Contributors to this thread:
Colorado Bighorn Sheep Hunt - 2018
Due to back-to-back western hunts this year, I’m just now getting around to posting this short August hunt photo summary.
Back in early May, I learned that after 19 years of applications, I had finally drawn a Colorado Bighorn Sheep tag. Sheep tags in the Lower 48 are extremely rare…especially for non-resident hunters. Colorado only issues seven non-resident archery ram tags per year. Thousands of people apply annually for these coveted tags. The area I drew was in the Greenhorn Mountains of south central Colorado. My initial plan was to hire a guide for the first week of the hunt and then hunt the remainder of the 27 day season solo if necessary. This is a high country view of the Greenhorns.
The summer was spent attempting to get my body in “sheep shape”. Bighorn sheep inhabit extremely rugged, high altitude terrain and I had less than three months to prepare. Logged many hours on the elliptical machine (thanks for the tip Greg!). Also biked, hiked and repeatedly climbed a local observation tower three days per week toting a 50lb pack. Hunt prep also included adopting a high protein diet. When all was said and done, I dropped nearly 20lbs of overall weight while adding significant lower body muscle.
During summer research, I learned the sheep herd in my unit had experienced a considerable downturn in numbers. At least one of the resident sheep hunters actually turned his tag back in prior to season after summer scouting efforts had turned up zero ram sightings. As a non-resident, with super low odds of ever drawing another sheep tag, I decided to keep the tag and give it my best shot. I had already hired the best outfitter in the unit....Sangre de Cristo Outfitters... and figured if anybody could find rams…they could. Due to the low sheep numbers, the outfitter actually provided two guides for this hunt. Both guides are shown glassing for sheep in this photo.
I learned that August is known as the “monsoon month” in Colorado. Thunderstorms were a daily event. In the high country, thunderstorms typically produce hail. I became quite accustomed to getting pelted by hail on this hunt.
I saw a wide variety of wild game in the high country including: Bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, black bear…..and lots of marmots such as this guy. The locals refer to the critters as “Whistle Pigs”. This because they sound off a whistle alarm when intruders get too close.
Terrain in the high country can be very steep with the most dangerous aspect being traversing across shale slides. This photo really does not do justice to the steep slope I’m standing on. Let’s just say…if one slipped and fell....there is nothing to stop the roll before hitting the trees below.
Sometimes one stumbles across something that just screams for a photo. This dead tree in the high country caught my attention.
You can’t make them out in this photo, but there are fifteen sheep (eleven ewes and four lambs) in the green just below the saddle. I saw this “nursery band” of sheep on several occasions during the hunt. The lambs, when relaxed, are extremely playful and fun to watch. But let one of the ewes sense danger….and the lambs stick to their mommy’s sides like glue.
Unfortunately, I did not see a ram the entire hunt. My training paid off early and I was able to cover alot of ground the first two weeks of the hunt. By the middle of week three, the fatigue was just too much to overcome. I learned that my wife was dealing with septic tank issues back home, took that as a sign and called it a hunt. I have no regrets. It has been my lifelong dream to bowhunt bighorn sheep in the high country terrain they call home…and I was fortunate enough to live that dream. The way I see it, better to sheep hunt and come up short than to never sheep hunt at all. I will wrap up with a few more photos from sheep country…..thanks for following along!
Thanks for the pic and story. I was wondering how your hunt went. Sorry to hear about the misfortune of no rams but the views looked beautiful.
Right on Pav, I did the same thing in Wyoming except I had the hamstring injury. Like you said, better to have done the hunt than never tried. Nice pics.
Great pics pav, thanks for sharing. I know that's a super hard-core hunt....congrats on giving it your best shot!
Super impressed by your preparation and tenacity on a really hard hunt: much respect!!! You experienced something that you can't even come close to back home in our hoosier state and obviously gave it your all. Memories for a lifetime!
When I came home from AZ in 2012 without my bull it would have been easy to think of the hunt as unsuccessful. But I learned so much about myself and the stuff I was made of on that hunt!!! I am sure that this hunt is the same for you: you brought home perseverance, tenacity and to hunt nearly 3 weeks without a ram sighting: optimism that most people cannot begin to muster!!!
My money's on you killing another mature whitetail in the coming weeks! Pete
you did something very few do. Great job and I am sure you filled the memory tag.
Nice pics! Too bad the hunting was that tough.