Drew Arizona Nonresident Desert Bighorn Sheep Tag - Kofa NWR. Dec. 2022.

TheGrayRider

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478
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So blessed, thankful, and grateful to have the opportunity to hunt Arizona desert bighorn sheep. 12/13/2022. Kofa NWR, Unit 45C. Merry Christmas, TheGrayRider.

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The whole basecamp team that worked very hard and extremely well together. Great group of guys. One friend in this group applied for 49 years straight and finally drew and killed an Arizona sheep last year at 79 yoa. That’s dedication!

I will write a hunt report with a few conservation notes from my previous notes and research when I get back to the Midwest. Happy New Year 2023!

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A short thanks to all of the different organizations and their members that directly and indirectly support conservation, hunting, fishing, and the outdoors. God please continue to bless America, TheGrayRider!
 
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BradA

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Jan 23, 2021
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Congratulations! I seen a picture of your ram posted on Instagram. Nothing is better than chasing desert bighorns. I take it you drew as a nr ?
 

TheGrayRider

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Indiana
As promised, here is a brief hunt report and miscellaneous notes that I researched before my desert bighorn sheep (DBHS) hunt. Bottom line: I am so blessed, grateful, and thankful to have the opportunity to hunt desert bighorn sheep and any big game in my lifetime. Lifelong goal accomplished. Never, ever quit. I appreciate the mountain hunts and don't take them lightly. I have been on a previous 10 day dahl sheep hunt where I did not load a round, which was a reality check and a bitter pill to swallow. Success is never guaranteed but just keep going. Don't ever give up and always stay positive. Thanks again to all.

“A dream does not become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.” Colin Powell.

Disclaimer: The notes and quotes are simply to encourage people to continue to support conservation, hunting, fishing, and the outdoors. Collectively, everyone, in any capacity, helps out and makes a difference. Some of the data may be be outdated and some of the organizations may contribute more of their bottom line to conservation than others. I get that and would prefer not to debate or argue those points. I am just offering through these points my sincere gratitude, appreciation, and thankfulness to all over the decades that have made and make these opportunities available to sportsmen and outdoorsmen.

“This is no game for the weak-kneed and faint-hearted. Hunter success is not high, not because there aren’t enough sheep but because there aren’t enough people with the temperament to become sheep hunters.” – Jack O’Connor, The Bighorn, March 1960.


Brief hunt report: 5 days of hunting with Sundowner Guide Service, LLC of Arizona on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, south of Quartzsite in Unit 45C. Please give them a call for elk, bighorn sheep, mountain lion, black bear, antelope, and mule deer hunts. Great group of guys who have hunted these areas for almost 50 years. 7 mm Remington magnum, 140 grain factory ammunition. Shot under 100 yards from above rams. Score: I don't measure the success of a hunt with a tape measure. Same points we always read: Train, train, train before your hunt with a heavy backpack. Get in the best shape possible. Shot your rifles extensively. Enjoy the moment and have fun. Don't attempt to guide your guide. Trust them, they are the professionals. I would recommend going on a auodad/barbary sheep hunt in Texas or New Mexico, if possible. My barbary sheep hunt, years earlier, was extremely similar to the DBHS hunt over very similar terrain. I thought the barbary sheep were harder to spot actually than the desert bighorns. No white rump on the barbary sheep. I think Texas still offers year round hunting for barbary sheep on an exotic license without a draw on private lands. The barbary sheep hunts were also much more economical.

“One cannot run from a challenge without losing. To flee is signing a death warrant to dignity and character, and having run, there is no return; one is a weakling forever. Meeting a challenge, though one may be defeated, gives strength, character, and a certain assurance regardless of the outcome, one will survive or go down fighting.” Sigurd F. Olson

Miscellaneous Research and Conservation Notes:

1. In 2009, Arizona had 97 desert bighorn sheep and rocky mountain tags available. In 2022, Arizona had 140 DBHS and RMBS tags available. (44% increase.)

2. Per the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, from 1984 to 2019, over $11,256,854 in funds were raised through Special Auction and Raffle Tags.

3. Totally protected by the Arizona Territorial Legislature in 1893, bighorn sheep were not legal game until 1953, when limited hunting of trophy rams was allowed (“…as the only way to save them…”)

4. In 1953, 37 permits were authorized in Arizona for DBHS and 20 rams were harvested. (54.1% success rate)

5. In 2013, a bighorn sheep permit in Montana sold for $480,000, still a record.

6. Estimated that there are now over 200,000 wild sheep in North America.

7. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that there are more than 10 million big game hunters in the US, but only approximately 2,500 hunters get to pursue wild sheep each year. New York Times article, 2/16/2017. The Ultimate Pursuit in Hunting: Wild Sheep.

8. A few organizations, among many, that support conservation, hunting, fishing, and the outdoors: Texas Bighorn Society, Dallas Safari Club, Wild Sheep Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Society, Ducks Unlimited, Safari Club International, Arizona Elk Foundation, National Rifle Association, Quail Unlimited, the numerous State Fish and Wildlife Agencies, etc.

9. In 1936, the Arizona Boy Scouts mounted a statewide campaign to save the bighorn sheep, leading to the creation of Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. The Scouts first became interested in the sheep through the efforts of Major Frederick Russell Burnham, the noted frontiersman turned conservationist who co-founded Scouting. Burnham observed that fewer than 150 of these sheep lived in the Arizona mountains. He called George F. Miller, then scout executive of the Boy Scout council headquartered in Phoenix, with a plan to save the sheep. A "save the bighorns" poster contest was started in schools throughout the state. Burnham provided prizes and appeared in store windows from one end of Arizona to the other. The contest-winning bighorn emblem was made into neckerchief slides for the 10,000 Boy Scouts, and talks and dramatizations were given at school assemblies and on radio. The National Wildlife Federation, the Izaak Walton League, and the Audubon Society joined the effort. In January 1939, over 1.5 million acres were set aside at Kofa and at Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge combined, and a civilian conservation corps side camp was set up to develop high mountain waterholes for the sheep. On April 2, 1939, Kofa National Wildlife Refuge was officially opened; Burnham gave the dedication speech. The desert bighorn sheep is now the official mascot for the Arizona Boy Scouts, and the number of sheep in these parks have increased substantially.

10. In 1974, Jack O’Connor wrote in Sheep and Sheep Hunting, “I think the prospect for the indefinite continuation of hunting of desert sheep is very bad, even in limited numbers available today.” Chapter 16, page 291. He also wrote, “I am extremely pessimistic about the future of the desert bighorn – and so are the biologist.” Ibid, page 294.

Thankfully, due to ongoing conservation efforts from the many state fish and wildlife agencies, numerous conservation organizations and their members and volunteers, Jack O'Connor was wrong. May the desert bighorn sheep and all other fish and wild game continue to flourish.

Happy hunting and God Bless America. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2023, TheGrayRider a/k/a Tom.
 

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