So, we're going to be Sheep hunters....

RobertD

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Jul 16, 2020
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Southwest Georgia (GA)
Can't wait to hear about this one. Seem to remember New Mexico gives a lot of leeway as far as units go for sheep. This one is definitely gonna be one of those hunts where specific areas matter, a little bit of local knowledge could go a long way!
 

grandejuan

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Aug 8, 2016
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Arizona
If you have or know someone who has a airplane I'd fly the area now to get an idea of the topography then fly again just before the season looking for sheep especially rams. It makes your on ground scouting even better. GJ
 
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[email protected]

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Jan 31, 2018
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Olympic Peninsula - for now
I will not ask where and when you'll be sheep hunters; but I will offer that if the nature of the unit that your wife will hunt is rugged and mountainous, I'd recommend reading the entire 100++ pages of the MT Unlimited thread*. Ditto, and even more so, if the hunt also runs late on the calendar and gives you a shot at rut behavior that might be accompanied by severe weather. The recommendations of snowshoes, crampons and ice axes in the thread is not all intended to scare away the competition.

Congratulations on the draw; and have a good hunt!

* Having the area all to yourselves, your wife and you can ignore the common complaint voiced by hunters of Montana's Unlimited Sheep areas, that of orange vests dotting the mountains.:D
 

treedagain

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Dec 9, 2011
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Best piece of advice I got when I drew my OIL SD sheep tag, "Don't shoot the first ram you see, he might be the biggest sheep on the mountain, but until you look at all of them, you will never know."

Good luck and have fun!!
If you scout it you will know if he is an upper tier ram. Pass him up and you might not find him again
 

A Guy Out West

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Apr 28, 2021
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Start working out! Find a stadium and walk up and down those stairs. Carry a weighted back pack. Practice shooting a lot. Good luck!!!!!
 

KayakMacGyver

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It's been a little over a week and, while the shock still hasn't worn off, we are starting to get a solid game plan together. I'm an obsessive planner, but this was never something I actually thought would happen so it's been a bit of a scramble to start putting the pieces together before August.

New Mexico has a ton of great biological data available on their website related to Sheep in the state. All of it is incredibly interesting, but the most valuable information so far has come from reading through their helicopter survey reports. In fact, as I poured over all of the surveys they had published, I came across a reference to a recent tag holder that I was able to track down. We talked for over an hour and I was able to get lots of super helpful intel such as water locations (for our own consumption), access routes, good glassing areas, camping areas and even a reference for private land access on an alternate route. I feel like that hour conversation provided us the kind of intel that takes a years of boots on the ground recon in Elk country. The prior tag holder told me, "You're part of an ultra-exclusive club now and I'll never get to hunt this place again in my life... I WANT to share as much as I can with you in hopes that your wife can make the best of this incredible opportunity". I found this to be a super cool gesture.

We've made a decision to go at this un-guided. In short, it's a point of personal pride for us to accomplish hunting goals on our own. I've been a licensed charter Captain since I was in college and it feels a bit ironic to say that, but we really value the experience of the ups and downs that come with figuring out on your own, the hard way.

One of the big questions I had for the prior tag holder was about judgement of the animal. They were in a very similar position as we are, with no prior sheep experience but a good bit of hunting experience, and opted to go guided for the same exact reason. They wanted to harvest the biggest/oldest Ram they could so they opted to increase their knowledge by adding staff. In hindsight, they didn't regret that decision but did feel like one would have plenty of time to understand the potential and identify the biggest while in the field by investing time on the front end. We will see how this plays out, but I'm confident we will not rush any decision while on the mountain.

We expect to be hunting and camping around 12,500 feet on this hunt. I spent quite a bit of time last year in Elk country at 11,500 and was really appreciative of the increased emphasis I put on physical fitness leading up to the hunt. Heavy, heavy cardio had me feeling like a million bucks at elevation last September. That said, this will be a challenge for sure. Alicia and I both try to stay in very good shape, but she's taking it up a couple notches by adding two-a-day training to her routine Monday-Friday. Every morning we do a 30 minute HIIT class together, which I follow with a 4 mile run. She's never been a big runner, but is adding runs to her regimen every night with a goal of 4 mile runs - 4 days per week by August. She's also traded services with one of her clients to get personal training one day per week with focus on core/lower body strength building. Barring any injuries, I'm 100% confident that physical fitness will not be an impedance on this adventure.

I've booked a flight for a scouting trip out to New Mexico from Florida the weekend of July 4th. This should give me a good chance to understand the terrain and get some eyes on animals. I've never seen a sheep in the wild, so this is a memory I know I will remember until the day I die. A good buddy of mine is coming along too and I'm pumped about showing him the West. He's had dreams of chasing Elk with me, but I'm very particular about who I hunt with and he just doesn't have the skillset yet for me to feel comfortable taking on that kind of responsibility. This will be a good proving ground for him and it's lit a fire under him to get into better shape.

As mentioned before, we will have the unit to ourselves for the entire duration of the hunt. I feel like this is a HUGE pressure lifted as it allows us to plan and make decisions without the sometimes irrational behavior that comes out when competition is around. We intend to pack in to the area we plan to hunt (about 8 miles from the trailhead) 4 days in advance of start of her hunt and spend some quality time watching the sheep and really looking for the oldest and most mature ram possible. From everything I've read and gathered in talking to people familiar with this mountain, finding sheep should be a problem.

