A Desert Rose for Karalee

By Karalee Rowley
Utah, DIY, Public Land

Karalee Rowley - A Desert Rose for KaraleeOctober/November 2013 EHJ (Issue 139) - When I married into my husband’s family, I knew hunting was a big part of their lives. In fact, on our honeymoon we spent one day hunting with his brother. Af ter a month of marriage we went on a rifle deer hunt and were treated to a snowstorm that dropped six inches of snow. It was cold and miserable. But, that was also the first time I had seen an elk in the wild; I thought they were beautiful animals. At that moment I decided to start putting in for limited entry hunts.

Hunting was all new to me, and while I enjoyed it I didn’t quite understand the passion my new family had. I’ve since drawn a few general deer tags and harvested a little buck on a rifle hunt. I had almost taken a trophy buck on an archery hunt but missed. That was the closest I had ever come to a trophy-size animal until I drew a once in a lifetime desert bighorn sheep tag.

I knew I had to get into shape so my husband Andrew and I trained for the tough terrain that sheep live in. Sheep were not something we knew how to hunt. We didn’t know anything about sheep in general or their habitat or travel habits; we only knew they lived in clif fs and extremely rugged country.

Andrew spent many hour s researching desert sheep and calling people that had drawn this tag in previous years. Most were very helpful and kind enough to help us in any way they could.

At the conclusion of a family vacation we drove through my unit to check things out. I felt very intimidated by the daunting terrain that lay ahead of me; the area had steep cliffs, huge mountains and desert – lots and lots of desert, country so barren, it looked like nothing could live out there. Eventually we took a couple more scouting trips to the area and found better sheep country than what we had previously experienced.

One of the spots was actually gorgeous and required about a two-mile hike in. This trip was the first time I had ever laid eyes on a desert bighorn. Andrew spotted a ram in his spotting scope and I was very excited to see one for the first time. They are beautiful animals.

Excitement, nervousness and anticipation all made their presence known on the first day of my hunt. After hour upon hour of glassing I kept picturing in my mind sheep coming into view. I think I wanted to see a sheep so badly that I was making the shapes of trees and rocks turn into sheep. I kept having Andrew look through the spotting scope because I would swear I saw a sheep; it would turn out that they were not sheep after all. After two days of the same thing I was ready to go home. It was really frustrating for me and abundantly clear we weren’t in the right location.

The next weekend we decided to go to a different area. It’s an area we had previously scouted and saw a couple of sheep. My husband, brother-in-law Mark, and friend Jake all backpacked in about two miles. It was a litt le dif ferent experience being the only woman in camp with three men. We arrived at our campsite location late in the afternoon. As daylight waned, we didn’t have any time to glass after setting up camp.

The next morning we left camp early to get up on the mountain before sunrise. Andrew and I went to one area and Jake and Mark went to another about a mileand- a-half away. When we reached our glassing location the deep blue night sky was giving way to the amber glow of morning.

Meanwhile, Jake and Mark found four different rams and two of them were big! I was excited, but not looking forward to the hike ahead of me. Exhaustion was overridden by the thought of shooting a big ram.

Karalee Rowley - A Desert Rose for Karalee

For a full account of Karalee's adventure, go to page 52 in the October/November 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.