Continued, from Part 1:
The ascent up a steep North face draw in order to stay out of the rays of the rising sun and hidden from the keen eyesight of the feeding rams, takes us a solid :45 minutes, enough time for the rams to feed into a completely different place once we crest the ridge.
Within minutes of cresting the ridge it is obvious the rams have moved, but the geography of the folds of this steep rolling terrain has us perplexed as to which direction they've moved.
The "ground" team is signaling us that they're literally directly below us, but the undulating folds and curvature of the hillside had us shrugging our shoulders in disbelief. Finally a decision was made to move down and see what the other team was signalling to us. Within 50 yards and below a rim-like fold on a secondary ridge, the rams see us before we see them and in a flash they're over the secondary ridge and side-hill away in an up river direction.
The speed at which these animals can disappear is remarkable. Their coloration and agility in steep country is jaw-dropping. With amazing swiftness the two younger rams escort our "shooter" ram into the many small ravines and draws and are gone from our sight, and shooting distance.
We pursue them for over a mile and it is futile. So, we drop off the mountainside for the lower river road. Once we're picked up by the others, we move to our vehicle and decide a move someplace with shade and a place for a lunch.
Time for a new plan!
The group moves up river to a large grove of trees near the entrance to a large canyon. Lunch re-energized us for the next hunt. The plan that was agreed upon is to head up canyon and get to a high point with the increasing heat and try for a glassing advantage from any high ridge.
The duo of UTV's moved up the long rugged canyon. We've seen Rams in this rugged, steep canyon and as we drove slowly up the fact is we have a long-liberal season, and it was realized that the pursuit IS THE ADVENTURE, not the finality of a kill.
Once through the checkerboard parcels of private land and onto public land, we stopped and the six of us spread into differing directions to cover as many glassing points as possible. Within two minutes three rams cross in front of me, across the only access road in the area following a game trail winding through thick grove of Aspens, totally unaware of me.
I sneaked back fifty yards toward the UTV's, then sprinted the remaining two hundred yards. I waved and yelled to the remaining group hovering near the vehicles in the shady coolness--exclaiming, SHOOTER RAM!!!
The puzzled calmness of the few remaining at the UTV's didn't bode well for a quick attack in the direction ahead of the three fleeing rams. After a twenty minute look around, the rams are nowhere to be found. Just that fast, a Shooter-Ram within grasp, again, and he slipped away like sand through a sieve.
Renee' and I had to make a decision. With work the next day for both of us, a Monday, we reluctantly elected to leave the group, and so the UTV's descended the steep canyon. Once at our staged vehicle some miles further up river, we departed for the six hour drive west, to Bend. The weekend's pursuit had been exhilarating as well as frustrating.
We wanted to be a part of the last six hours of daylight and the possibility of being witness to taking an animal, and it weighed on us. Renee' and I depart for our six hour drive home; it's 2:30.
The six hour drive goes quickly, as we talk about the what-ifs and should-of's of the weekend's chase.
The group, now down to four souls, decided on the next move for an evening hunt. The decision to return to the high ground would be unanimous, as the three rams and the cooling evening air along with the high ground would be the best place to be.
Within fifteen minutes, sheep were spotted, and then it happened--a Shooter Ram. Pretty Boy, named previously on a scouting trip was bedded across a draw. The ram was calmly resting in his shaded bed enjoying the view and cool diurnal breeze.
Jerry's shot echoed across the canyon and "Pretty Boy" is down for good, with a perfect heart shot.
The 2017 Tag roll-out was an anti-climatic event compared to the news that was shared last year. Each year the anticipation of the tag drawings is to many, well, like Christmas morning, or to those that purchase lottery tickets, akin to waiting for the results.
The memories of the 2016 Bighorn hunt may have faded, but the memories of the pursuit will never fade. Pretty Boy adorns Jerry's wall and the meat a fabulous organic protein that feeds he and his family.
Jerry, thanks for the chance to be a part of it!
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