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  1. #221
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    This journal has been amazing to read. Really inspirational. Thank you!

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  3. #222
    Senior Member sn.outdoors's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kscreekguy View Post
    This journal has been amazing to read. Really inspirational. Thank you!
    Thanks so much for the compliment. We're grateful for everyone following along and all of the kind and encouragement. At the beginning of the year, Dan and I couldn't have imagined our seasons going this well. We're grateful and blessed. We'll do our best to keep it going like this.

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  4. #223
    Senior Member sn.outdoors's Avatar
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    I'm taking full advantage of my time here in New Mexico, and hanging out with some friends while I'm here. So, I'm sorry I won't have the time to write up the entire story of my Barbary hunt, but I promise you I'll have it posted as soon as possible and you won't be disappointed.



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  5. #224
    Senior Member sn.outdoors's Avatar
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    At the beginning of this whole long thread, Dan and I mentioned how important being flexible is. Well, after I killed my moose halfway through my scheduled leave, I suddenly find myself with extra time. I thought I would deer hunt for a few days with my daughter then take my stuff down to New Mexico later in the week. As I was driving back from scouting a spot the night before the opening day of Idaho rifle deer season, it dawned on me that if I left earlier in the week I could spend a few days hunting Barbary sheep in New Mexico.

    Since I promised my daughter I'd take her hunting in the morning I had to follow through on that promise. So I took her hunting and left for New Mexico midday after the morning hunt.



    I drove about halfway and stopped to sleep in the Subaru for a few hours, and pressed on the rest of the way to Santa Fe the next morning. I ended up spending a little more time there than I originally anticipated, but it was a great time sharing the stories of the hunts with the taxidermist and sharing time with some great people.

    One thing that's really hit me this year is how important spending time with people is, and how awesome it is to share experiences with people. Since starting this thread I've had the pleasure of conversing and getting to know a lot of new people, and also a surprising number of fellow military guys.

    Prior to going down to New Mexico, I hit up Ryan (aka RyanG505 here in RS) to let him know I was coming down. I never actually met Ryan before this hunt, but we'd talked via social media for several months before the hunt. Ryan is a fellow Air Force guy, and he also grew up in the area I was planning on hunting. So I bounced my plan off of him and he gave me a few pointers on how to work the area smarter and not harder... Which I'm very guilty of working harder, so his advice was golden. Basically he told me to glass more and walk less, which is pretty much the exact opposite of my normal operations. He also confirmed that the area I was headed to was still a good area, so I pressed on down the road to go hunting.

    I made it to the area I planned to hunt with a little more than an hour of glassing light. I didn't see a single animal, but I wasn't worried. I still needed to reacquire an eye for spotting barbs, and I knew they were there. I'd been to the area before, so I knew it was just a matter of time before I'd see a rock move. (Barbary sheep look like... rocks.)

    After the sunset, I needed to go back into town to get some cold medicine. I was feeling like garbage. Prior to leaving home I contracted whatever sickness my kids had, and I knew the only way I was going to get any decent sleep was by getting some medicine. I ended up sleeping like I was dead, but was able to wake up plenty early to get to the spot I wanted to glass from before the sunrise.

    The morning didn't start very eventful. I got a text from Ryan at 745 asking if I'd seen anything, but I hadn't. I told him I'd give it another 30 minutes before I moved to a different spot. I decided to put the spotting scope on the area I figured the sheep were most likely to be and leave it there for 30 minutes. After 15 minutes of staring at the same spot, I finally saw a rock move. I immediately had my sheep eyes back and was able to see half a dozen sheep feeding in a very huntable spot. One of those sheep was a STUD!



    I sent the pics to Ryan to let him know what I was looking at, and he confirmed that I was indeed looking at a very large ram. I was hoping he'd tell me it was just a decent 27-28" ram and that he was just ok so I wouldn't get all excited, but he didn't. I started to get almost overly excited. Ok... I'll admit, I was was shaking with excitement. I knew I was looking at a TOAD, and I had to get after him.

    I went over some options with Ryan and spent the next 2 hours watching the small group of sheep feed and then disappear into the steep canyon. Since it was midday I figured they were bedded somewhere in the shade and wouldn't move for a little while. I spent the next 20-30 minutes evaluating the terrain and figuring out how I was going to get up to them without putting myself in too much danger. There were a few sections that required a bit if rock climbing skills, but it was a very manageable climb.

    The sickness I had slowed me down a little bit and caused me to be completely drenched in sweat by the time I got up to where the sheep were. I...felt...like...garbage. But there was no way anything was going to keep me from getting eyes on that ram again. I knew there was no guarantee I would get close enough for a shot, but I at least wanted to see him again.

    So I dropped my pack (horrible idea pretty much anywhere) and slowly crept over the ridge toward the spot I last saw the sheep. Ever few feet I moved I would sit and glass the newly visible terrain. I figured I was within 400yds of the sheep at this point, but I couldn't find them.

