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A Quest for the Big One

 
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ridgetops
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Jun-11-10, 
00:56 AM (MST)
"A Quest for the Big One"

LAST EDITED ON Jun-12-10 AT 11:43 AM (MST)

LAST EDITED ON Jun-12-10 AT 11:41 AM (MST)

LAST EDITED ON Jun-12-10 AT 01:00 AM (MST) by Founder (admin)

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I want to start this "Quest" of mine off by first sharing a few things about myself and how this whole Stansbury sheep hunt came to be.
My interest in Bighorn Sheep hunting started in 2005, when I heard that some sheep would be transplanted onto the Stansbury Mountains. At the same time, a new unit was about to open up on the New Foundland Range. In 2006, I bought my 1st bonus point and continued buying points the next three years.
In 2010, it was announced that two tags would be available for the Stansbury unit. One would be drawn at the hunting expo in Salt Lake City in February and the other would be in the DWR draw for residents only. I put in for the expo tag, along with 29 other deer, elk, and antelope tags. I didn't draw on any of the expo tags.
I have been buying pronghorn points on and off for the last ten years, so now I have six points altogether and am about guaranteed for most units. However, I wanted to put in for the sheep hunt once again, despite the long odds of drawing the ONE tag. If I drew a pronghorn tag, I would not be eligible for a sheep tag this year. Therefore, I decided instead to put in for a high quality deer hunt. If I drew it over the sheep tag I would be just as happy. I put in for the the Paunsaugunt muzzy hunt with one point and the Stansbury sheep with four points. The odds of drawing either were long. (About 1:100 for the deer and 1:400 for the sheep.) I could not believe it when I saw my credit card statement with the $508.00 draw from Utah DWR. A few days later an e-mail confirmed I had been successful.
Now the only problem remained was how to break the news to my wife. First, about how much time I'd be spending on the mountain and second, what the expense of the hunt would be. I emphasized to her the fact that we only live 12 miles from some of the sheep--not only would this help on gas money but would insure that I could spend time scouting and not driving. I also promised her she could ride her horse to scout for me while I babysat the kids. (Maybe not a smart move on my part!) The one thing I can't compromise is that family must always come first.
In May of 2007, we moved from the Salt Lake Valley to Grantsville, a small farming town about 35 miles to the west of Salt Lake. Grantsville rests up against the East side of the Stansbury mountains. This is looking like where home will be for a long time. I think it will be awesome to look back in 20 or 30 years and tell my grandkids that I was the first one to hunt Bighorns on the Stansburys.
The first sheep I saw on the Stansburys was in Nov. 2007, while I was looking for rutting bucks on the North end of the mountains. It was a lone ram high up on the ridge about a mile away. It looked like a good one. In late January 2008, Corby and I saw some sheep on the West side of the range. We were able to get a few pictures. I'm hoping I can see these rams this year. They should be worth hunting.
Well, "THE QUEST" is on.

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  Table of Contents  

 Subject   Author   Message Date   ID 
 RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Jun-19-10   1 
  RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Jun-20-10   2 
   RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Jun-21-10   3 
    RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Jun-22-10   4 
     RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Jun-23-10   5 
      RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Jun-26-10   6 
       RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Jun-29-10   7 
        RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Jun-30-10   8 
         RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Jul-06-10   9 
          RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Jul-13-10   10 
           RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Aug-15-10   11 
            RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Aug-22-10   12 
             RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Sep-12-10   13 
              RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Sep-17-10   14 
               RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Sep-19-10   15 
                RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Sep-22-10   16 
                 RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Sep-26-10   17 
                  RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Oct-05-10   18 
                   RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Oct-07-10   19 
  RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Oct-11-10   20 
   RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Oct-20-10   21 
    RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Oct-24-10   22 
     RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Oct-26-10   23 
      RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Oct-27-10   24 
       RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Oct-31-10   25 
        RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Nov-02-10   26 
         RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Nov-12-10   27 
          RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Nov-28-10   28 
           RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Dec-02-10   29 
            RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Dec-04-10   30 
             RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Dec-06-10   31 
              RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Dec-08-10   32 
               RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Dec-12-10   33 
                RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Dec-13-10   34 
                 RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Dec-14-10   35 
                  RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Dec-19-10   36 
                   RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Dec-19-10   37 
                    RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Dec-20-10   38 
                     RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Dec-22-10   39 
                      RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Dec-27-10   40 
                       RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Dec-28-10   41 
                        RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Dec-29-10   42 
                         RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Jan-01-11   43 
                          RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Jan-10-11   44 
                          RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Jan-10-11   45 
                           RE: The Quest  ridgetops      Feb-13-11   46 

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ridgetops
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Jun-19-10, 
09:41 AM (MST)
1. "RE: The Quest"

Here are some pictures of the range I will be scouting in the upcoming months.

This is the West and Northern end of the Stansbury range. This side is all roadless for the next two years to help the range recover from last years fire. It burned about 50,000 acres.

Here's some pictures of the East side on the North end of the range with Deseret Peak in the background.


Here's a closer look at some of the classic sheep country on this range.


I have been keeping a daily journal of my scouting trips. I will try to play catch up for a while, so stay tuned for more adventures.

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ridgetops
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Jun-20-10, 
03:59 PM (MST)
2. "RE: The Quest"

April 17th, 2010.
First trip out looking for the year. I was tending my five year old son this afternoon while the girls were off doing something else. So the little guy and I decided to go look for sheep on the North end of the range. We found a nice looking canyon and started hiking up it. The mosquitos were really bitting us and I had no bug spray with us. I'll need to remember to bring it along next time. We made it about a mile up this canyon before the little guy ran out of gas and wanted to go back. No wonder, his pockets were full of nice looking rocks he had found on the way. We did see 3 small rams further up this canyon and I got some very poor quality video of them but I also forgot to bring along a still shot camera. So sorry, no pictures of this trip.

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ridgetops
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Jun-21-10, 
10:57 PM (MST)
3. "RE: The Quest"

May 3rd.
After I got home from work, Alauna, the kids and I went for a drive looking for sheep from the road on the West side of the range. We spotted 3 more young rams from the road but when we got out to go for a hike hoping to get closer to these rams for pictures. We were vicously attacked by mosquitos and gnats. Again with no bug spray, when will I learn. We stayed in the truck and drove on with no more sheep spotted that day.

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ridgetops
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Jun-22-10, 
10:46 PM (MST)
4. "RE: The Quest"

May 8th

This time I went hiking alone back where we had seen the 3 rams on the 3rd. I had plenty of bug spray this time. I hiked up to where I was in Jan. 2008 with Corby. After about an hour of glassing, I spotted 3 rams get up from their beds. It's amazing how you can glass an area for an hour and the same place back and forth a dozen times, then like a ghost, these sheep just appear. I'm sure these are the same rams I saw with my family on the 3rd. Just before I got to the spot where I sat down to glass, I jumped 2 adult coyotes. They only went about 300 yards and stayed at that distance for about 20 minutes. I wonder if they have a den nearby. Just before dark, I looked to the south and I could see about 10 rams working their way out onto a rocky point with about a 100 foot cliff. All of these rams also looked to be in the 2-6 year old range. On a side note, I heard a lot of chukars clucking all around me. Looks like it might be a good bird hunt this fall. I think next week I'm going to try and get someone to come along, so we can call in those 2 dogs. This time we will have rifles along.

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ridgetops
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Jun-23-10, 
08:19 AM (MST)
5. "RE: The Quest"

May 15th

On this trip out my cousin John came along in hopes of getting a shot at one of the coyotes I had seen. This time the bugs were at their worse and HUGE! At times, I thought I was being attacked by a flock of snipes but they were only really big mosquitos. We decided to hike in a different way than I had before to get the wind in our favor. We decided to hike up a steep rocky face, which made me realize how out of shape I really am. As we finally topped out at the head of a small canyon. This is where I had last seen the two big coyotes last week. I instantly could see something white flickering and it seemed out of place about 200 yards across this small canyon. Just as I got my binos up and starting to focus, John whispers, there's your sheep. I could see a ram bedded looking right at us with two big white ear tags. That was the white flickering I could see. I think the bugs must have been bothering him and causing his ears to twitch a lot. We stayed right there and in just a few minutes had located 21 different rams. All in the 2 to 6 year old range. I was able to get video of one ram "raking" his horns in a bush and tearing that bush up. Also, one ram almost pushed another one off a cliff and I got it on video as it tried not to fall. It was able able to get out on a 12" ledge, turn itself around and jump safely back to where it started. After about an hour of watching them as they moved further up the mountain. John says, there's your coyote. It was about 300-400 yards across the canyon. We also realized our guns were about 50 feet up the hill leaning on a rock. We had moved down hill to get a better look and video of the sheep. We snuck back up to the guns and John got ready for a shot. The dog was starring right at us but John wanted me to try and call it in anyway. I called out, sounding like a pup in distress. The coyote didn't even hesitate to come. It was running at full speed right at us. It stopped when it got within 100 yards of us and started peeing. At this time I had the camera on the dog and told John to take it. A shot shot rang out and dust flew over its back. It bolted out of sight in about a half second. A second shot could not be made and we never saw it again. We had about an hour and half before it was completely dark, so we went back to the truck and drove about five miles to another spot where I have heard sheep are. As it was about to get too dark to see, we spotted 7 more young rams but it was really hard to tell for sure with the low light conditions. There was also one deer with them high up in the rocky cliffs but we could not tell if it was a buck or doe. So in a little over two hours, we had seen 28 different rams. What a great afternoon!
Here's the video link: http://www.monsterhuntclips.com/video/863/Utahs-California-Bighorns

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ridgetops
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Jun-26-10, 
12:53 PM (MST)
6. "RE: The Quest"

May 28th

John called me at about 3:00 PM and told me he was just getting off work. He wanted to know if I wanted to go look for the sheep again. I was still at a job about 75 miles away and would not be finished for a couple more hours. I also have been suffering from a bad cold all week. So I declined and asked him to call me if he saw anything. John told me that he had gone back where we had seen the 21 rams and coyote two other times in the last two weeks, but had not seen anything. Sometime in the last week, the BLM has closed off all the dirt roads in the area due to erosion problems from last summer's big fire which burned about 50,000 acres. This will slow down my ability to glass a lot of country from those dirt roads. It also should really keep the sheep calmed down and help reduce the pressure on the deer hunt this fall. The BLM has said it will be 2 years until they reopen the area. I told John that he should try a different area and to go to the spot where my 5 year old and I saw the 3 rams on my first trip out. I was told by someone, that I should look into this area a little more.
On a side note- In the past few weeks, I have talked to a lot of people about the sheep for any good ideas of where to look for the older rams next. Most of the info. has been very general but it's ok. I've got all summer to get things figured out and I do have an ace up my sleave for this fall. I talked to the Biologist and he wasn't much help at first and was also very general in his answers but did open up a little after realizing I'd been out a lot already and had seen several rams. Just not the older ones yet. Well, John called me about an hour before dark and said they had seen some ewes and a lamb but no rams but he would keep looking until dark and let me know of any more sightings. I didn't hear from John again. So maybe they didn't see anything more. He had taken a friend of his who has never seen a Bighorn sheep before, so I'm sure even the ewes were fun to see.

