Oregon FNAWS
Hunt Stories - Stew Stone
Stew Stone 1
Rocky Mountani Big Horn
By Stew Stone
After 81 days hunting Bighorns with a backpack I finally got my ram. Thanks to FNAW's and the Governor of Idaho. I purchased the Idaho Sheep Tag. I took the ram in the wilderness area above Salmon, Idaho near the Bighorn Craig's. The River of No Return had been hunted by a lot of hunters, including Jack O'Conner. After hunting the area, it is easy to see why Bighorns live there. Very rugged and remote.
Five hunts over a seven-year span. Montana Unlimited Zone in 2000, 15 days with Jack Atcheson Jr., a broken knee in 2002 (crushed medial condile). Then to Alberta with Cadomin Creek Outfitters in 2003 for 30 days (my 50th birthday present) where I got within 653 yards of a True Wild 200 plus ram (a story in itself).
Next was Montana Unlimited again in 2004, 14 days with Mike Lovely, who purchased Jack Jr.'s hunting area. After that in 2005 I went to British Columbia with Marcel Gregory of Wildhorse River Outfitters. In 15 days I saw 74 rams. One of those rams was full curl, but he wouldn't bed down with the rest of the group he was with.
After that hunt, I decided to try and purchase the Governor's Tag for Idaho. After 7 days I crawled into shooting position with my first legal ram in my scope, at a range that was comfortable to shoot. It took two days to stalk within range of the band of six rams, through some of the worst blowdown, steep, rocky cliff stopping country I've been in, but it was worth it.
After I shot him I didn't know how to feel. Part of me was relieved, part of me was so excited I could fly, and part of me was wondering how great could this have felt if I hadn't been able to take the journey I'd had. My outfitter was Dave Melton of Bighorn Outfitters, my guides were Ron Johnson, and Brian Johnston. We had a great time and they were great guys to hunt with. They were as excited as I was. Dave's outfit takes some great rams in these mountains.
My ram was 34" x 14 bases. His age was judge to be 9 ½ to 12 ½ years old by a couple biologists. The ram's horns were very smooth with very little definition between age rings.
My journey for a North American Grand Slam is close to an end. I purchased a Viscano Biosphere Tag for Mexico at the Oregon FNAW's Banquet and plan on a hunt Jan/Feb 2007. This hunt is with two other friends Dennis Pahlisch of Bend, Oregon and Scott Limmer of Commanche Wilderness Outfitters, Colorado, who also purchased tags for the Biosphere. All 3 of us are going together and get to share in the experience of getting our slam rams. My son will film the entire hunt and I look forward to sending you another hunting report.
Viscano Biosphere Baja Desert Sheep
I could see 3 of the six rams we were stalking. Then my son said, "There's the Big One to the right, he's so heavy." It started at FNAW's National Convention in 2006 when I sat next to Dennis Pahlisch of Bend, Oregon and watched him become the successful bidder on a Viscano's Biosphere Sheep Hunt in Baja Sur, Mexico. This would be his grand slam ram.
Later that day, I purchased the Idaho Governor's tag to complete my ¾ slam, Dennis and Colorado Outfitter, Scott Limmer, who Dennis and I have hunted with for years decided to try for another Biosphere tag in Minnesota for Scott's grand slam ram.
The following months brought many suggestions that I should purchase the final available Biosphere tag that would be auctioned at Oregon FNAW's Banquet. The thoughts of going together, as a 3 hunter group, to enjoy the hunt of a lifetime and hopefully all 3 of us, take a good ram, finally took it's toll on my self control and I purchased the tag.
My son came on the hunt to video the adventure and National Geographic sent a photographer, Bill Allard, to Document the hunt. National Geographic had been working on a story about hunting and what sportsmen do for wildlife conservation. This hunt would be a chance to see what FNAW's has done to help with putting sheep on the mountain of Mexico.
A wonderful base camp with comfortable cabins and dining hall faded in the distance as we rode mules into the mountains within the Biosphere most of the terrain is roadless and is truly a desert wilderness. We spike camped in a small valley and sheep were within a few hours climb on foot.
The second day of our hunt we spotted some rams that deserved a closer look. At approximately 1,000 yards the rams gave us a show and I decided the old broomed ram would be a trophy I would admire for the rest of my life.
We made the stalk, but the rams had dropped off the cliffs down the slope to feed. It took an hour to find them in the rough terrain and that brings us to the point of spotting the heavy ram. I set-up for the shot on a rock ledge. The range was 240 yards, but pretty much straight down. I had shot over my stone sheep on my first shop years ago and remembered to hold under him about 6 inches in line with his shoulder. The shot was perfect. His bases were 15 4/8 inches.
I'd left Dennis and Scott on top of the ridge, and they had moved into a position to watch the final approach and the shot. They actually saw the shot through the spotting scope. They joined us at the ram for pictures and celebration.
It was a long, late evening climb out, the bottom to another mountain and back to a trail that would allow the burrows to meet us and pack out the animal the last few miles.
It was an amazing feeling, sitting next to my ram looking at my son, and good friends with the Sea of Cortz in the background. The actual accomplishment of taking all 4 North American Wild Sheep has been self-rewarding. Reconfirming that dreams can come true.
On the sixth day I videotaped Scott taking his ram after an 8 hour stalk. A 200-yard shot brought the reality of a grand slam to Scott. Scott's ram is 170-172 B+C depending on the final measure due to a large chip in on horn.
Dennis had split off to hunt the cliffs at the end of the ridges as they drop into the sea of Cortez. They found a great ram in a large group of rams with ewes. After days of searching, spiked out with backpack provisions, he found a ram he wanted. Rob Wiley Outfitter from Wyoming videotaped the find approach. Dennis stayed calm until after the ram was down, but he let it all out after that. His ram, 177+ BC was only 200 feet above sea level. He'd hunted from the 3500 feet peak down to the sea's shoreline. We met him before dark packing out the ram, I took of picture of his footprints in the wet sand in the surf.
Baja, Mexico gave us each a special reward. Sheep hunting is different to everyone. The one thing in common for us, was to share it together which made it 3 times as good.
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