Western Hunting Journal, Premiere Issue whj001_premiere - Page 59

hoglund mating season approaches their behavior changes. During the rut, bachelor groups move closer to the ewes and the older rams begin to establish domi- nance on the younger rams. On numerous scouting trips we watched the mature rams run off the younger rams. Those that stood their ground end- ed up butting heads with the dominant rams. Watching the rams fight and listening to the crashing of horns echo off the canyon walls was a highlight of my scouting trips. The rut also coincides with the late season hunts starting in mid-October. During the hunting season, if you find ewes you will find rams. And that is exactly what happened during my hunt. If you find a solitary ram during the hunt- ing season, it’s a good bet that it’s a younger ram. Thinking back on the first ram I saw that morning, I’m glad I held off for an older, more mature ram. Because it’s easy to get caught up in the moment, knowing ahead of time the type of ram you want to kill is important. Scouting is im- portant, but studying rams is even more important. I began reading as much as I could on bighorn sheep hunting, watch- ing videos online, and scouring the internet for photos. Ideally, I wanted to shoot a ram that had good mass at the base of his horns, and had a full curl. Un- fortunately, those rams are not as common as you’d think. In most cases the older, more ma- ture rams have broomed their lamb tips off, which is either done on purpose to enhance its field of vision, or happens inad- vertently while feeding. That’s not to say rams with mass and length don’t exist, because they do. They’re just not as common as you’d hope. And finding them during hunting is a lot harder than you think. Ultimately, when I made my decision to shoot my ram I opted for mass over length. The ram I killed had 15 inch bas- es and 31 inch horns. His tips were broomed, and his horns had great character. He was 8 ½ years old and he scored 159 4/8. He wasn’t the biggest ram ever taken from the Deschutes River drainage, but definitely not the smallest. What’s most important is that he was what I had envisioned and a ram I’ll be proud to look at the rest of my life. WHJ Hunting Bighorn Sheep in Oregon ODFW biologist Jeremy Thompson taps the pin into the horns, following the check in where hunters must have biologists score and register thier ram. All bighorn sheep must have a pin in thier horns. SPECIES Oregon has both California and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep populations. CALIFORNIA BIGHORN SHEEP The most common bighorn sheep in the state. Population estimates are 3,700 spread throughout the state in 37 different herds. The majority of California bighorn sheep are concentrated in the John Day and Deschutes river drainages, in southeast Oregon and in pockets of northeast Oregon. Potential for 170” + ram is good. ROCKY MOUNTAIN BIGHORN SHEEP Population estimates are 800 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. They are concentrated in northeast Oregon, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep hunts take place in various units in the Snake River drainage, the Blue Mountains and the Minam River drainage. Potential for a 180” + ram is good. SEASONS Varies per unit. Hunts that take place in southeast Oregon generally begin in mid-August and end in mid-September. Central Oregon hunts take place in October and run through mid-November. In Northeast Oregon seasons are typically held in September. CONTROLLED HUNT To hunt bighorn sheep in Oregon hunters are selected through a random draw system. Unlike other species, preference points do not apply. Oregon calls a bighorn sheep tag “a once in a lifetime” tag. Once drawn hunters are not eligible to participate in the draw system again. It is permissible, however, to obtain a sheep tag through the statewide raffle or buy an auction tag. NON-RESIDENT OPPORTUNITY Oregon offers sheep tags for out-of-state hunters, however they are limited. The state allocated one Rocky Mountain and five California bighorn sheep tags to non-residents in 2017. AUCTION TAGS Oregon auctions off one bighorn sheep tag at the Wild Sheep Foundation’s annual convention. The highest bidder can hunt in any unit where there is an authorized season from Aug. 1 to Nov. 30. The 2017 auction tag fetched $135,000. RAFFLE TAGS Both residents and non- residents can purchase a big game raffle ticket that allows the winner to hunt bighorn sheep in any unit where the &R2WF&V@6V6FW&R2Ɩ֗BFFRV&W"`&ffRF6WG26VR6W&66R#pFR7FFR6BCr&v&6VW&ffPFw267BbR&ffRF6WB2CSF6WG0&Rf&Rf"W&66RBBb6PvVG2"'vW'2&RV6V@BFR&VvVFW'2766FV6fVF4E$T@T@Ĕ4DFǒf"&v&6VWFrRW7@W&66RW"Ɩ6V6RB֖CƖ6FfVRĔ4DDTDĔRP$U5TE2f&RƖR֖BԧVRDE2bE$trW72FW&6VBĔ4T4RdTU2&W6FVBC3#&W6FVBCcSDrdTU2&W6FVBC3"S&W6FVBCC2bG&vFw2W7B&RW&66VBFPF&Vf&RFR6V6VBFFRD$R$TUE2&VvVFW.( 0766F7FFR6fVF"#&v&6VW&ffRFrvW"V6VBwwr&VvVFW'2&s&VvfVFFf"'FW&6vB6VW&r#&6VFvB&ffRFrvW V6VBwwr&Vvfw2&sv@6VWfVFF#&VWfF&Vv&v&6VWFrV7FVB$Rd$DFFRDe~( 0vV'6FRf"&Rf&F7V6f0&v&6VWVG2BFRƖ6F&6W72wwrFgr7FFR"W0wwrvW7FW&VFvW&6УS