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  1. #26

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    Thanks Guys, I had planned on getting through the rest of the story this last weekend. But, my ladies 4wd Toyota van had the front differential take a poop on the highway and I spent the weekend finding, extracting, replacing, scraping, cursing, and filling a used diff back in there. I guess that was a pretty good mothers day gift! I will chime back in tomorrow and thanks for your patience.
    Btw, I appreciate the words of encouragement. I know I'm long winded = I figured the pictures would help!

  2. #27
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
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    Northwest Pennsylvania
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    Can’t hardly wait. On edge of my seat !

  3. #28

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    Argh!

    PS: No problem with long story here. Too short as it is

  4. #29

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    This time of year can be a drag around here. Normally its politics or bickering. A good story, is as exciting as bacon grease and biscuits, to the Cur Dog. On with it already!

  5. #30

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    OK Everybody,

    Time to finish up the hunt. If you read the beginning, you know what the outcome is. But, things got pretty fun before the end. Also, if you want to stick around for the next post, I am going to offer a recap/interpretation about what I learned.

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    So, I got my stuff together and headed back up for the duration. I was staying until I hunted the season out...5 days left.

    My base camp was more north in the range located above treeline. Its where the rams were early in the season. There is about 4 places that you can actually pitch a tent up there when you are engaged on top of the ridge line. It is freaking steep and constantly changing. Rock fall is common and keeps you on your toes. I mean, what if rocks where falling because of a ram? There was a lot of freeze and thaw as I approached my base camp and I took my time on the ascent. You have to pick your way through what are avalanche chutes with a bit of water running through them. It gets sketchy quick but it's the only clear routes. A few careful hours later and I had left the everyday world far below.

    I unpacked my hanging dry bags and made camp a home. The spotter was out before I knew it. I had to gain a saddle and pick my way down the razorback until I could get a view. Not 30 minutes after I sat down and I picked up some white butts about a mile down the way. Ewes! But did they have some rams? Please tell me so. I glassed for a bit and tried to pick some horns out, but the terrain is so varied and I was too far away to discern much of anything. Over my shoulder, I could see some clouds building. I better get moving.

    I scrambled down and packed a spike camp. Now, if someone says they packed a spike camp on a sheep hunt remember that you are already at bare minimum when it comes to camping anyway. Basically a sheep spike camp is a 3/4 length therm-a-rest, Folgers coffee singles, granola bars, and a tarp! Here we go!
    I had about a mile+ to reach the sheep and I ended up about 1/2 way getting caught in the dark. I passed out to a throaty bull giving his cows check-in bugles as they moved up the drainage from their beds. It was pretty cool to actually count real sheep before I drifted off that night.

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    Morning was not nice. I made a quick decision to get back to base camp and ride the day out. I had known the storm was coming in, but I didn't think visibility would be this bad. I was dressed for success and got back to camp quickly. I hunkered and listened to some podcasts while waiting it out. Not trying to name drop, but listening to fellas such as the great Shane Mahoney, Dan Flores, Mr. Randy, Gritty Guys, Meat Eaters, the Rich man, and many others can really add up to a hell of a lot of sense. Those podcasts are kinda preaching to the choir concerning an online forum like this, considering all the very knowledgeable folks here that contribute to Hunt Talk. But, I mean to emphasize that when you are hunkered in a tent waiting a storm out and trying to find a ram to kill, those words really sink in pertaining to free spaces and public lands. The words they speak come from long experience in the wild and mirror what what the wild landscapes have taught me. As much as I wished there was no wind and snow blowing outside, I chose to seize the opportunity to listen and learn from the greats, including the weather around me. I focused on fully realizing the moment and manifesting the fact that I was the interloper in a predominately human free zone. I was fudging my way through with modern technology using every advantage, while all the amazing creatures that live up here just make it happen with their instincts alone. It was a humbling day.

