Thankful for Second Chances

By Kim Luse
Montana, DIY, Public Land

Kim Luse - Thankful for Second ChancesApril/May 2013 EHJ (Issue 136) - Last year was my lucky year, as I drew a coveted bighorn sheep tag after a long anticipated wait.

I’m really partial to Bighorn sheep as my favorite big game animal due to the fact that every year after Thanksgiving dinner we as a family would drive up to the Rocky Mountain front to view the sheep in the rut. They are so pristine in their natural environment and I look so forward to it every year.

Normally, we check online to see if we are successful as soon as the permits come out, but due to circumstances this year we had not checked the online draws. So, you can imagine my surprise and happiness when I opened the envelope and found out I had drawn a Montana Bighorn sheep tag. The first person I called was my husband that was guiding in Alaska for the summer and proceeded to tell him the good news.

You could immediately hear the excitement in his voice. Then he paused and said, "Wait a second, is this an on going joke between you and my dad?”

I then told him to check on the computer for himself. After he saw it for himself, I think he was as excited as I was and couldn’t wait to get home.

Once my husband got home the first of September we started making plans for the big hunt. In making a few phone calls we realized that the access to the public land we wanted to hunt had been sold. You can imagine my disappointment.

My husband called his good buddy Kevin "The Sheep Guru” Peterson for some advice. Kevin pointed us in the direction of a rancher who might be able to give us access.

Our plans were to hunt the third week of opening season and the rest would be only on weekends. Opening weekend was our first trip out and due to unseasonably warm temperatures we didn’t see a single sheep. I was disappointed but looking forward to the week coming up so we could hunt full time.

After packing and preparing all week the first morning of the weeklong hunt was upon us. After a few hours of glassing I spotted our first bunch of sheep. There were five ewes and one ram in the bunch about three quarters of a mile away. The ram looked good enough that we needed a closer look so we slowly made our way over to them.

As we came up out of the trees, I made sure to stay low. I found a good rest and began judging the ram. My heart started racing and I thought he could be the one. He was a full curl and looked so majestic standing on the hill surrounded by all his ewes. After looking at him for several minutes, we decided to pass and try to find a little bigger ram. Let me tell you, that wasn’t easy.

Once back at the truck we decided to try a new location. We drove about a mile and a half and Blake thought it would be a good idea to wait for evening, when the weather would cool off and the sheep would start moving. While relaxing in the shade, a movement caught my eye. After a second look, I realized there were two rams moving up the draw in front of us. By the time I got my rifle and got situated I didn’t have a good shot. Afterwards, Blake made the comment that he thought one of the rams would’ve been a new state record. That gave both of us a lot of encouragement for what was to come.

The next two days were uneventful. On the evening of the fourth day we spotted the same two big rams that we had seen a couple days earlier. They had moved down about a mile and a half and were bedding down for the night. The plan was to come back in the morning at first light, hoping they would still be there.

We returned in the morning to find they were still there, so we grabbed our gear and went after them. We were closing the distance when the wind shifted. The rams must have scented us because when we came out of the trees they were gone. I was disappointed, but hopeful we might see them again. We decided to make a big circle to try and find them again.

Kim Luse - Thankful for Second Chances

For a full account of Kim's adventure, go to page 29 in the April/May 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.