August/September 2013 EHJ (Issue 138) - I was quick to judge, but with a solid rest I squeezed the trigger and my trophy was down. Could it be that after 18 years of applying it could be over in a matter of two days? This is the tale of my 2012 Wyoming HA3 Bighorn sheep hunt.
Two weeks previous found my friend and hunting partner Bret and I searching high and low for Wyoming Bighorn sheep. Well, truthfully we spent about two months looking over various drainages and not finding very many sheep, but it did happen to be one of the worst drought years on record. After three days of riding and hiking various high country basins and only seeing a handful of ewes; we decide to pull our spike camp and head into uncharted territory. That proved to be a wise choice.
We ended up 16 miles back in and as high as we could take our horses. We managed to find a nice camp that we would call home for the next couple of days and the next day we hiked onto a high ridge and spent the day glassing the surrounding country. Throughout the day groups of rams would show themselves and then go back into the timbered fingers. At last light we finally found what we were after. In the head of the basin stepped out a group of four rams. Two were young half-curl rams, one was a beautiful full curl ram with lamb tips, and one was an old ram with broomed heavy 7/8 curls. We knew where we were going to be on opening morning.
It is amazing how fast two weeks go by and how unprepared you feel. It was finally time to make our trip back into the high camp we called home two weeks earlier.
Upon arriving at the Elk Fork trailhead we found that it was full of horse trailers with sheep hunters already in. This left a very unsettling feeling in our stomachs. Would we be making the 16- mile trip and find that somebody was already in our camp? Time would tell.
We loaded up our string of pack horses and started in. We planned to be in for 10 days, so that was a lot of gear and food. As luck would have it, there was nobody in our camp and over the course of our trip we did not run across another person.
For two days we laid low, acclimated ourselves, and stayed away from the basin we were to hunt on opening day. This proved to be a couple of lazy days and sleepless nights. We would take an occasional hike to another nearby drainage to look things over, but just saw ewes and lambs.
Finally, opening day arrived and we found ourselves two miles from camp on the high ridge before light. We found a nice rock perch that protected us from the weather, but the downside was that depending on which side of the rock we were on, we could only see in that direction. If we wanted to see downcountry we had to move around the rock.
For a full account of Ryan's adventure, go to page 40 in the August/September 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.