So I drew a OIL Desert Bighorn Sheep tag AND a OIL Elk tag in my home state of NM.
I have never even seen a bighorn sheep outside of a zoo (desert or mountain). I also have never dropped an elk, but have hunted them with bow, muzzleloader, and rifle all unsuccessfully. Needless to say, i'm relatively new to hunting and entirely self-taught (~5 years). I feel that I am very undeserving of these hunts.. but... since I got them, screw it, i'm going to hunt as hard as I can and devote the next 8 months to learning as much as I can. The only "big game" I have been successful in is javelina.
Here is where I reach out to you all... especially the bighorn hunters.
I was drawn for the Ladrone mountains just south of Albuquerque and I am likely the only tag out there for bighorn. I know I will be dealing with cow elk hunters in terms of pressure. What I don't know is... where do I find them? What kind of habitat do they prefer? In the morning or evening?
I know they don't need water for weeks on end, but if close do water, do they prefer to be near it?
Long story short is, I know so little for this massive opportunity and literally any advice that is offered I will accept.
Here is my plan, please tell me if i'm doing something stupid or there is a better way or if i'm on the right track:
Date: The hunt is all of December. If needed, i'm giving the middle finger to Christmas to get this sheep.
Gear: I just bought a 65 mm Vortex razor spotting scope, plan on using my junky 10x42 diamondbacks. For a weapon i'll be using a Rem 700 chambered in 300 RUM with a 3-9 nikon BDC scope. I plan on shooting 220 grain hornadys. I plan on keeping my shots between 200-400 yds.
Homebase and vehicles: I have a redneck camper that i'll park in either magdelena or socorro and I'll also have a jeep that can pretty much climb anything. I also have a little ATV, but probably not going to use it.
Areas: I really only have 3 hunting areas: Ladron mountains, Polvadera mountains, and Bear mountains (see attached) but my legal hunt area is much much larger-- all Unit 13 and 17
Land status: The huntable lands are shown in green, yellow, and blue. Red and blank are off-limits (private and wildlife refuge). Jeepable trails are blue and yellow, ATV and walking trails are green. Water holes are shown. Punched in past harvests shown by year and size. These points are based on what I read off the harvest report, not where they were actually harvested.
Physical Condition: I'm 37 and consider myself relatively fit. I play rugby, which means my knees and joints are shot but fit enough to get to where I need with a full pack. I'm going to do as much as I can from the road, but I really will have to just get out of the jeep and hike to my glass points. I did suffer a knee injury this past weekend... possibly torn ACL, but I do think I can hike what is needed. Hopefully.
Morning plan: I plan on sitting at the bottom of the bear mountain and glassing up into them and into washes in the morning (west facing)
Evening plan: For evenings I plan on glassing into Ladron and polvadera from the bottom (east facing).
Approach: There is a lot of livestock out there so I plan on bringing a stupid cow pop out "blind". I intend to make my approaching stalk using the land and whatever vegetation is out there as much as possible, but if I have to i'll pop out that stupid cow to close the distance.
I will likely have a girlfriend in tow as she has her cow elk hunt in the same area at the same time. My hunt is a month, hers is 5 days, we can afford a day or two to drop a cow elk if necessary as she is a beginner too.