    I didn't see any sheep until I was past where I assumed they would be, and the sheep I saw were not the ones I was looking for. I glassed a group of a dozen or so sheep about 700ft of vertical gain above where I assumed the big ram would be, and none of them looked big.

    I ended up getting pinned down by these 2 ewes and a lamb at about 320 yards.



    I sat and baked in the sun for a few hours and texted Ryan about the situation. Earlier, while I was climbing up, Ryan texted the pic of the ram to one of his buddies who lived nearby. His buddy finished his school work and headed straight to the cliffs to help me find the ram.

    ***I have to emphasize that I have never met Ryan at this point nor do I have any idea who this guy is who dropped what he was doing to come help me on this ram. This was definitely a unique situation.***

    The ewes finally hid themselves back into the shade of the cliff they were standing under and I was able to make it back to my pack. That's when I saw the truck and the random guy glassing for me. He wasn't in the best spot to see where I thought the ram was, so I asked Ryan to tell him to move a little bit and to pass him my number.

    While the random stranger was relocating, I moved back up the cliffs to get a better vantage point of everything below me. Once we were both sort of situated, I noticed I had a text from the guy. He spotted the group of sheep directly above me. So I called him to let him know where I thought the big guy was.

    "Yeah, I know those sheep are up there, but I don't think the big one is with them. I'm pretty sure he's going to be below me. I just have a feeling," I said.

    "Ok." A brief pause maybe 5 seconds long, "I see a ewe. Skylined. Below you.... Oh... I think... Yeah, I see him... He's big, and he's walking your way. I can't see him anymore. I'd stay where you're at. You're in a good spot." the voice on the other end of the line said.

    "I know he's big. Where's he at from me? Can you send me a pic?"

    So we hung up and he sent me a picture of where the ram was in relation to me. It took about 10 minutes for the picture to come through...He was less than 300yds from me. I just needed to find him!

    I texted him back. "Holy crap dude... I was sitting less than 200 from him for over an hour"

    No more than 30 seconds after I sent that text, I heard a lamb bleat and some rocks falling. They were CLOSE! I frantically started glassing the slope below me with my binos. I was doing everything in my power to hold back the adrenaline rush. After a few seconds I saw 2 lambs and 2 ewes come up over a the edge of a bluff, but the big guy wasn't with them. I put my binos back in my harness and scanned down with my eyes....

    OH MY! He's laying down RIGHT THERE!!! Right in the open! Clear as day! I racked a round into the trusty weatherby and ranged him at only 160yds! I didn't even think to take my pack off, or the camera off of my left shoulder strap. I dropped down prone (as prone as you can get on the cliffs) and quickly found him in my scope. He was up and walking now.... directly to me!

    It felt like an eternity before he turned broadside to give me a good shot. As soon as he did, I hammered him. He ran 10yds before I put a second round through his chest, and other 10yds before I hit him with the 3rd and final shot. He was dead!



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    Last edited by sn.outdoors; 1 Week Ago at 03:21 PM.

  6. #225
    Senior Member sn.outdoors's Avatar
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    I called the random guy to tell him I got him, but I must have muted my phone. Haha. I hung up and texted him. "I GOT HIM!!!" He grabbed his pack and headed up the cliffs.

    I also texted Ryan, Ryan from the Arizona hunt, Dan, my mom and my wife.

    I then desperately tried to get a good photo of him before I walked down to him, but it took several minutes for me to calm down enough to stop shaking long enough to get a crisp photo. I couldn't believe it happened. 140yds! A huge ram! Help from people I've never met before. What an amazing experience. I thought it couldn't get better than my moose hunt, now this happened!

    I sat down and shed a few tears while I reflected on the experience. I don't know what I did to deserve this season, or how it all came together. I don't feel like I deserved this. Some higher power had to be helping it come together. I've said before that I couldn't have been more blessed, but I was wrong. There's no limit, and sitting on the cliff, looking down at the ram, I felt more humbled than I'd ever been.

    After regaining feeling in my extremities, I carefully made my way to the ram. I struggled to walk, and I think I found every cactus, ocotillo, and mesquite thorn along the way. But I didn't care. I was on cloud nine.













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  7. #226
    Senior Member sn.outdoors's Avatar
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    After getting a few pictures of the ram I walked over to the cliff to see where the random guy was below me. I vectored him in to a decent spot to climb, and as soon as he was up to me I realized I never even had the common decency to ask his name. "Hey man. Thanks so much for coming out here... What's your name?" I felt like an idiot...

    "Cole. A ram like that is a great way to meet someone."

    I thanked Cole again for all of his help and reiterated how grateful I was that he would drop what he was doing to help a complete stranger (who was sheep hunting out of a Subaru Forester) and for coming all the way up to help pack out.

