from any structure to shoot. And darned if for the next two days that ram never went more than 500 yards from the docks! We were starting to think we were cursed because we had only seen 25 sheep at this point in our entire hunt and we had passed on the only mature ram (about a 145") we had seen just weeks earlier only to go 9 days straight afterwords without seeing a single sheep. Now we have this bruiser on the lawn at the marina and he is the park service's damn pet!
Well, rather than go to jail, we decided to leave this herd and go look for another ram. We cruised up another known sheep canyon only to see that there was no way up the canyon wall without repelling gear or a helicopter.
Pretty bummed, we decided to go over into the next canyon west and beach the boat for the night. We ate some freeze dried food and tossed out the tent on the sand.
The next morning found us heading out of the bay at a good clip at first light to go check out the brute on the lawn to see if he had moved when I happened to glance up on the canyon wall and saw movement at about 1200 yards. I hollered at B to stop the boat and we quickly threw our binos up on the spot. To our surprise, it was a sheep and a ram at that. And not just a ram but a nice ram! We threw the boat back in gear and set a course for an interception point about a mile in front of the ram as he was moving along at a stiff walk looking for ewes.
We found a small bay where there was a sand bar to beach the boat and we quickly got gear ready for the shot. Camera, spotter, tripods, rangefinder, PDA, ammo, and oh yeah, the GUN! I ranged the ledge the ram was walking on at 650 to 750. We got the 338 thunder set up and we waited for the ram to tram into our position. Within minutes, he came into view. He covered several miles along the ledge in under 5 minutes! It is amazing how fast these things can move along such treacherous terrain.
Anyhow, the ram came across the last finger and into view. But there was something wrong....he had something on his back. We looked closer and it was clear it was a raven riding on the ram's back. What the ----?! The ram had a buddy. This raven was apparently eating bugs off the ram or perhaps just hitching a ride. Well, he was about to lose his free transportation!
The ram kept coming around the ledge and eventually under the crosshair and B squeezed the trigger just after I hit record on the camcorder. To make a long story short, the big ram fell to the big gun and the stress and fun was over in a blink of an eye.
I ranged the ram where he fell and the Swaro said 666 yards so we nick-named the ram the "devil ram" or the "raven ram" for fun.
After a steep hike up to the ram and a life sized skinning job, we hauled everything back down to the boat and raced to the marina to get the boat back before we were charged for another day.
That night at our land based camp, we had ram ribs for dinner and they were awesome. Worth every bit of effort of hauling them out even though there isn't much meat on them.
And now for the pics:
The most beautiful scenery in a hunting picture I have seen to date. Notice the boat at the lower right corner:
And the view from the shooting position to the kill site:
And B's ram at the taxidermist. It scored 151" and had 15" 1/8" bases! Length was 30.5". The most amazing thing: the ram was only 4/5 years old! My ram was twice this age and 1 inch smaller! This ram would have been a B&C ram in about 3 years no question. I'll have to check, but these might just be the biggest bases ever taken on a desert sheep in Utah.