Oregon FNAWS
Hunt Stories - Lorne Kuhnly
Lorne Kuhnly 1
Bighorn Hunt
by Lorne Kuhnly
Hi everyone; I am kind of depressed. Back at work knowing that I will never be able to do this adventure again (at least at this price and in Oregon). The trip was great! We saw almost 200 sheep and lots of rams. That picture of the full curl ram is one I passed up on opening day, 150 yards from the river. My son thought I should have taken it. We climbed ridges and canyons, and stared through binoculars and spotting scopes for hours but could not find any giants in that section of the canyon. We did see two rams that were a little bigger than mine on the way out but I feel good about taking a 10 1/2 year old ram. He had no fat on him and was missing a number of teeth, so his best days were probably over. The flavor was good from the steaks but tough! This ram had a ear tag that put him as a lamb with a herd they moved into the lower John Day in 1999. So the ram had a helicopter and truck ride early in life and a raft trip at the end (I doubt he enjoyed any of those rides). I assume that he came from HART Mountain but I also know that they did bring a herd into the John Day directly from Williams Lake B.C. at some point to diversify genetics.
Lorne Kuhnly 2
One of the best moments of the trip was having a one shot kill that ended in about 7 seconds. Especially after watching the non-resident tag shoot his ram with a state-of-the-art muzzle-loader with a tactical weapons scope on it. They were hunting from the top and we watched the shooting, their lunch and reenactment videoing, then to finally look for the ram an hour later. Altogether we watched for four hours and four shots of which only the second hit the ram and mangled his left shoulder. The ram was jumped from his bed a number of times, traveled almost 1500' elevation down the canyon and spent another night in pain before being finished with an additional shot or shots the next day. We had continued to watch from another ridge until dark in case they needed help finding him or worst, if we had to move across to help finish him. It was pretty sad to watch that ram stagger along for so long. They did stick with the trail and eventually recovered him.
Lorne Kuhnly 3
A huge female cougar with two teenage cubs made a play on another ram we were watching. She had no luck and we could not get close enough for a shot. There were also a number of big buck deer, caught some steelhead and bass, and did get to hear (and see) bighorns crash heads and knock rock slides down the canyon walls as they chased ewes. A coyote provided entertainment trying to out-fox? a covey of chukar and of course the John Day River itself constantly tried to stick our raft on low-water rocks and gravel bars. After taking my ram on the fifth day of the trip and spending an exhausted night, we were going to stay an additional night but my son has a watch that graphed barometric pressure - "storm alert" (ever notice your kids have all the cool stuff?). He thought we should row out and after six miles of hard pulling, we loaded the boat onto the trailer just as the storm came down. And for the NEXT THREE DAYS. There wouldn't have been much hunting during that anyway. Optics would have been fogged and ridges clouded up. As it was, the weather was great (frost in mornings) and we slept out all the nights without a tent and with the river music and a full moon for company.
Lorne Kuhnly 4
Judging rams is definitely an art and we pulled out pictures of known scored rams to compare a number of times. Let me know what you think my ram scored if you dare. Don't cheat and call the Fish & Wildlife.
Lorne Kuhnly 5 Lorne Kuhnly 6 Lorne Kuhnly 7 Lorne Kuhnly 8
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