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  1. #1

    Default A Sheep Story - Part 2 - S71

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    Well Folks and Squirrel,
    I know we have another serious deadline to meet next week in the closing date for Colorado tags. I want to tell the second part of a story that started with Squirrel in 2016 in Sheep unit S71. I happened to draw one of the three tags allocated for 2017 and it became a pretty dynamic story. So, I will try to illustrate my experience and let those who wish to draw this tag, gain from it. I will try to get to punchline as soon as possible as I can, knowing that some people will put in for this tag this year and this story may help firm their decision or change their minds.

    I would like to make some statements first and then you can decide if you want to keep reading. These are meant to clear the air now and not waste anyone's time. I really wanted to write this sooner, but owning/operating a business and my 11 month old daughter kept me away from the computer.

    Here we go:

    1. I was unsuccessful. The other two hunters did tag out. Pretty good odds for harvest. But It's complicated.
    2. I would not put in for this tag again if I had my choice. More later.
    3. I had multiple shot opportunities. Extremely rewarding. The hunt was the best I've ever done. But, the age class of rams that I saw was not what I wanted.
    4. You will be competing with other hunters = Other CPW tags and TRIBAL tags. NO one told me this beforehand. Annoying.
    5. If domestic sheep can be managed, then there will be some amazing wild sheep here in about 5-7 years, assuming they don't migrate out. Just my opinion.
    6. Rifle hunts overlap Archery. The only mature ram I was after got smoked 100 yards front of me (I was holding a bow). Major bummer and scary.
    7. The hunt was amazing. I will never take it back. Unbelievable place. But, I could have chosen another unit with more mature sheep when I put in for the tag. ALWAYS assume you are going to draw!
    8. Yes, the whole hunt was worth every second. Again, I will never take it back. It was the hunt of a lifetime. I am willing to share my experience/knowledge to help folks for the future, because this could help shape their hunt of a lifetime. Don't hesitate to get a hold of me if you do draw. I'm here to help.
    9. Bottom Line: If you can't commit to being up there everyday, the hunt probably won't work out so well. Sheep are Badass! The terrain of 71 only makes them even more extremely elusive. You are just going to have to work your ass off and wait until the stars align to take a shot. Letting down on young rams was the hardest decision of my life. But, they just weren't old enough to die and there just wasn't enough of them to justify taking another one out. Simple as that.

    So, that is the short version. I will try to write my experience in 6 parts to describe the six weeks of the hunt. Follow along if you want. It might take me a couple of weeks, but the real meat of the story is located in the bullet points above. I hope that stuff helps.
    If someone sees this and is going to put in for S71, PM me and we'll talk on the phone to save time. I work 7 days a week, so I'll check my messages as much as time allows.

    Talk to ya'll soon, JW

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  2. #2

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    I'll be following, looks like a cool story and I want to hear it! Cool pictures btw
    To what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?

  3. #3

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    Tried to draw that tag when I lived in Durango. Looking forward to the story.

  4. #4

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    I can't think of a better way to spend the off season/application season than readimg a good sheep story in the evenings. Can't wait!

  5. Default

    I thought you just died, I feel so much worse knowing you just have to work a lot...
    Bestowing wisdom and moral purity, even on the unworthy and unwilling... especially upon them.

    An ignore list??? Wouldn't that defeat the whole purpose?

  6. #6

    Default Scouting and Pre Hunt

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    Hey all,
    Thanks for being patient.
    I'll just jump right in and begin when I started scouting.

