Wow - Words can not describe my excitement
First the preface:
The Steen Mountains are home to an estimated 135 California Big horn sheep. 61 of which are rams. The Steens rise above the Alvord desert to a peak of 9700 feet.
Oregon allows 2 first season California Big Horn hunters during the first season, 3 during the second. 744 people applied for the first season hunt. I drew one of the tags.
I packed up the motor home and drove my family to the Steens. We camped on a popular lake called fish lake. The kids (Grace 4, Ava 2, Griffin 6months) fished, hiked and enjoyed the scenery. My hunting partner brought his family along too. I also recruited my brother-in-law and another hunting buddy. We brought a long a family friend, Barry H to be camp cook and take care of the families while we hunted. We started each morning with an alarm buzzing at 4:00am. We would make the 6 mile drive to the top of the Steens and begin our moon light walk to glassing areas. We walked long and hard opening day, and found a few rams and ewes but no shooters. We arrived back at camp at dark physically and mentally drained. We decided to take a 2-3 mile walk for the second day of the hunt. This was a lot shorter of a walk, but still did its toll on our feet and bodies. At dusk on Sunday night, my hunting buddy, Sean spotted a couple of rams on some insanely steep rock cliffs. It was getting dark fast and no chance to get a good look or put on a stalk. We decided to head there in the morning. My brother in law spotted the Ram around 8 the next morning.
There were 6, one heavy horned and heavy broomed ram. I decided to go after him. The stock would take place on a location I thought might not be possible for me to get to them. We planed out the stock to come in about 30 yards above them on a sheer cliff. This was our only chance, they would see me any other way. I started the 2 ½ hour stock, which included pulling off my boots and walking in my socks to help avoid rocks falling down and spooking them off. At last I was there, but I could only see the young rams from the top of the cliff. I was about 20-30 yards straight above them. I could not see the one I wanted though, and when I leaned over I was casting a shadow that they could see.
I decided to belly crawl out to the edge and try to attempt a crazy shot. I could not put the gun in a good shooting position so I had to risk it and lean a little further out. I had him now, in my scope. Just then I noticed the other rams saw me. It was now our never. I remember my bow hunting rules and aimed low on the bedded down ram because of the extreme angle. I was lucky there, but I hit him high but perfect. He never even got up from bed. My buddies were screaming “nice shot”. From 500 yards on the other side of the canyon. It was over, wow what an experience. We packed the thing out up the extremely steep terrain and enjoyed the families meeting us with food and praises when we showed up at camp.
We snapped a few photos, and my girls gave the ram a few kisses.
We checked him in at ODFW and he scored almost 156. Good enough for Oregon Big Game Record Books for the California rams. He was 5 ½ years old and measured 15 ¼ at the base with only a ½ inch of deductions.
His full measurements were:
Base 15 ¼ and 15 1/8
First quarter 14 and 14 1/8
Second quarter 12 and 12 ¼
Third quarter 8 3/8 and 8 3/8
Length of horns were 29” and 26”
You can find pictures out on http://www.theraperfamily.com
I have video of the stock and the passing of the sheep if anyone would like, just let me know and give me a few days to scale it down to a manageable size.