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ridgetops
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Jun-29-10, 
08:24 PM (MST)
7. "RE: The Quest"

May 29th

John called today to tell me that he had tried to call last night but for some reason could not get out on his cell phone. They had hiked up to get a closer look at the ewes and lamb. He said after hiking about a half mile, they looked over to their left and there was 12 rams starring at them. John said that 2 of them were much bigger than the rest and very heavy. I think we may have found a keeper. I wanted to go look at them today but I was in the process of passing a kidney stone. The severe pain came on about 11:00 AM and I didn't give birth to the stone until about 6:00 PM . After that I just didn't really feel like doing much but stay home. John also said that when they got closer to the ewes, about 15 in all. He could see at least 6 young lambs running around. That's great news to see them reproducing so well. I think I'm going to try and get out on Monday the 31st in the morning for a few hours. I think I might need to change the title of this post to - THE ADDICTION These sheep are very addicting to watch and look for. John has told me once he draws out on his Moose tag, he'll be putting in for Bighorn Sheep next.

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ridgetops
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Jun-30-10, 
10:12 PM (MST)
8. "RE: The Quest"

May 31st

This is the first time out in the morning this year. This time I took my 10 year old daughter along. We left home at first light and were glassing the cliffs where John had seen the sheep two days ago. I spotted one young ram about a 1/2 mile up a canyon to the North of where John had been. When John had last seen the 12 rams, they had gone over a ridge to the South. So we decided to move on and look in that direction, leaving the lone ram. After about an hour of glassing and no sheep in sight, we decided to hike up to the top of a ridge to the North of us and hopefully see the location of where the lone ram was last seen. As we topped out on the rocky ridge, my daughter found some fresh sheep beds. As I looked to where I had seen the lone ram, I spotted a good sized ram walking quickly, it was sporting an orange ear tag. By the time I got my spotting scope set up, I could not longer see this ram or any other sheep. We stayed there for about an hour and ate some snacks and took some pictures but did not see any more sheep. They must have been bedded down by this time anyway. I have to admit, my daughter was a real trooper. The gnats were really bad and biting us but she never complained. At times, it looked like someone had thrown black pepper into her blonde hair because of the thousands of gnats. We also saw a lot of mormon crickets on our way back down to the truck. I really hate those evil insects.

Here are some pictures of this mornings hike.

Here's a fresh sheep bed my daughter found on our way up a rocky ridgeline.

A view of the Great Salt Lake, Stansbury Island and the Wasatch Front in the far distance.

Here's the evil Mormon Crickets we saw on our way back down to the truck. Ugly suckers!

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ridgetops
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Jul-06-10, 
07:19 PM (MST)
9. "RE: The Quest"

June 19th

Today a friend of mine from Idaho (Paul) joined me. My wife and kids had taken our truck to Southern Utah, so Paul offered to drive. On our way out to the sheep location, we passed a truck where a guy inside had his spotting scope set up and was looking at some rocky hills. We turned around and asked him what he was looking at. He quickly replied, "Oh, nothing; I'm just looking." I said, "We thought you might be looking at sheep." He said, "No; there's no sheep in this area." Which I believed to be true, but what was he really looking at without wanting to tell? I just might have to keep an eye on this spot.

We decided to park about a mile from the mountain this time and glass more country this way. The past couple months I have only seen rams and not a single ewe. Today, we hit the mother lode for ewes and lambs. We must have seen close to 30 ewes and somewhere between 15-20 lambs. One ewe had three lambs trailing behind her. This was great to see and very promising for the growth of this unit. Once again, we were being swarmed by mosquitos. Even with spray on us, we were being bit through our pants and two layers of shirts.

We later drove to the base of a canyon which held most of the ewes we had seen, hoping to find some rams hanging out nearby. We had our first rattlesnake sighting while driving over to this spot. It was right off the road and about 3 1/2 feet long.

After setting up and glassing again, we spotted three rams feeding on a bench between a set of cliffs above and below them. By the time we got the spotting scopes set up, we could only see two of the rams. One of them appeared to be the best ram I've seen so far. Not quite what I'm hoping for but a nice last day ram. It's amazing how well these sheep blend into their surroundings. I'll glass an area several times and then they will just appear.

We finally spotted the third ram bedded right behind one of the rams we had already been watching for about 45 minutes. It didn't look to be bigger than the other two, but we could only see a side view of one horn. The rest of its head and body was behind brush. After about an hour or so looking in this location, we decided to try glassing one more place. By the time we arrived there the air had gotten very hazy and hard to see. It was time for Paul to get back to his family, so we called it quits.

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ridgetops
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Jul-13-10, 
02:30 AM (MST)
10. "RE: The Quest"

July 5th

This morning I took my Father-in-law for a look. We only had a couple hours, so we started glassing the canyons at a distance to see if we could spot anything. After about an hour I spotted one lone ram rather low on the mountain out on an open hillside. He looked like a good one and was in a spot that we could get closer! I just hoped he wouldn't lay down in the high grass or behind a rock or something. By the time we did get closer, he had disappeared. We looked for about an hour before we had to leave. We never did see him again. I think I'm going to take a break from sheep scouting for a while and see if I can find a big old muley elsewhere. I'm really getting the itch to see some good bucks. I'll keep you posted how that goes too.

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ridgetops
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Aug-15-10, 
08:26 AM (MST)
11. "RE: The Quest"

Well it's been a while since I posted anything. I ended up taking a camping trip the week of the 24th down South a little South and East of Cedar City and saw some nice bucks. Too bad I don't have a Southern tag this year. One buck was a nice 6x5 with two inlines on one side and one on the other and he was very heavy. I also saw one of the biggest typicals I've seen in along time. I would guess he was 30" wide and 190"+ frame.

I also started packing in water to a new camp spot for the Central muzzy hunt and saw a few nice bucks in the area. One might be a record book buck and there's a nice cactus buck I'd like to get a closer look at before the hunt starts. Well back to the sheep scouting reports.

Aug. 7th

This time Tom (Mountaintime) came along with me and we met in downtown Grantsville at 3:45 am. We had quite the hike ahead of us. We ended up going back in farther than I've been yet. We must have hiked 8-10 miles in some really rocky, nasty stuff. We covered a lot of country and we ended up seeing 33 rams; I liked 3 of them. We named three of them "Double Radar", "Money" and "Sunny". All three would only score in the 150's but I liked "Sunny" the best because he had the longest horns of the three. "Double Radar" is the last ram on the second video but I don't want to shoot a collared ram if possible because of the hair loss and discolored hair from the collar would be seen on the mount. I've seen over 50 different rams now but have not been able to locate the biggest ones yet. The second video link shows two good rams and one great ram I videod in Jan. 2008. I have not been able to find any of these three rams yet. If anyone reads this and has seen these rams this year or any other big ram, please contact me. I'd love to chat and talk about these sheep. Here's the links to the videos.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3y_RV2GyWpk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCTv4SeKlsI

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ridgetops
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Aug-22-10, 
08:22 AM (MST)
12. "RE: The Quest"

Aug. 21st

I got a great tip today where to look next for the better rams. This is how it played out.
Today was the opening of the archery deer and elk hunt. I decided to go up where I will be hunting during the muzzleloader deer season. This time I took my oldest daughter with me. We took some extra water, a tarp, and a tool to dig out a tent spot. I must have loaded her down a little too much becuase she sure was dragging.
The wind was blowing around 50 mph which caused a lot of dust to be blown into our eyes. Out of all the different weather elements, I hate high wind the most. I was curious to see if there would be any archery hunters in this area--maybe they would stir up something I haven't seen yet.
We headed up the trail at 5:00 AM and there were two people about 1/2 ahead of us; we knew this by the two flashlights we could see. As we got about 1/2 mile up the trail, another vehicle pulled up to the trailhead. Luckily, as we reached the ridgeline, we could see the two lights ahead of us heading south, while we were heading north.
About another mile in, as it was just getting light, I noticed two hunters coming up behind us about 1/2 mile away. Right then I saw 7 bucks in a small bowl about 300-400 yards away and as soon as I was able to get my binocs on them they were off and running. All of them seemed to be 2-3 year old deer. We hiked awhile further and, as we descended down into a little basin, I could see the 7 bucks feeding and working their way up the far hill side.
I also noticed a group of deer down below us about 300 yards. They were first moving to the west but then quickly turned around and headed back to the east. They soon were out of site and a few minutes later, as I was getting up to move on, they re-appeared 200 yards below us. This is when I started to video. As you can see on the video, the deer spot something ahead of them and bust out of there. At that point, I looked over and saw two guys glassing the deer. I walked over and talked to them, to see what their plans for the rest of the morning were, so I wouldn't mess them up. I showed them my video, hoping they would see the bucks were looking in their direction when they spooked and not at my daughter and me.
I told them about the sheep tag I had drawn and they asked me if I had seen the 3 big rams above a certain spring. I told them I hadn't seen any big rams yet and was hoping not to shoot one with a collar. The one guy said, "You probably don't want to shoot the one with the red ear tags because he has a collar." Wow! I think he was talking about "Bling," the ram I have been looking for from the 2008 pictures. Maybe the older ram might be with him still. It's funny how you can get some great leads from the strangest places. Persistance is starting to pay off by talking to so many people about the sheeps' locations.
Back to the deer for a minute. A cactus buck really caught my interest. I loved all the trash he had around his bases. I ended up seeing two other nice bucks down in a real steep, rocky canyon bedded with three does. I really hope the one buck survives this year because he is young and has potential to be something great. Well, that's enough for now. I'll need to check out that spring the hunters told me about where they saw the big rams. It's really start to get exciting.
Here's the video of the bucks we saw today. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkEhPMYS8LA

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ridgetops
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Sep-12-10, 
08:48 AM (MST)
13. "RE: The Quest"

Aug. 28th

This has been a great week in which I have been able to abtain a lot of great information about my upcoming sheep hunt. I talked to one guy who was looking at the sheep last year and had seen a great ram in the location I would never thought of looking. I also talked to another guy who had seen several nice rams in the 160" range up the same canyon I had taken my son up in April. This guy had seen these rams about a month ago, so I'm planning on hitting that canyon in the next few weeks. I also found out where these sheep were rutting last year and which weeks they seemed to be in the peak of the rut. This new information will be of great help as the hunt gets closer.

My cousin John and I packed some more water and provisions up to out remote deer camp. I'm really getting excited about this year's hunts. We've spotted a few record book bucks within less than a mile from our camp. I have found a couple different 3 points that might make the book. We might end up having our own general season management buck hunt this year.lol I'll try to get some new video posted of these bucks.

