Better Late Than Never

By Todd Mast
Arizona, Guided, Public Land

Todd Mast - Better Late Than NeverApril/May 2013 EHJ (Issue 136) - Apparently, I may not be as fun to be with as I previously thought. It was day seven in the field during my once-in-a-lifetime Arizona Desert Bighorn sheep hunt in the rugged and spectacularly scenic canyon country along the Salt River. From my preseason discussions with friends, relatives, and co-workers I had expected to have plenty of guys out there to accompany me in the field. In reality, that was not the case, as I was on my own most of the time those first seven days. As each day progressed the sheep seemed to lose interest in my company also.

Now with that being said, I could have tagged out the first morning when I spotted a ram which I estimated to be in the 160-165” range. I was able to get a good look at 160 yards, but decided it was too early for that size ram. Now, here on day seven I was beginning to question that decision.

The game unit I was hunting in is known for producing some of the best rams in the state over the last five years or so, and some nice ones had been viewed in the few months prior to the season. Meatball was one of those rams that had been spotted by several different sheep enthusiasts before the hunt. These guys like to give nicknames to the bigger rams that they run across. The name may be relative to a behavior, body feature, or horn feature. Explaining Meatball’s tag name is best left for another story. This may seem a bit picky, but I didn’t have a lot of interest in him because his left side was pretty beat up. My desire was to take a more perfect-horned ram.

Back to day seven…at this point I was thoroughly frustrated with the amount and quality of sheep I was seeing. I was pretty much convinced this was going to be more than a one-man job. This was hard for me to accept because I prefer to be and consider myself a "do- it-yourself” hunter.

In my pre-season quest for sheep knowledge I made a connection with Geof Moss and Mike Burm from Little Horn Outfitters. Mike is also the photographer for the crew and he graciously provided his services when possible for a wonderful collection of still photo memories of my hunt. These guys were very helpful and even gave an open invitation to join them on any of their scouting trips. Geof was also nice enough to share some photos with nicknames of some of the nicer rams in the area and Meatball was included in those photos. At this point in the season, they were working hard in the field helping Tim, one of the Little Horn crew members on his Desert sheep hunt.

It is interesting to note that Tim actually had an encounter with Meatball during the first week of his hunt in the adjoining unit but was not able to connect. With preseason and hunting encounters we would piece together that Meatball had traveled several miles of territory and crossed unit boundaries in just a few short weeks.

Todd Mast - Better Late Than Never

For a full account of Todd's adventure, go to page 40 in the April/May 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.