Wyoming Bighorn Sheep

MaineFlatlander

Active Member
Messages
258
Lucky is something I’ve been when it comes to hunting the west. This year I was planning an elk hunt with a brother and friend. I was somewhat surprised to see the results of the sheep drawing. After 21 years I will be headed to Wyoming to hunt sheep!!

I had a friend hunt the unit 20 years ago and have his notes. I have also spoken to a couple of locals including the biologist.

This will probably be my last sheep hunt as I have drawn Montana and Colorado over the years. September can’t come soon enough.

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MaineFlatlander

Active Member
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258
When the results came out for the elk draw I was hoping I wouldn’t draw but I was pretty sure of the results because of my group’s point total. The sheep will be a priority but with four weeks available for the trip there should be time for both....and maybe a little fly fishing action

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MaineFlatlander

Active Member
Messages
258
One of many tasks for the summer...picking which rifle to use. Weight is a consideration as everything may have to be packed in and out. I’ll bring my 7mm RemMag for the elk but it’s too heavy to pack up a mountain.

The top candidates are a Kimber Montana in either 7mm-08 or 257Roberts or my Winchester M70 featherweight in 7mm-08.
Currently leaning towards the M70. I used this rifle in 2003 to take my Montana ram. I do my own reloading and will play with a few different loads but have had great luck with Barnes TTSX 120 and Re15. I have also used this combination to take Maine moose and a Utah cow moose.

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MaineFlatlander

Active Member
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258
My original plan was the Wyoming elk hunt and a Colorado antelope hunt. The sheep tag changed those plans. I was lucky, I guess, and also drew my antelope tag. With the dates of that hunt there is no way to do the hunt without cutting the sheep hunt short. Obviously that isn’t the answer.


My only option would be to delay the sheep hunt until the last 10 days of September. That would allow me 10 days to sheep hunt, first 10 days of October to elk hunt, and then a week to antelope hunt. The way mountain weather can be that could be a risky gamble. I’m going to think on it a few more days but it appears the next person in line for the antelope tag will be smiling. Hopefully I can draw the tag again in a couple years.

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MaineFlatlander

Active Member
Messages
258
Summer heat and humidity. Hunting seasons seem so far away but the time will pass quickly. I continue to walk and hike with a weighted pack.

Here is a picture of my Colorado P&Y ram taken in 2003. I blew a stalk on a larger ram the day before but I’m more than happy to have this one. I used information from a MM member (not sure he wants to be identified) to hunt an area. Obviously the information was spot on.

Hope everyone has a great 4th of July weekend

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MaineFlatlander

Active Member
Messages
258
I’m almost embarrassed to say I drew my Montana tag in only three years. It is one of my hunts I’d love to do over. I hunted a unit in western Montana restricted to a wilderness area. I had a general area given to me by the biologist. I packed in the day before and it was a long and tiring day. I spotted a ram a half mile away just before dark and made my camp out of sight. I found the ram the next morning and was able to stalk within a couple hundred yards. I spent another night on the mountain as it was late when I had him packed back to my camp.

It was a fantastic hunt but I now wish I had spent a couple days checking for other sheep before picking one. I hope to return to the area for a few days to camera hunt someday

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MaineFlatlander

Active Member
Messages
258
Trying to survive the summer heat. And it’s been HOT in Maine. Not a lot to report.

Have narrowed the rifle load down to a couple options. A little more time on the range to pick “the one” and then reload up enough to take west.

I have been speaking with my elk hunting partners as we plan what they will need for equipment.

Even in the heat I’ve continued to do some hiking with my boys (10 and 11). There is no way to duplicate the elevation of the west but we completed a climb with a total distance of 12-13 miles and an elevation gain of just under 4200’. Needless to say it’s not an easy hike. We have several more hikes planned.

I have returned my Colorado antelope tag. Good luck to whomever gets it.

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MaineFlatlander

Active Member
Messages
258
They say no news is good news. I really have no news. I leave for Wyoming in two weeks. It’s about to get real !!

Still some fine tuning on the range but nothing major.

I’ve started to collect stray hunting “stuff” and place it in a pile for packing.

An appointment to get new tires on the truck and an oil change

I did manage to break the side of a tooth off so that has to be fixed before I leave.

I’ve been walking at least five miles a day for the month of August. When we can my boys and I have hiked a few more mountains.

It’s almost here !!!

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MaineFlatlander

Active Member
Messages
258
Ok. I’m out of the mountains. Time for some updates as time permits. My first thoughts were damn. More snow than I really wanted. Made my way across the Bighorns and spent the night in Cody. Tomorrow I’d drive to Meeteetse and get the adventure under way.