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ridgetops
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Sep-17-10, 
08:33 AM (MST)
14. "RE: The Quest"

Here's some video of the 3 points I was talking about and a couple decent 4 points too. I really like that cactus buck at the end of the video. If I get the chance at it, I just might take the shot. The might have a hard time passing on the 1 st two 3 points on this video. Sorry for the poor video, the wind was blowing about 50 MPH. Here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9-71xhFl_4

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ridgetops
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Sep-19-10, 
10:15 AM (MST)
15. "RE: The Quest"

Sept. 4th and 5th

My in-laws have some mountain property with a cabin on it. This summer they had a family reunion up there. It was too crowded for everyone to sleep and hang out in the cabin, so I took my camp trailer up there. My wife convinced me to leave the trailer up there all summer and bring it back home in September. I can't believe how many mice found a new home. I'll spare you the graphic pictures but lets just say; mice really enjoy cotton sweatshirts! Anyway, while I was getting the trailer, I decided to go out and look for elk. I was planning on archery hunting around there this year until I drew the sheep tag but I can't wait until next year. This area is part of a General Season Any Bull Unit. The first bull I saw was right at dark and I thought it had a broken side but after looking through my spotting scope, it was only deformed with two 3" kickers coming off the main beam near the top. That night I got up about 3:00 am and went outside and listened for bugles. I did hear some a long ways off to the South. So at first light I headed in that direction and I was able to catch up with a couple different small herds. What a great couple of days on the mountain. The one small 5 point that comes into my call and then spooks, was at 8 -10 yards. The next 5 point looking back at me was at 40 yards and the spike was at 30 yards. If you look close at the spike, I think you can see milk dripping off his chin. I really need to get an archery tag next year. Enjoy. Here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27CMPFpFYVc

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ridgetops
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Sep-22-10, 
09:29 PM (MST)
16. "RE: The Quest"

Sept. 11th

Today my cousin John and myself packed in a few more things into out remote camp for the upcoming muzzleloader deer hunt. I've showed you guys video of the good 3 points I've been seeing and there's also a couple good 4 points that I'm hoping can make it one more year. Next year some of these bucks could be great. Anyway, it looks like there's a lion in the area and I found this buck a few hundred yards out of our camp. I also have video of this same buck. I can't tell you how sad I felt when I came across this guy. Here are a few pictures of it.

First the rib cage which was a 30 feet uphill from the head and neck.



Here's another view

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ridgetops
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Sep-26-10, 
05:49 PM (MST)
17. "RE: The Quest"

Sept. 16th

I had a light schedule at work this morning. So I decided to run out and look for some sheep from the road at first light. After all the hiking I've been doing trying to find the rams further back away from the roads. I caught this guy just leaving a road side pond. I've been in this area several times and have seen some sheep about a 1/2 mile above the road but this is the closest I've ever seen one this close to the road. Usually they will only let me get within 200 yards and then are running off but not this guy. After I took several pictures through my spotting scope to get a better view, he ended up bedding down. I'm guessing he would score in the mid to upper 150s but I don't know. Right now I'll be using him as my benchmark for something better but I honestly would be happy with him on my wall.
Here's the pictures of this ram. I'm calling him "Mr. Clean"
because of no ear tags or collar.


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ridgetops
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Oct-05-10, 
09:43 AM (MST)
18. "RE: The Quest"

Sept. 25th

Today was a day I had been looking forward to all summer. It was the opening day of chukkar season, and I had planned on driving around all day and talking to as many hunters as I could to find out if they had seen any rams while in the rough canyons. Unfortunately, I had a project come up that need to be addressed right then and my wife and daughter had a horse-riding competition that day in which they needed my help. I was able to get out for about an hour around noon, in hopes there would be a few hunters around that I could talk to. I only saw one truck in the area and it was just leaving. I was able to stop it and met a couple of old timers who were not hunting but looking at the sheep. They gave me some great info. One of them even invited me to his house to see some pictures of mature rams from that area. i will definitely take him up on that offer.

Sept. 27th

I stopped by the guy's house that had the ram pictures and all I can say is "WOW!" My standards have just gotten a bit higher. Now if I can only find one of those mature rams.
Also, I was able to finally get out and shoot the old muzzleloader for the upcoming deer hunt. I also want to try and take my ram with the muzzy too. I'll be shooting 100 grains of FFg 777 and a 250 gr. Hornady sst bullet. After getting it shooting a good group at 50 yards, I then moved out to 100. Here's a picture of my 100 yard group. I rushed my third shot a little and hit 4" high but all are in the kill zone. I should be good out 150 yards. Now it's time to go find a good buck. We'll be packing in tomorrow.

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ridgetops
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Oct-07-10, 
08:20 AM (MST)
19. "RE: The Quest"

September 28

After getting off work at noon, I rushed home and quickly finished packing. I met up with my cousin John in town and we were and we were on our way up the mountain from the trailhead at about 4:30. It took about 2 hours to get to our camp spot.

With little time to scout before dark, we quickly cleared out a couple of areas for our tents and split up to check on a few areas for in the morning. I saw one small buck with a crooked antler on one side and about 6 other bucks in a group about a mile away. The largest looked to be only a 18-20" wide wide three or four point.

Later that night, I had 2 other friends (Tom and Paul) and Tom's 12 year old son come up. They arrived in camp about 9:00 PM. It was so warm out that we were all wearing t-shirts. We made plans for the next morning and had a quick snack before hitting the sack at about 11:30 PM.

One great thing about hunting right from camp is not having to leave home at 3:00 AM to start hiking at 4:00, so my alarm was set for 5:45. I had really no idea what to expect opening day, but I was a little worried about the amount of pressure there would be. When John and I left the trailhead the night before there was only one other vehicle. By the time Paul and Tom got there, a few hours later, there were 12.

Here's my cozy little home away from home

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ridgetops
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Oct-11-10, 
01:18 PM (MST)
20. "RE: The Quest"

LAST EDITED ON Oct-11-10 AT 04:00 PM (MST)

Because I'll be posting reports about this years deer hunt too. Mainly leading up to the muzzleloader and rifle seasons but I may throw in some extended archery as well, depending how well the sheep hunt goes. I've decided to change the title of my post to include this years deer hunt adventures along with my OIL Sheep hunt. Also, the fact that I'll actually be hunting California Bighorns and not the true Rockies. Anyway, back to the opener of the muzzleloader deer hunt.

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ridgetops
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Oct-20-10, 
08:38 AM (MST)
21. "RE: The Quest"

I apolgize for not posting more often but I've been working 12 hour days and trying to get out and look for sheep at any spare moment. Back to the muzzy hunt...

Sept.29th

We all started climbing out of our tents about 6:00 AM. I had narrowed my choices to the big 26" wide, 3 Pointer that was missing his G-3s or the cactus buck. Or, maybe, something bigger would show up.
We all left camp at 6:45 as it was getting light. Instantly, I could see two guys standing on the skyline only about 200 yards from our camp. Our plan was to have Tom and his son Ethan go to a small saddle over looking a stand of aspens and I would push through the quakies hoping to scare something out. Paul was going to watch a deep canyon to the West and John would do the same to the East.
Just as we were splitting up, I saw another hunter heading toward the patch of aspens. I tried to catch up to him to see what his plans were, so I wouldn’t mess them up. As I got within 40 yards of him he turned and gave me a nasty glare of disgust. He then turned and walked very fast away from me, passing the aspens and heading for a high peak.
I circled around the aspens to push right at Tom. As I entered the trees, deer scattered. Two nice 4 points headed East toward a deep canyon and a nice looking 20" 4 point headed West but stopped on the ridgeline about 200 yards below Tom and his son. I tried to motion to them, but they couldn’t see the buck from their direction. It finally turned and disappeared.
I kept moving North out to a point which overlooked a big saddle. While glassing, I spotted 4 or 5 good bucks a mile to the Southeast. The glare of the sun was getting bad but I could still see that one of the bucks was the 3 x 5 I had on video. There was another dark-antlered 160 class buck with him. After watching them for awhile, I headed for the spot where I’d found the dead buck a few weeks ago. It was still there, so I took it back to camp where I met up with John. It took ten wet wipes and a half hour of scrubbing to get the stink off my hands. BTW, I did get permission from the local DWR officer to take the buck off the mountain.
After lunch, John and I walked over to a point a few hundred yards from camp. John had seen a couple small bucks bed down that way. We glassed for a few minutes and spotted the bucks. We also saw the big three point bedded about 100 yards from them. We watched him for an hour, but I still wasn’t sure if it was the buck I really wanted to take this year. We went back to camp around 3:00 PM where we met up with Paul, Tom, and Ethan. They hadn’t seen anything great, so we went back to look at the bedded bucks. We spent over an hour trying to find the bucks, but they’d disappeared.
Around 5:00 PM, a couple of bucks started to feed about 300-400 yards down canyon. One buck was still in velvet, but it wasn’t the cactus buck I was looking for. By 6:00, there were six three and four points across the canyon from us, but the big three point wasn’t one of them.
Tom and John took Ethan across the canyon to get a shot at one of the feeding bucks. The biggest of the group was a nice, heavy, tall 23-24" 3x4. When Tom and the others got close to the bucks, the big three point finally stood up from behind a rock ledge. I really think I made a mistake passing on him early in the day–I just didn’t realize how big he actually was until he stood next to that 3x4. When Tom and the others got within 50-60 yards of the bucks, the buck that presented the best broadside shot was an 18-20" 4 point. Ethan shot at, but missed, and all the bucks scattered every direction.
The big three point came out into the open and stood broadside at 60 yards; John pulled up and had his crosshairs on it, but decided to let Ethan have a go instead. By the time Ethan was able to scramble over to John, the buck took off. Some of the deer regrouped and headed over the top. Six or seven shots echoed in about a two minute time frame. We could see smoke drifting over the ridgetop like someone had started a camp fire. It was crazy! As far as we know, none of the bucks were touched. What we understand is there were four guys over there doing the shooting.
I taped the stalk and Ethan shooting with Toms camera. Paul and I headed back to camp with John and Tom’s spotting scopes and gear they’d left behind. They came into camp an hour later. A great action-packed day, but I wished we’d been able to put a tag on something.

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ridgetops
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Oct-24-10, 
09:35 AM (MST)
22. "RE: The Quest"

Sept. 30

With us busting all those bucks out last night, we figured we should concentrate our efforts elsewhere today. Tom and Ethan had to head home at first light. John wanted to see the aspen grove where I’ve seen a couple of four points every time I go through them. I wanted to check out a nasty, steep canyon just past the aspens.
Nothing was in the aspens, so we continued toward the rough canyon. Once we crested the ridgeline, we saw a few does and two bucks sneaking around it about 300 yards downhill. John stayed back a little and was glassing the other side of the ridge. Paul and I started glassing the area around us and watching for the two bucks to come back out. Paul thought one of them looked pretty good. After a few minutes of glassing, I spotted the cactus buck about 400 yards across the canyon. I picked up my spotting scope and told John and Paul of my plan to make a stalk on the buck.
I spent between 45 minutes and an hour getting down to where I spotted the cactus buck, but it had disappeared. Paul and John also lost track of it from across the canyon. I spent about another hour, but had no luck finding it. I could see some nice looking mature bucks off in the distance in the same area I’d seen the 3 x 5 and dark-antlered buck yesterday.
While I was still looking for my buck, Paul went down to get a better look at the two bucks we saw earlier. He was able to get within 30 yards of them and the biggest was a 22-23" wide 160 class 4 point. Paul decided to pass.
Around 9:00 AM, we met up to make our afternoon plans. We decided to get closer to the 3 x 5 and the other buck. It took about four hours to get within 330 yards of the bedded bucks. The dark antlered buck was a 22" wide 4x5 with a 3" cheater. There was also a tall, heavy 3 point and a couple other 20" 3x4 bucks. We couldn’t see the 3 x 5 anywhere. I have videos of all these bucks. Paul really wanted a shot at the 4 x 5 (cheater buck). It took another 3 hours to get within 160 yards of it. By that time (5:30 PM) the bucks were up and feeding. Paul set up for the shot; I set up my video camera to tape the shot.
After Paul shot, the 4 x 5 went 20 feet and laid down. Meanwhile, I scanned up the hill and saw the tall, heavy 3 x 3 standing broadside. John took aim at it and asked my opinion. I said it was up to him. Finally, after a couple minutes of debating whether or not to shoot, the buck moved out of range.
The great thing about taping Paul’s shot was we could see that the buck was shot too far back to hit the vitals. Although the buck went down, it was probably still alive. Paul snuck up to hit and put it down. Then we quickly took some pictures and boned it out. We packed it about 700-800 feet elevation change up to camp, arriving back about one hour after dark. Here's a video link, starting with finding the bucks bedded and then Paul shooting his buck.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWlRkNzYYNQ

Also, here's a picture of Paul, John and myself with Pauls buck



Here's what some of the jungle looked like we went through to get closer to the bucks.

