April/May 2014 EHJ (Issue 142) - For the second day we headed into the mountains in driving wind and sleet. The sunny weather was gone, as were some of the bigger rams in the unit. At least two rams left in the trucks of special tag holders before my season started. I was losing sleep over passing up a heavy-horned old ram with a chocolate cape on opening day, but there was still another ram we wanted to find.
Mountain hunters dream of someday drawing a sheep tag and I have been fortunate enough to draw two, one in Idaho and one in Wyoming. I’ve hunted Dall’s sheep in Alaska and the Yukon and Stone’s sheep in the Yukon and British Columbia. Despite my 65 years, I knew I would eventually draw another one or two in my hunting life but I never dreamed of beating the incredible odds of drawing the Nevada Dream Tag for desert (Nelson) bighorn.
Terry Turner called me one August evening after leaving a cryptic message during the day. I had been drawn for the Nevada Nelson Dream Tag, and she wondered if I would accept.
"Are you kidding? You bet I’ll accept it!”
As soon as I hung up, I called Nick Perchetti in Tonopah, who I have hunted deer and elk with and valued his advice. I had a deer hunt scheduled with his nephew Brian on November 1 in the Arc Dome Wilderness. He was almost as excited as I was since I had been applying for Nelson tags for years in units he guides in. He immediately recommended his nephew, Mike Perchetti, the veterinarian from Elko, who I already knew was a dedicated sheep fanatic.
With the Dream Tag, I could hunt most open seasons, except the unit where last year’s Dream Tag was filled, the Muddies. Unlike Heritage Tags and the Silver State Tag, I was confined to an open season. Mike’s father-in–law had a tag in the Stonewall Unit, which opened on November 16. This would be a good place to start, and we could then move down to the Bare Mountains.
Mike and Victor Clark, who I had met at Cassiar Stone Outfitters in British Columbia sent me photos of live rams from the prior year, as well as this fall’s scouting. I found it hard to believe this was really happening!
September and October flew by as I served as scout, guide and packer for my wife as she killed a 45-inch Montana bull moose close to home. This was actually a major accomplishment in my hunting career, not to be overshadowed.
On arrival in Tonopah, I met up with John Salois and his sons to reminisce on our deer and elk hunts together and anticipate our hunts for Ovis canadensis nelsoni. These sheep, which I call nelsoni, are a large, dark subspecies of desert bighorn. Both Jeremy and John Brett had drawn tags.
For a full account of Ben's adventure, go to page 26 in the April/May 2014 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.