    I began scouting off of old Lime creek road that descends below Coal Bank pass. There are a couple of points on the south side of the road which give fairly decent options to scout from. I would pack my 3 month old daughter in a baby carrier and hike up to a point that is fairly good to glass from. It wasn't easy and hopefully we got nap time perfect, but I was able to pick out some lambs and ewes on the south end of Twilight ridge. Definitely wanted to find some rams next.
    I also found out that there were two spots from Coal Bank that I could glass from in the truck and never have to get the baby to of a controlled environment. I was able to pick out some rams finally around the North Twilight on the due west side. That was around the first of July. Game on!
    Next, I got a report of sheep on the peak of Organ Mtn wchich is right at the border of S71 and S28. They were spotted by a friend who was scouting for his goat tag on the east slopes that descend to Vallecito creek. I got to head up there and glass for a weekend, but no more sign of sheep. What an amazing place. Its about 8 miles in but worth every minute in such a beautiful place.
    Next I went to scout for a quick afternoon and overnight around Grizzly peak because there were reports of rams in that area as well. It is due west of the West Needle Mtns and Coal Bank. Although I saw many quality deer right of the CO trail, I did not see any sheep.
    My next scout went right into the heart of the West Needles. I was able to find the band of rams and stalk to within 40 yards of them feeding. What I found was that there was one ram that was worth going after, but the rest were 2,3,4, and maybe a couple of 5 year olds. I am not saying they aren't all trophies in their own right, just young ones.
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    So, since I wasn't finding the caliber of sheep that I was looking for compared to the harvest statistics on S71 from years before. I reached out to previous S71 hunters (Squirrel included) and other well renowned Sheep guides in CO to ask their opinion about what my scouting trips had turned up.
    What I was told is that it seemed like the older bigger rams were not present like years before. A couple of local guys and previous S71 hunters offered to do some above deck flying to see if they could find any sheep that one lonely guy (Me) on the ground probably would never see. What these guy reported was that other than the band of rams by North Twilight, the only other rams that they saw were in S28. They had seen many sheep on Silver Mesa, but were unable to get close enough to confirm they were rams. I want to be very clear in that I did not commission them to do any of this for me. They did this on their own accord. There is a very large campaign around SW Colorado to determine if Wild and Domestic sheep are co-mingling. They are very concerned about this issue. I just got lucky to get get the info. The outcome of all this was that I had basically scouted enough to find where the only decent rams were.
    So, with the situation of having a new baby and family, barely being able to scout enough to justify the majesty of Big Horn Sheep, not finding many rams, and speaking with the regional DOW officer about declining age class, I decided to turn my tag back in and keep my points to try again some other day. Maybe I would never draw another tag in my life, but someone else might be able to better utilize the tag and find some larger rams. I just wanted my points back and jump back into the points pool.
    But, on the last possible day I went to CPW office and was not allowed to turn my tag in, because I did not physically have the tag in my possession to release to the officer.
    Damn, I should have known this! I messed up the exchange. The price, of course was that I was going to hunt sheep! My dream, so I spoke with my lady, my partners in business, and got the ok to take the time and do this tag justice. Those sheep deserve the very best effort from anyone trying to hunt them, and maybe I had wanted to turn the tag back in because I felt that life was currently limiting the attention it takes to hunt them properly, with complete dedication.
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    So, I started to pack in a camp. And let me tell you, that county is f'n rugged! I have guided hunters in SW CO since 2008, hunting CO myself for the last 18 years and have never encountered terrain of this caliber. A couple of long days and I had a decent cache set, but I was beat. It didn't compare to the fact that I was one of the luckiest people on earth and was finally getting to prepare for my dream hunt that I had been hoping for since I was a teenager. The game was on and it really started to sink in. So much of my life had changed in so many positive ways: Becoming a father for the first time, obligations to my lady, and commitments to make a new business work that had partners counting on my contributions. And now, a sheep hunt. Life just got amazing. I was committed to each and it was time to somehow make it all work.
    The next thing I know, the season is upon me and the real work begins! Sheep are so good at what they do, it's hard to put into words. I will follow this post asap with opening day/week as soon as I can.
    I just want to say thanks for listening to my story as I am just an average guy who got unbelievably lucky drawing this tag. The way that the hunt unfolded was so much larger than just the moments when I came to full draw. There were post hunt outcomes that reached from my health and safety, all the way to political agendas. Nowadays a hunt like this reaches a lot farther than it used to with social media...I will try my best to tell the rest of the story! I hope this helps people put in for their dream hunt!
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    Last edited by BrokenArrow; 03-29-2018 at 12:15 AM.

  7. #7
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    This is the beginning to a great story. Thanks for posting.

  8. #8

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    Very well told, I'm anxiously awaiting the next piece of the story!

  9. #9
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    I'm signing in for the long haul on this one.