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ridgetops
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Oct-26-10, 
10:09 AM (MST)
23. "RE: The Quest"

Oct. 1

After last night’s adventure and packing Paul’s buck out of the hole he was in, I was very slow in getting up this morning. My legs felt sore and fatigue was definitely setting in. On a side note: I have sleep apnea and, after going a few days without my c-pap machine, my energy level really suffers. This morning’s plan was to have Tom come back to our camp at first light with an empty pack and help Paul take out his deer. John was going to go back to the same canyon we last saw the big three point in and I was going to go look for that cactus buck in a small basin to the North.
After an hour of looking and not seeing anything, I decided to go look for John and see what he’d seen before we had to pack up and leave. When I got over to the point that he usually sat on, he was nowhere to be seen. I tried to call him on the radio and then cell phone with no luck. Suddenly, I heard a shot about ½ mile away and I could see a guy in a blue shirt aiming toward some pines. Then the guy walked into the pines. Paul called on the radio and explained that Tom had just shot at a nice 4 x 4, but he wasn’t sure if he hit it. Tom (in the blue shirt) went looking for any sign that he had hit it.
Suddenly, I saw three bucks come out of the pines. Two were average 20-22" 4 points and one was–the “Big Three”. The bucks ran down canyon right into the same small swell that Ethan had taken a shot in Wednesday afternoon. The bucks stopped and stayed motionless. Meanwhile, Tom, tracking the bucks, was heading right for that swell. I tried to call him on the radio and cell, but no luck. Paul then lets me know on the radio, that he doesn’t think Tom has either radio or phone with him. As Tom got to within 50 yards of the swell, it was apparent he couldn’t see the bucks and maybe didn’t even know they were there. I yelled to him from across the canyon (about 400 yards) that the bucks were right in front of him. He turned and saw one of the four points, shot, but missed high. At the shot, all three bucks scattered in different directions. One headed straight downhill, the big three headed down canyon, and the buck Tom shot at went over the ridge into the next canyon.
Knowing that most of the deer were out of the canyon, I headed back to camp to see if John was there. John was still gone, but showed up about a half hour later when I was starting to pack up. He was a little upset about watching the “big three” all morning and seeing it bed down in some pines only to have “Some freaking guys start yelling at each other across the canyon, then start shooting at the bucks and scaring them out of the country.” I just started laughing and told him that was Tom shooting and I was yelling to get his attention. At that point, he realized what had happened and lightened up a little.
We packed up our stuff and headed home about 1:00 PM. What a great three days of hunting. We only tagged one buck, but should’ve or could’ve taken three or four nice ones.

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ridgetops
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Oct-27-10, 
09:10 AM (MST)
24. "RE: The Quest"

Oct. 2nd

I had family business to attend to today, but I’ll share the story about my cousin Andy getting his buck within a few hundred feet of Paul’s.
My cousin John and his brother, Andy, headed back up to our spot and got there at first light. Amazingly, there were no other vehicles at the trailhead. Once they got on top of the ridgeline, they saw a nice 24" buck moving around the side of a hill. It was a hill we’d rarely seen deer on. The buck was moving into the same side canyon that Paul got his buck in. The only way you can see the side hill and bedding area in this canyon is to glass from a point and then look back.
Once they got to this point, which we call “cactus buck point”, they could see a couple of good bucks on the sidehill feeding close to where the boned-out carcass of Paul’s buck was laying. Instead of taking the all day route that we did going after Paul’s buck, John and Andy headed back above the side canyon and dropped down through an avalanche chute. They said it was very steep and rocks kept rolling, but somehow the noise didn’t frighten the deer. By 11:00 AM, they were in position to shoot. At first they thought the biggest buck was a nice, heavy 3 x 4. It was in the exact bed Paul’s 4 x 5 was in two days earlier. Andy made a great 160 yard shot, while the buck was bedded. Unfortunately, it ended up rolling down the hill, about 200 feet, and broke off its upper fork. They never found the broken off piece.
The buck is the 3 x 5 I have on video, in the velvet with the cactus buck. He has incredible front forks and is just over 25" wide.

Here's Andy with his buck

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ridgetops
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Oct-31-10, 
09:42 AM (MST)
25. "RE: The Quest"

Oct. 3-8
I talked to several people this week trying to get reports of a big ram seen last year on the North side of I-80. I took my family for a drive out there and glassed some of the Lakeside Mountains, but couldn’t see anything. It’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack out there.

Oct. 9
I went out this morning with one of my neighbors, Jason. He had seen a full curl ram last week and wanted to see if we could find it. We saw several 3-5 year old rams, but nothing bigger. In the afternoon, I took my daughter out for an ATV ride and checked out a couple of canyons I hadn’t been up before. We saw a few more young rams. I also ran into the other tag holder’s son. He was scouting for his father. He hasn’t been able to find any older rams either. We swapped phone numbers and I asked his him to please call me if/when they get their ram and I would help them get it out, if needed.

Oct. 16
Today, I hiked farther than I have so far looking for sheep. I started out camping overnight about 10-15 miles South of I-80 and then hiked all the way North along the Stansbury range to within two miles of I-80, until I encountered some very steep cliffs. I got ledged up to the point that the danger factor was too great to continue, so I dropped down to the valley floor. My cousin John picked me up and took me back to my vehicle, which I’d started from the day before. I ended up seeing one nice ram about 10 miles South of I-80; he was chasing some ewes around. I also saw the biggest ram I’ve seen so far; he was very heavy and had almost a full curl. I would guess he would score in the mid to upper 160s. Of course, I was at the top of the mountain and he was down in the bottom of a canyon. So I could get any good video of him. I am nick-naming him “Double-D” because of the two diamond shaped ear tags he had. I sure hope to find him again as the hunt gets closer

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ridgetops
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Nov-02-10, 
09:05 AM (MST)
26. "RE: The Quest"

October 22

I got off work a little early today and made it up to my camp by 5:30, leaving me about an hour to glass. I first checked out the canyon Paul and Andy shot their bucks in, but I could only find a few does. I had pretty much decided to hunt what we call “Ethan’s Canyon” (because of the buck Ethan missed on the opening of the muzzleloader. With about 10 minutes of light left, I thought I would hurry and check the aspen grove to see if there were any of the 4 points that I had seen in the past. Right as I crested the ridgeline to look down into the small basin, a big buck busted out from under me. It was “Lucky,” the big three point we’ve been seeing–and only 30 yards away. He ran to the far side of the basin and disappeared over the ridge into some thick pines on the other side. Well, I knew then where I’d be hunting first thing tomorrow. I got back to camp after dark. Tom and Corby had arrived and were setting up their tent. We had dinner together and talked about what I’d seen. We also decided where to hunt the next day.

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ridgetops
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Nov-12-10, 
12:56 PM (MST)
27. "RE: The Quest"

Oct. 23

There was a big storm forecasted to hit about mid-morning and, as we headed out from camp around 7:00 AM, it was still very dark because of the overcast sky. We waited around in a saddle for it to get lighter, then worked our way to the aspen grove. There were no deer in it today.
After a few minutes we worked our way to the high ridge where I saw “Lucky” last night. We slowly crept over the ridge to look down in the pines and saw two good bucks feeding below us. After deciding which one looked the biggest, Tom rested his gun across a big rock, which was just a little too tall for a good rest. The bucks had seen us and were starting to head out when Tom shot. He missed, a little high. Less then two minutes later the storm front came in. It started to rain hard. Fog surrounded us, limiting visibility to only fifty feet. We hunkered down next to a small rock ledge, trying to get out of the wind.
I was wearing rain gear and I had a poncho to keep my pack dry. I used the poncho like a small pup tent, covering both my pack and myself and used my cell phone to call my wife for a weather report. She looked on the computer and saw that the storm should pass in an hour or two and another, larger storm loomed a few hours later. Gotta love today’s technology! After the storm passed, we started seeing deer all over the canyon. In the next two hours, we saw about 20 bucks–five or six of them were nice bucks, but “Lucky” was nowhere to be found.
I decided to check out another canyon about a mile away. While sidehilling in the other canyon, I stepped into a hole and my knee popped and really started to hurt. I called Tom and Corby that I was heading back to camp. About half way there I stopped to put my rain jacket on because the second storm front was moving in. As I pulled my pack off my shoulders, I noticed my fanny pack was unzipped and my camera was gone. It must have fallen out within the last two miles. Right then the storm hit with a vengeance and the fog moved back in. Visibility dropped to only 20 or 30 feet. By the time I got back to camp, it was starting to snow. Tom and Corby had all ready made it back and we put up a tarp I had stashed and started a fire to try and dry out a little.
This time the storm took five hours to let up. Finally, it was only lightly raining. We left our video camera in camp and, with less than two hours of light remaining, we decided to check out the canyon that we’d done well in on the muzzy hunt (Deathtrap) and also Ethan’s canyon. Down in Deathtrap we found another cactus buck, one I had never seen before, but he was very young. We also saw a nice 4 point and a couple smaller bucks, but they just weren’t what we were looking for. Tom spotted another nice 4 point with a 3 point in Ethan’s canyon. After looking at it for a few minutes, we all agreed it was a keeper. About 30 minutes later, Tom and Corby had stalked to within 250 yards and Tom was able to make a great shot.
After the buck was boned out, we made the decision to head back home. It was already after 10:00 PM. Tom and I decided to leave our tents up with some gear inside them to keep the weight down. We hiked out in very slippery mud; I fell several times. We arrived back at our trucks around 2:00 and I was in bed by 3:00. Poor Tom had to drop off Corby and didn’t get home until 5:00. Sometimes that’s the price you pay to get the big ones.

