Oregon FNAWS
Hunt Stories - Larry Sides
Larry Sides 1
My 2007 West John Day
Big Horn Sheep Hunt
By Larry Sides
I would like to start off by saying thanks to all that helped out to make this hunt possible. I know this hunt would have never happened without the Oregon Foundation for North American Wild Sheep and the Oregon Department of Fish and Game. Thanks to all the sheep hunting fanatics that shared information with me during countless phone calls. Chad, a hunting partner, who has shared many hunting camps with me on many great hunts. I want to thank you for taking time out of your schedule to hunt sheep with me. Lastly, thank you to my wife, Amy, for driving to Oregon on the last day to apply for my hunting applications for the second year in a row.
My 2007 West John Day big horn sheep hunt started the way so many of them do, that is, with the best walk of my life to the mail box. That was a moment in my life that I don't think I will ever forget. I know that words can not express the excitement I was feeling at that moment. I hope that all hunters get to experience a once in a lifetime tag.
Larry Sides 2
I had dreamed of floating the John Day River hunting sheep for years, therefore the decision to float the river for my West John Day bighorn was an easy one. Three days before the season opened, we put on the river. With only a few hours until dark, we floated about three miles before setting up our first camp.
The first morning we hiked up above camp to do some glassing. All of the sheep that we saw that morning were on the wrong side of the river. None the less it was a good site. After that we decided to head farther down the river to set-up camp and to scout the area that evening. After Saturday evening's scouting trip and one day before the season opened, we decided we had better make Sunday a day of floating down to a new spot where the sheep were more concentrated. We floated the thirteen miles to our next camp and had it set up before dark.
Let me tell you, the scenery along the float alone was worth the trip, even if it was hard work. The time flew by with the anticipation of what was around the next bend. Floating up on the wildlife was nothing short of awesome, like the sheep we floated along side of that had just crossed the river. All of that was just a huge bonus to a great trip.
Larry Sides 3
With all the years of dreaming, the preparations, and waiting behind me, now it was finally Monday morning. It was time to start my first sheep hunt. We waited for daylight to leave camp on opening morning. We started the climb up the steep, long ridge behind camp. We climbed up glassing and looking in all the different draws and chutes as we came to them.
A thousand feet and two hours later we reached the top of the knob we were climbing to. As I was walking along looking down over a cliff, we flushed some chucker off. I looked up over the end of the knob and I saw my ram for the first time. Catching Chad's attention, we snuck up twenty yards to an old Indian blind made from rocks. From behind this blind we were able to look at all seven sheep and size up the two rams.
From this ancient hunting blind we were able to witness sheep during the breeding season. The larger ram was chasing around a ewe when the younger ram got too close. I'm sure the smaller ram learned a lot that day, because the bigger ram hit him hard enough to knock him over. While the smaller ram was on the ground the older ram keep ramming him, hooking him and shoving him, not letting him up. After taking a beating, the smaller ram decided it was time to leave the country.
Larry Sides 4
My ram was at a thousand yards and preoccupied with the ewe. He looked like a shooter. We decided that this ram deserved a closer look. The only problem was the six hundred yards to go to put us within four hundred yards for the shot. The distance down and across the saddle wasn't the hard part of the stalk; it was the knee high grass that we had to hide behind. With six sheep able to look down on us it was a slow stalk.
The six hundred yards took us around two hours to cover. We had a constant eye on the sheep. We probably didn't average twenty yards without having to stop and wait for the sheep to turn, or go back to feeding. After making it past all those eyes, along the open saddle, we were at a little rock knob in the middle of the saddle.
Now at four hundred yards from the ram, the binoculars and spotting scope came back out. Only looking at the ram for a few minutes we decided he was a shooter. I crawled all around the rocks trying to get a good solid rest. After ten minutes or so I finally found my rest. I was ready for the shot. Little did I know, from this point, it would be quite some time before I squeezed the trigger.
Larry Sides 5
Chad was on top of the rocks above me videoing. We watched the ram chase the ewe around for about a half an hour before he bred her. Now the ram walked away from the ewes and stood on the ridge top. We wanted to make sure he wouldn't roll off either side of the cliff. The ram turned broad side; I knew this was my time now. I eased into the rifle, steadied the cross hairs on the ram and squeezed the trigger. I put him down in his tracks.
I was so relaxed when the rifle jumped, I totally lost the ram. Panic set in very quickly. I was not sure how many times I asked Chad, "Where is the ram?". Nor am I sure how many times he had to say, "The ram is down. You dropped him in his tracks". After seeing the horns of my ram on the ground the emotions overcame me like no other hunt I've been on. It took several minutes to calm down before I could speak without a crack in my voice. Packing up our gear, we made our way to the downed ram. Arriving at the ram I was sure glad I didn't pass on this one.
This hunt couldn't have gone any better. I would like to say thanks to all the people that help make sheep hunting possible in Oregon. This hunt didn't cure my desire to hunt sheep. It made my desire for sheep hunting even stronger.
Larry Sides 6
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