So Close, Yet So Far

By Michelle Podborny
Nevada, 2010, DIY, Public Land

Michelle Podborny - So Close, Yet So FarApril/May 2012 EHJ (Issue 130) - "Did you remember your sheep tag?" my dad, Paul, asked me as I was leaving Las Vegas for my desert bighorn sheep hunt. "No!” I yelled over the phone. "It’s on my desk at home!” I turned around and drove 30 miles back home to grab my tag. An hour later, I was back on my way to begin the hunt of my lifetime.

After driving over 200 miles, I met my dad. I jumped into his truck, and we drove another 30 miles to meet my uncle Mike. We headed to the area where my dad had spotted a nice ram two days earlier, but didn’t find him. My dad decided to drive to another area where he had spotted a herd of 40 plus ewes, lambs, and young rams. We spotted the herd and watched them until the sun went down. Driving to town that night, I said to my dad, "This is a good start. We saw sheep!”

Early the next morning, we woke up and gathered our warmest clothes. It was 19 degrees below zero…not your typical desert bighorn sheep hunt. My mom, Stephanie, joined us. Late in the morning, we spotted two ewes, a lamb, and two young rams. We headed back to the ridge where we spotted the big herd the day before. We found them in the same basin and I spotted a ram with two ewes under a rock bluff not far from the big herd. He was a mature ram with good mass, but both horns were broomed back to half curl.

Friday morning we decided to head to the mountain range on the other side of the valley. It was so cold again this morning that all of the windows on the truck were frosted on the inside. As we drove through the canyon my uncle Mike and I had our windows rolled down about an inch so we could look for sheep. All of a sudden my uncle yelled, "Sheep!” As we looked up and we saw a nice mature ram in the herd…my heart started to pound. We headed up the mountain to get a better look at the ram.

When we looked into the basin where the sheep were, they were gone. We headed back down the mountain to the truck. As we drove through the narrows, I looked back up the mountain and spotted their white butts. There were four ewes, a lamb, and two rams. While we were watching the sheep, they started to bed down. We finally got a good look at the larger of the two rams. He had long horns that curled up and out with good mass; he was a definite shooter.

We tried to decide the best way to get close enough for a shot and discovered a two-track road that headed to the top of the ridge west of where the sheep were bedded. I started to get excited and nervous as we planned our stalk.

We worked our way along the backside of the ridge and I had a good feeling I was going to get a shot at this ram. When we reached a spot on top of the ridge above where the sheep were bedded, we slowly worked our way down, looking in all directions for the sheep. All of a sudden I spotted two ewes staring at us, but no ram. My dad, who was about 10 feet behind me, whispered, "Do you see him?” I said, "No!” He said, "He’s right there.” The ram was bedded above the two ewes, but I couldn’t see him because I had a tree in the way. I leaned a little to my right, and there he was facing straight at me. The curl of his massive horns was beautiful. My heart was pounding, and my breathing was fast.

Michelle Podborny - So Close, Yet So Far

For a full account of Michelle's adventure, go to page 42 in the April/May 2012 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.