Gone in 60 Seconds
By Trent Leavitt
NV, Desert Bighorn Sheep
About five years ago, I drew a Desert bighorn sheep tag in New Mexico. I hunted several days and carried my bow and gun. It was the last day of my scheduled hunt, and it was down to my gun. I ended up shooting an 11-year-old ram that scored 182". I was excited but knew that I could have got it done with the bow. I decided that if by some miracle I ever drew another sheep tag it would be with the bow.
After drawing a Nevada tag, I began researching guides as I didn’t want to misjudge scoring the sheep. I talked to a few guides but wanted someone familiar with the unit. I decided on Silver State Guides as they lived in the unit and had taken several good rams. We decided to start hunting the first week of December. A few days before I arrived, Colby Egge sent me a picture of a ram that he anticipated going between 168" and 171". He said that if the bases went 15", he should hit 170".
I arrived the first morning and met Wayne Cronister and his son, Colby. I also met Blake Richardson who would be helping us on this hunt. The first day was spent glassing multiple areas. We came across three rams in the lower country with the largest ram in the 160s. We were within 150 yards, and I felt confident I could put a stalk on this ram. I told Colby and Blake that I really wanted to hold out for something over 170". Throughout the first day, we got a good look at about 15 different rams but nothing worth chasing.
The second day, I had a couple friends join us on the hunt. We kept glassing, hoping to find the ram from the week before. We saw a few more rams and several ewes but still nothing worth chasing.
On the third day, Colby, Lael Christensen, and I went north. Blake and Clark Labrum headed further south. We started glassing, and I got a call from Clark. Blake was pretty sure they’d found my ram. We jumped back in the truck and started heading their way. We arrived just before 8 a.m., and Colby said, “That’s our ram!” He was below the top of the peak with the other ram. We got our packs and put a game plan together.
We were just about to head out when Colby said, “We can take the rifle as a backup.”
I said, “Not a chance! If I were to consider taking a backup, it would be the muzzleloader, and fortunately, it’s still in my truck.”
We started across the valley floor. As we started to climb, we found more rams that we did not see from below. We had eight rams scattered across the face. We had to backtrack and work our way further north. After a few hours, we made it to the top. The plan was to work our way along the backside to the high point where the rams had been feeding. We started when a ram jumped up below us and took off. He headed south and crossed over the top, and we feared he would take all the sheep with him.
We continued and looked over the top where the ram had disappeared. He had joined several rams and had settled down. We continued to where we were within a couple hundred yards of our target ram and got cliffed up. The only way to continue would be to expose ourselves. We had to backtrack to find a way down. These cliffs were a little extreme. I had handed my bow up and down to Colby several times. At one point, he said to just hand him my bow and don’t look down. We had several spots where if we lost our footing we would have dropped 20-100 feet straight down.
Under 100 yards, we had to expose ourselves to get to the next point. We waited for the sheep to look away and took off. We dropped our packs and worked our way back over the top and carefully closed the distance. This stalk took four and a half hours to get to this point. The rams had bedded down just below us at about 50 yards. With a 45-degree angle down, the rangefinder had us at 43 yards. The smaller ram was in sight with the target ram to the left under a bush. Two other rams bedded down across from us at 80 yards. The waiting game was on, and fortunately, the thermals were blowing up to us.
After a short wait, the two rams across from us got up and started coming toward us. Then, the rams below us stood up. I drew my bow and came up and over the ledge. The sheep had not noticed me, but I wasn’t sure my arrow would clear the top of the ledge. I moved higher on the ledge to get a clear shot. I realized the rams still had not noticed me. I took an extra second to settle in and let it fly.
I heard a loud “Whack!” as the arrow hit. I could see the arrow hit two inches to the right of where I was aiming. I nocked another arrow and saw the ram lift his front leg and it was dangling. The arrow went through the right shoulder and settled just behind his left shoulder. He took a couple steps forward with the other ram. He was behind another bush. I started down to get another arrow in him. Before I had a chance, he sat down and rolled into another bush with the arrow sticking up. Colby said to put another arrow in him. I said his nose was straight up in the air and he was done. In less than 60 seconds, that ram only went five feet and was gone.
The celebration began! Colby pulled his tape out and was sending measurements down to Blake. After a few minutes, we could hear Blake yelling with excitement from two miles away. The rough estimate was 173". Blake, Lael, and Colton Carpenter worked their way up to us for pictures. It was just before 1 p.m., and I was thankful I was going to be able to get off that mountain in the light. I could barely walk as my knee was in a bit of pain. I had had my fourth knee surgery earlier in the year and had no ACL.
The next morning, I got a text from Colby saying he had taped my ram at 173 5/8" gross and 173 2/8" net. What an awesome experience! I have to thank Colby and Blake for their efforts in making this hunt a dream come true and to be able to share it with Lael and Clark.