Blogging My sheep hunt!

Discussion in 'Sheep Hunting' started by gliechty, May 22, 2008.

  1. gliechty

    gliechty Well-Known Member

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    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!
     
  2. Len Backus

    Len Backus Administrator Staff Member

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    Wonderful idea, thanks.
     

  3. Slopeshunter

    Slopeshunter Well-Known Member

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    Good stuff, I look forward to following your thread. What are the dates for your sheep season?
     
  4. Sendero_Man

    Sendero_Man <strong>SPONSOR</strong>

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    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....

    Good luck !

    Scott
     
  5. Scott S

    Scott S Well-Known Member

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    Only 36 years old? Lifelong dream? I'm not picking on you but 36 isn't a very long wait for a sheep hunt.:D 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!
     
  6. MontanaRifleman

    MontanaRifleman Well-Known Member

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    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,

    Mark
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2008
  7. ramshot

    ramshot Member

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    Congrats!

    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:rolleyes:. 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.
     
  8. gliechty

    gliechty Well-Known Member

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    I have done a lot of research on this unit, and it appears that it "could" be an easy hunt. There are five tags for the unit, plus one non resident that can hunt the Nine mile unit (the one I have a tag for) or the Rattlesnake unit that is on the east side of the green river. From what I hear most of the rams are shot in the first 3 days. The hunt is the whole month of November, so the rams will be rutting, and therefore easier to find as you just find a band of ewes, and then you look for rams in close proximety. There are good quality rams in the unit, with the possibility of shooting a book ram. (180" or bigger) I plan to make the most of the hunt, and hold out for the best ram possible. I may just skip the first week of the hunt to avoid the other hunters, as they typically have a lot of people with them.

    As far as guns go, I will be building a rifle just for this hunt. I am still deciding between a fast 7 wildcat that is based on a 338 ultra case, or going with a 300 ultra in a rifle build spec. that I have been planning for a while. In either case, I will be using high BC VLD type bullets, for a possible long shot. This is longrangehunting.com!

    I have narrowed down the areas that I will be scouting based on known good rams in the area in the past couple of years, and known areas that other hunters tend to avoid because of difficult access. Hopefully these two criteria will help this to be a hunt that is more than drive up, spot a ram, and shoot the ram. Trying to pattern a ram at this time of year is a waste of time as they are on the summer range, and will likely be far far away come november. Scouting now will give me the opprotunity to familiarize myself with the areas that I will be hunting later.

    More to come later.
     
  9. MontanaRifleman

    MontanaRifleman Well-Known Member

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    I Hope you didn't think from my post that my approach was to *drive up, spot and shoot a ram*. The ram I shot happened to be right above my truck which I saw after coming back on foot from a tough morming hunt through some rugged badland country. I might also mention, that I backpacked 13 miles in to the Absoraka Range with 50 lb pack the prior spring on a scouting trip for sheep only to be chased out by a June snow storm. And the previous year I had bought an over the counter *unlimited* sheep tag in the Spanish Peaks area. I backpacked 6 mile up into the Spanish Peaks with 55 lb pack and 9 lb rifle only to find out via helicopter dropped pamphlets that huning season had bee canceled due to forest fires and dry conditions. That was back in 88, the year Yellowstone burned and much of Montana. I decided to climb up on the ridges to have a look around anyway since I was already there. Adding those trips together along with my first trip in Sep 89, and I probably put about 70-80 boot miles on in fairly rugged and steep terrain in pursuit of my ram, most of which carrying a good size pack. I detest road huning, except in the case of antelope hunting when I sometimes will drive around to look for a heard, then I will get out and stalk it.

    Anyway, it sounds like you have a good spot and are doing your homework. The VLD is a great ballistic bullet, but I dont use them for hunting because of their explosive nature at higher velocities. My concern would be the possibility of ruining your cape with a VLD. I personally would choose something that stays in tact, such as a TSX, E-Tip, Partiton, A Frame or Accubond. I would probably go with the accubond as they have good BC's. One other thing, If you would really like a 180+ ram, I would encourage you get as close as you can to judge it. It will probably be difficult to judge between a 170 and 180 ram at long ranges unless he's a real monster, especially if you dont have a lot of experience at spotting rams. Try to find good pictures of B&C rams if you can and better yet, actual mounts. My 185 ram was only 6 yrs old with less than 40" horns and only just a little more than a 3/4 curl. But he had a very open curl, big bases and lots of mass. There are a few B&C rams on display at different locations here in Montana. Mostly at F&G offices.