    The next morning was almost halfway through the last 5 days and I had to get truckin'. So, many hours of much needed sleep later and I retraced my steps up and over the saddle into the Twilight Creek basin. Low and behold, the sheep were just a couple hundred yards off from where I left them 36 hours before. Granted they were a ways down below treeline, but there was no hesitation. Closing the distance did not take to much time. Treeline was getting closer. The sheep were moving up in to the cliffs above Twilight Lake and there was little snow where they were currently feeding up. I passed the snowline and picked my route behind some cover for an approach that from a distance looked like a go. Up in terrain like that, you never really know until you actually get there. As I neared the sheep, I knew that choosing the long road paid off and I would have cover the whole way. I had been unable to locate any legal rams in the bunch, but as most stalks go I had cut myself off from view and just had to wait and see if there were any once I got there.

    As I neared the ancient spruce I had picked out for a ambush point, I almost got busted because the sheep were doing exactly what I hoped they would do. They were choosing a grass nose to feed up into a broken cliff bedding area. If there was any ram, this might be it. The sheep were now 10 yards below me. I was obstructed by the spruce. They were feeding out to my left and a super slow, stealthy range showed 20-30 yards for open terrain beyond my vision. I was so nervous I had to actually range 20 yards! Like I hadn't practiced that shot a million times. I started to ride the adrenaline and knocked an arrow. Just one mature ram please! Time hung like a glacier in a cirque. Ewes started to become fully exposed. Young ones, kids, and a few old ewes with spectacular horns. And then the two young rams. The couldn't have been more than 2 and a half years old. Barely 1/2 curl. But, were they legal? I just couldn't be sure. 30 yards now and feeding away. I waited for as many to turn their heads away as I could and let down my string. I just couldn't shoot something that young and most likely borderline legal. I don't hunt to kill a juvenile. I don't want to burn my points on something that could mature and contribute to his herd as a leader with good genetics. If the herd is to mature into a new age class, we all have to consider that each one of these animals has a fragile future we are in control of and could change with the flick of a trigger finger or simple exposure to domestic sheep. Words that I had read many years before rolled through my mind, "We all have the ability to act like God, but what gives us the right to exercise his judgement?" Needless to say, I let those sheep feed past as I shadowed behind them towards their bedding area. They gained the nose and looked back in my direction, silhouetted against the sky. It was surreal. I regretted none of my decision to let down.

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    I camped next to the water. Elk were running around making their intentions known. I spent some long hour awake in the tent that night. If only there had been a mature ram. Finally some sleep and then it was a predawn trek up the ridge opposite from the Ewes. I was hoping that I could find some rams worthy of a stalk today. I would exercise my right to take a sheep out, but it had to be the right one. Even though I was in the sunset of the hunt, I had set my standards and I wasn't going to bend them just because. I guess that's what stubborn guys do. No rams showed up that day. I found beds that were a few days old at the top of the ridge, but that was the only sign. The rams were in the trees and I was dead in the water.

    The final day dawned. I settled in for the realization that the minutes were going to go by until I had to head back over the saddle to my above treeline base camp and descend to the questions and inquiries from my hunting and non-hunting friends. I already regretted my non-hunting friends. The ones that hunt have all been skunked and can describe in their own words how much heartbreak can come from an unfilled tag. My non-hunting friends only equate what we do to walking out in a feed lot and shooting a bull in the head. Those conversations were going to be much less amusing, but the most influential to change attitudes towards hunters. I had basically called the hunt done by mid-morning, but I still continued to look around. By about 3pm, I knew it was time to leave.
    I made it back to camp slowly, glassing the whole range. Nothing moving except the sheep hanging right above the lake. I tipped my hat in goodbye and dropped off the saddle.

    I will follow this up with a post hunt breakdown. One more section to go. There are many things that I learned after the hunt which shaped the way I think about sheep. Sheep management is a very fickle subject, I hope you all join in on the discussion. I by no means have the answers for the future, but I would love to hear some ideas about what to do for these amazing creatures. Thanks again and talk to ya soon

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    Last edited by BrokenArrow; 05-17-2018 at 02:13 AM.

  6. #31

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    Man this the best story ever! Thank you for sharing.

