Bighorn Sheep, Sheds and Fowl

This past fall/winter my boys and I were able to get out on a few fun late season hunts. One of those hunts happened to be an exciting excursion into Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep country. That’s because a good friend of ours held a coveted sheep tag and he invited the boys and me to tag along on the hunt. While I wasn’t able to join them for every day of their thirteen day excursion, I was there often enough to achieve the full sheep hunting experience.

 bighorn sheep rams headbutting  chukar hunting

             Big ram spotted - watching the headbutt action                         Ran into chukars along the way

One of our hunting strategies was to split up and scout different canyons and then meet back up to compare notes on what we’d seen. After days and days of looking over different rams, we decided to go after one particular ram which was the biggest of any we’d found. We figured the target ram would hang out near a group of territorial ewes, so that’s where we planned to focus our attention.

 massive elk antler sheds  elk and deer antler sheds

              Carson happy with a pair of big elk sheds                         Weekend haul while scouting for sheep

Our first stalk toward the objective ram ended up being a captivating experience. We were able to sneak close enough to the herd to where we could watch as two revered rams slammed their heads together in a show of dominance. When they did headbutt the audible thud echoed against the canyon ledges causing us to somewhat wince each time they met to clash, it was awesome! Once the fracas died down we tried to move slightly closer for a shot, but were quickly busted by the peering eyes of posted sentries within the bunch. To make matters worse, all the sheep made a quick getaway up and around the steep rocky slope without presenting a shot opportunity. In hindsight making a move toward the rams as they fought might have given us a better opportunity for a shot.

 bighorn sheep ewes  bighorn sheep rams

          Find the ewes and rams will be close by                                   A couple of decent rams

We spent the rest of that day searching for the big ram to no avail. It would take two more days of tireless scouting before we turned up the ram again. Once we did we patiently watched the ram through our optics until he bedded down just over a mile away. At that point we quickly made a game plan that all came together perfectly, no slipups this time, ram down!

 bighorn sheep ram bedded  bighorn sheep ram horns

          Through spotting scope - ram bedded a mile away                        Successful stalk - Bighorn ram down

Next up was the waterfowl season which turned out to be pretty good. A couple of us had swan tags and we were able to get our birds even though the hunting pressure seemed to be extremely high. We even managed to get a few ducks during that hunt, but mostly had to pass on ducks since swans were usually visible somewhere in the sky so we took no chances at spooking them.

 tundra swan and ducks  tundra swans

           Decoys worked well for swans and ducks                               Back home with tundra swans

After that we focused our attention on ducks and geese and had reasonable success. There were definitely those days that were slow, slow, slow, but then there were days that were action packed.

 mallard ducks greenheads and Canada geese   Canada geese honkers

                A load of greenheads and a couple of geese                                  Stacking up the Canadas

Another fun aspect from this past waterfowl season was that my grandson got his first-ever duck, a drake spoonbill! It’s always exciting and memorable to experience a hunter’s first time encounter with a new species.

 first duck drake spoonbill   snow goose Canada geese

             In the back with first duck - drake spoonbill                          Added a snow goose to the Canada pile

The waterfowl season came to a close way too quickly. But on the bright side, the turkey hunt is only a few short months away. While the much needed snow continues to pile up outside, we are hunkered down inside making plans for the fast approaching spring turkey hunt!