Well last night when I got into the new spike camp – I had a surprise – horses! We’ll be able to cover more territory. Saddles are cold in the morning. Spotted about 40 ewes and lambs around 9:00 am this morning. Saw some rams fighting and decided to go after them. We left the horses below and went on foot. It took about 3 hrs. to make the climb. We got up in between the ewes and lambs and the rams were still fighting. It didn’t bother them that the ewes and lambs were leaving them. We set up in a funnel area and waited for the rams. All four came by.
They were grunting just like bucks in rut at home. The big one was with them. They came within 7 yards of me. I could see them eyeball to eyeball! I decided to pass up on the ram that we thought was a legal ram because he just wasn’t big enough. Well tonight when I was scrounging through my pack I found a note from my little tomato. This one here’s a pretty good one. It says, “How is my Mt. man today? I asked God to send His angels to watch over you. Be safe. I love you”. Well I’ll tell you what?on a cold night like tonight that’s really something that will warm me up. I’m looking forward to seeing her again. Hopefully I’ll bring home a big ram.
Well today is the 7th day of the hunt. Decided to get on the horses and go back to the same area at base of the Mts. where we saw the rams. One thing I’ve noticed about Frank and the horses?it is as though they are one?his gentle ways and great love for these animals have earned him their full obedience and trust. I’ve been on several other hunts before where men who thought they were great horsemen, would use their brute strength to make the horses submit to what they wanted them to do. They could all take lessons from Frank’s gentle ways.
We spotted the same rams we saw yesterday-nothing new. We decided to travel along the base of the Mts. We traveled a lot today and saw about 25 more ewes and lambs. Also saw some of the same rams. Frank says it’s a matter of time with all those ewes and lambs around that another dominant ram will come into the area and then we’ll go after him. We’re just kind of playing our cards right waiting for the big guy.
It’s really something to listen to at night-the rocks falling off the Mt. and the rams fighting. It sounds like 2×4’s hitting together-and goes on for hours. Tom couldn’t sleep that night and heard them butting their heads and counted that they hit 82 times! When they get fired up like that, it makes it hard to sleep at night because you want to go after them. I’m looking forward to the morning.
Got up early and saddled the horses. Saw a full-curl ram right off but the fog came in and Frank said we’d have to wait. And sure enough-the fog came in and got so thick that you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face for a while. We stayed and made a fire. We waited all day, but the fog didn’t lift. We saw a flock of geese making big circles trying to get out of the fog. We thought they would hit the Mt. We listened to them for hours.
Last night all I could dream about was waking up and seeing the big ram from the meadow below. Tommy and his guide joined us in our camp last night. They said they couldn’t find the big rams?they were no longer in the Mts. where Tommy was hunting. They were going to look for new areas.
I invited Tommy to come with us and hopefully one of us would get the opportunity to harvest this heavy-based ram. After a long, cold ride in the saddle this morning?sure enough?we spotted the big ram. He was up high on the Mt. “courting” one of the ewes, so we rode through the thick timber at the base of the Mt. around the back side, and leaving the horses, we began to climb on foot. Every time we stopped to catch our breath, Tommy was telling jokes?and then Frank started in with his stories. I laughed all the way to the top. It was one of the most enjoyable hunts I’ve ever been on.
It was slippery on the way to the top so I had to put my steel cleats on. They fit into the arch of my boots. Then I felt more confident about climbing in the steep, snowy terrain. Tommy said he froze his feet on the way up so we made a fire to warm them. We also “cooked” our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and stood around and told jokes. After changing our sweaty underclothes and getting warmed up, Tommy and I set up in two different bottlenecks, one on the west side of the Mt. and one on the east side.
The sheep were below us now and we were certain they would come through one of these funnels. Frank stayed hidden up on a high peak in between us watching us. We were hoping the rams would come before dark. It turned out that it was my lucky day-ewes and lambs were coming down the trail below me one by one, single file and the heavy-based ram was with them. I let them pass by me so the ram wouldn’t see me draw my bow. He was about 30 yards from me when I let out the first grunt to stop him. He kept walking, and I grunted again.
I knew this was the animal I wanted. Finally on the third grunt he stopped, turned his head and turned broadside. I was already at full draw. When I released the arrow it hit perfectly behind his right shoulder. All the sheep bolted and the ram ran off and then he began to tumble down the Mt. and slid to a stop on a snowy ledge below me. I let out an uncontrollable war “whoop”!
What an unbelievable feeling! What an animal?when we got to him, there was no ground shrinkage! We figured he weighed over 300 pounds. After packing the meat, hide and horns, we started back down the Mt. It was a difficult job in the dark. We had to go one step at a time, making sure we didn’t slip off the snow-covered trails and steep slopes. It was really late when we got to bottom and it was a relief to get my half-frozen backpack off. I won’t sleep good tonight thinking about all the different things that happened today. Boy, what a day!
Three hunts, a brush with death but the end result for Ray is absolute success.
Frank Simpson is one of the better people I’ve had a chance to hunt with. I would highly recommend him to anyone who is looking for a Rocky Mt. sheep hunt.
My ram ended up being the Gold Metal ram for FNAWS, scoring 170 5/8.