Gary had successfully taken a nice old bruiser ram, but our hunt was far from over. Steve and I still had tags to cut, so we wasted no time getting back on the glass. The afternoon after shooting Gary’s ram, we spotted a hard-curling ram and decided to make the climb to get a closer look.
After ascending a little more than a mile straight up the mountain we had a good vantage point about 1,000 yards from the ram. The trouble was that there were 47 other rams scattered throughout the fairly open basin with zero cover between us and them. Hindsight is 20/20, and we really should have just waited until dark to see where they would bed, but my impatience got the best of me.
Since the ram we were after was bedded out of sight on the opposite side of a set of knobs protruding into the basin, we thought we could work into shooting range. We managed to cover the open ground with only a couple of the smaller rams seeing us, and after giving us the eye they went back to feeding. Thinking we were in good shape, we slipped behind the knobs and hustled up to a spot 400 yards from where we had last seen the ram. We knew something was wrong when we poked around and all the sheep were gone. Then, the entire herd came back over the knobs in a sea of white and horns.
We think they winded us, and although they weren’t really “spooked,” they knew something was up and were leaving the country. By the time they spread out enough that I could get a shot at the big one, the rangefinder was kicking back 530 yards. It’s a very doable shot for me, but I dropped the first shot right under his brisket, and all hell broke loose. I managed to stay on the sheep as he climbed up the mountain, but with every new range, my bullet snapped right over his back. I later realized that I didn’t have my rangefinding binocular set to account for shot angle.
That was the first time I’d ever missed a sheep, or even botched a stalk, and as you can tell from the video, I was pretty rattled. After it happened, I just sat there in shock. It was a good lesson and reality check for me, as I should have been more patient from the get-go, and maybe shouldn’t have even shot at him in that situation. If nothing else, this experience made me realize that anyone who is an avid hunter will eventually 1) make a dumb mistake, and 2) miss, no matter how experienced. Taking that in mind, we headed down the mountain the next morning to re-stock on food and go find another ram.