Oregon, 2009, DIY, Public Land
With the crosshairs tight behind the ram’s shoulder, I slowly squeezed the trigger. Click! The sound of the dry fire made my veins feel like icicles. Here we were at 9,000 feet in the Wallowa Mountains after a summer of hard work, hiking 230 miles, endless hours spent behind the spotting scope, and most weekends away from our families, and I almost blew it.
My good friend, Joey Vanleuven, who quickly jumped aboard the hunting wagon as soon as he heard the news of my draw for a bighorn sheep, started helping right away by finding people with previous tags and getting maps of the unit. He had been applying for this tag for 25 years and wanted to be a part of this hunt just as badly as if this had been his own. I couldn’t have been happier, as Joey is very determined, not to mention an accomplished hunter.
Early on, it seemed that every time we found a group of rams, we would lose them over a ridge, never to see them again. Now, the season was quickly approaching and the last month passed without a single ram to be found.
Five days before the season started, Joey’s parents were kind enough to pack our camp in with horses seven miles up into where we would set up base camp. That next day, Joey caught me sitting by the fire and said, “You don’t get paid to stay here and camp; get the spotting scope and go find some sheep.”
So, I crossed the valley, picked a bench to glass from, and within 15 minutes, I spotted three rams across from me on another ridge. One ram stuck out from the rest. His cape was a very dark chocolate brown and he was heavy-horned.
Two months prior, I had photographed a ram just like this one in the same vicinity, and I thought he was beautiful. I had even printed the picture and carried it around the rest of the summer with me, hoping to see him again.
For a full account of Daniel's adventure, go to page 36 in the October/November 2010 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.