Sept 24
Got up around 8:30 AM and the first thing I did was look out at the mountain. The storm was really dumping snow and I’m so glad we got out when we did. What a great season this year has turned out to be. All three bucks taken this year are the biggest each hunter has taken to date. Now it’s time to get ready for my sheep hunt. One week left!

Here's a picture of Toms buck

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ridgetops
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Nov-28-10, 
01:44 PM (MST)
28. "RE: The Quest"

October 29

While my cousin John and I were glassing the slopes on the East side of the mountain, a friend, “Ty”, was scouting the West side. John and I had not seen anything big this morning. About 10:00 AM Ty called me on the pone and told me that I needed to meet up with him ASAP. He’d found a shooter. We made it out their in about 45 minutes and were able to view the ram chasing a ewe around on some real nasty cliffs. The ram was about 2 miles away, but we could see he was a good one, so we decided to head up into this area the following morning for the opener.

October 30

Opening day is finally here! Joining me on the mountain today is a couple of friends, Corby and Bart, and my cousin John. Another friend, Ty, stayed down on the highway to glass from below. About an hour before light, we headed toward the rugged cliffs where we’d seen the great ram yesterday. As it started to get light we set up to glass about a mile from the cliffs. The wind was blowing really hard and a storm was forecast to roll in about early afternoon.

Bart motioned to me that there was a young ram working its way down a ridgeline to the south of us, then a few minutes later, another one came walking over the ridge. John motioned to me that he could see sheep up in the cliffs to the East. We looked over the small group of sheep, including one big ram (which really looked like a shooter) and three or four younger rams, all chasing around a hot ewe. They were around a mile away, so we decided to get closer to this group. Once we got to within 600 yards of where we’d last seen them, we set up to start glassing again. We stayed in this spot for about three hours. Although we located the group he was with, we were unable to relocate the big ram again. He looked real heavy with a nice, tight, full curl. Bart thought he could see a brown ear tag on that ram. While in this spot we ended up seeing about 40 sheep, nearly half of them were rams.

We did see one other really nice looking ram about a mile away to the South. He was with about ten ewes and looked like he had good mass and a nice tight curl. I could clearly see that this ram had two red ear tags. At 1:00 PM we decided to end the day early because of the black wall of clouds moving in from the West from the approaching storm front. I also wanted to let everyone get back to their families for Halloween.

On our way out, Corby offered to push through the base of cliffs to the East where we had last seen the big ram. We only saw a small group of younger rams come out of the canyon. Corby then met back up with us farther down. He found a fresh lion-killed ram down in the bottom of the canyon while hiking out. The ram looked to be six or seven years old and had two red ear tags and a radio collar. On our way out we saw a truck parked at the bottom of the canyon, which belonged to the DWR research tracker who was on his way up to recover the collar. Nov. 3rd will be the next time I'll be able to get out and it's going to be a long four days until then.

Here's a look at the canyon we hiked up to our glassing spot. The black line in the bottom of the canyon is the road we hiked in from.

Here's a look at the rugged cliffs where we lost the big ram

Here's a look to the South and the nice ram with red ear tags was in the upper meadow with yellow grass. I think it may have been the double red ear tagged with two white stripes I have pictures of from two years ago.

And here's the lion killed ram Corby found

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ridgetops
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Dec-02-10, 
11:41 AM (MST)
29. "RE: The Quest"

Wed. November 3, 2010

This week, a neighbor friend of mine (Jason) called with info about a big lone ram( Solitair) spotted North of I-80 by a deer hunter. He was going to talk to Ty to get more info. Today Paul (a good friend from Idaho who is staying with me until Saturday) and I will be hiking the steep, nasty cliffs on the NE side of the Stansbury Mountains. Last year the sheep were rutting all over the hills below these cliffs, but they’ve yet to show up this year. We left the truck an hour before light and started climbing a steep hillside. By the time we reached the ridgeline, about a mile up, it was already light. We spotted a ewe ½ mile away and ducked down behind the ridgeline to sneak closer, hoping there’d been some rams near her. When we got there an hour later, we realized that she was alone which was kind of strange.

We climbed about another mile higher to where we could look over the divide to the west side of the range, but we couldn’t see any sheep at all. We then climbed a higher peak a mile to the South. We saw a lot of fresh tracks, but no sheep. When we got as high as we’d decided to go today, we stopped for lunch. It was really warm for the season and it felt great to change my socks and rest with bare feet for awhile.

After lunch, we moved around the cliffs to get a better look at a big deep canyon; the same canyon I saw “Double-D” in two weeks ago. As we worked our way around the steep hillside, we came to a slide area. I hopped across a rock sticking out, but Paul stepped on it. The rock flipped, sending Paul shooting down the slide. He was able to dig in and stop himself after a 20 foot slide; fortunately for him, he was able to keep upright and not tumble or he’d have fallen a lot further.

After that, we stopped and glassed for awhile. Paul spotted several ewes with younger rams, but still no big rams. With only a couple of hours of light left, we worked our way down canyon, only to see a few more ewes and young rams. By the time we reached the truck there was less than an hour of light remaining, so we drove to the North end of the mountain but couldn’t see any sheep at all. I had been told all summer that the ewes would show up on the North end of the range by now and the big rams would be chasing them all over the foothills but they just haven’t come, so I think we'll head south tomorrow.

After I got home, Ty called and asked if I wanted to go out North of I-80 the look for the lone ram. Allen (the deer hunter) would be able to show us where he saw the ram just over a week ago and he said it was huge.

Here's some pictures of the nasty stuff we were hiking around in today.


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ridgetops
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Dec-04-10, 
08:17 AM (MST)
30. "RE: The Quest"

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It was really warm today, more like early September than early November. I left my coat in the truck, stuck a long-sleeved shirt in my pack, and wore a t-shirt all day.

We decided to glass up in a cove about 3 to 5 miles to the South of where we were yesterday. Paul and I met Ty there and started glassing a group of cliffs where we’d seen a nice ram during the summer. Ty headed South to glass higher up. About an hour later, Ty called me to say he’d found a real “Jim Dandy” of a ram. It had red with yellow ear tags. After meeting up with Ty and looking through his spotting scope, I couldn’t tell how big it was or if it was the “Double D” ram.

The herd of twenty sheep were eating snow to get water in a patch of burned pines. They were about three miles away and Paul and I decided to hike closer to get a better look and maybe some video. Ty had to head back to town to do some errands. I faced a dilemma–should I shoot one of the rams up there if given the chance, or should I wait to see if we could find the big ram North of I-80 tomorrow. This may sound crazy, but I decided to not even be tempted to shoot today. I left my gun in the truck. Paul didn’t have to say anything, I could tell what he was thinking by the “Are you serious?” look on his face.

It took us about three hours to get within 300 yards of the snow patch where the sheep were. A few minutes later th big ram, a ewe, and a smaller ram came into view and started eating snow. The big ram was “Double D.” I knew he’d looked really good the first time I saw him last month, but this afternoon I was even more impressed. I just wasn’t sure if he would go 165" or not and I was told the lone ram North of I-80 (“Solitaire”) was pushing 170". While we watched “Double D” some younger rams followed a ewe within 20 yards of us. That was really cool.

Here’s the video of “Double D” and pictures those younger rams.

http://video.yahoo.com/watch/8536500/22904516



With less than an hour of light left, we hiked over the top to look down into an area we’ve nicknamed “the tundra.” What we saw next was truly amazing. There were sheep everywhere! Every swell and on almost every ridgeline we saw rams chasing ewes like crazy. I saw one ram hit another in the ribs and it knocked him off his feet. We saw several minor head butts, but nothing too impressive. It was getting dark fast and the sheep were too far off to get any video. We saw about 30-40 ewes and over 20 rams in this area, but “Double D” was the best ram of the day.

It took about two hours to hike back to the truck in the dark. Good thing Paul had an extra shirt with him that I could use, because it got cold fast once the sun set.

Here’s a few more pictures of the country we were hunting today.



The big flat in the distance is what we called "the tundra"

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ridgetops
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Dec-06-10, 
11:24 AM (MST)
31. "RE: The Quest"

Friday, November 5, 2010

This morning, Paul and I met Tom, Ty, and Allen down at the grocery store parking lot in Grantsville. I was a bit apprehensive as we followed Ty and Allen North of I-80 out to a rugged mountain. I wasn’t sure we’d be able to find one lone ram; one that had been seen only three times last month in a ten mile square area. One that nobody even spotted during the summer.

We ended up parking at the base of the mountain range and rode ATVs for several more pre-dawn miles. When the trail ended, we hiked up a wash and up a very steep hillside to gain elevation. Spreading out, we started glassing all the cliffs in the area.

Tom volunteered to hike up a tall peak to look into a big canyon on the other side; if he saw anything, he’d call us on our radios. About an hour later, after we’d seen only a few doe deer, he called. He’d found the ram and we needed to get up to the saddle right below the peak.

We quickly gathered our stuff and scrambled up the steep hill towards the saddle. It took about 45 minutes and, as I topped out in the saddle, I could see Tom 300 yards away with his spotting scope looking North. I started glassing that direction and soon found the ram about a mile away, back in the direction we’d just come from. Apparently the ram was working his way toward some cliffs South of Tom, but when Tom moved through the saddle after calling us, the ram spotted him and ran North. Tom had tried to call us to head North, but hadn’t been able to contact us.

We watched the ram for 20 minutes, until he disappeared over a distant ridge. I knew this was a ram I’d shoot if given the chance. However, instead of following the ram (which, in hindsight, might have been the best choice) we returned to our trucks, drove around the mountain, and started glassing from below.

We glassed from several locations for 4-5 hours, with no luck. With about two hours of light remaining, Allen showed us a narrow, rocky canyon which led right to the peak where we had last seen the ram. By the time we got to the ridge, we only had ½ hour of light left. We glassed until dark, but spotted no wildlife at all. We decided this would be a great place to be at first light tomorrow and planned to split up and cover both sides of the rocky peak that towered above us. I feel pretty good about our chances in finding "Solitair" again.

Here's the canyon that Tom found the big ram in.

Here's a short video clip Tom took of the ram with his digital camera through his spotting scope. You will need to quickly still pause it to get a good look. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDg9b_C2UVw

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ridgetops
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Dec-08-10, 
10:13 AM (MST)
32. "RE: The Quest"

Saturday, November 6, 2010

This morning, my cousin John rejoined our group. John, Paul, Tom and I made a pre-dawn hike up the rocky canyon we’d just hiked out of ten hours ago. Ty was going to spot from the valley floor on the opposite side of the mountain. We started glassing after making it to just below the peak. After an hour, Ty called with news that he has “Solitaire” spotted in a rocky canyon about ½ mile North of the peak, bedded down.

Paul, Tom, John and I regrouped, meeting up in a saddle just East of the peak. After an hour, we’d snuck up to the edge of the rocky canyon, glassing every minuscule spot for any sign of the ram. I called Ty to see if he’d seen it move; he was sure it was still in the canyon.

While I stayed on top of a band of cliffs, John went to explore the ledges below me. After an hour of looking, John signaled that he hadn’t found anything. I wondered, “Where in the heck did ‘Solitaire’ go?” John hid in a group of trees, while Tom hiked down with the video camera. They were going to sidehill the other side of the canyon and hoped to bump the ram out from under me, if that was where he was hiding. I was hoping he would trot out across a small bench that was about 100 yards below me, but I was not prepared for what happened next.