    Meanwhile Ryan finished up with work, and had his wife meet him with a pack, some water, boots and appropriate hiking clothing. Ryan invited his buddy Jim, who Dan and I had also been talking with for a while before the hunt.

    So here I am, on a cliff, with a young guy I didn't even known of 4 hours ago, a huge sheep, waiting on 2 guys I'd never met before. The bond we share as hunters is amazing. Four people from completely different walks of life coming together for the first time on the side of a nasty cliff is something few other groups of people will do. So I waited for everyone to get there for a group photo to capture this peculiar moment.



    This hunt had so many awesome themes to it, and I couldn't be more thankful to share the joy of this harvest with 3 great men.









    ---------

    For me this ram and all OTC Barbary sheep are the perfect symbol of what Dan and I had in mind when we started this thread. It isn't just that people refer to them as "the poor man's sheep," or any one thing alone. It's a combination of everything; the country they live in, their hardiness and resilience, the toughness and grace they exude, the work it takes to find them, and then the luck it takes to make it all come together is what makes them so special to me.

    The average guy does not have many opportunities to hunt sheep. They can't afford the tags, guide fees, or can't draw the tags. So the fact these creatures are available to people of modest means, and the things I listed above, makes this ram the most special trophy I've ever harvested.

    To be clear, the animal is not the real trophy. The animal, and the mount I'll have on the wall, are merely representative of the experience, the hard work, the success of the hunt, and the joy shared with friends. Poor man's sheep or not, walking down that hill with my new friends, I felt like the richest man on Earth.





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  9. #227
    Senior Member sn.outdoors's Avatar
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    Leg day everyday's workout for the day is going to be carrying this 40# 3yr old to a deer spot close to home. We'll see if we can make it happen tonight.



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  11. #228
    Senior Member sn.outdoors's Avatar
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    I'm a little slower with a kid on my back, but I did find a buck worth shooting. By that I mean I saw a horn through 8x binos at over a mile just after sunset. He was with 6 other deer that looked like does, but I can't confirm it.



    I packed the kiddo in my Kifaru, and made it to within within 400yds with 10 minutes of legal light left. Unfortunately, they moved back into the sage, and I couldn't pick the buck out of the group before dark.

    The good news is I've seen deer in this spot every time I've been there. I just need to have a full day without other obligations to make it happen.

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  12. #229
    Senior Member Lostinthewoods's Avatar
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    So I've been itching at the bit, but my deer season officially gets to start Saturday here in Florida.

    I've got a pretty neat spot picked out, I'm just going to have to wait for the wind verdict on Friday evening!






    In the yellow circle is the last bit of acorns in that general area. While scouting it Sunday I found two does in there (pink dots) and tons of tracks. It's real close to the road, but for some reason it's over looked and no one touches it! Better for me!!!

    The green lines is where they are crossing the small creek. I've got a camera on the north west side of the crossing. There was tons of sign and no one is walking in that far.


    I had a spot I originally wanted to sit because it was loaded with hogs and deer, but it's almost flooded out.








    Now I just have to get through the rest of this week!!!


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    Last edited by Lostinthewoods; 2 Days Ago at 07:19 AM.

  13. #230
    Senior Member sn.outdoors's Avatar
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    Welp... The plan worked perfectly and we found the bucks exactly where the duck hunter said they would be. Unfortunately, we both missed. My buddy missed with the muzzleloader, and I missed with my camera.

    We saw 5-8 bucks, some of them could have been the same, but we saw at least 5 bucks and 2 does. We're going to go back after then on Thursday to give the area a little break. It's a bit of a hike, but I think I'll be able to bring my daughter with me.

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  14. #231
    Senior Member sn.outdoors's Avatar
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    Had late night tonight. I need to sleep a little, go to work, edit some photos, and think of how I'll tell this story.

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  15. #232
    Senior Member Lostinthewoods's Avatar
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    Nothing like an ER visit before Florida opener, ha ha!
    My elbow has fluid filling up around it and it's about the size of a plum. I was going to wait until Monday, but they made me come in today.... doh!

    No worries, I'll still be out bow in hand tomorrow.

  16. #233
    Senior Member sn.outdoors's Avatar
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    Every now and then you have one of those experiences which grounds you and reminds you why you do what you do. Last night's hunt with Ryan was one of those experiences.

    Ryan's family didn't hunt, but he was always interested in getting into hunting. Last year, while he was in Texas he bought a bow and a rifle, and practiced until he was proficient with both. He had a few opportunities but wasn't able to capitalize on them. When he moved to Idaho this spring he knew he wanted to experience hunting in the mountains.

