Oregon FNAWS
Hunt Stories - Ike Thomas
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Ike's Ram of a Lifetime
By Ike Thomas
It was June 14, 2013, and I was midway into a 12 mile hike when I got a call from my grandson Alex telling me that I had drawn a California Big Horn Sheep tag for the Coleman and Guano Rim Unit. Needless to say the remainder of the hike was a breeze as excited as I was. The next day was my 75th birthday. What a great present. I had been putting in ever since they made it a once in a lifetime draw so I figure around 48 years.
When word got out that I had drawn a tag I had friends from as far away as Deming, New Mexico, to different parts of Oregon wanting to come and help with the scouting. Because everyone was so excited we wasted no time starting the scouting trips. We started our trips that weekend and they continued every weekend until the day of the actual hunt. Two of my sons (Mike and Jeff) and three of my grandsons (David, Alex, and Isaac) spent several hours scouting and on occasion we had friends from around Oregon joining us.
In early July, Mike and family took their trailer over to Adel for the family to use. When friends showed up they would use the MC Ranch Bunkhouse. The first weekend of scouting, we saw approximately 10 Rams, which only added to the excitement. Four weeks before the hunt, as we were watching a group of rams, I spotted one that was brooming his horns, first one side then the other. I knew then that that was "the one" that I wanted.
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Eventually he was nicknamed "Cowboy" by a couple of friends that had come from Corvallis and Bend to help. As the actual day of the hunt got closer the excitement grew, as did the pressure to be successful did. A lot of time and effort had been put into this Lifetime hunt.
The Wednesday before the hunt I fell and cracked a couple of ribs on my left side. Thursday evening we left for Adel. Friday, my son Mike, and I climbed up the mountain and watched as "Cowboy" and the other rams bedded down for the evening. Mike and I stayed on the mountain that night and did not get much sleep.
The boys that were going to spot for me were getting into position around 3:30 a.m. as we watched their headlights on the valley floor. Jeff Carl and Kelly Mingus were spotting from the North, David and Alex spotted from the West. My son Jeff and John Brown were spotting from the South. As dawn broke Mike and I felt that we were close so we laid down our packs with our food and water and carried on. Three ridges later at approximately 2:50 p.m. I put the crosshairs on "Cowboy" and took the 300 yard shot.
The ram ran another 30 or so yards up hill and dropped. As Mike and I were high fiveing each other the ram jumped up and ran further up the hill. Even though I was hurting the adrenaline was keeping me going and we continued up the hill. Mike got a call from Kelly congratulating me and asked what we were doing Mike said that we were trying to locate the ram. Kelly told him that he was lying upside down on the other side of the "big rock" that I was standing by. I called my wife and gave her the great news and she asked if I had cried, told her no but there were tears in my eyes. She started crying with pride and joy. What a wonderful feeling to be holding the head of such a magnificent animal knowing how powerful he is and that all the time and effort had paid off. It was quite a sight to look out over the valley and see the dust of the trucks of family and friends coming to help the "old man with cracked ribs" carry everything off the mountain. The ram scored 156 3/8.
I can't begin to thank everyone enough for making my dream become a reality.
Rifle (Ruger 7mm-08)
Scope (Night Force)
Pack (Eberlestock A255 Scoped Rifle Scabbard)
Clothes (Sitka)
Boots (Lowa GTX Extreme)
Spotting glass's (KOWA Highlander Binoculars) (Swarovski)
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