Tom reached John’s location and they started moving toward the draw bottom. I could hear rocks falling below me and then something was scrabbling up the ledges just to the West of my position. Tom and John started pointing in my direction. About 25 yards away I saw the ram sneaking through the rocks. I pulled up my gun, rested it against my shoulder, and fixed the crosshairs on the moving ram. He stopped right behind a huge rock; all I could see was his face, looking right at me.

We stared each other down for a few seconds, long enough for me to notice his dark red ear tag with a white x in the middle of it. Then he turned and bolted downhill toward the small bench. When he hit its sandy footing, his front legs buried about 12" into the soft soil as he fought to not slide off the cliff. He fishtailed and took off running very fast across the bench. I tried to keep my muzzleloader’s crosshairs on him while hoping he’d stop. He raced out of sight. I grabbed my shooting sticks, to set up for a longer shot with my 7mm, when the ram showed himself across the draw. I realized I was too close to the cliff edge to be able to set up my shooting sticks, so I backed up to get more room–forgetting the cliff was behind me. I stepped right off the edge. I dropped the sticks, my elbows hit the rock edge and I was just able to grab onto the jagged ledge, scrabbling with my feet to gain a foothold.

Once I realized I wasn’t going to fall, I grabbed my rifle and swung it around in the direction of the ram, who was now headed across the far hillside of the 2nd draw. I flip the safety with my thumb and he stopped, broadside at 280 yards! I put the crosshairs on his front shoulder and squeezed the trigger. For some reason the safety hadn’t disengaged. I hurried and flipped it again with my thumb, but the ram was already heading over the ridgetop.

I put down my rifle and climbed back up on the ledge. As I was standing there, telling Paul what had just happened, I started to shake. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was that didn’t fall and get seriously injured, or worse. Tom tried to track the ram, but with no luck. Ty couldn’t tell where it went from his position. We spent the next two or three hours glassing all the side canyons in the area but never found him. With only an hour of light left, Tom and I went back to the Stansburys to glass the North end. We saw about 20 sheep with a couple of 140 class rams in the group. John and Ty had family business and Paul set off for Idaho, hoping to arrive home before midnight.

A huge storm was predicted for Sunday night, so Tom decided to stay at my house and we’d go retrieve some stuff we’d left on the mountain at our camp, hopefully finding my camera in the process.

Here's the ledge I was on when the ram busted out and the arrow points to where I stepped off the edge. The "T&J" or where Tom and John was standing when the ram got up.

This second picture shows the route the ram took when he got up, then headed back down and out on the bench. The "X" shows where I had been standing at one point, less than 20 yards above the ram. Then I moved to the East about 10 yards to the ledge I'm pictured standing on.

Also, here's video of the ram tearing out of the country after we busted him out of his bed.
http://video.yahoo.com/watch/8536426/22903732

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ridgetops
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Dec-12-10, 
07:28 AM (MST)
33. "RE: The Quest"

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tom and I headed up to our camp spot, arriving around 10:00 AM. We discovered that one of my tent poles had broken during our absence, causing the entire tent to collapse. There was about 1" of water inside and most of our stuff was wet. We hung the wet stuff in tree branches to dry, then went looking for my lost camera.

I headed back to the spot where I remembered opening my pack, retracing the route as well as I could remember. We searched diligently for at least an hour without any luck. I was ahead of Tom by about 200 feet when I looked up from hunting camera to spot a lone, young ram before me. I motioned to Tom and turned back around to see another ram chasing a ewe only 40 yards away. Suddenly I noticed sheep all around us, bedded down and moving around. There was a strong wind blowing in my face which prevented them from smelling me. Tom crouched down behind a rock and I started to video the sheep.

As I as video-taping, I noticed a really big ram through the trees. When I looked at it through my 10 x 42s, I couldn’t believe it. I was looking at “Double D!” Of course, I’d left my gun home. My plan had been to just get my camp down and find my camera before it snowed again. Also, I don’t hunt on Sundays.

I’d never seen sheep this far South on these mountains before. I guess that the ewes must have been coming from the South end of the range and the big ram found them while he was out roaming. After I took some video, I started to head back to camp. I noticed another group of 20 or so sheep even further to the South. I finally realized why we couldn’t find many sheep on the northern end of the range. Anyway, when we last seen the herd of sheep, they were moving North at a very quick pace.

I realized I was only a few yards from where I’d noticed my camera was missing when we were here two weeks ago. However, I was farther up the hill than I recalled being then, so I told Tom I was going to look around one last time before we headed home. I dropped down the hill about 200 feet and noticed something that looked out of place another 100 feet further down the hill. I yanked out my binos and laughed. There was my camera case!

After a couple of high 5s for the great find, we went back to camp and packed everything down to the truck. I’m glad we went up when we did. Snow started falling in town not long after we got home and that basin has been covered with snow ever since.

I let my camera dry for about a week before daring to turn it on–it works great.

Here’s some video of the some of sheep we saw today and I’m sure you guys can guess which one is “Double D”. If I’m given another change at taking this ram, I will not be passing on him again! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEpWelSFBaI

If you look at the bottom half of the screen in the first scene, you can see Tom hidding behind a rock.

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ridgetops
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Dec-13-10, 
01:09 PM (MST)
34. "RE: The Quest"

Monday, November 8, 2010

Knowing that I was having trouble deciding which ram to go after, Paul posted a picture of both “Double D” and “Solitaire” on the sheep section of Monster Muleys. He titled it “Help–Which Ram?” and asked for others’ opinions on which ram was the best.


Overwhelmingly, most thought “Double D” (Ram A) was the biggest, but Ram B (“Solitaire”) had the best cape. I looked at the pictures of the two rams side by side and decided that “Double D” was the best scoring ram. I also really liked his near full curl and dark sweeping horns. Moreover, I’m unsure that we could find “Solitaire” again, after blowing him out of the country like we did. So, I think I’ll be back on the Stansburys Friday morning, looking for “Double D.” I’m unsure where to look first; he could be anywhere four days from now.

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ridgetops
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Dec-14-10, 
09:07 AM (MST)
35. "RE: The Quest"

Friday, November 12, 2010

John, Tom, and I decided to retry the spot we hunted opening day. Several inches of snow had fallen up in the high country and I was hoping more of those ewes we saw last Sunday would have moved into this area, or maybe we could spot that big ram we saw opening day. We glassed from the same spot until noon and only saw one group of young rams chasing a ewe high in the cliffs. Frustratingly, we could hear rocks falling in the cliffs, but couldn’t see any sheep causing the commotion.

Here’s a picture of the cliffs where we saw the group of rams chasing around the ewe and also video of them up in the cliffs. Sorry for the shaky video, it was taken with a cell phone through the spotting scope.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZ5m_qcf3qs


As we started to move to another location, we spotted a group of 15 or so ewes and some young rams disappearing over a ridge a mile away. We ended up heading over to the location we saw them at. By the time we arrived, about an hour later, we saw them heading over another ridge, another mile away. These sheep really can cover country! At that point, only a few hours of light were left, so we sat down against some big boulders and glassed until dark. We spotted 20 more ewes and 6 more rams. The best ram was one that had an orange ear tag with a black square in it. I’m sure this is the same ram I saw back on May 31st with my daughter on the other side of the mountain. He looked to be pushing 160, but I really am not sure. He just didn’t have the “wow factor” that “Double D” and “Solitaire” had when I saw them.

Here’s video of the orange tagged ram. He wasn’t going to let that poor ewe rest one single minute.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2F5lGdfse0


The day ended with another long hike back to the truck in the dark, trying to decide where to be in the morning.

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ridgetops
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Dec-19-10, 
07:50 PM (MST)
36. "RE: The Quest"

Saturday, November 13, 2010

We started the morning glassing in Timpie Cove, looking at the Eastern slopes as the sun was just coming up, spreading its golden rays across snow-covered ridges. John stayed about a mile down the road, glassing the country further North. Tom and I glassed the higher elevation country, above the snow line. My neighbor, Jason, met us up there to help glass for a couple of hours.

After glassing for about an hour, Jason got my attention by waving and yelling out, “I’ve got a good ram here, you might want to take a look.” He pointed to his spotting scope. I quickly walked 50 feet to his side. He said that it looked like the ram had two red ear tags. It only took me two seconds to realize it was “Double D.” Just as I’d hoped, he’d made it back to the Northern end of the mountain. I glanced at Tom and he had a huge grin on his face as he looked through his scope.

As we debated on what to do next, the big ram left the other sheep and dropped into a deep canyon out of sight. Tom volunteered to hike to the other side of the canyon, an elevation climb of 1,000' and about a mile, so he could relocate the ram. While we were trying to decide if that would be the best course, we noticed a group of chukar hunters a canyon over moving in the direction the ram had gone.

Suddenly, “Double D” reappeared, moving quickly toward the highest ridge. He hit the snowline and posed for about 10 minutes. Maybe he was wondering if he should head over the top or not. Meanwhile, we spotted several sheep further North running around. We then saw a chukar hunter and his dog up near the top. It’s no surprise these sheep are so spooky–with dogs and lions chasing them around every week.

“Double D” quit his posing and made his way through the 4" of snow over the ridge. We waited for an hour, but he didn’t reappear. Jason headed home and Tom and I drove back down to John, who had seen 10 rams, one of them pretty heavy.

We decided to head to the West side of the mountain and try to find “Double D.” Two hours of glassing later, we’d only seen a dozen ewes and a couple of young rams. With so much country and so many hiding spots, it can get really overwhelming trying to see it all and feeling as though we’ve missed half the areas a sheep could hide in.

By 1:00, John headed home and Tom wanted to take a look further South, where Ty saw a big ram opening day. As we drove that direction, we came across a guy sitting in his truck and looking through a scope. Assuming he was looking for deer, we stopped and asked if he’d seen any sheep. He said he had and was looking for the other tag holder, Mauri. He asked my opinion about a group of rams that were feeding about a mile away. It looked like there were a couple of 155" class rams in the group, but nothing I was interested in. A few minutes later, Tom and I headed further South.

We stopped a mile down the road to start glassing. Tom soon said he found a big ram dropping off the ridgeline, heading toward a group of ewes. It looked like it had red ear tags and could possibly be “Double D.” I immediately thought “no way!” It didn’t seem possible that ram could have traveled so many miles since this morning, but I decided to get a closer look. We grabbed our packs and my muzzleloader and were off.

We hiked over a mile to reach the mountain’s base. It was so hot, I stopped and shed a couple of layers. While I was doing so, my gun, which I’d leaned up against a rock, slid and crashed. Great! I sure didn’t need to worry about my sights being off! Two hours later we were up in the spot where sheep had been feeding; we waited a bit, but didn’t see anything. Finally, we snuck over the ridge through a small saddle. What I saw next almost did me in.

