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Joined: 01/22/2007
Posts: 120
Desert Bighorn

I drew a Desert Bighorn tag for Utah's San Rafael Swell area. I've been down scouting a few times, and it will be a tough hunt. I've yet to see a sheep, But everybody tells me not to worry too much about that until Mid October when it cools off and as they start to Rut in Early November. It's still pretty warm down there now. Labor day weekend it was 98* and today it got up into the 80s

I think I'm getting into the area where they are. I'm finding prints around whats left of the water holes. Needs some more thunder storm sto refill the potholes in the canyon floor.

I'm trying to get as high as possible. But it's tough with the cliff faces. Often times I get up on top and it ledges out and retreat back the way I came.

Lots of pockets up in the cliff faces.

I am finding tracks going up and down the canyon floor as they travel to water. But I'm also finding tracks up on the ledges. They seem to favor feeding on those shelfs in the canyon walls. Like the green line you can see up high on the right side. Steep hillside, then a small flat on the rim rock and the cliff faces.

Hunt opens next Saturday. I don't know whether to go hunt sheep or wait for it to cool off and go hunt elk for a week or two and come back to the sheep later. I'll probably spend every possible chance down in the desert trying to figure out these sheep.

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Location: Utah
Joined: 09/15/2007
Posts: 7
Desert Bighorn

Hello Painted Horse,

My brother drew a desert bighorn sheep tag this year as well.
We are hunting the Lasal Potash unit. We are having about the same luck as you. We have found some yews which we are told is a good sign. They say to rember where the yews are early because all the Rams will come to them starting bout the 15 of oct.
Did you make it to the meeting that was help in Price the Friday before last?
They gave out alot of good info there. The biologiest will fill you in on where the mature rams are are located during the summer.
Most of the groups have at least 1 collard ram in the group. You should be able to get GPS cords for the area as well..
If you havent talked with the biologiest in your area I would sugest you do so.
Also keep in mind when it is dry like it is you should locate the guzzlers around the area..
Well good luck with your hunt. You have a great unit.

Russ

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Joined: 01/22/2007
Posts: 120
Desert Bighorn

Didn't make the meeting. Didn't know about it. I talked to the Biologist last April and he acted like this was a gimmie hunt. I saw sheep last April while riding my horses in the area. But everybody has told me they will not be in the same area this fall as they were last April.
A friend of mine worked for the Fish & Game for 5 years. He knows the Biologist and had talked with him last Spring and said he would get all the details from him prior to the hunt. But of course he's off elk hunting, has a goose hunt planned in Canada for Oct, Says he will come and help me the 1st of November. I just don't think I dare wait that long to go find my Ram. 1st thing on my list for Monday is call the Biologist.

As you can see in the pictures, the canyons have had water. The August Monsoons would fill the pot holes in the canyon. But it has dried out. I can see the tracks in the mud where the sheep have searched for the last of the puddles.

There are lots ponds up on the flats where they have bull dozed catch basins in draws and run offs. Cattle, Mustangs, Antelope, Mule deer and lots of rabbits seem to hang around those. I just doubt the sheep make the journey out of the canyons to the ponds.

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Location: Utah
Joined: 09/15/2007
Posts: 7
Desert Bighorn

It sounds like there is enough water in the canyons to keep them there then.
The rams will be together until about the 15th and they will stay in the same area. After that they will move out to find the ewes. I wouldnt wait for Nov. to find them. If you find the ewes you will have a good idea where the rams will be.. If you find the rams you can size them up.
See if the Biologiest will send you the paper work they had for the meeting. It gives some general info in there on sizing them up. Theres not much difference between a 150 ram and a 165 ram except bragging rights lol
Also ask him the exact location of them "Summer" rams and where they will go to when pre-rut starts.
With all them tracks I would stay in that area and glass for hours until you spot the herds.

Good luck.

Russ

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Joined: 01/22/2007
Posts: 120
Desert Bighorn

Biologist is getting me the packet of info. He told me where the major portion of the sheep population will be found, and as he said, the majority of hunters. He was unfamilar with the area I had been scouting.
I guess next weekend I may got scout the area he suggested, as I have not looked at it yet.

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Joined: 01/22/2007
Posts: 120
Desert Bighorn

I found a group of ewes today. So that improved my hopes. At least I'm now seeing the sheep.

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Joined: 01/22/2007
Posts: 120
Desert Bighorn

After 17 days in the unit looking for sheep, I've finally learned how to find the elusive desert bighorn. And the approaching rut has helped. We spotted 44 sheep in the two days a field. Two were reasonable rams. One I passed on because there was no way to get close enough for a shot and with out a helocopter I doubt I'd have retrieved the animal. The other I may be kicking myself for passing on. A nice ram, a very easy retrieval. But just a little shy of what I think a trophy from this unit should be.

Here we look for a way to get closer to a ram we have spotted. See my hunting buddy looking for a way down the ridge.

We spotted a group of 7 sheep about 4 miles away. We have closed the gap to about 2 miles. here we are trying to get close enough for a shot. By time we got there, the sheep had wandered off.

Some of the canyon wall we had to climb as we cross the many ravines.

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Location: Idaho
Joined: 06/01/2004
Posts: 1068
Desert Bighorn

Sheep hunting definitely takes things to the `next level'. Thanks for the pics of the country (and the sheep) . I just got back from a Rocky Hunt - my buddy is still in there looking for a bigger one. I had to come out before he pulled the trigger. I'll post some pics on a new string.

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Joined: 01/22/2007
Posts: 120
Desert Bighorn

I know that any glassing I do in the future will be influenced by the lessons learned this year sheep hunting.

A relatively small big game animal, that doesn't move alot or very fast. Often found bedded down. At extreme distances, in a landscape where it's colors blend in with the desert colors, that is best hunted during the day when heat waves distort any high power glass.

Yes, I'd say that raises everything to a higher level.

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Location: Idaho
Joined: 06/01/2004
Posts: 1068
Desert Bighorn

... wild pics ... yeah, whole other level.

On the sheep hunt I was just on - I was looking over a premium area and not seeing anything. I came down off the mountain and my buddy spotted some ewes and lambs on another ridge. I am pretty certain there were some rams on the rocks I was looking on - but just couldn't see them. Once I dialed in to the lambs and ewes my buddy spotted - I "knew" what to look for. Not so much what a sheep looks like (I know what they look like) ... but the scale of a sheep at a mile or more away.

I think a person has to get in country and start seeing sheep - before you can start seeing sheep.

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Location: Utah
Joined: 09/15/2007
Posts: 7
Desert Bighorn

Just got back about a week ago from my brothers sheep hunt. He was able to harvest a 9 year old ram down by Moab. We was lucky enough to film the whole thing.
Sheep hunting is very rugged. I bought a Nikon Prostaff spotting scope before we started the hunt and I bet I have looked through it for 100+ hrs.
You have to use a spotting scope and use it all day long. We would get to a new canyon to glass and start with binos just to glass the area real quick. Then the real time starts.
All in all it was the best hunt we have ever been on. We saw 70+ sheep and 10+ rams.
All I can say is dont get to cought up on the curl. Mass is almost everything. Utah desert rams love to broom.

Good luck on your harvest. Spend every waking moment in the field starting Nov. 1 till the end of the hunt.

Russ

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