  10. #10

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    I am not even a sheep hunter and I am hooked! Great start!

  11. #11
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    Excited to hear it all unfold! I think it’s great of you to do a honest write up with the highs and the lows. Really appreciate being able to get a real life glimpse of it. Thanks!

  12. #12
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    Never gonna be able to hunt sheep, but sure enjoy reading about other’s adventures. Keep it coming!

  13. #13

    Default Opening Day!

    I just want to say thanks for everyone's support and hanging on with me.
    Just know that this part of the story is the best part to tell. And the reason that I inserted this thread into the tag, apps, and draw section will present itself more clearly later on. I know I came out pretty strong against this tag, but I will back it all up through the story.
    I tried to post a few days ago and then my internet just crapped out during the early spring thaw. The internet company tech that came to the house told me that our cable housing finally corroded and let water in, aka "grounding out"? - Whatever. Internet no worky for a bit and I couldn't tell my story. Now we are all fixed and ready to go. Let's get it.

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    Time to head up.
    I stayed late at work on the Friday before opening day just to get as much done as I could since I wasn't going to be in cell service or back in the office before the following Thursday. I had packed my Kuiu maybe a dozen times before and packed most of my gear in, but I stayed up and repacked my next haul a few more times. I checked my bow another dozen times and spun each arrow as if I hadn't named each one individually already. I was ready. It felt like I was waiting to enter the UFC ring with a guy that I knew was 50lbs bigger than me, but didn't even care. I ate a big plate of elk spaghetti, watched a couple episodes of "Mr. Newberg's Neighborhood" and some "Solo Hunter" and then finally got about 3 hours of sleep.
    The jeep fired up right quick and seemed like it knew where we were going. Like a good horse. The peaks started to contrast against deep blue as we rolled north. A First "Lite" was moving my way and I was pretty happy to meet it, wherever that might be.
    I pulled into the parking area and was trying to be quick. A family was camped and quiet. I went down the trail I had gotten to know so well, crossed the creek without taking my boots off, and stood in the dawn looking up at the 6 hour bushwhack that was about to begin.
    "Dang", I thought. The moment was rising to the occasion and I was the only one there to realize it.

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    At camp many hours later, I took the time to organize everything in a way that back country guys just do, because we know we might be spending a lot of time in this home away from home. Securing everything now could mean eliminating so many other hardships later. Just simply hanging food could save your life. Having camp set right lets me hunt long into twilight instead of worrying about whats going on back at the tent. A little work now goes a long way.