  7. #32
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    Dec 2012
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    Newhartford Iowa
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    That was a great story

  8. #33
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    Aug 2017
    Location
    Northwest Pennsylvania
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    Broken Arrow , thanks for taking us along on your great adventure ! Your story telling left me wanting more, and your pics were incredible. Punched tag or not, I’d rate your hunt a rousing success ! Well done !

  9. #34

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    You've heard a picture paints a thousand words. You're pictures alone kept me interested. Then you add the story line. Great Thread
    I know the voices in my head aren't real, but sometimes they have some good idea's.

  10. #35

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    Glad to read the culmination of your hunt after not being on the forum for 6 weeks. Thanks for taking the time to write it up...it's a lot of work! I hope you intend to write the final section, as I'll be waiting.
    Every day I'm hustlin'....

    Hell is coming to breakfast.

  11. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oak View Post
    Glad to read the culmination of your hunt after not being on the forum for 6 weeks. Thanks for taking the time to write it up...it's a lot of work! I hope you intend to write the final section, as I'll be waiting.
    Hey everyone, thanks for all the kind words about the Sheep Story 2. Here is a little update on the reason for the recent radio silence.

    I am just gonna say that it has been a little busy down in this part of the state.
    Myself and the girls have been evacuated from our place. Don't worry, everything is turning out well. It was a lot of work getting the property mitigated quickly before the evac call came out. After the evac notice, we took our time and packed slowly to make sure we didn't need to buy anything down the road and save money. Also, my lady takes care of some houses in downtown Durango and one of the owners is letting us stay. Its amazing how a community doesn't hesitate to pull together and make the best of the worst. Very much appreciated!

    And yes, this fire is a hot one. I have worked both public and private sectors of fire since the missionary ridge blaze in 2002. I knew this was going to be a smokey summer, but it all depends on where the fires start. This one started in a very residential area next hwy 550. Currently it's visual media highlight and close to homes. The fire now has the room to grow in the roadless areas away from homes and I don't think we will see the end of it for a while. Don't quote me on this, but I see the potential for it to eventually reach 60-70k acres or more. I hope it doesn't get there, just saying. Pray for rain without wind or lightning. Tall order, I know.

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    So, as for this final leg of this story, I was waiting for the draw and all the application numbers to come out. I putting some words together when this tread started in the forum:

    https://onyourownadventures.com/hunt...tion-increases

    A lot of the things I was realizing are mentioned in this thread. The article Eastman's article put some real #'s to the draw app increases. Mainly, I now fear that hunting as we know it in Colorado is over for good. I will write about how this relates to my experience. Hopefully I can help people who are trying to draw with their current Sheep/Goat/Moose points in the future.

    After following the thread above for a few days, I then wanted to wait for the draw results to come out. How did it really impact me personally? Did other Residents and Non-Residents get screwed with these new numbers of applicants? Did everyone draw what they put in for and nothing really change?

    So....it's been busy. I will get this all written up and hope to do so this weekend. I am glad to see the open discussion about these new app increases. I do believe it has already changed how I/we as Colorado residents approach draw in the future. If there are some app fee increases next year then maybe it does slow down the rising tide of applicants. But, I think the flood gates are open.

    Thanks again for tuning in. Please comment on anything you read from me or want to discuss. There are some very intelligent and knowledgeable folks that chime in here and I would love to hear what you all think.

    Btw, I'm already very excited for this coming fall. The tags I drew I may never get again. I am going to work hard to fill'em.

    Adios for now, JW

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  12. #37

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    So, I'm finally able to get to writing this last installment. Man, it's been tough catching up with being evacuated. My lady decided to take advantage of us "packing everything up" while being evacuated and turn that into a "let's just go ahead and clean the whole house since it's all packed up" type situation. Holy crap, I've never been through that before. But, it does man that ot won't come up for discussion during hunting season this fall, so win for me? Anyway, parts are on order for my truck which means I actually have time to write this before I have to finish that. Thanks for your patience.
    Btw, the fire is getting pretty big again. I donít think it will affect hunting season, but we will have to wait and see. Pm me if you have any questions for areas around here. I've had about 9-10 PM's today that I will get to asap. Needless to say, folks are curious about the area around here.

