I thought since we have this new section in the forum, I would start a thread about preparing for my upcoming Utah Rocky mountain bighorn hunt in November. It has been a lifelong dream of mine to hunt sheep, and at 36, my dream is about to become a reality.
I have been putting in for sheep for about 16 years off and on between Utah and Colorado. But because of being wishy washy, I had only accumulated 3 points for Utah. After a couple of very difficult years in my personal life, someone decided that I needed a gift of massive perportions. I drew the Range Creek Rocky tag! I started calling all of my friends, and they simply said "you drew my tag!" I keep hearing things like "I have 13 points" or "you just won the lottery!" Believe me, I know how fortunate I am to get this tag. The best part about it though, is how many people want to share the accumulated information about the unit I drew. Sheep hunters are definatly a different breed of hunter. They just want to part of the hunt, no matter if they get to pull the trigger or not. It is an addiction for sure.
I am now in the middle of how to prepare, and how to scout the unit. Looking at new gear and optics, getting in shape, and building a new rifle just for this hunt. Then there are all of the worries that go along with it like: I am getting remarried in July, and my fiance already thinks she is going to be a hunting widow. Fortunatly, she understands that this is a once in a lifetime opprotunity. My son also drew a youth only any bull elk tag that runs 10 days in the middle of November, so trying to fit his hunt into the mix is going to be fun! He was also very understanding, and stated "You have wanted this all your life, dont worry about my elk until you kill your sheep!"
I will do my best to keep updating this thread as things happen, I will give scouting reports, rifle testing reports, and just any old information that seems appropriate.
I hope I can make this enjoyable for all of you, and share the experience!
Congrats on the once in a life-time tag and for the upcoming marriage !!
Keep us all informed on your progress....
I always start hiking now to get in shape. I'll add a pack after the first couple weeks and just keep adding weight every 10 days or so until I build up to 50 lb pack and can hike 1500 to 2000 vertical without resting much.
I also get my boots broke in by doing this... As you know, opening day isn't the time to try out the new Danners or similar....
It has been a lifelong dream of mine to hunt sheep, and at 36, my dream is about to become a reality.
Only 36 years old? Lifelong dream? I'm not picking on you but 36 isn't a very long wait for a sheep hunt. Just ask those that are over 50 yrs old and over 60 yrs old who are still waiting to draw a sheep tag! ;)
All kidding aside, have a great time and enjoy the hunt!
Congradualtions on your draw. I was fortunate enough to draw a tag the first year I applied in Montana in 88 and I shot a B&C ram which scored 185 1/8. I did a lot of research and made a lot of phone calls, talked to some locals and basically got a lot of good intel. The season opened the first week of Sept and I set aside two weeks of leave to scout and hunt in the Missouri Breaks area of Montana. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Lot's of big open country with a few sheep. I found some ewes, lambs and a couple of young rams, but no big guys. I talked with several locals and who told me to come back in Nov because that's when the Rams herd up with the ewes. So that's what I did. I returned home a week early and took up the hunt again in early Nov. I was wondering if I would have to eat my tag. The first day back I found a herd with a couple of OK Rams, but held out for something better. I drove around to the North side of the breaks and hunted the next morning in the steep badland country. I saw another OK ram running with a couple of ewes. On my way back to my truck from the morning hunt I looked up a steep erosion bank and saw a nice ram, then I saw another little bigger ram, then I saw a third even bigger ram. I was at my truck now and they were about 150 -200 yds away watching me. I got a towel out of the truck and laid my rifle on it, a 7mm Rem Mag with 160 gr partitions, over the hood of my truck (all legal, I was well off the road). I put the cross hairs in the middle of the ribs and squeezed the trigger. The ram shuddered and stumbled forward a few steps and stood there. The other two rams and a ewe trotted off out of sight. I chambered another round, aimed and sqeezed off another shot. Nothing, he didn't even flinch. I chambered a third and fired again. Still no movement, he just stood there. I wondered if I even hit it, but I knew I couldn't have missed. I chambered the fourth and put the crosss hairs on the back, fired and he rocked a little then fell over. I climbed up the very steep bank and saw him close up and he looked really big. I thanked God for the reward and started dressing him. Getting him down the steep bank was interesting. He almost took me for a long steep tumble. I figure he was close to 300 lb undressed full weight. I spent the night there and drove him home the next morning. When I skinned him out I found the first three bullets in a tight group that could have been covered by a half dollar, which explains why he didn't flinch on the 2nd and 3rd shots. The 4th passed through the top of the spine.
I would recommend talking to local folks, F&G officials and wildlife biologists who know the sheep populations and habits. Also, contacting sheep hunters who have hunted your area would be very valuable. That will contribute much more to your success than anything else.
Some tips, dont judge a ram from a rear view, they all look big from that perspective. Look for heavy bases and mass through out the horn. The narrower the the fur patch between the horns at the base, the better. The more time you can spend backpacking this summer to get into mountain shape, the better. And if you can backpack and scout the area you are hunting, all the better, but usually their summer, fall and winter ranges are very different. They will be a lot easier to find during the rut which is Nov here. A good cal rifle would probably be a 7mm mag to a 300 mag. I just got a Sako Finnlight 300 WSM, which I think would make an ideal sheep rifle. Good bino's and spotting scope are very helpful and can save you a lot of walking and time. Having a partner to help spot would be great too. The closer you can get the better you will be able to judge him.
Hope you have a successful hunt and take a nice ram. Congradulations on your upcoming marraige which is a bigger priority than a sheep. It would be great if your son could share the experience with you, but maybe he's too young for the mountian travel?
Keep us posted,
You will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you make good use of it.
~ John Quincy Adams
Last edited by MontanaRifleman; 11-13-2008 at 02:05 PM.
Way to go on drawing your sheep tag! Your 36yrs and got a lot of sheep hunting ahead of you! I'm 36 and have been lucky enough to have taken seven rams here in British Columbia! Still looking for a Dall though. I have found that the getting in shape is paramount. Investing in quality optics second and then get familiar with your rifle. Google earth is great for checking out your hunting area. I used google earth to research a stone sheep area a couple years ago and it paid off with me and my partner getting an awesome stone ram each! Talk with as many people who have been in your area too or even hunted there for other animals and they might have also seen some interesting stuff to pass on to you. Looking forward to hearing your updates. Good luck to you. RAMSHOT.