Another dall ram hits the dirt!!! The toughest shot of my life.

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by Michael Eichele, Aug 24, 2009.

  1. Michael Eichele

    Michael Eichele Well-Known Member

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    To all,

    A few months ago a friend (Jess) asked me to take him dall sheep hunting. He had always wanted a ram but was afraid to go and pull the trigger on a ram due to all the restrictions of taking a “legal” ram. A “legal” ram is one who’s horn (at least one) has grown to 360 degrees of a circle or has both horns broken AKA broomed or is at least 8 years old as determined by horn annuli. Many rams reach a mature age such as 8, 9, 10 and some even 11 years of age without ever becoming 360 degrees of a circle. Anyway, I had not planned a sheep hunt this year as they closed my honey hole to drawing only (which I was lucky enough to draw a permit there last year which was the first year of the draw) and I had harvested my 6th ram last year so I was going to focus on something else but Jess twisted my arm and what can I say, I was weak. I researched areas and found an area that historically produced good numbers of rams even though the trophy quality was down. He didn’t care he just wanted a legal sheep. So to make a long story short, we went opening day and found 2 rams. I sized them up and determined that they were not 360 degrees (full curl) but I thought that one had age potential. After getting closer and sizing the rams up, I concluded that one was indeed 8 years of age. The funny thing is that the better of the 2 could not be identified as a full curl and I couldn’t tell how many horn annuli he has. He was clearly the leader of the 2 rams but I could not prove he was age legal. After expressing to my buddy that he was 8 years old and legal, he elected to pass. He had a hard time shooting a less than full curl and I understood. I elected to pass just because I am spoiled when it comes to rams. I invited another buddy of mine Charlie hunting so he could harvest this age legal ram. Without hesitation, he accepted. We hiked in after work on Friday and spent the night out of the area of the sheep. Saturday morning we found them but they were feeding very close to a herd of ewes which mad a stalk impossible. After they all went over the ridge, we set up camp. Later that evening the rams appeared and then disappeared over a ridge. We followed and sized them up again. Once again, I determined he was 8 years old. We passed due to the terrain he would have rolled down into. We watched them bed down on a high ridge. We retreated to camp for the night. The next morning we found them again. They bedded down 350 yards below us. I mean STRAIGHT below us. I figured the angle and told Charlie to hold dead on the cross hairs. I zero at 300 yards and the angle was calculated at 33 degrees which equaled a 300 yard shot. We elected to go with the high shoulder shot because they were so close to the cliffs that we couldn’t risk him making it the 30 yards into the cliffs if he double lung shot him. He set up, fired and took the ram off his feet. He immediately rolled another 350 yard into the fog. A few minutes later the fog cleared and we could see him and found that he was incapacitated but not dead. We had a long hike ahead of us that would take a couple of hours to get to him. I did not want him to suffer so I asked for his blessing to put another hole in him. He agreed and I set up for the shot. I ranged him several times and got between 698 and 702. I figured the angle and the ACI was telling me about 32 degrees. I did a quick calculation and compensated accordingly. What would have been 12.25 MOA but was 9.25 MOA due to the angle. The only way to line him up in the scope was to get the stock so far off the ground I could not get a rest under the stock. I began to feel pretty sick. I was faced with a shot I didn’t think I could make and desperately needed to. I scratched my head for a minute and had an epiphany. I took the center post out of my tri-pod and after 10 minutes of fiddling with it got it right. I leveled the rifle, lined him up and touched the 12oz. Jewel. The shot missed clean. I centered his lungs up again (this time while Charlie was behind the spotting scope) and touched another one off. He said “It went right over his back”) I racked another into the chamber and aimed at the very bottom of the ram in line with his ribs and touched the third one off. Charlie screamed “It’s a hit! He’s down.” Later I would learn that I hit him in the center of the neck bone where it met the scapula and that the shot was really 40 degrees. this is why I was so high. He rolled another 100 yards and stopped. This time he was not moving at all. I realized that despite harvesting sheep at farther ranges in the past, I had just made the toughest shot of my life. We packed up and made “the walk of shame.” We call it the walk of shame because no matter how sure you are of a sheep’s legal status, sometimes mistakes are made. After we reached the ram and verified that he was indeed 8 years old the celebration was on! We took a bunch of photos, cleaned him up and packed him out. Today ADF&G aged him at 8 years old and “sealed” him. True to my promise to Charlie, he was “age legal”. The 168 AMAX at both 350 yards and 700 was absolutely devastating. The 700 yard neck shot removed nearly 4 inches of spine and blew a 3" hole on the off side. The "high shoulder shot" missed the spine a wee bit and missed the lungs. The damage done to the shoulder area was impressive. This is why he was completely incapacitated.

