Montana, 2008, DIY, Public Land
While sitting down to catch my breath in a steady rain and heavy fog some 1500 vertical feet above the valley bottom, I had to chuckle at all those people I had heard tell me over the years that the hardest part of bighorn sheep hunting was drawing the tag. Obviously, they had never hiked this particular mountain.
I had hiked this ridge once before during a scouting trip in August after learning that after 21 years of trying, I had accomplished the “hard part” of sheep hunting. That day, temperatures reached the high 90s and the hike was as difficult as any I had ever done.
On this day, November 7, Mother Nature added another element of difficulty... steady rain that had begun overnight, creating some treacherous conditions on this steep, rocky mountainside. After 2-½ hours of hiking and several hard falls, I had finally reached my destination high above the drainage. At first light from the truck, I had spotted four rams courting a ewe high on this ridgeline. Unfortunately, the heavy rain and fog prevented me from judging any of the rams. Within minutes of spotting this group, a heavy fog rolled in and they disappeared into the mist.
Just before noon, I caught a brief break in the fog and spotted two of the rams. The plan was to hike up the back side of the ridge and then slowly slip over the ridge directly above where I had last seen them. They were less than 100 yards below the ridge, and with visibility down to 50 yards, I knew this would be a close encounter if the rams were still there. As I worked to the top of the ridge and began to peak over, a million thoughts ran through my now rain-soaked head, not the least of which was how badly my scope got knocked off during that one hard fall on the hike up. The gun I chose for this hunt was my 14-year-old son’s Remington Model 7 youth rifle chambered in 7mm-08. I fell in love with that rifle from day one. I found it to be more accurate than my old .30-06 and its light weight was perfect.
For a full account of Mark's adventure, go to page 22 in the December/January 2010 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.