    Ryan's a terrific woodsman, and is comfortable in the field. His first mountain hunt was for archery elk where he was able to successfully get within archery range of a handful of elk. He even got a shot off, but adrenaline and excitement caused him to miscount his pins and send the arrow right over the bull's back. He hunted hard and was into animals the entire hunt. Which is quite an accomplishment for someone who had never hunted elk before, let alone never really hunting at all. Despite his near success, he still had an empty freezer (which was his best ammunition for convincing his wife to allow him to buy all of his hunting gear )

    Fast forward to Tuesday, when I received a tip on the bedding location of a few nice bucks from a duck hunter, I knew I had to invite Ryan along. When we got to where I was told the deer were bedded, we stopped and discussed our plan for the afternoon. The spot looked good and there were trails funneling to a narrow opening in the brush.



    Not more than 5 minutes after deciding to just sit tight and wait in that spot, a buck showed up. While Ryan was repositioning to get a clear shot, the buck came closer, spotted us, and spooked. But like almost all mule deer, he stopped after a few yards and looked back at us. Unfortunately, Ryan couldn't get steady and he missed the shot. The plan worked perfectly... almost too easy.

    We sat the rest of the night and saw a handful of other deer, but they never came close enough or stood still long enough to get a shot off. So we decided to give it a day to cool off and to come back Thursday.

    I had several conversations with Ryan in-between hunts and reminded him hunting isn't a guarantee, and statistically most people are unsuccessful. He just needed to keep a positive outlook and get back out there. It'll happen. I had no doubt we'd get it done.

    Our plan for Thursday was to sit in the same spot and wait. So we waited... and waited. Just as it was reaching the time of night when you start to doubt whether or not anything would step out, I saw movement on the other side of the clearing. It was a deer, and a buck too! Since the wind wasn't ideal for the direction the deer was moving we decided to try to flank him and get into a better spot. We moved slowly and cautiously since we knew he was close. We'd stop and glass around every corner we came to. We waited for a few minutes at the spot we figured the deer would move through, but he never came.

    So we chose to move slowly back to where we were sitting earlier. A few steps later....



    There he was! Only 40 yards away from where we started and about 70 yards from us. I handed Ryan my muzzleloader and shooting stick. I didn't give him any pointers because he knew what he had to do.

    I just sat back and soaked in the moment. This was the first time I'd ever been with someone when they're about to take they're first animal, and it was an amazing sight to see. I watched as he brought the rifle to his shoulder, acquired his sight picture, and exhaled in a effort to calm himself down. Through the corner of my eye, I could see a subtle effect of adrenaline on the end of the barrel.



    As I put my eye to my camera's viewfinder and pressed the shutter, the rifle went off. As is common with muzzleloaders, our view was blocked by smoke, but when it cleared we saw the buck regain his footing and stumble a few yards into the brush. It was a good shot. He wasn't going far.

    Since we didn't see him drop, I looked at my watch, made note of the time, and told Ryan we'd wait 10-15 minutes before walking over. It was impossible to miss the feeling of excitement in the air. We discussed the shot placement, and what we thought we'd see when we walked over there. I could tell Ryan was trying to contain his excitement and keep a level head, and he did. He stayed calm and absorbed as much of the moment as he could.

    We quickly found blood where the buck was standing and I knew he was dead. So I stepped back and hit the record button on my camera to capture the moment he found his first kill. Ryan found the buck in the same spot we'd last seen him, and he stood there in awe of his harvest for a moment before approaching him. Such a special moment, and I felt so blessed to witness it.







    In the hierarchy of lifetime achievements, I consider killing your first animal to be among of the highest of them. I know for me, that moment changed the course of my life. It satiated the primal instinct we share with our ancestors to harvest and eat meat. It taught me to respect the fragility of life, how to appreciate the wonderful gift that life is, and many more lessons which cannot be described with words.

    Now I don't know if Ryan felt these things, but I could tell by his prayer of thanks and the pure awestruck look in his eyes as we broke the animal down into quarters that he knew what hunting is all about. This deer is just the beginning for him, and the most special harvest of all of them; the first.

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    Last edited by sn.outdoors; 1 Day Ago at 09:03 PM.

  17. #234
    Senior Member Lostinthewoods's Avatar
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    Opening day in my zone in Florida!

    Got the spot I want to hunt a little early because it's a controlled area and only 200 are allowed to hunt it at a time! Not bad for 24k acres.

    Now I'm at the gate waiting for my buddies to show up and for them to open it in 2 hours.


    All of my cameras are showing deer. I may try to set up in a spot with the most action and just watch both of my buddies hunt. One is brand new to hunting this year and I want to see him come unglued when he sees his first deer with a bow in hand.


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  18. #235
    Senior Member Lostinthewoods's Avatar
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    This morning was slow and very warm.
    Sat a very active water spot that has some resident does.





    I'm just pumped the season is open so I can start hunting deer! It's nice knowing I have 5 months of deer hunting left and 3 states to do it in. Average Joe Hunting Adventures with Dan and CJ


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