This was my second attempt for Desert Sheep on Carmen Island. My first attempt, several years ago, yielded no shot opportunity. Many "almosts", but things didn't fall into place. On multiple occasions I was in position with comfortable bow shots, waiting for the ram to take a couple of steps, stand up, turn, etc.. The wind would shift, the ram would turn the opposite way, etc.. Just didn't come together over the course of a full hunt. I immediately planned a return trip.
On the first day of my second hunt we went by boat to a part of the island that is about 12-14 miles from base camp. No sooner did we arrive and start glassing, than we found three mature rams. One a "shooter". We were able to stalk within 50 yards of the shooter, but he was bedded and facing us. We hunkered down and waited, hoping he'd get up, maybe start feeding, and present a shot. After a while, he got up and shifted his position, facing away from us. And one of the other rams, turned to face us. So still no opportunity, and the day was warming up when the rams would bed down in the shade throughout the middle of the day. There was a small valley slightly North of where the rams were (no more than 100 yards), where they might go as it got warmer. The thought was that if they moved in that direction, we would move quickly, as soon as they dropped over the edge, and maybe get a shot. About the time we think this might work, a fourth ram we hadn't seen comes in from down wind. He's twenty yards away when we see him. He bolts, alerting the other rams, that also bolt.
That same afternoon, we hunted the opposite end of the island. We did a lot of glassing, but weren't seeing much. As it was getting fairly late, we spotted three rams in a flat area, half way up the mountain. The lead guide and myself decided where we might intercept them, and took off up the mountain. Time would be against us. We reached a spot after which the rams might see us, we were 180 yards away. We decided to back off, and circle around in an area with plenty of cover. This time we were able to get 50 yards from the largest ram, that was bedded down. The steady wind quieted our approach, and carried away our scent. The other two rams had moved off to our right over a small rise and we had no visible contact.
From this position, there was no shot. Definitely couldn't get a shot with the ram bedded. Even if we stood, there was too much brush between us. A deflection was a high possibility. I told my guide we'd need to get to the edge of the thick brush, or I wouldn't be able to get a reasonable shot. Knowing it might not work out, we knew it was the only option. We crouched down low and moved towards a thick bush. At this point we were about 30 yards from the ram with no brush in the way. We sat tight, waiting for him to get up and present a shot.
It wasn't long before the ram got up. Before we could even begin to guess what he was going to do, he turned in our direction and walked right towards us, with sure steps. I felt that he was looking right at me. I had my bow at the ready, and was thinking I might even need to take a frontal shot. At about 23 yards he turned to his left, and began feeding, his eyesight somewhat obstructed by the brush he was in. I drew my bow and then stood up slowly, coming over the bush we had been hidden behind. He was quartering away, and oblivious to our presence. I settled my aim and released. The arrow went right through the ram. He reacted immediately, rearing up on his hind legs, and then ran down the hill to our left. Knowing the shot had been good, we gave him a few minutes and then began to follow the trail quietly. He was within eyesight, laying on his side, dead.
As I walked up on the ram, I was left speechless by the importance and beauty of the moment. He was an old, mature ram. Heavily broomed. His long life was evident in his horns. We estimated his age to be 12 years old. That ram chose to die that day. He decided it was his time, and gave himself to us. He walked right in our direction, presented a perfect and easy bow shot, ready to go to the next chapter of his spiritual existence. I am extremely humbled and in awe that this ram chose me to take him, and release him from his earthly life. I kneeled beside him and stroked his skin, then held his horns, admiring their beauty, and imagining what each ridge meant, how he got the big chip in his left horn. As the sun was setting over the Sea of Cortez, the light was beautiful. A mystical glow that is hard to describe. I bowed my head, and thanked the ram for having chosen me.
Sheep are very special and that is a very special place to hunt desert rams.
Thanks all for your kind words.