There was “Double D” across a very deep, rugged canyon about 1000 yards from us. He was moving away. Tom really wanted to go after him, but I didn’t feel we could catch up to him with less than two hours of light left. I didn’t want to try and navigate such a rugged, steep canyon in the dark either! We sat for about 20 minutes, until the big ram disappeared into the next canyon. We relocated about ½ mile South. As we sat and watched a group of feeding sheep, we heard the loud, unmistakable noise of two rams butting heads. This happened a few more times in the next twenty minutes; however, though we glassed until dark, we couldn’t find the fighting rams.

It was really hard to watch “Double D” simply walk away from us again and not be able to do anything about it. That ram is really becoming a quest of mine–I’d love to finally catch up with him and get a shot.

Here's some more cell phone video. The first ram is Double D across the canyon and the second ram was with the group of feeding sheep I talked about. I actually saw this same yellow tagged ram with Paul on June 19th. If you look back, I had said he would be a good last day ram.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlCzzaWfXPI

Here's the country we were glassing until dark and where we could hear those rams butting heads in that big canyon somewhere out in front of us. As you can see, once we got up on the ridgetop, the layers of clothing came back on.lol

Five more days, until I can try again

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ridgetops
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Dec-19-10, 
10:23 PM (MST)
37. "RE: The Quest"

November 17, 2010

Today I was able to contact the other tag holder (Mauri) and see how his hunt has been going. I had not heard from him since the hunt started. We had both agreed to call if either of us tagged out. He told me about passing on some really nice rams that had collars on; he was hoping to find a big one without a collar. He had heard there was one around, but neither of us has seen it.

I could tell Mauri was getting discouraged by the lack of big non-collared rams. He did tell me he saw the ram “Bling” a couple of times (a ram with red ear tags striped with white), but was turned off by the collar. “Bling” is the ram I have pictures of from January 2008. It was good to hear that he’s still around.

Mauri had also been out looking for “Solitaire” with no luck. I told him I was pretty much set on trying to find the double diamond ear-tagged ram we nicknamed “Double D” and I would call him if I saw any non-collared, big rams.

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ridgetops
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Dec-20-10, 
10:40 AM (MST)
38. "RE: The Quest"

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I was able to get off of work a couple hours early today. Alone, I set out to the gun range to quickly shoot my muzzleloader and rifle since both guns had taken pretty hard hits falling last week. My muzzy was right on target, but the rifle was hitting high and left. After shooting both guns, I had an hour of light left. I quickly went to the West side to the spot we saw “Double D” last week. I was only able to see three young rams bedded down. I plan to be back here before light tomorrow.

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ridgetops
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Dec-22-10, 
10:56 PM (MST)
39. "RE: The Quest"

Friday, November 19, 2010

This morning brought the pleasure of having an old friend of mine, Dave, join me and Tom. A couple of others–Rick and his son Spencer–would meet us in Skull Valley at 6:00, along with Ty. Dave has never seen a bighorn sheep in the wild before, so I’m excited to give him the chance. Rick and Spencer have been following my story on this site and sent me a message to see if I’d like any more help spotting.

Our plan for today was to have Tom and Dave hike up the canyon we hunted opening day and then work their way up into the area we call “the Tundra.” Ty, Rick, and Spencer would start spotting from the highway, a few miles South, and I would go a few miles North and spot. After an hour or so, I’d seen very little activity, so I headed to where I dropped Tom and Dave off.

I was just parking the truck, when Tom called me to report a really nice ram. This ram was as heavy as any we had seen but seemed to be more broomed off on one side and had a very ugly cape. He also said this ram had a brown ear tag with a white “x” on it. Tom named him "X factor"! I remembered that Bart, a friend of mine, had said that this ram was one of the biggest spotted on the winter range last year. Tom sent me some pics from his cell phone but, after studying them, I decided to pass on him. Tom and Dave headed up the hill further.

Tom spotted the "x factor" ram in the middle of the steep bowl at the far right of the picture


Here's video of the "x factor" ram and another 145-150 class ram. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwFcThy5dp4

I glassed another hour, spotting 20 ewes and 10 rams, but the biggest ram was only in the 150 class range. I then moved South and spotted another 30 sheep bedded on an open slope. I watched this group for about ten minutes; suddenly they all jumped up and scattered in every direction. They re-grouped and headed south. I called Tom to see if he was up that way, but he said they were still down in a canyon. All I could think of was there must have been a lion up there.

Ty called me a few minutes later to report they’d watched a nice ram disappear into a canyon.

Rick and Spencer were going to hike closer for a better look. I drove over and met up with Ty about noon. We watched a State of Utah vehicle drive up into the roadless area along an old road. After going about a mile, he parked and let three dogs out of his truck. We watched him wrap several snares around his shoulder and head up into the canyon South of where Rick and Spencer were. I realized he was a government trapper that was most likely trying to catch a problem lion in the area. That was a good thing to see, since I know of four sheep killed in the last month by lions in this area.

I took this picture earlier in the year but here's the canyon the lion hunter went up. We were just on the other side of the rocky ridge on the left side of the picture.


After the trapper left, I hurried up Rick and Spencer’s way, hoping to see some sheep get pushed over from the canyon the trapper was in. Ty decided to go over to Timpie Cove and check things out. Once I met up with Rick and Spencer, we all started glassing the big canyon before us. This was the same area Tom and I were last Saturday when we heard the unseen rams head butting. After a couple hours glassing, we saw about 30 sheep moving around us, all coming from the North. I think Tom and Dave must have been pushing some of them.

This is the canyon we were watching and most the sheep were traveling across the bench just above the first line of cliffs.

Rick couldn’t believe I wasn’t getting excited about going after some of the 150 class rams we were seeing. Earlier in the year I said I’d be happy with a nice looking 155-160 class ram; however, after seeing “Double D,” things have changed. He is now my new standard, at least for another week.lol I explained to Rick that, once he got to see that ram in person he’d know why I was passing on all these others.

This was the canyon we were going to meet up with Tom and Dave in, we would meet somewhere near the top of the breaks.

Ty called to let me know he was back on the West side and had just spotted a huge ram up in the cliffs where Tom and Dave had been. He said it had red ear tags and asked where we were at. I told him I would head to the truck as fast as I could to meet up with him. I sent Tom a text explaining what was going on and to call me ASAP.


We bolted down the mountain to the truck and met up with Ty an hour later. It was after 4:00 in the afternoon and Ty had lost sight of the big one. He said there were several rams chasing around a ewe up there. Knowing there was no way I could get up into the cliffs and get a shot off before dark, I asked Rick if he and Spencer would like to try and get closer for some video. Excited, he said “Let’s go!”

The rams were chasing around the ewe right up in the top of the cliffs when Ty had last seen them

As we got a couple miles away from Ty and the highway, I realized we were making really good time. Even though I was congested and sick, I some how found another gear and discovered what adrenaline can do. When we got to a good spot, with a great view of the cliffs, we were about 800 yards from some sheep with 20 minutes of light left. There were nine rams chasing that ewe around in the nasty stuff, heading down hill. “Double D” was one of them! Right then, I thought I might have a chance to get him with all the distractions going on. Spencer and I took off while Rick stayed behind to keep an eye on the sheep. They were moving South, along the bottom of the cliffs. Right then Tom called and asked where we were. I told him what was going on. He and Dave were only ½ mile to the South of us, so I asked them to stay put and watch for any sheep coming his way.

Spencer and I finally got to within 300 yards of where we last saw the group of rams. I started glassing frantically to the South, but couldn’t see or hear anything. It grew darker and darker, so I called Tom to get a report but he hadn’t seen anything. When I got back down to Rick, he asked if I could see where the rams went once they turned back North. I informed him that we never saw the sheep after we left him earlier. I’m so glad he stayed behind and was able to see them head North because I surely would have been looking further South in the morning. Now we can make a solid game plan for tomorrow.

We met up with Tom and Dave and it was great to see how excited Dave was about all the sheep he’d spotted–probably over 50 ewes and 30 rams. What a great way to get hooked on sheep hunting!

As the sun set on another day, I am feeling pretty good that I will get another chance at “Double D”. I think tomorrow could be the day, only if the big forecasted snow storm will hold off for a few hours.

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ridgetops
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Dec-27-10, 
10:11 AM (MST)
40. "RE: The Quest"

Saturday, November 20, 2010

This morning I really struggled deciding which gun I should take. I’ve been carrying both my muzzleloader and my rifle each day, but with my worsening cold and the snow storm that’s supposed to be coming in this afternoon, I decided to just take the rifle. It’s predicted to be really cold for the next few days, so I’m really hoping to put an end to this hunt today.

John, Tom, Rick and Spencer joined me as we prepared to hike up to the spot we last saw “Double D.” Halfway up the canyon, Tom and I headed to the North-facing side of the ridge, while John and Spencer went where they could watch further to the South in case the sheep headed that direction. Rick stayed down in the bottom to get a better view of the lower country and Ty stayed at the truck to spot from the highway.

Just as Tom and I crested the ridge, we spotted ten ewes about 300 yards away. We were out on an open hillside, so we crouched as low as we could, hoping to avoid detection as we checked out the herd. There was only one small ram with the group, but we couldn’t see some of the canyon they were in from our position, so I got ready to crawl to a better view. I reached down to grab my gun, which was lying on the ground and, as I did so, I happened to drive the barrel into the steep hillside. I couldn’t believe it! Luckily, the ground was dry and I was able to shake the dirt out.

Realizing there were no more sheep in this small canyon, Tom and I met up with John and Spencer near a saddle close to the high, rugged cliffs. Ty called and said he had seen sheep North of our position, but had lost sight of them, so we started concentrating our glassing efforts in that direction. Within a few minutes, I spotted four or five rams surrounding a ewe, trapped up in a crevice in the rocks. There was one larger-bodied ram about 10 feet from the ewe, but I couldn’t see his head because of a tree. I hurried downhill to get a better look; the ram moved a few feet into the open. I could tell right away it was “Double D.” As I hurriedly grabbed my scope and turned towards John, he gave me a big “thumbs up.”

I asked John to head to a point where he could keep an eye on the ram. Spencer went to find Rick to let him know what was going on, while Tom and I began our stalk. We began to climb uphill to be able to maintain our elevation while moving North above a band of cliffs. We moved in and out of several small draws; each time we crested a ridge, we would glass ahead to try to avoid spooking the sheep we were approaching or bumping into any unseen ones.

As we worked our way across the band of cliffs, John called to report the sheep were moving further North and we needed to pick up our pace. About ½ mile into our stalk, we noticed a nice ram feeding only 80 yards below us. It didn’t take long for the ram to spot Rick and Spencer moving into position with John. We could see the ram staring at them where they stood over a mile away.

After seeing that ram, we crept along the cliffs until we reached the edge of a good-sized draw. At that point, Ty called to say the big ram was bedded about 200 yards above us. He thought we could either go back and up hill to shoot straight down on him, or go in the valley to the North and then come back up behind the ridge on the other side of the draw, so we’d be shooting back across the canyon. I looked at Tom and said, “Ty wants us to try and get above the ram to shoot down on it. Is he freaking crazy?!” Been there, done that. I really wanted to avoid another experience like we had with “Solitaire.” Going down and around would take several hours and, with the approaching storm, that plan didn’t seem feasible either. I told Tom I was just going to slowly walk out into the open to see if the ram would be curious enough to stand up or hopefully move out to where I could get a clear shot as I knew we were within shooting range.