    Back to sheep and my final take away from this hunt:
    - I wouldn't trade this experience for the world. It was amazing and worth every second, even if unsuccessful.
    - I got lucky as hell drawing that tag. The question you have to ask is: If you are going to get lucky drawing a sheep tag, why wouldn't you want to get lucky drawing the best tag you can? Meaning, why put in for S71, when there is S9 or S21 with an "easier" hunt, larger rams, and a better age class to choose from? Maybe it seems like it takes 19 points to draw S71 or S28 or S33? But, I believe last year in S9 one guy drew archery with one weighted point and one guy drew with 0 weighed points? I also heard that for one of them it was his second sheep tag in CO. So, if you are gonna get lucky, why not get lucky in the right place?
    - Please understand that S71 is a blessing, just because any sheep hunt is. If you read my story you know I had some things piled against me and it changed the course of my hunt. If I had six weeks to commit and live in those mtns during season, a good harvest outcome would have been much more likely, but... My Grandmother used to say, "That's just the way the cookie crumbles." You gotta roll with what you are given, in other words.
    - Well, all of what I wrote above is well and good until: CPW made $3 app fees for everyone on the planet. Ok, just 42000 apps this year for points, weighted or not. So, now I have to rethink all that I have said. Will it be possible to just get lucky and beat everyone else before they all have 3 preference points and can enter the weighted draw like everyone else? If you have weighted points stacked up, do you just put in for any old hunt with short draw odds and burn your points instead of waiting three years, entering the pool with 36000 others, and never get to sheep hunt in your life because you'll likely never draw? Does CPW change policies and increase the application fee and "weed out" all the non-serious applicants leaving only the serious to apply next year? Is there a new scenario that return s things to some semblance of what it once was? If the current system persists, I am going to be seriously disappointed.
    - The hardest part of this whole new scenario, I don't have any info to answer the questions above. If I had info about draw policy changes, I could make the effort to give my opinion. Currently I have nothing to go on concerning a change. The only thing I do know is that this yearís applicant #'s are absurd. This is not a good scenario for the folks who committed to gain points many years ago and now have their points possibly deemed somewhat meaningless once all the other applicants catch up and enter the weighted pool.
    - All I can say is that I got lucky because the odds let me be. The stars aligned. I believe that the tags available are going to take a lot more luck after the next 2 years, so if you feel comfortable putting in for any old unit, then do it now. If you want a trophy unit, then go for that and live with the consequences that it will be harder to draw now and much harder later. I cannot say what 1st choice in your app will make you comfortable, but any hunt will be special, it's just what you can live with at this point.
    - My hunt made me a better hunter. I experienced a mountain range completely solo. I witnessed things people would cut off their right you-know-what to see. I consider that an overwhelming success. So, do I hope everyone gets to experience this, absolutely! The odds are in your favor for the next 2 years, good luck.

