Wow After 30 years of applying, I finally drew the Aldrich Bighorn Sheep tag.
On a Monday night in midJune at 9:30, past my bedtime I got a call from my son Greg. He said, Dad, what is your hunter ID number? He already knew my birthday, so I gave the ID to him and waited on the line. In a few seconds he was back, shouting, Holy Cow You drew the bighorn sheep tag.
I said, Dont kid around, and he assured me he was not. After a few seconds of disbelief, my thoughts turned to Now what am I going to do?
I had been hunting Aldrich Mountain since I was 23 years old. When the sheep hunt started, I would be one month shy of my 59th birthday. I was not in the greatest of condition, but I knew right then that I had better start doing some hiking.
So for six weeks, I started conditioning. I lost about 20 pounds and could really feel like I was making progress.
When a person draws a sheep tag, it creates a lot of interest. I got a phone call from a tag holder from 2011, who knew one of my sons, and he told me I should get in touch with Russ Powell.
Russ is a sheep hunting fanatic, and incredibly knowledgeable of both the unit and the habits of the sheep. What a great call that was. He said he would love to help me out. His sister Winnie and her husband Brad, and another family friend Pam, all experienced sheep hunters, also offered their help. They were just incredible. Winnies dad, Larry, and another family friend, Matt, also joined in to help, as did a friend from Baker, another Russ, who is an experienced sheep hunter. He offered his expertise, and brought a couple daughters who were just a joy around camp.
I asked a couple of old hunting buddies from the Willamette Valley to join us. Mike and Mike ended up doing a lot of work around camp, on the end of spotting scopes, and shuttling vehicles around in the late afternoons to pick up us weary hunters.
My two older boys, Steve and Greg, as always were eager to help out their old man. Little did we know we were about to experience the most exciting hunt of our lives. It topped anything we as a family had ever done. I now understand the magic of sheep hunting.
With Russ Powell laying out the game plan, everybody knew their jobs and I had not one but three chances to harvest a ram. Saturday was the worst shooting day of my life. The team got me into a giant ram, and I proceeded to miss him not just once, but at two different times that day.
It was the most despondent I have ever been. I had to face a team of about 12 people and I told them how embarrassed I was and I apologized. They all were very supportive, but I could see the looks of surprise. My boys were the most shocked, as they knew their old man just rarely misses.
Well, we got that third chance and I got my head back on straight and made the shot I should have made Saturday, and now I have that once-in-a-lifetime trophy. He is spectacular. After a grueling pack down the mountain my oldest son Steve had over 100 pounds on his back we started to celebrate.
The 90- to 100-degree heat really took its toll on us, especially me, and the back of that pickup with coolers and ice cold water and beer was a beautiful sight.
Now my sons and I just cant wait for one of them to draw a tag so we can experience a sheep hunt again.