I didn’t take more than five steps away from the big rocks we were shielded by when two young rams stood up out of their beds to stare down at me. They were only 150 yards above me, so I instantly backed up behind the rocks again. I peeked out and could see a third ram, but it wasn’t “Double D.” After looking at them and the area, I realized there were just too many trees between me and them to get a clear shot off once if “Double D” did come out.

Tom and I climbed about 100 feet higher. This time, when I peeked out around a big rock, I could see “Double D” bedded on a ledge about 20 feet above those other rams. I could only see from his jaw line up. I called the guys below to let them know I had him spotted and would shoot when he stood up. Tom tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to a spot 100 yards South of us. John was crouched there, pointing at the ram. I motioned to him to stay put. Apparently, he had gotten worried that we’d miss the bedded ram, so he’d run up the slope behind us to give us its location.

I focused my attention on the upcoming shot. As I tried to get lined up, I realized I would have to shoot through a tree. I only had a six inch window through the branches. As Tom got into position below me to video tape, I took the moment to step back and take off my pack. When I turned back around, “Double D” was standing at the edge of the ledge, looking right down at us! I quickly repositioned myself, found my six inch opening, and whispered to Tom I was going to shoot right as I pulled the trigger.

The new Barnes Vor tx 160 grain TSX bullet really did its job. The rams legs instantly flew out to the side and he dropped straight down off the ledge, disappearing out of sight. I then turned to Tom and, according to him said, with no emotion at all, “He’s down.” Tom thought my reaction was really funny and felt bad he didn’t catch it on tape. I think, after chasing this ram for so many weeks, I was kind of in shock that it was over.

I could hear the whooping and congrats from the guys down below, who had taped the kill shot. It only took a few minutes for John to reach me and Tom. The three of us hiked up to find the ram, hoping it hadn’t taken too bad of a fall. I ended up walking right past the ram as I searched for him. We then spotted him, 10 feet below us. Luckily, one of its horn tips got wedged into a small crack in a rock at the top of a 50 foot cliff. One of us had to lift its back legs to get the pressure of its horn so we could get it out of the crack. We then moved him up to a ledge for safer picture taking. We took pics until the rest of the guys could make it up to us.

It took Ty and Corby nearly an hour and half to reach us. Corby had come straight from work; his shift ended at 7:00 AM and he was out spotting with Ty by 9:00. By the time we started to cape and bone out the ram, the storm front could be seen moving across the salt flats. As I swung my pack up onto my shoulders one of the straps snapped! Not exactly what I need to happen with a black storm wall moving quickly toward us. Good that I still have a few boy scout skills–I was able to tie a nice granny knot that would hold. LOL. I really need to save up for one of the outdoorsman pack systems, advertised on this site. They really look like they’d get the job done, and with comfort too!

Once we got down from the cliffs, the snow was really coming down. As we hiked back to the highway, I found myself falling farther and farther behind the others. Normally, they wouldn’t have let me do that or, if so, I would have been upset with their lack of consideration when I maybe needed help. But I think, through some weird way, they knew I needed the time to myself. Also, I think I was unintentionally slowing down to give myself time to soak it all in. All the memories from this past summer and the last few weeks of hunting came flooding back. It was an amazingly surreal experience. When I got to the highway, Mauri (the other tag holder) and his son, Justin, pulled up and congratulated me.

To be able to share this hunt with so many new and old friends was truly awesome, a memory I’ll never forget.

When this quest of my began this year, I was hoping to be able to get a nice looking ram to put on the wall. If I could find one in the 160" range would be a huge bonus. The title "A Quest for the big one" was mostly tongue and check humor. I never imagined I would end up taking the new state record California Bighorn.

Amazingly, this quest ended within only a few hundred yards of where it had begun in Jan. of 2008 when Corby and I had taken the pictures of the big ram with the solid brown ear tag and the ram we called "Bling".

Here's a look at the spot Tom and I spotted "Double D" and then began our stalk. The spot I have labeled "Ram" is where it was shot.

Here's "Double D" as we found him. You can see how steep the hill is by the angle of the picture.

This verifies it really was "Double D" by his two red ear tags with yellow diamonds.

A couple more field photos with all the hardware taken removed..

Here's what it looked like as we just got down out of the cliffs as the storm front hit and with about two more miles to hike out.

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ridgetops
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Dec-28-10, 
06:40 AM (MST)
41. "RE: The Quest"

Here's a little video footage of the last day, when I shot the ram. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnHyE9zKzCI

Also, I wanted to give a big THANK YOU to all those who helped out on this incredible hunt of mine! Although I may have been able to get this ram on my own, my quest would never have been so special without the daily companionship along the way.

I also need to give a big thanks to my deer hunting buddies: Tom, Corby, Paul, and my cousin, John. Also to my neighbor, Jason, who introduced me to Ty, who introduced me to Allen and the location of the "Solitaire" ram. It was great to see my old friend Dave again and to get to know a couple of big time sheep lovers in Rick and Spencer. They are sure a couple of "class act" guys to want to help out a complete stranger and then tell me the honor was theirs.

Here's a picture of the group of friends that was able to share that last day with me. Talk about the pressure being on! You can also see the approaching storm front in the background.

I also want to thank Brian (Founder) for having this contest because it has really been awesome to relive the experience again while putting this story together.

A big "kudos" goes out to The Outdoorsman for sponsoring this contest.

Thanks again, and I hope this story of mine was worth the wait. Until next year!

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ridgetops
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Dec-29-10, 
05:34 AM (MST)
42. "RE: The Quest"

LAST EDITED ON Jan-07-11 AT 05:48 PM (MST)

I wished I could have just edited yesterdays post but I really need to give a big "Thank You" to Bart for coming out with me on opening day and for glassing the Stansburys while I was out North of I-80 looking for the "Solitaire" ram and all the hard work he and others had done to help transplant the sheep onto the Stansburys the past five years. Also, to my family for all their support and thanks for all the advice Bill Mamales @ (Custom Taxidermy) gave me and for pounding it into my head to be patient and hold out for the ram I wanted. Bill is an awesome taxidermist and really knows his sheep. If I hadn't already done trade work for a mount, I would have had Bill do it for sure. I need to give a special thanks to Ty Anderson for spending as much time in the field as he did. The guy just really likes to help people out.
Ok, I think that should cover everyone now.

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ridgetops
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Jan-01-11, 
02:46 PM (MST)
43. "RE: The Quest"

Follow-up

I thought you guys would like a review of the unit I hunted. First of all, the herd is very young with 90% of the rams under seven years old. There are only 3 or 4 rams that are 8 years or older. Only two of the older rams don’t have collars. Those two have ear tags.

Since these sheep have never been hunted before, I thought it was going to be extremely easy to get into muzzleloader range. Wrong. I don’t know if the sheep were so traumatized from being captured by helicopter, then loaded onto a trailer blindfolded, but they are very spooky. Most of the time, I couldn’t get within three hundred yards before they were off and running.

A lot of new habitat was opened up for the sheep this summer due to a big fire which burned over 50,000 acres. Because of this fire, the BLM closed off the West side of the range to motor vehicle travel from the reservation to I-80 (around 15-20 miles). This new roadless area, along with new open rangeland, caused the sheep to explore new areas, making them a lot more difficult to find.

If any of you draw this unit, I would be willing to help out the best I can. Do not expect any help or useful information from the local biologist–from experience. I have to say he won’t give it.

If you are looking for a big, non-collared ram, it will be hard to find one next year. I recommend holding off for a few more years. In four years or so, this unit will be unbelievable. If you just want to see sheep on a daily basis, with almost a 1:1 ram to ewe ratio, this is a good unit to put in for. Just expect to put in a lot of miles and have a really good optic that can spot three miles away from the mountain.

If the sheep continue to move South next year, it will be harder to scout during the summer–there are just so many places to look. The good thing is, so far, they have always shown up on the North and Northwest side of the range to rut and winter. There’s always the chance that chukar hunters will spook the sheep too while your trying to put on a stalk.

I ended up taking my ram on the 22nd day of the hunt. The other tag holder took his 160" class ram on the 29th day. In comparison, the guys hunting the Newfoundlands the last two years have shot their rams in the first three days. Be prepared to hunt hard early in the season with lots of gnats and mosquitos. Later, you may find a foot (or a lot more) of snow on top of these mountains, which will drive the sheep down into the foothills.

Hopefully, this info will help any of you who might be interested in this hunt to know if it is the right unit for you.

Also, my ram ended up officially scoring 170 3/8 SCI.

Happy Hunting and Happy New Year!

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ridgetops
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Jan-10-11, 
01:13 AM (MST)
44. "RE: The Quest"

I ended up getting permission to show you guys a picture of the 2nd ram killed on the Stansburys.

I was able to get out the morning of November 27th to help Maury find a ram. He had missed a real nice one the day before and he was really ready to end the hunt. Rick and Spencer were able to make it out too and were spotting over on the Skull Valley side. They had a couple nice rams spotted and some friends of Maury's had a nice heavy broomed off ram spotted not too far up the mountain. Maury asked me what I thought it would score. I thought it was a mid 150" ram.

I offered to drive over to Rick's location and compare the rams he was looking at with the broomed off one. About 1/2 hour later, I met up with Rick and Spence. To me, the rams looked about the same. The one Maury was looking at was a lot closer to the truck, so he decided to go after it. Rick, Spencer and I hightailed it back over to Maury's location in the Timpie Cove area just in time to get the video cameras rolling. About two minutes later shots were fired and the old ram, being hit twice, only went about 50 yards before going down. What a good looking ram! Maury really wanted one without a collar and I think he got one of the better collarless ones on the unit. The ram had over 15" bases and scored better than I thought. Here's a picture of it.

After caping out his ram, Maury and I hiked down to his truck with the rest of his party. We talked about the past four weeks and all the different rams we had seen. Maury and his son, Justin, are really some class act guys and it was nice getting to know them. Once we got down to his truck something cool dawned on me. Within 50 feet of where Maury's truck was parked was the same place I had parked some seven months earlier to take my first hike up the canyon with my five year old son. I ended my Quest for a Bighorn in the same place I started it.

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ridgetops
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Jan-10-11, 
01:13 AM (MST)
45. "RE: The Quest"

Here's some bonus footage of some velvet bucks I was able to video this past summer.
Video #1: Footage taken during my camping trip to Southern Utah on July 24th. Check out that heavy non-typical on the left in the first scene.
http://www.monsterhuntclips.com/video/1306/Southern-Unit-bucks

Video#2: Footage of the bucks(in velvet)I found while scouting for sheep and then my friends and cousin were able to tag out on during the muzzleloader and rifle hunt.
http://www.monsterhuntclips.com/video/1298/2010-velvet-bucks

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ridgetops
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Feb-13-11, 
06:14 PM (MST)
46. "RE: The Quest"

Due to popular demand. Here's the video of the kill shot of my ram, if anyones interested. I wasn't able to get it posted before the contest ended but enough people have told me they want to see it, so here it is.
Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHOszVXXcik

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