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    I climbed up about another 1000' to the predominant ridge splitting peaks. A knife edge above with grass ramps that guided me where the mountain wanted me to go and not the opposite. I knew that the primary feeding slope was over the top. I just had to be patient and realize that I would climb a total of 6000' that day, mostly with a pack. I wasn't 22 years old anymore. Take my time, I said. But that lasted about 2 seconds. I charged and gained ground pretty quickly. Winded, I stopped 15' before the sharks tooth top. I took my pack off, put on a layer, grabbed my bow, and silently gained the ridge. Having been busted so many times in my younger years, I got on my belly and crawled to the edge. I may have actually learned something over the years, maybe.
    I was pretty calm when I looked over. But instantly, I felt what hunters for thousands of years can't hide from when they see what they are after. The instincts of ages past took my breath away as my heart and mind connected to rams below me precisely in the current moment. This was about to get wild!
    Once I caught my breath and focused on the slope below, I ranged animals for the first time in my entire life. I had never had a range finder before, but I had never hunted anything this steep before. I decided that this animal needed to be shown respect and I was not about to wound something because of my human judgement failed my in terrain that I was not familiar with. Even though this piece of technology was against my "purist" tendencies, I will never regret pulling it out to range the rams that were 60 yards at the closest and 80 at the farthest. Most were past my fall line and feeding to my right. This offered the most beautiful broadside/quarter shot that anyone could ever dream of. The correction for angle, which was 38%, equated to shooting a 53 yard arrow for the one ram I saw in the bunch that wasn't a juvenile. He was at 71 yards line of sight. If I pulled back and sky-lined right where I was, a lone ram (still in his bed) would immediately bust any attempt I had at shooting the biggest ram I had seen while scouting. I had called him, Mr. 9/12ths. That's really 3/4 curl for those not wanting to do the math. He was the biggest ram I had seen all summer. And now he was at 71. The best ram in the range.
    I moved down slope to my left behind the Mohawk of the ridge about 40 yards. I got to a seam and tried to go through it with out making any noise. When I got through the gap in the rock, I could see that Mr. 9/12ths was feeding back toward me. Holy hell, this was about to happen. The way the angles were working out he was still exactly a 53 yard shot indicated by my range finder! Again! But, the wind, distance, and spruce all made this impossible. I drew anyway and slowly adjusted to any position that I thought could give me an opportunity. I finally might have found a lane. I held for a solid minute and a half. All the while, I kept thinking that if I was a 3-4 degrees off when I released my arrow, then I would either shoot over, under, or worse. It was the first night. I can wait for another opportunity. But, the ram was feeding right into the lane! And then, as it has happened so many times on earlier bow hunts, I didn't get the choice to fly. The bedded ram had been watching me the whole time. He picked up a swirl of fired up human and took his friends over the far edge faster than I could explain. I let down. Calmed down. I saw the rams enter the trees 750' below and disappear into an abyss. I sat still for the next 5 mins until it was truly to dark. I found my light. Turned towards the orange glow behind me and crested over.
    I kept thinking on the way down to camp, If that was the only setup that I would ever have on this hunt and if I never saw another ram again, it was worth every moment. What if something happened and I didn't make it another day? Well, that connection to my human instincts was worth it.
    Of course, I don't want anything to end. And yes, I want to harvest a ram. But, man was that fun!
    Wilderness connection: Land, animal, and human mixing it up like it has been for tens of thousands of years. I cannot express how right it felt even in this modern version of encounter. The highest form of self-actualization. We live in the greatest place and time, don't let it pass by without a glance.
    Talk to ya soon.
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    Last edited by BrokenArrow; 04-09-2018 at 11:20 PM.

  14. #14
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    I am loving this thread.

  15. #15
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    I see the orange hat. Gun season or just staying warm?

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by 3855WIN View Post
    I see the orange hat. Gun season or just staying warm?
    Good question. It is a habit that has developed over the years. We have an archery/muzzy season overlap here in Colorado and the way smokepoles are reaching out these days, I rather be safe.
    Also, I can hang it over my kill for a marker in case anyone else needs to get to it. Or when I'm close but just can't seem to find my way back to the scene of the kill. I don't carry gps/OnX unless hunting prairie for pronghorn.
    Lastly, it just gets cold that high up.

    And thanks for asking, I am trying to also give clues away to the gear I used or am currently using. I have gotten a few PM's about my gear already.

    So, the next part of the story reinforces why I carry orange. Didn't truly think I would ever need to use it for safety....I will tell it as soon as I can.

    Btw, will NM post draw results already!!!!
    Last edited by BrokenArrow; 04-10-2018 at 01:55 PM.

  17. #17

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    Hey Everybody,

    Just a word to impart to everyone. I am not gonna say NM is gonna release draw results early, but wouldn't that be fun?

    Also, be careful if you have a new Iphone or IOS 11. All your picture files are now in HEIC format. What is that you ask? An unusable POS! You will have to buy an app to convert your pictures to JPG or PNG format. That what I've been dealing with for the last week. That and ICloud. Btw, don't do that either. Horrible. Sorry all that took a minute to sort out for a new post.

    Enough ranting, back to the story:

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    Day 2:
    Literally this day consisted of nothing bad at all. Other than my climb the day before which pretty much left hobbling me to my glassing roost on the second morning, I felt pretty good. I was just enjoying not being at work for once.
    That morning, I climbed back up to the "Mohawk ridge" I described from opening day. I watched two banana head rams (juvenile) climb out of the trees where they had retreated to the night before. They found a couple of ledges about 300 yards below me and we all just sat in the sun the whole day together. How awesome is that? I had a vantage point that would allow for a descent towards the juvenile rams or I could descend down to their elevation behind some stone and stay completely hidden. I just stared at the trees that they sauntered out of and waited for Mr. 9/12th's to show.
    I waited until dusk when a 1/2 curl popped out of the trees and I went down to take a better look. I was cliff'd out about 100 yards above him at the bottom. So, I just watched him feed and was encouraged that the rams didn't spook enough the night before to totally vacate the country!