    The full story will follow later.

    On a sadder note, 25 minutes before Charlie shot his ram when we topped the ridge where we got cell phone service there was a text from my wife waiting for me that stated a very good friend of mine's 18 year old daughter was killed 2 days earlier in a hunting accident near Homer. They were moose hunting and she was shot. This is a great time as always to remind yourslelves to be very carefull out there this hunting season. Happy and safe hunting to all.


    Here I am verifing the ram's legal status the night before. You can see the rams in the circles:

    [​IMG]

    Charlie, proud of his trophy:

    [​IMG]

    Team work gets it done!

    [​IMG]

    The circle is where we shot from. The arrow was the rams position, and the curve is next to the line in the shale the ram created when he rolled:

    [​IMG]

    Setting up the tri-pod for a rear stabilizer:

    [​IMG]

    The moment of truth at 700 yards:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2009
  2. Slopeshunter

    Slopeshunter Well-Known Member

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    Wow Michael, that is some shot! You know you live in gods country when you start a dall sheep hunt "friday after work.."

    Cheers!
     

  3. royinidaho

    royinidaho Writers Guild

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    And he does it again. And Charlie also!

    Good goin!

    A request, OK? I only have one 'good' eye and it really appreciates smaller paragraphs.:D

    Looking forward to the full write up and possibly a description of the "calculation" you made based on the angle.

    That 7 degree angle offset made way more difference than I would a expected. I'll do some boning up on that part of things.
     
  4. Michael Eichele

    Michael Eichele Well-Known Member

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    Me too. I didnt think 7 or 8 degrees of a mistake would matter that much but after analyzing it on a ballistic calculator, it showed numbers spot on. I was using an ACI from sniper tools. The numbers jump around quite a bit and it is easy to guess the wrong number between markings in the heat of battle. 7 degrees isnt much of a mistake in general but at that sharp of an angle at that distance, it really mattered. After the job was done and further more carefull analysis was done, the angle was figured at 40 degrees in stead of 33. This is consistent with where my bullets hit and where they should have been. I never stop learning. I learned NOT to take a few degrees for granted. Take the time and do it right. Dont just glance at the tool and allow a guesstimate to be close enough.

    UPDATE:

    I just remembered that I had had some recent trouble with the needle in my ACI hanging up. I am reasonabley confident that this at the very least could have been part of the error in angle measurment. I really need to send that thing in. I had not done it in the past because it didnt seem like it would throw me off enough to matter. After scruitinizing the math last night, I can see how I was dead wrong.

    The lesson learned here is use tools in good working order.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2009
  5. foreign

    foreign Well-Known Member

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    very nice shooting. we all hate an injured animal and you took care of it really well.
    so sorry to hear about the accident. nothing can really describe the horror of something like that happening.
     
  6. cinch

    cinch Well-Known Member

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    Nice! What are the specs on your rifle?
     
  7. Michael Eichele

    Michael Eichele Well-Known Member

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    Rem 700 trued, Hart 26" 11x sendero contour fluted. Wyatts magazine and McMillan HTG stock. Lupy mark 4 with NF UL rings.
     
  8. liltank

    liltank Well-Known Member

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    What caliber?

    Tank
     
  9. royinidaho

    royinidaho Writers Guild

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    Tank. Your rig and load would have done just as well:), really
     
  10. jmden

    jmden Well-Known Member

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    ME,

    Thanks for the stories and photos! Good on you for making that shot.

    Prayers for the family of the girl--what a tragedy.
     
  11. liltank

    liltank Well-Known Member

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    ????? Lost me, I'm in alot of conversations concerning loads, which one are you speaking of.

    Sorry for not saying it sooner, but my prayers go out to the family who lost ther child. Being a fater of 3, I can't imagine the horror of such a bad mistake.

    God Bless,
    Tank
     
  12. Slopeshunter

    Slopeshunter Well-Known Member

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    Wow, I don't know how I missed that part when I read your story. So sorry to hear that. My thoughts and prayers go out to those involved.
     
  13. Michael Eichele

    Michael Eichele Well-Known Member

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    The rifle used was my 308 winnie. The load was the 168 AMAX at 2823 FPS.
     
  14. silvertip-co

    silvertip-co Well-Known Member

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    ...if that aint the stuff of dreams nothing is. COngrats on the hunt and kill. Pretty nice looking rig too.