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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have never sheep hunted before but realized what a special opportunity I had in front of me when I finally drew my OIL California Bighorn sheep with 21 points on the Newfoundland Mtns unit in my home state of Utah.

Back in June I was able to join some of the presidency of the Utah Wild Sheep Foundation and the Utah DWR to build a new water guzzler for the sheep on my unit. Such a cool experience to see the unit from a helicopter and to give back in some way to a resource I would be taking something from.
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
My hunt started on October 29th, but I didn’t plan to start hunting until November 4th. In hindsight that was not a good choice. We had some major weather move in with wind, precip and cold temps that made hunting very difficult and the sheep seemed to hold up high and were not real active.

Weather also made camping rough. We stayed in a wall tent with a wood stove, which was very nice, but one of the days, the wind was so fierce that it ripped the tent stakes out of the ground and flipped our tent over, exposing all of our sleeping bags, cots and gear to rain. Not good, but just adds to the adventure! We were able to dry things out enough to survive the cold temps.

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
We found sheep and rams every day but the bigger rams were in difficult locations for stalks and weren’t showing a lot of rutting behavior. The wind and weather was keeping them high on the mountain. Finally on Friday, we had a sunny (don’t mistake that for being warm 😂) and wind free day and started seeing sheep lower on the mountain and more active. We found a group of ewes very low and then spotted a good ram all alone. He was a bit higher up the mountain, but worth going after so we put a game plan together and I started my stalk.

As I was working my way toward the first ram, I spotted what looked like sheep much closer with the tell-tale white “long-john” rumps popping in the early light. I pulled up my binos and sure enough it was a good ram with six ewes. They were about 200 yards away but there was a nice rise between us that would give me some cover to get even closer. I worked my way to that rise and the sheep continued to mill around and do their thing. Once I got to the top of the rise, I took my backpack off and readied my gun. The ram was under 150 yards slightly quartering away when I touched off the bullet, which found its mark with a perfect heart shot. He fell forward and I added two quick follow up insurance shots to anchor him, and suddenly, my long awaited once in a lifetime sheep hunt was over.

I am still processing all of the emotions and experiences of this hunt, but can see clearly how guys can become obsessed with hunting sheep. Such a cool and unique experience from other types of hunts I have been on. Really grateful to have an opportunity to experience sheep fever!!

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
That's awesome. So how much does a ram weigh? How much meat do you get off of one?

You were in some pretty rugged, desolate, and dry country for sure.
Body size was pretty similar to an average mule deer I would say - they are a bit stockier and lower to the ground than a deer. I am guessing he was around 200 pounds on the hoof.

The Newfoundland Mtns are a crazy place and so desolate - it is actually a little unnerving, especially when it is wet and muddy and you aren't sure if you will get stuck in the salt flats mud out there. The place is very unforgiving in all aspects. I won't miss the ~25 miles of crappy causeway road along the railroad tracks out there that is for sure!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Congratulations. Great looking Ram.
May I ask why your drilling a hole in the horn? Testing ?
Thanks! Most states, including Utah, require that you check in a harvested ram within a certain time period . Part of the check-in process includes the DWR drilling the horn and inserting a metal plug with an ID # on it that they record to show a legal kill.
 

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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Sounds like a great experience and congrats on a great ram! How cool to get to see your hunt area from a heli too. How did you swing that ride??

I have been looking at the Newfies for my wife’s hunt in the near future, but with the DWR’s new management strategy to manage for lower age class rams (younger rams wander less decreasing the likelihood that they’ll wander too far and find some domestic sheep to go get sick on), I’m looking at the Oak Creeks now. I’ve heard the horror stories about that causeway road.

I was trying to figure out the age on your ram. Is he 5.5 or 6.5? I’m maybe seeing another line on his horns but can’t tell for sure.
Thanks! I was made aware of the guzzler project by a couple of forum members on another site, so I reached out to a couple of the Utah Wild Sheep Foundation board members that were in charge and asked if I could join. They were grateful for the help and it was an awesome experience for me. The guzzler we built was in a pretty rugged area, so they flew us and the materials in to the site and we built the guzzler and then hiked back out to the vehicles.

I wrestled with the same things you are thinking about for your wife's hunt. None of the units with California bighorns (Newfies, Oak Creek, Stansbury) have older trophy rams. I knew I would not kill a monster on these units, but also knew it might take me 10 more years to draw a Book Cliffs tag with true rocky mtn bighorns. I opted to hunt for the experience and hope that I can also draw a Desert Bighorn tag before I am 80 years old!! I scouted each of the cali units and landed on the Newfies simply because the unit has more sheep, but it is a rugged, desolate place and the causeway road and the lower roads around the mountain range can be rough and easy to get stuck in if you get a lot of weather (which we did this year so it was a little stressful). If I were to do it over again, I think I would go with the Oak Creek just to reduce the logistical challenges and focus only on hunting. You'll likely see more sheep on the Newfies but the size and age of rams is pretty equal.

My ram is likely 5 or 6, but his bases are so smooth that it is hard to tell. The biologist that checked in my ram and plugged the horn thought 5 but wasn't sure. I sent in some teeth so should know for sure in March. He has 14" bases which is above average out there, but doesn't carry the mass all the way through the tips, which is obviously indicative of a younger ram. I am happy with him and the experience. Did see a couple rams that were bigger but they were mostly alone and cruising and nearly impossible to get close to.

Happy to talk and share more with you if it is helpful as you are deciding on your wife's hunt. How many points does she have?
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
She has 20 if I remember right. Barring any changes in the sheep herds (always a possibility it seems), I’m pretty sure it will be the Oak Creeks or maybe the Stansburys. I killed my ram on the Stans in 2015. Not an easy hunt but close enough that she can sleep in her own bed at night. I like the Oak Creek option though, as we can camp and hunt. we’ll see…
I had 21 points and drew with no issues. After my experience, I would also do the first hunt as I think the sheep were really spooky on my hunt (2nd hunt Oct 29-Nov 18) after being chased a bunch, and I did not benefit from the rut like I thought we would. Sheep were definitely showing signs of the rut but the biggest rams were way up high and alone and not with the ewes.
 
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