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    Day 3:
    This morning was great. Once daylight started to filter into the west facing basin, I was able to see that the band of rams had fed to the north overnight and gained access to the west side of North twilight basin. I would have to traverse about 2miles of ridge line: east, north, and then back west. Dang! This is sheep country! Sometimes up there you just have to realize that no human is going to follow those sheep no matter how cool you think you are. Time to traverse.
    Half way there, and many feet of elevation gain later, I heard rocks tumbling and looked over to see all the rams retreating back into the sanctity of the same group of trees they sought solace in before. What happened? I was completely out of view, about a 1/2 mile away, with the wind in my face. Was the other archery hunter over there? Did he spook them out? I know he was camped north of me. We had been in communication since the CPW sheep and goat training symposium occurred in July. Rifle season hadn't started yet, so...?
    He texted me back later that night and said he had been nowhere near where I was. He was down on Coal Bank chasing a ram (more on that later).
    I walked back to camp and just called it a day. Nothing else to do.

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    Day 4:
    I got up to the Mohawk again and kept the glass ready for the approaching sun. The spooked rams had settled below me sometime overnight having been effectively pushed my direction from the afternoon before. Yes! It's on. And I see my chosen ram. It was early and I was ready. I got into stalk mode trying to use the faint light and light wind as much to my advantage as I could. They were directly below me and feeding to my left. Since there are 35-40 degree slopes, getting down to them would take mere minutes. So, I refocused and took much care to stay hidden and use every terrain feature possible. I was thinking that the stars were finally aligning: it was warm, still the beginning of the season, camp was kinda close, I could tag out early, and most importantly, I could get home before my lady got mad at me!
    As I got to within 120 yards, I really started to engage kill mode. I saw Mr. 9/12th's and was pretty sure I had a good line to intercept as he was moving to what looked like a good bedding ledge. I did not want to F)^& this up. I was 90-100 yards away and then all the rams flinched! I heard the sound of very stout rifle fire a second later.
    "Ok...what just happened?", I asked myself. The rams were starting to move towards the trees and then my chosen ram took another bullet! More repercussions and more bullets until 7 shots were fired. The only ram left on the mountain was 9/12th's and he was as dead as a door nail. Swiss cheese. I couldn't believe it. What just happened over the last 45 seconds?
    I now felt completely exposed on this rock fin. I had my orange hat on my pack top and when the bullets started flying I was waving a 3'x3' square of orange I keep on me just for safety's sake. Whoever was shooting was so far away, they never even saw me? Or, didn't care!
    I took one last look at that ram and then headed uphill as fast as I could away from that scene, waving all the orange I could along the way.
    I got to the top of Middle Twilight peak. I had cell signal and called the Durango CPW office. All I could think was that someone was poaching sheep! I had to turn them in, this was crazy. During that call, I learned that a local tribe has access to distribute 2 sheep tags through an "Exotic Species Draw" in S71. I had no idea. I had researched this unit for months and have lived in Durango for 17 years. I guided hunters for 6 -7 of those years. Why had I not heard about this? I felt like I let myself down by not being aware. So, I called the tribe immediately to confirm this information and to inform them that they were hunting/shooting in area containing archery hunters not require to wear an inch of orange! The tribal rep could only confirm that there was a hunt going on up there and said she would pass the info along.
    What had seemed so sure an hour or two before, just evaporated in front of me. No ram, no info, under-powered, outmatched, and unprotected, I decided it may be time to bail and go home. I was just sick to my stomach of what had just occurred. To be clear, that feeling had nothing to do with that particular tribe's ancestral right to hunt there. It was not that hunters fault that shots were fired near me and they probably never even knew I was there. It was just that after waiting to draw a sheep tag and having the chance of a lifetime...that's how it goes down? It literally was the worst day of hunting I have ever had. I went straight to camp and stayed there, cause I couldn't bare to go to the scene and tell someone they almost killed me and look at the ram that was almost mine.