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MaineFlatlander

Active Member
Messages
258
I spent the first night in Cody. It looked like a lot of snow. Bummer. I attacked my unit from the Meeteetse side. I glasses some “hills” with no sheep sightings. A “local” who was bow hunting elk told me he hasn’t seen any sheep in this area but would keep his eyes out and likewise I would for elk.

At least one string of horses came out with a nice ram and two more strings went in. Hmmm. It is going to be hard on foot to compete with this.

The next morning I climbed a ridge with no sheep sign. I did watch 24 elk above timber for the day with four of the bulls being really nice. I’m thinking it’s going to be time to search a new area.

It wasn’t a waste of time as the hiking helped me get used to the elevation. The snow is melting and I am determined to get the task done

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MaineFlatlander

Active Member
Messages
258
The next morning as I was leaving this area I ran across the”local” again. He had tagged a 6X6, 320 class bull the day before. I could see the kill site while glassing above timber and at least 100 head of elk. I congratulated him and he told me of another area he had sheep in the past.
After arriving in the new area I ate a lunch and was able to spot my first ram through the spotting scope. Progress !!

There was no way I could ever get to the ram from where I was. Easily a couple miles away, through the woods, across a couple streams, and up the face of a steep cliff. I drove to another area where it looked like the route would only be a mile or so from the nearest trail. Just to be sure of my directions I drove back to the spot I had seen him from and took a compass bearing in his direction only to find out I was off on my original guess of west-East and the ram was no closer to the second spot when I placed the bearing on a map.

What I did learn was the ram was in the direction my friend had taken his ram twenty years ago. Tomorrow it would be time to move to his old area

This is the view of where II located the ram as seen with a 600mm telephoto lens. The snow is still melting fast.

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MaineFlatlander

Active Member
Messages
258
I moved to the new area and spent the night. The question might be why I didn’t start here.

When my friend bow hunted it he was alone however a couple days before the rifle opener two hunters showed up with horses. He expressed concerns it might get hit hard during rifle season. When I got a list of kill sites for the past five years very few kills were in the area....if people told the truth. I was also concerned the trail I needed might still be snowed in in a narrow gap between two mountains.

I checked the trail area I could find no sign of resent use. Perfect....unless if was snowed in.

The next morning I loaded my pack with everything needed for a six day stay in the mountains. I was packed heavy but I had to be prepared for cold weather. While growing up I did a winter (February) winter camping trip with a tent and no stove every year so I wasn’t overly concerned.

I headed up the switchbacks through the timber and across a rockslide. I was happy to see no use and no snow issues. The trail also contained elk, deer, and one bear track that appeared to be a small black and not a grizzly. After one hour and 45 minutes I was getting close to my goal and getting exhausted fast.
 

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MaineFlatlander

Active Member
Messages
258
I crawled along at a slow pace knowing victory goes to the turtle. I was mentally thinking about setting up camp and re-reading all the hunting notes my friend had sent me on where he had seen rams. I was nearing 10,000 feet and was questioning hunting up to 12,000. But you can’t kill sheep, or anything else, where they ain’t.

I glanced up a rock slide to my left and said to myself, “silly deer out at 11am and up there”. I quick look through my binoculars revealed the deer had turned into two rams. I put my pack on a rock to use as a rest and checked them again real quick with the binoculars. One was half curl the other appeared to be pretty nice. I searched the pockets of my pack and pants for my range finder and was running out of places to search when I guessed 300 yards and could now see a third ram. I wasn’t expecting a need for the rangefinder on the hike up when I packed. In the last pocked I found it and confirmed the distance at only 233 yards at a very steep upwards angle.

I place the rifle over the pack and ruled the half curl out. The other two made it hard to choose. One was broadside and appeared to be a solid 3/4 curl. The second one was mostly butt to and they all look big from behind. The smallest one started to get nervous so I made the choice to take the one broadside. One shot and he dropped and slid 15-20 yards to a stop. The other two rams ran off and to this day I really don’t know if the other rams was a tad bigger or not. It didn’t matter. My ram was down.

I climbed up the slid, not easy and on all four at times, to get my ram. One horn was dug into the ground and when I picked his head up to look he took off on a roll down the mountain. No way I was going to stop him so I watched as he tumbled another 150-175 yards out of sight before I heard him stop. Luckily no damage was done to the horns or cape.

I took pictures and then took care of the ram. I made a decision to pack my camping gear out knowing I couldn’t get back for the ram until tomorrow. It was a long night and an anxious approach the next morning but everything had been untouched. A very heavy load out that seemed a little lighter than the actual weight.

Game and fish in Cody aged him at 8 years and a little more than 31”. The head was dropped at Geer Taxidermy in Cody and it was over

I’ve now taken rams in Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana. Common sense tells me my sheep days are probably over but what a ride for an everyday hunter.

I used my Model 70 featherweight in 7mm-08 shooting Barnes 140 that I reload with a Nikon BDC 4-16x scope. Nothing special.
 

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