Leaving it all on the Field

By Mark Arana

Leaving it all on the FieldMark Arana
Idaho, 2008, DIY, Public Land

It was October 6 - the last week of my bighorn sheep hunt in central Idaho - and I found myself thinking of what I could have done different. As a friend of mine and I climbed a high cliff face that overlooked a giant creek basin, the daunting feeling of the steep terrain came over me, and I knew the likelihood of finding rams was small. After three separate trips and 27 total days, I had met my match. As a native Idahoan, I have hunted throughout most of the state for various big game species, but bighorn sheep hunting in the Frank Church Wilderness country is the most grueling hunt I’ve been on.

My hunt started when two friends, Trevor Parke and Tyler Staggs, were generous enough to take a couple of weeks off of work for the opener on August 30. It took an entire day to hike the 20 miles to our base camp, with three horses carrying our gear. We didn’t locate a single sheep on opening day.

That night the wind howled and we woke up to a foot of snow and lots of fog. After an agonizing two days sitting in the tent, the fog finally lifted and we could see well enough to glass. That morning we went to check on the horses and to our dismay found that they had tired of the weather and headed back to the trailer. It took me a full day of walking to get back to the truck to get them while my two friends stayed behind looking for sheep. We spent the rest of the trip glassing every inch of the drainage that we thought could have sheep, but headed home after seven unproductive days.

On the second trip I tried a different area. Ryan Newman, a coworker, came with me, as he had a mountain goat tag for the same unit. We prepared the horses and then hiked over 20 miles into an area that overlooked the main drainage. After a few days of glassing, we spotted a nice goat. It took two days of stalking, but Ryan finally shot the nine-inch billy.

Leaving it all on the Field

For a full account of Mark's adventure, go to page 40 in the April/May 2010 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.