    This doesn't mean that I gave up. There is more to convey here. Sorry I am telling the longest story ever told on Hunt Talk. But, it gets even more real after this. Just 2-3 more sections to tell, so thanks for hanging with me.
    The point to take away from this section is if you draw this archery tag, you have a serious disadvantage over other hunters in this unit. Just think about that. Sucks to find that out in the middle of a season ending stalk. I hope this helps whoever draws in the future.

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    Last edited by BrokenArrow; 04-17-2018 at 03:10 PM.

  18. #18
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    Dissapointed how this day turned out for you. That being said, what i wouldn’t give to experience that high country. Those pics make it look like it was worth the price of admission alone ! Can’t get enough of a good sheep hunt retold...

  19. #19

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    Thanks for all the kind words Mr. Pennsylvania Deer Hunter and the rest of you all. I really appreciate them. Getting to experience this grand moment still humbles me every day.

    This hunt brought to light many other issues about the systems that supports Sheep and other wildlife "outside" of the actual physical hunting. I will promise I will circle back to these issues after I describe my experience, because I really do believe it will help others. My experience shaped my perception of the future of our local/state/nationwide management of wildlife. It was that profound. I hope I can convey that in a way people understand.

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    So, I will lump the last 5 weeks of the season together in a few short sections over the weekend. Thanks for all sticking with me.

    After what had occurred, I did not give up! I headed back up the first Friday night of September. I was able to use the moonlight and made it to camp around midnight. I was up at 5 and headed back to the Mohawk ridge. My glassing spot was ready and I waited for day. I was feeling a little strange and just hoped to get this done before the "known" rifle hunter started his season and it got "crowded" up in those hills. The gentleman who had drawn the rifle tag through the CDOW was a local guy as well and we had been in loose touch since mid-summer about our strategies.
    I had gotten a text from the other archery hunter with a picture of his kill while I was at work during the week before. It was a young ram, but a good one and he had taken it close to highway 550, not way the hell up in the West Needles. I was debating on trying the same tactic as him? Was there another ram that was bigger than 9/12th's that I never saw scouting over the summer? Should I go deeper to the east side of the range and look for a sleeper ram?
    One thing to note is that the amount of pressure one puts on themselves to tag out when you have a once-in-a-lifetime tag is not to be taken lightly. The amount of scenarios that plays out in your head concerning scenarios to fill your tag, can make anyone more than a little antsy. I'm a pretty chill guy. I feel that I honor the golden rule and have built as much good "karma" as I possibly can. But, after the week before, I was seriously questioning if there was something I had done in my past I never paid for? Just kidding. But, I seriously wanted to get away from any type of other pressure and I was willing to put the work in.
    I decided to make this a quick weekend and hike out Sunday night and commit a larger chunk of time to go deeper the next weekend. If a decent ram walked in front of me then I wasn't going to hesitate, but...
    I saw a few young guys over on North Twilight and I tried to make a stalk. I was very careful to look around and display plenty of orange! I wasn't going to be able to make it before dark. I knew it and backed off, so not to spook them.
    The next day was hot. I didn't see any movement and decided to save to for the next weekend. I'd get ahead at work and then commit to a few days up here.

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    I ended up getting through the week, but not feeling so hot once I got up to camp the following Friday. I got up to the ridge the following morning and realized I wasn't 100%. In fact, I was declining quickly. So, I sat up there and glassed all day, not a sheep in sight. Not great, but I was still loving it up there. Day faded to night.
    The next morning it was apparent that I was now really not well. I am one of those guys that denies the hell out of being sick, never call in to work, and hate doctors. But, I had to admit, I was putting myself in jeopardy up there. So, I squared camp and hiked down. I started to get very ill. I was feeling a lot of vertigo and had no balance and literally stumbled down the mountain. I don't remember much of the descent, but I made it. I'm still not sure what the hell happened. Once home, my lady made the doctor happen and he basically said I wasn't going to gain any elevation for a while.
    My 6 day hunt had been cut short and I was gonna have to take time off work, getting me a little deeper in the hole. I guess that's the way the cookie crumbles? Just then I got a text from the rifle hunter. He hadn't seen a ram all week and ended up taking a 3-4 year old in middle of the sheep's summer range of the West Twilight's. Another good looking ram even though young. I was really wanting to get back up there, but I was sidelined for the next couple of weeks. Bummer for me. Happy for my buddy.