For now, our focus will remain on peak physical fitness, time at the range and consuming as much content as we possibly can on aging rams. I was referred to the video below, which has been SUPER helpful, but would greatly appreciate any tips/tricks/advice this forum can offer related to this hunt. Please, keep the great suggestions coming!


 

3855WIN

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Mississippi
Kayak, I’d look into getting packed in. It’d be nice to have a few extra comforts and to be relatively fresh once you get up on top. Should be awesome.
 

Bluffgruff

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Jun 23, 2019
Messages
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If you aren't old and decrepit, and even if you are, walk in and walk out with a sheep. Packing in is a personal choice, but it sounds like that's not how you hunt. Don't compromise on how you want to do it.
 

elkduds

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Jan 22, 2016
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CO Springs.
You have to hunt @ the altitude where the sheep are. But camping @ that altitude may well prove challenging. Some lowlanders get to that altitude and are uncomfortable, some get sick, some can't hunt and are forced to descend to preserve their health. Include in your thorough research potential effects of altitude and mitigations for same including acclimatization, spending time @ higher altitudes before hunting. Talk to your physician about treatment plans (meds). Conditioning is vital as noted above, but physiological effects of altitude on individuals are difficult to predict. Many people find climbing @ 12K altitude twice as difficult as 11K altitude. Those same people get worse every day and night that passes up high, sleeping poorly and never recovering from previous days' exertions. Most young and healthy people won't die from altitude sickness @ 12.5K, but many feel like they will. Ferocious headache, nausea, dizziness, lethargy, sense of panic over inability to catch one's breath are some of the symptoms. Sleeping even 1000 feet lower could make a significant difference in comfort and ability to operate safely and actively that high up.

Good luck on your wife's OIL sheep hunt! Watching this thread w interest.
 

Labman

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Jun 21, 2015
Messages
255
You have to hunt @ the altitude where the sheep are. But camping @ that altitude may well prove challenging. Some lowlanders get to that altitude and are uncomfortable, some get sick, some can't hunt and are forced to descend to preserve their health. Include in your thorough research potential effects of altitude and mitigations for same including acclimatization, spending time @ higher altitudes before hunting. Talk to your physician about treatment plans (meds). Conditioning is vital as noted above, but physiological effects of altitude on individuals are difficult to predict. Many people find climbing @ 12K altitude twice as difficult as 11K altitude. Those same people get worse every day and night that passes up high, sleeping poorly and never recovering from previous days' exertions. Most young and healthy people won't die from altitude sickness @ 12.5K, but many feel like they will. Ferocious headache, nausea, dizziness, lethargy, sense of panic over inability to catch one's breath are some of the symptoms. Sleeping even 1000 feet lower could make a significant difference in comfort and ability to operate safely and actively that high up.

Good luck on your wife's OIL sheep hunt! Watching this thread w interest.
Best advice given so far. Better have your Diamox prescription filled, even if you are an ultra athlete. Coming from Florida’s highest elevation of 345’ to an altitude of 12k’+ is no joke. At that elevation, 8 miles from the trailhead packing in for x days (10?) is a feat without a dead sheep on your back. If you are truly looking for advice like you said you were, I will be the lone voice here saying that you shouldn’t rule out consulting an outfitter to assist. The tag your wife has is something that she will never experience again in NM. We can all say “enjoy the experience” all we want but there is some pressure there. Do some extra charters this summer and ride in there on horses and enjoy it.
 

3855WIN

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Mississippi
If you aren't old and decrepit, and even if you are, walk in and walk out with a sheep. Packing in is a personal choice, but it sounds like that's not how you hunt. Don't compromise on how you want to do it.
Not really him compromising as much as how his wife wants to hunt. Plenty of DIY for them to do even if they got someone to pack them in on horses. 12.5 is serious altitude. For us sea level folks, it’s hard to breathe at 12.5, even if we drive there in a truck.
 

Bluffgruff

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Jun 23, 2019
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Spend a few days acclimating. "Climb high, sleep low[er]." Start in the town at the base of the mountains for a night. Next day, drop a camp somewhere and climb 2000ft and scout for sheep and another camp, go back to camp. Next day, move camp to the spot you scouted and climb another 2k, and repeat. I would rarely sleep above 11500ft if you can avoid it. Human physiology breaks down above 10600ft. Sleep on your stomach if you can (beneficial lessons from hypoxia related to COVID).

I used to be an overweight lowlander from the deep south. Now I'm an overweight DIY mountain hunter. Anybody can do this with preparation and the right attitude. Outfitters will soon be a thing of the past if capitalism is allowed to progress.
 
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Trap

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Apr 17, 2021
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90
Awesome and congratulations to your wife. I will be following this hunt look forward to the write up. Only advice I can offer is I think exploring getting packed in is a good idea. 110 percent understand the satisfaction of doing it yourself which you still can just makes it easier to focus energy on the actual hunt. I recently did a solo elk hunt in my home state with a decent tag and in hindsight wish I would have had a packer. This will definitely be a once in a lifetime experience enjoy!
 

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