Two New Mexico Rams in Six Months
By Bruce Perryman
NM, Rocky Mtn Bighorn Sheep, Aoudad
This adventure started several years ago when I met a young, energetic New Mexico outfitter, Jordan Hall, of A3 Trophy Hunts of New Mexico at a hunting show. We stayed in touch over the next several years, and I knew that at some point I would love to hunt with him. That day came in early 2017 when I drew a unit 30 aoudad tag for 2018. I wanted to improve my odds of harvesting a ram with this tag, so I contacted Jordan and arranged a four-day trip for early February in southeast New Mexico.
Anticipation of the impending hunt was interrupted when I was informed that the birth of my first grandchild was to be on the exact day that I was to report in camp. Wanting to be a responsible first-time grandpa, I contacted Jordan and rescheduled the hunt for two weeks later so I could meet this new member of my family. After all, with today’s advanced technology, the doctors must be able to determine the exact arrival date of a baby very accurately, right? Wrong! After an uneventful 10 days with no sign of things progressing, I had to make the call that every man fears and loaded up my gear and headed south to the dismay of my still pregnant daughter.
I arrived in camp well past dark after an easy 700-mile drive and found the A3 camp. Camp consisted of several wall tents and a cooking area and was located on top of a large plateau. I stowed my gear in a tent that came with comfortable cots and a cozy heater and proceeded to organize my pack and gear for the next day’s activities.
On day four, the last day, heavy fog had settled in the camp and delayed the morning’s preparation. At around 4:00 p.m., we got a call that Ryan had located a band of sheep with some promising rams. We met up and got the scopes out to confirm what were indeed several quality rams in the group. We grabbed our packs, checked the wind, and determined a route that should put us in the best position for a shot. After a mile hike and climbing halfway up the face, we relocated the sheep, which were now feeding in a nasty gorge. Jordan ranged the ram we had singled out at 324 yards. I settled the 7mm on my pack, adjusted the Huskemaw scope to the right yardage, took a deep breath, and squeezed the trigger. The ram dropped and slid into a ravine that was completely out of sight. We began picking our way off the side of the canyon wall down to the gorge where the ram had last stood. We finally located the ram, which had succumbed instantly to the shot. After photos and with fading light, we caped and boned out the meat, loaded packs, and put on our headlights for the hike back out of the canyon. We reached the vehicles about an hour later and discovered that not only had I harvested a fine aoudad ram but I had also become a grandpa on the same day!
Jordan encouraged me to apply for other New Mexico tags with him in the outfitter pool, which is the only way a non-resident can increase their drawing odds. I was overjoyed when I was notified by the New Mexico Game and Fish Department that I had successfully drawn my second choice on a sheep tag in April of 2018. I had drawn a coveted bighorn sheep tag. We discovered that I would be the first hunter in the Latir unit, which Jordan was very familiar with, in August. I started reviewing the unit, its location, past rams harvested, and terrain and realized two things. There are big sheep there, and there is some high altitude to deal with. It had been 12 years since my last sheep hunt, a Dall sheep in Alaska, and at 58, I knew that conditioning was my only hope of keeping up with Jordan. After a committed summer, I trimmed 12 pounds, increased my cardiovascular endurance, and was ready to face the mountain.
I met up with Chad Miller, a wrangler, at the trailhead. We loaded my gear on the horses and trailed into base camp after about eight miles. Base camp was around 11,500 feet in elevation and very near tree line. Jordan arrived back in camp near dark and indicated that he had located a band of five rams in a small, rugged basin. One of the rams in the band looked promising, so we decided to get a better look at him. The next day back at camp, he shared a picture of the best ram, which looked impressive to me. I suggested we try for him on opening day and see how rugged of a spot we might find him in. Getting to him and making the shot was not what concerned me. It would be the hike back out of the small basin that was concerning.
The alarm was heard in all three tents at 5 a.m., and shortly thereafter, we topped out at sunrise and Jordan proceeded along a ridge to a glassing point. It wasn’t long before he had located the band of rams. They had fed into a much milder basin that morning. Chad and I tied up the horses and hiked up the backside of the mountain ridge to the very top where Jordan met us. I eased up the crest and put a pack down to shoot off of. The angle was very severe down to where the rams were. This required a second pack to clear the rocks that were protruding below me. We ranged the best ram at 424 yards. I settled in for the shot, took a breath, and squeezed the trigger. At the report of the shot, the ram crumbled to the ground and began to roll down the mountain. There was a lot of celebrating as our plan had played out just as we had hoped! The sheep was in a much better location than we had anticipated.
Jordan and I descended down the steep terrain into the basin where the ram lay. I approached the ram that had piled up on a scrub tree, and I was ecstatic at the full curl and mass the ram displayed. It wasn’t the largest ram for the area, but it was my ram and I was extremely proud to have taken it. Once again, the old adage held true, “If you don’t apply, you will never draw.”
Special thanks to Jordan and A3 Trophy Hunts of New Mexico for making this such an amazing experience. Sheep hunts are expected to provide challenges, but the rewards they produce are always worth the trial. Harvesting an aoudad and a bighorn sheep in New Mexico in the same year was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Hopefully someday I will be back with my new grandson to hunt these hills again.