Oregon FNAWS
Hunt Stories - Donn McAdams
Donn McAdams 1
The Kill, From the 2007 hunting journal of Donn McAdams
By Donn McAdams
We woke up to rain and some cold conditions. Mike and I hunted on one quad while John and Pat looked at the face of Mickey Butte from the south. From the start we saw sheep every where we looked. It was like the sheep were finally free of the summer heat and they were up and moving. We spotted a really nice chocolate brown ram that was perfect. He didn’t have the mass to be a shooter but he was truly a beautiful animal.
We moved to another place to spot, a place we named “sheep central”. We were looking at a number of animals, but the fog and rain had moved in and it was difficult to get a good look at all the rams through the spotting scope. We were in full rain gear in the first of September in Eastern Oregon Desert. We then moved back to a spot that allowed us a view of the main part of the canyon. My friend John, who is the very best sheep hunter I know, spotted a really nice ram at about 1 mile out. We decided he was a good ram and planned our stalk.
Pat, Mike and I started up the backside of the ridge the ram was bedded on. Up, up, up I was puffing pretty hard, but my legs felt good. Pat is basically part Billy goat and I was glad that I had packed that 50 lb. pack around all summer to get in shape. We moved up the ridge about 2 miles when John said, “5 new rams had moved into the basin and one of those was bigger than the original ram we had set out for”. The new group of rams was about 500 yards down from our position and moving briskly up the canyon. About that time a nice ram bolted in front of our position about 745 yards up hill. He looked to be a nice ram, but we did not see him again.
My best hunting buddy, mike had spotted 3 new rams bedded about 1000 yards up hill and in the canyon to our left. I knew I had brought him along for some reason. One of the rams really stood out from the rest. The rams were bedded at the base of a rim rock wall that was about 25 feet tall. We now had a terrible problem; we had nice rams all around us.
It was awesome. I was doing it in the big with my friends and I had a tag. The other group of 5 was moving away and we just couldn’t keep up with them as they cleared the canyon to our right. We elected to make a move for the 3 bedded rams down and to our left. I was starting to get excited and thinking about that 25 knot wind that was in my face and what impact it could have on my bullet at 300 or 400 yards. We kept moving, constantly scanning for other animals that could blow our stalk and conscious of the wind.
We moved up hill from what we thought was the last position of the 3 bedded rams. It was now about 45 minutes later and we had lost sight of them as we moved to get into position. As we started our descent to the top of the rim rock that the rams were bedded under I wondered if they were still there. I put a round up under center in my 300 Win mag. and thought back to all the problems I had getting it to shoot good this summer. Mike ranged the limits of our field of view and the farthest possible shot was 218 yards. As we moved to within feet of the top of the rim rock we noticed movement to our left. 4 beautiful California Bighorn sheep were standing broadside at 35 yards. I was already on my shooting sticks with my scope on 3 power. There was one ram that noticeably bigger that the rest.
My mind was racing with thoughts of what to do. It was the second day of my once in a lifetime hunt and I had a great ram at point blank yardage. I really didn’t know how he would score, I figured 150-165. About then 2 of the rams looked up at us and Mike whispered I would shoot that ram. I said, “Here we go”. I settled my crosshairs behind the ram’s front shoulder firmly on his heart and squeezed the trigger….Boom!!
A big cloud of dust erupted from behind the ram and they all bolted. I chambered another round and shot again at the ram, which was now flying. I saw the ram waiver on the second shot and I knew that I had connected. As I chambered another round Pat said, “don’t shoot again he is done”! I had hit the ram good, both shots. He was down quickly and humanely. I had a magnificent trophy on the ground. We skinned, caped, quartered the ram. My once in a lifetime hunt was over in a blink of an eye. As we packed the meat out down the canyon 3 miles to the quads all I could think of the journey that I had taken on my way to becoming a Bighorn sheep hunter.
I thought about how I never really ever thought I would draw a tag. I thought about how I had never seen the hunt area, I didn’t even know where the Sheep’s head mountains were located. I really had made my dream come true with a lot of help from a lot of people. I thought about how my friend Mike had sacrificed time from his busy schedule and drove all night long with a bum trailer to get to our camp. How he broke his Zeiss spotting scope on the trip. I thought about how he helped me as if it were his hunt that we were on. I looked over at Pat and Mike as we packed the meat down the canyon in the dusk of that perfect Eastern Oregon September day. I thought about what could have been and what was, and I was happy.
I thought about my wife and my young boys who had been unwavering in there support of my dream. I thought about my mom and dad who really made this thing happen for me. I thought about how they have always encouraged me to be all I can be. I thought about my friend Greg who bent over backwards to help me with my shooting and my gun this summer. I thought about the conversations I had had with my uncle about hunting, shooting, ethics, etc. I thought about how my friend Jeff had introduced me to the best sheep hunter in the state and how he really wanted to be on the hunt with us. I thought about how I was free to hunt because of the sacrifices that have been made by the men and women of the United States Military. People like John and Pat, and I thanked them for my freedom. My hunt is over now in Oregon but I will always be a Bighorn sheep hunter. And who knows, maybe my sons Morgan and Conner will draw a tag some day and they can be Bighorn Sheep hunters too. I don’t really know but I guess you can always dream………….
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