Oregon FNAWS
Hunt Stories - Mark Stapleton
Mark Stapleton 1
Big Ram Down, Mark Stapleton's
Oregon Rocky Mountain
Bighorn Ram
By Daniel Jacobson
Travis and I went up from Two-Pan trail head Wednesday night, and hiked in the dark to the top of switchbacks where we bedded down for the night. Next morning we climbed on the divide between forks of Lostine and climbed one step at the time all the way to Horton Pass, a very long day. No rams were found however. So we got to the Base camp just before dark and met in person with the hunter and the team. Plans were discussed and next morning at 5 a.m. Travis and I went to the Glacier pass and climbed under the peaks and dropped almost to Hawkins pass. Then we came back into Prospect lake, then Glacier lake, to look into Pocket lake, then back to camp. Another long day and lots of miles with no rams. The rest of the team looked mostly into Hurricane creek and rams pasture. Craig Krostine found four of the seven rams I found last Sunday by Hawk lake so a decision to go there next day was made.
Opening morning found us climbing in the dark from Lostine breaks up the back way into Hawk lake, the way I went last Sunday. Even if being the easiest way up it is a tremendous climb over the mountain. Once we got up we found the group Craig saw a day before and I found the other 3 rams above them bedded in the snow. This last group had the two I was talking about BC rams. The situation wasn't too good for us because the rams were in the middle of a large field and about 600 yds from us with no chance of getting around to get any closer. So we took turns watching them. Initially Mark decided that the ram with curl and a quarter looks really good and he wanted that ram!! Upon further inspection I noticed that there was a good difference between the two. The chosen one had a visibly tighter curl than the other. So I crawled back and discussed with Craig my opinion. He went back to the spotting scope to investigate and returned to confirm my findings. Then we convinced Mark to take a look! The decision was made to go after the less curled one but a lot wider and a good drop. We thought and twitched numbers and decided that he would be about 16 inches bases and 38 length.
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We stayed put for four hours until a couple of rams got up and started feeding over a ridge, away from us. We decided that if all of them go over the ridge we'll be ready to take off and close the distance and try to catch them on the other side. Finally the last ram went over the edge and we quickly descended from the top and went to where they were last seen. All of this was in slow motion. As we got on top we found some of the rams directly across on some ledges and 3 of the rams including the second largest had pinned us down. Time became the essence and we had to find the big one quickly. With the 3 rams watching us, Mark and I crawled to the edge where I spotted the big one right away.I quickly made a rest from my coat for the rifle and gave the signal to Mark. He fired and it was a good hit! The ram almost rolled over his back but just stood there. Mark fired again and the ram took off. Mark fired two more times and the ram was still going. Now there were rams running all over the place and after four shots two of the rams ran right to us and stopped about 20 yds. to stare at us. The jig was up so we got up and try to find our ram which disappeared around a big pile of rocks. I got some good pictures with the two rams still walking around us, not afraid at all. We descended to find the ram and to our surprise he was still standing and trying to get away. Mark fired again and the ram would not drop (I think he was deaf). We were now 30 yds., and Mark shot the sixth round in him. Finally dropped it. We got close and the ram still tried to stand and try to kick me. Finally it was over.
Mark was emotionally spent! His Oregon hunt of a life time done. What a great ram. A photo session began and we got all the pictures we needed. Meat and cape was taken to the shade and after that a grueling trip down begun. I took all the optics and clothes and everything else in my pack from everybody and the cape and horns were loaded in Travis's pack and the meat in Craig's and Mark's. From hawk lake to the Hurricane creek trail I only have to say that was nasty and dangerous. Travis fell and rolled over his head with all the weight luckily he didn't get hurt. Eventually his pack strap broke from weight and we had to patch it on that slope. We finally hit the trail right above Matterhorn mine. A long trip to the trailhead as it was almost in the dark. Travis should have all the credit for getting the cape and horns, the heaviest load by far, the hero for the team.
Our troubles were just beginning as we got to the trailhead in the dark. We were all hungry, with no ride. I called my friend Joey Vanleuven who just got back from Alaska after two years(Friday) and he got his and Sharon to pick us up and take us to the Steens house, to get Mark's truck. We arrived but the keys were not where they were supposed to be. Nobody was home. We kinda broke in and put the meat and cape in the freezer. Sharon gave us a ride to town at a very late hour to find a place to eat and sleep. No Vacancy in the whole valley as it is Mule Days and square dancing going on. It was almost 11:00 p.m. by now and we got some big burgers at the Hydrant restaurant. Sharon kindly came back when we got done eating and took us to her house and made four beds for us. She patiently waited for us to take showers and get cleaned up. Next morning she drove us back to the Steens house but nobody was home again. Eventually we learned that the keys were on Snake river in Shane's truck. We measured the ram for a green score of 190 3/8" the most accurate we could. So off we went again with Sharon who drove us to have breakfast and then she drove us all the way to Two Pan trailhead to our rigs. Big thank you to Sharon. We need to send her a thank you card. Two hours and 18 minutes later, Travis and I were back at the base camp and packed our stuff. Mark and Craig arrived a while later and we visited and had a last lunch together.
New lifelong friendships and memories were made. Travis and I departed for Two Pan again, two hours later we made it to our car and were on the way home. Elk hunting is the code word from now on, we'll keep you posted. Good job to everyone!!
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