August/September 2013 EHJ (Issue 138) - When it comes to hunting, my husband Adam is a pretty serious guy! So this past May when he excitedly came whooping and hollering out of the computer room I knew something was up.
"You drew the Desert Bighorn sheep tag!” he exclaimed.
Not even knowing I had put in for the tag, but being a willing, fair-weather hunter, I quickly asked, "Am I going to be cold?”
He laughed as he explained how rare it is to draw one of the two once-in-a-lifetime Desert sheep tags for this unit. I still didn’t get it. I hunt mule deer every year and I had heard of people hunting Desert Bighorns in my home state of Utah. His dad had even killed a ram two years ago, so I didn’t see the need to get too excited.
Adam immediately began telling everyone about the tag. I found it odd that people were congratulating me on the tag and stranger yet when others showed me pictures of what a big ram looked like. But, it wasn’t until Adam took me shopping himself to try on every hiking boot in Cabela’s that I realized this was serious business.
Not even knowing what to expect I remember jokingly saying, "Well, if I’m going to hunt sheep I want to kill one with a curl that goes all the way to his eyes!”
Seriously though, I was determined to make this hunt a success. I told myself I wouldn’t complain about anything, even if it was COLD!
Living very close to the unit we knew, we had some research to do. I started exercising a little harder too—even running hills with my new boots on to break them in. We made plans for our first scouting trip in June. I needed to see for myself that these sheep really existed. The landscape was breathtaking and unquestionably rugged. Could I really hunt this terrain? Then, just as Adam had promised, I saw my first Desert sheep, three beautiful rams! They were absolutely amazing. Now I was starting to get excited!
We spent the next five months scouring the unit hoping to dig up a couple of giant rams to add to the hit list. We saw several sheep; in fact, we saw sheep on every scouting trip but two. That was encouraging. However, we only had two on the list. One was a ram we named, Solo. Adam and Bridger found him in August in a rugged part of the unit all alone.
I remember him saying, "He’s got the mass we want. He just needs a little more curl.”
However, we knew he was a giant . curl ram pushing the 160’s, one we couldn’t pass if given the opportunity. Adam found him again 10 days before the hunt some 15 miles from the ram’s summer hangout. We hoped he would stay in the area a few more days.
The other ram on our list we named Ramp. Our brother-inlaw, Jeff, saw him during the summer heading to work early one morning. Surprisingly, Ramp was only 20 yards off the highway as Jeff took some cell phone pictures while the ram fed next to the runaway truck ramp. We could tell he had mass with a tight, full curl. We hoped to see him ourselves before the season started. Despite our searching, Ramp was never seen again during all those months.
Finally, opening morning came. Well before light, my 11-year-old son Bridger, Adam, and I left our four girls at home and headed out. Our destination – the remote area Adam had last seen Solo ten days before. At first light, the rugged, red cliffs of the Dolores river drainage were breathtaking! We glassed from high above the area, meticulously searching the area for any sign of those unmistakable white rumps!
In the far distance, some three canyons away, Adam finally spotted a ram and seven ewes. Excitedly, he called us over to take a look through the spotting scope – a great find for the first hour of light. The ram had heavy bases but the young ram just wasn’t what we were hoping for, especially on opening day.
For a full account of Brittney's adventure, go to page 14 in the August/September 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.