    My goal was to get a *nice* ram, not necessarily B&C, and I was blessed with a B&C sheep. Any mature ram is a trophy. I hope you do well and good huning. Would love to hear about the progress of you rifle.

    Mark
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2008
  10. MontanaRifleman

    MontanaRifleman Well-Known Member

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    Ramshot, wow, seven rams, I am envious. Are they both Rocky Mountian and Stone? Are you guaranteed a tag if you apply? Hope you get that Doll.
     
  11. Slopeshunter

    Slopeshunter Well-Known Member

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    Mark, sheep hunting is an interesting addiction. A guy can spend years busting his arse climbing up and down mountains with a heavy pack. Only to turn a corner one day in a valley bottom to see a ram. In my opinion sheep are earned cumulatively over the years that go into hunting them, not just what happened on the day that the sheep was harvested.

    You should post up a picture of your ram.

    Cheers.
     
  12. gliechty

    gliechty Well-Known Member

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    Mark, I was not refering to your hunt when I said that about the drive up and shoot a ram. From your story, I got the impression that you had earned your ram, and just happened to see a good ram after bustin your butt! Thats hunting, you find them where they are. I am refering to comments that have been made about the particular unit that I drew. It is not a typical sheep hunt from what I hear. Very low pressure, lots of sheep, and they are concentraited during the time of the hunt. I think it will be as hard or easy as I decide to make it. I was just saying that I wanted it to be memorable. Nothing in hunting has ever come easy for me, I always seem to work for my animals, and I shouldn't assume that this hunt will be any different.

    As far as bullets selection, I have thought of the possibility of a close shot and ruining the cape, or having a bullet hit a horn on a long shot. I am just thinking out loud, and appreciate the feedback. I have some good 200gr AB loads worked up already, and will probably go that route. Best of both worlds I think. I will definatly not be backing up, so I can say that I shot it at long range. I have done plenty of extended range shooting, and killed a bull elk at 1303 yards 2 years ago. I know my limitations, and would not jeoprodize a trophy of a lifetime over wanting to kill it at long range. Would I pass up a 600-700 yard shot if I couldnt get closer, no way, but I would try to get closer on this hunt.

    Thanks for the advise on trophy judging. I have been looking over a lot of pictures and mounts already, getting walked through how to judge a sheep. I am fortunate in two areas, I have a herd of sheep with book rams in it that live within a couple of miles of me that I can look at all summer long, and second, I will have the help of a couple of outstanding sheep hunters that "know" what a big ram looks like. They will be on the hunt with me, as well as scouting trips throughout the year. The odds are in my favor to shoot a good sheep, I just need to not screw it up. The advise that I keep getting, is "dont put a stalk on a sheep unless I intend to shoot it, because odds are that I will shoot it because its there and in range!" Apparently the temptation to shoot becomes overwhelming, even if the ram is not exactly what the hunter is looking for.
     
  13. goodgrouper

    goodgrouper Well-Known Member

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    Congrats on the upcoming wedding! Just don't spend your honeymoon in the Book Cliffs!!

    You are wise to make the most of this hunt. I would be in the unit on opening day just in case the big boy happens to be there but there are rams that come out of the woodwork later on in the hunt and most of the other hunters have already left with smaller rams. The rut really hits at the tail end of this season and you can literally just sit in one spot by a ewe band and watch incoming rams all day long. It's like clockwork.

    Keep us posted.
     
  14. gliechty

    gliechty Well-Known Member

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    Thanks GG. Its funny about the honeymoon in the book cliffs, not quite, as I will be scuba diving in Mexico! But she wants to come and hunt with me for a couple of days, just to see what all of this non-sence is about. I told my son that she wanted to come, and he said "You can't start her out on a sheep hunt, she needs to earn the right to go sheep hunting!" I guess that all that he has to reference is what I have put him through over the years. LOL!

    Are there any good rams running around the McDonalds? I saw some pictures of a decent ram that was picked up by some lion hunters up there. I hope that was not the last mature ram in the bunch. Apparantly this ram was not a lion kill, but the cats have been taking their toll!