April/May 2013 EHJ (Issue 136) - As the Flight for Life helicopter flew by at eye level (12,000 feet), I saw seven sets of curled horns rise from the boulders only 200 yards to the west as if the sheep had been in foxholes. The adrenaline rush was on and I was about to have an opportunity to harvest a trophy class Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep in my Rocky Mountain High - Colorado.
My wonderful wife understands my pas sion for Colorado’s backcountry and on my birthday in early 2012 she surprised me with what all married hunters dream of – a get out of jail pass that granted me all the time I needed to scout and hunt for the upcoming 2012 big game season. At the time, she thought I would only be focusing on a trophy elk hunt that cost me ten preference points. In early May when the sheep results were posted, my wife rolled her eyes when she found out I had drawn a coveted bighorn sheep tag; this surely meant more time in the field away from the family. It’s a battle all married Eastmans’ readers have – finding that balance between God, family and the hunter/gatherer in all of us.
Since you can’t really get into sheep country until July, I spent all my free time in the spring and early summer learning my way around my new elk unit, and in mid-July I shifted focus to scouting rams. The ram unit I would be hunting actually overlapped most of an area I hunted in 2009 for mountain goats. The Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife officer for my unit was a great help and assured that my scouting trips were spent in areas that usually held sheep. However, finding rams is never easy, and come two weeks before the season I still had only seen young rams and ewes. I made the decision to head out four days before the hunt to allow for more scouting and hopefully find a mature ram before the season started in early September.
The plan worked out as I headed up higher in elevation. I found the mature group of rams that I had heard about from conversations with other hunters in the area. I glassed them for three days before the season started and felt confident that come opening morning we would find them in a basin that was only a halfmile from where I harvested my 2009 goat.
During the three days of watching the group I had identified two shooters. The heaviest my hunting buddy, Kraig, nicknamed "The Bully” and the second largest we nicknamed "Number One” (from Star Trek).
Bully appeared to be a full curl that was tight, broomed, and heavy all the way through. He was without a doubt in charge of the fourteen rams on the mountain. He was frequently kicking Number One with his front leg. When Number One had enough, they would commence ramming each other. I was far enough way that several seconds would pass between watching the powerful collision in my spotting scope and actually hearing the sharp smack from across the basin. The rut does not start until November, but these guys were clearly still full of testosterone.
For a full account of Brandon's adventure, go to page 36 in the April/May 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.