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    Last edited by BrokenArrow; 05-05-2018 at 12:50 AM.

  20. #20
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    Aug 2017
    Location
    Northwest Pennsylvania
    Posts
    194

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    Those pics are incredible! What an experience so far !

  21. #21

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    OH man, I was on the edge of my seat and then it ended. Lol I'm staying tuned for the next exciting episode! GREAT story and pics. Thank you for sharing!

  22. #22

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    After the doctor I was reduced to glassing out of the truck for the next two weeks. It was killing me not to be up near those sheep, but I learned a lot by watching those animals run around up high. I usually had an hour after work to check in. All was going well and I felt decent enough to get pumped for the coming weekend hunt. There was only 9 days left and I was trying not to let it get to me. The Wednesday before a low pressure front came through and dropped about 5-6" of solid moisture up high. I believe it was enough to push the sheep over the ridge towards the Animas river where they winter. Maybe this weather change started the migration/rutting period. The grass looked turned. I'm sure there is many others who will read this that know sheep patterns much better than myself, but they had not returned to their normal feeding slopes after the snowfall. This as all I could think. So, I geared up and rallied. Time to play catch up.

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    I had not been able to do much for myself in the last couple of weeks, except watch some OYOA from the couch! - Especially Randy's 2 yard shot during the NM plains elk hunt episode. That one always gets me.
    It felt good to be back up in the steeps. I noticed immediately that the cold had slowed down the pace of the mountains. A quiet had fallen along with the snow. The familiar hike was slow as I soaked in the vegetation die off that comes with a long archery season. Many a green meadowed elk season had passed into brown and I experienced the whole thing without a shot on an animal to speak of. Others seasons were better with a harvest, but that time of year is by far my absolute favorite. I was immersed in this particular season in such a much more profound way. You know, Sheep tag and all. But now, the twilight of the hunt was upon me way up there in the Twilight Mountains. Maybe no sheep would show themselves from this point on. I might as well enjoy it and pay more attention.

    I only had the weekend to be up there and so slowed my plan down to locate the new area the sheep were hanging in. Maybe they were in the trees? Maybe down by Twilight lake? I would be back the next Wednesday through the final Sunday. Find some sheep and try a stalk or two, try not to kill myself, move camp to a new location, and then come back on Wednesday to get real.

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    I traversed the western most ridge south and glassed every area I could. Saturday afternoon I finally found a group of about 40 sheep! Yes. It worked. This could be good. I closed some distance and set up the scope. Everyone at the party was ewe's and kids. But, wow how cool was this? I was able to determine that there was two very young rams with them. They were just at half curl. One lesser and one a smidg'n better. The sun went down after an hour or two while watching a beautiful bunch of animals in their most majestic home. No rams showed themselves, but it really didn't matter just then. Tomorrow would be a new day. Those rams couldn't be far, right?

    Well they didn't show the next day. I watched some elk run around down by the lake. The sheep were bedded above them in the cliffs watching. And a new species to these parts are Golden Eagles. They had a nest down the ridge, or at least they were hunting heavy up there. That display was awesome. I just hung out and kept my cool. As much as I wanted to go deeper into the mtns, it just wasn't going to happen this weekend. I still had a 5 hour descent to go. Backing down the ridge quietly as not to disturb anything, I sauntered back to camp and down the drainage in the dark. Every minute is amazing.

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    Last edited by BrokenArrow; 05-09-2018 at 06:57 AM.

  23. #23

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    I'm loving everything about this. Keep it coming.

  24. #24

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    I'm not much for long reads but this is like watching areally good movie,you don't dare get up for fear of missing something. The pictures are phenomenal. I'd love to be there. Thanks for sharing, you have a captive audience.
    I know the voices in my head aren't real, but sometimes they have some good idea's.

  25. #25
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    Aug 2017
    Location
    Northwest Pennsylvania
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    194

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    Can’t wait for more,what an adventure !!!

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