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    Here are some of my opinions about our new "Process". They have shaped a lot of what you read above.
    -$3 a species per app is not good in my book. I will happily pay more to participate in the draw. I moved here to live a life that sacrifices city life for access to wildlife. Iím not saying city life is bad, just not worth it for me. I want to engage in this community and give back to it every chance I get. All that just got completely devalued by the CPW, whether they intended it or not.
    - I would budget and pay higher app/hunting fees, just like the hunters of years ago imposed taxes on themselves. I consider it like a Pittman-Robertson or Dingell-Johnson act where the tax would benefit wildlife through agencies directly. If it helps improve the future for all hunters, Iím in.
    - Based on the new draw odds and fee structure, I believe that Idaho and New Mexico will be my best chance at drawing a tag once the point creep gets to be too much. I appreciate that they have a random draw structure. I do have points in other states, but Iím not holding out much hope for themreally. I can only say that Colorado just got more complicated and changed the game. This is my solution to even the odds, albeit a more expensive one.
    - One of the reasons that I didnít lose an arrow towards a young ram during the last few days is because I believed that I would re-enter the draw this year under the same app structure and be able to accrue points immediately. Little did I know that CPW was changing the whole process? If I had harvested, there would have been a waiting period of 9 years before I could realistically have a chance to pull another tag in the weighted draw. To clarify: not put in for preference points, but participate in the weighted draw. Again, little did I know that 42000 people were putting in for sheep this year also?
    - There has been talk about increasing the app fee to $20 per species. I believe that is too little. I do not participate in Montanaís regular draw because of cost, itís to high. Iím not saying that the fee should be prohibitive to new hunters such as Montanaís are to out-of-state participants. Iím just saying the discussion should be considered for a more intimidating and committing fee structure.
    - Was there a public comment period for the new application structure? I am sorry if I missed it. I would have happily paid the finance charge for each species/app to cover the expenses that CPW incurred. Was this even talked about? The only comment period I was privy to was the proposed change in archery policies because of the fatality of a youth hunter during an overlapping muzzleloader season. The options were based on mandatory of orange camo for archers or even separating Muzzy and Archery all together. If you read my story above, I had an encounter that I would like to recall for that committee!
    - Does anyone agree with the policy to purge preference points if you donít participate in every years draw? Or maybe you get one year to skip and then purge? Thoughts?
    To wrap up, I have already spoken to the rifle hunter that drew S71 this year. I will be helping in every way I can. This guy has it. I know he will do well. If heíll let me, maybe there will be a Sheep Story 3? I swear Iíll keep it short! I just hope I get to hike back up there and hang out.
    I ended up hunting near Gunnison during 4th season in my old honey hole and took a both a bull and cow out of the same herd without reloading my magazine. I shared half the meat with my buddy who went with me. Hell yes. Iíll take that any day. Maybe some say elk hunting is easier or not as exciting as a sheep hunt, wellÖ
    So, I will most likely never draw a sheep tag again the rest of my life. Iím fine with that. My choice not to kill a young ram was the best for the future of that herd. I hope they thrive. Maybe the rifle hunter this year gets a crack at a good one. Maybe he passes also.
    Kill or not, I did experience something unique. Having a sheep tag in your pocket is a completely new mind set. It does make you question your actions in ways that only a tag of such consequence can. These are majestic, irreplaceable creatures. The weight you place on everyday decisions in that country will test all your fortitude and ethics. I hope you all realize that I treat Elk or Mink the same. They are all equal. The system we have to participate in to engage them is what made each species more accessible or not and seem more or less important. If you do pull the sheep tag you want, forget about the system and its influence immediately. Focus on the hunt and the rest will fall into place.

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  13. #38

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    The change to remove the need to do refunds had been talked about for almost 3 years. It would have coincided with an increase in app fees ( which they cannot just do on a whim, but have to get through the legislature ) if the "Funding the Future" bill had passed, but it did not. Thus, the app refund change came before the bill that allows them to make any changes to how much they can charge to apply. We passed the "Future Generations" act this year, and now the CPW can make changes to the application and point fee structure.

  14. #39
    Join Date
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    Location
    Northwest Pennsylvania
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    Nice bull , congrats. Thanks again for sharing your adventures !

  15. #40

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    Beautiful story and pictures. Thanks for sharing.

  16. #41

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    Thanks for sharing the final installment.

    One thing you and everyone else should be aware of is that the Commission now has the authority (with the Future Generations Act) to implement a nonrefundable preference point fee of up to $100 per species, in lieu of or in addition to the current "pay to play" $40 fee if you didn't have a license the previous year. The Commission will begin considering all aspects of implementation of the FGA beginning at the next Commission meeting in Crested Butte on July 10-11. The agenda has not been posted yet (likely will be posted next Monday). If anyone believes there needs to be changes implemented to the 2018 system, please engage the process.

    Also note the "Building the Value: Are you in for the outdoors?" Commission forum all day July 10. The Commission and several panelists will discuss how to expand CPWís customer base and get more customers contributing to CPWís conservation efforts via funds and volunteers. Think alternative funding sources. I believe there are many opinions on this topic, so it would be wise for those interested to participate. I believe it will also be live on Facebook. There will be additional opportunities to participate in the future via in person meetings and telephone town halls. More information forthcoming from CPW.
    Every day I'm hustlin'....

    Hell is coming to breakfast.

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