10 Day Ram: Bowhunting Regal Rams (Part 1)
Posted on May 15, 2013
My summer plans changed on the morning of May 7, 2008. That’s when I checked the Colorado Division of Wildlife Web site to find that I had drawn a first-season archery bighorn ram tag for unit S32. I had to call a friend and have him check the site as well, because I thought my computer might be on the fritz. He concurred, and I immediately began to craft a plan. After eight years of trying to draw this coveted tag, it was finally my turn to hunt these wily critters.
I started to put the word out that I had drawn, and people who had hunted the unit started to surface, telling their story, giving me useful tips and places to look. Throughout the summer I was heading up the mountain to scout. I wanted to familiarize myself with the area and how to get around in it. I was also hitting the treadmill with a weighted pack and spending a lot of time at the local high school track and stadium stairs.
Opening day August 1, 2008 found me camped at 11,000 feet as I planned to hunt some of the popular mountaintops and gulches not far from camp. I intended on staying the whole 16-day season if needed, and if I wasn’t seeing rams nearby, I would move to other parts of the unit.
A friend came up the second day of the season to help with glassing and signaling for stalking. He battled a bad case of altitude sickness the whole morning, but I had to hand it to him because he kept up with me, even with a pounding headache and a queasy stomach.
Later that morning we spotted a nice group of rams in the timber, and the stalk was on. I sneaked to within 39 yards of a big ram that was up feeding with his head and the front of his vitals shielded behind a tree. I had a small opening to shoot through, and would have had to hug some tree limbs to get the arrow into the vitals. This is a shot my buddies and I practice all summer, but at 12,000 feet with my adrenaline pumping and a howling wind, I knew I had to wait for a better angle. The ram moved behind a rock ledge, so I started to close the distance. When I saw him again he was 32 yards away, and as I started to draw, rams to the right caught my movement and bolted. This was the first close opportunity, but I had no regrets about passing on a questionable shot since I was still having the time of my life.
The following day found us in a deep draw when four unapproachable rams were spotted. As we climbed to the top, I bellied out onto some rocks for another look. That’s when I spotted three rams off to my left in a stalkable position. We quickly agreed on hand signals and I was off.
Forty-five minutes later, I was closing the last 150 yards to the rams, when I heard a noise and looked up to see the target rams walking toward me on a trail 12 yards below. I froze as what was happening sunk in and then tried to nock an arrow. The rams kept their course and walked a little faster into the timber and out of my life. When I got to the top, I asked my friend what got them spooked. He said it was another hunter who apparently had someone spotting from the highway down below. The hunter had walked to the top of the drainage talking on his cell phone saying, “Can you see me now? I am above the snow patch.” Well, at least I was sheep hunting!
That afternoon we were caught in a hail and lighting storm out on the tundra. My buddy had enough of the altitude and decided to head home. The next morning found me up on the mountain at first light, where I spotted four rams feeding in the tundra and heading to bed in the timber. The stalk was on and I closed to within 100 yards before I ran out of cover. Fifteen minutes later the wind changed and they were gone. That night I headed down to town for a shower and a real bed.
(To be continued…)
Stay tuned for the second part of this riveting bowhunting story!
Text and Photos by Warren Anderson Jr.