Oregon FNAWS
Hunt Stories - Jesse Turin
Jesse Turin 1
California Bighorn Sheep Hunt
By Jesse Turin
It was June 13th and me and my brothers were eager to find out the draw results. They weren't expected to be out until the 20th but my brother decided to call the ODFW hotline to see if the results were in early. To my surprise they were and when my brother read off the numbers of the tags that I had drawn it took a minute to realize that the tag I had drawn in the 500 series was for a Bighorn Sheep. I was so excited that I started running up and down the road screaming. We were in the middle of work, paving a subdivision in Happy Valley and everyone there was wondering what was going on, thinking that I must of won the lottery. To me drawing that sheep tag was like winning the lottery in many ways. I found out I drew my once in a life time sheep tag on Friday the 13th. Most would find that to be a bad omen, but I knew it was a sign of something great to come.I couldn't wait to get started, so as soon as I got off work I started to make some phone calls. First I called my uncle's friend who had drawn the same tag 2 years prior. He told me where to go and start scouting, and by the very next weekend I took my first scouting trip to southern Oregon. My dad went with me and within a few hours of glassing we spotted sheep. They were almost all ewes and young rams, so we kept on looking. Later that evening we managed to spot 6 rams from about a mile away. Unfortunately we were right in the middle of a sand storm and could get our spotting scope on them.
The next scouting trip I went down with my brother Jeremy. The trip started real slow and we hadn't seen any sheep the entire day, so we headed to a new area. While sitting on a high mountain glassing the basin I heard a strange sound that I had never heard in the woods before. I called Jeremy on the radio and told him to come down to where I was. When he got down there I asked him what the sound was and he thought that I must be a farmer down in the fields pounding in fence posts. I said that I didn't think so, that I thought it was sheep butting heads. I slowly snuck about 100 yards to the edge of the cliff and looked down into a grassy basin and saw 6 rams about 200 yards away. Two of the rams were really big, and one of them stood out from the rest as the monster of the group. We watched them until it got to dark to see and headed back home.
A few weeks later I headed back for another scouting trip with my buddy, Seth. The rams that we had seen before on the national forest land were at a spot where they couldn't be glassed form above until you were right on top of them. The only other option was the ranch at the bottom of the mountain which was owned by Dan Withers. I contacted Dan and got his permission to watch the sheep from his property. From his ranch I had a perfect view of the mountain and we set up a spotting scope and found the sheep about a mile away in the basin on top of the mountain. So for the next three weekends I came back to the ranch to camp out and watch the rams. Dan also had some great bass fishing in a pond on his property!
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The hunt started on Wednesday so me and my hunting buddy, Garrett got there on Saturday of the weekend before and decided to look in a different area just to see if we could find any other sheep. Over the next two days and five different mountains we found five different bands of rams. None were as big as the rams that I had seen on the national forest property above the farmers ranch. So the night before the season opened I was joined my two brothers, Jeremy and Jason, and another hunting buddy, Seth. We all headed out to glass from the ranch to see if we could spot the sheep, but they were no where to be found. Then about 10 mins before dark, one small sheep came out of a group of trees just east of the basin. He fed for a little bit and went right back into the trees he had come from. This was weird because I hadn't seen the sheep in the trees on any of the many pervious scouting trips. A huge storm had blown in and so we talked it over and thought that the sheep must have taken cover in the trees to escape the wind.
After a long sleepless night opening morning was finally here. We decided to try to get the wind in our favor so we went down wind of the trees that the small sheep had gone into the night before. We were hoping that the huge ram was in there too. Apparently we moved too fast because we jumped the six rams and they came out of the trees. Quickly I pulled up and found the largest ram in my scope. I fired, but I didn't see the tree limb between me and my ram and I missed the ram. The rams bailed off the edge of the cliff back into the basin. I thought for sure that I had missed my chance at this huge animal, but lucky for me they had stopped about 250 yards away. I rested my gun on my knee and found the big ram and shot again. I knew that he was hit because I could hear the bullet hit him. He ran down and over another small cliff disappearing form our view. We quickly made our way around the basin to the cliff where we immediately found blood. We followed the blood trail and looked over the small cliff. There he was standing there about 100 yards away with his head down. I threw my gun up, I could see the blood dripping down his shoulder. I fired one more shot and he dropped, and was down for good.
After taking a ton of pictures we spent the rest of the day packing him out. We then went to the ODFW biologist to have him aged and pinned. The biologist aged him to be 11.5 years old and she did a rough score of 174. After the 60 day drying period my sheep officially scored at 177 1/8. It was the largest sheep to ever come out of that unit. It turns out that drawing my tag on Friday the 13th was the sign I hoped that it would be. My California Bighorn Sheep hunt was truly a hunt of a lifetime!
I would like to thank my wonderful wife April for letting me be gone every weekend. My hunting partners, Garrett and Seth, and my two brothers, Jason and Jeremy, and my dad, Dennis for all of the help and support they gave me on the hunt. I would also like to thank Craig Foster of ODFW and Paul Bender for showing me where to start scouting. This was one of the most mentally draining hunts that I have ever been on, but also the most rewarding.
Equipment List: Rifle: Ruger 300 win.mag with a Leupold 6x18 vari X3 scope; Ammunition: 180grian Nosler partition Optics: LeupoldPack: BadlandsCamo: True sageKnife: GerberBoots: DannerAccessories: Garmen GPS.
About the Author: Jesse Turin was born in Oregon. He is married to April and together they have two sons, Easton 3 yrs old and Teagan 10 mos old. He has worked for his family's asphalt paving company for the last 10 years. He enjoys hunting and fishing and just about anything outdoors.
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