Preparing for Big Horn
by Zachery Christensen
At age 15, I decided to put in for a Bighorn Sheeptag. This was the first year I had put in for abighorn sheep hunt, so naturally I had no points.I wouldn’t have put in for the tag if it wasn’t formy brother, Tyler. He told our dad that he shouldhave started putting me in long ago to accumulatesome points for these hard hunts. My dad decided to call a couple offriends to ask what the best areas would be to apply for. He was told“The Blacks” would be the best unit. So the Black Mountains werethe only section I applied for with Desert Sheep. Everyone assumedthat would be the end of it for the next 15-20 years.
In May when the names were released, Tyler looked it up onthe computer and could not believe his eyes. It was my name onthe list! He thought for sure there was an error. Tyler called ourdad, who just kept saying things like, “Nowwait a minute… Ok but…” They both toldme the news together and all I could do wasgrin and say, “really?” I thought it seemedreally cool but I didn’t understand exactlyhow cool this was at the time. We were allstill a little uncertain that it was actuallytrue until the tag arrived at the houseand I could hold it in my hands. Fromthe moment I received the tag, I hearda full range of emotions from everyonewe talked to. It went from, “I have 25bonus points, I can’t believe it” to “Doyou have any idea howlucky you are?” and“Too bad we can’t takeyou gambling.” However,the most used phrase thatcame out of anyone’s mouthwas, “that’s just not right.” Idrew a deer tag, a bighorn sheep tag and was justturning 16. I knew it was going to be a great year.At this point none of us Christensen boys had ever hunted sheep,so my family wanted to talk to everyone we could imagine to getsome advice. My friend Brady and I went down to the Departmentof Wildlife and asked about the area and the classes I could take.They told me the classes were only for people who drew a tag. I toldthem that I did, and they just brushed me off and never really gaveme any information. We talked to past hunters, other guides, andevery person that had any story or experience with sheep at all. Theyall kept saying, “mass, mass, mass”, but this still didn’t really tell ushow to find and measure sheep. In August, my dad and I attendedthe Desert Bighorn Sheep class through the Department of Wildlife.This assisted us with scoring and sizing and helped a lot. We beganto understand what type of sheep we were looking for.
From August to November my familyand I would go out and look for sheep.We were still not sure about what we werelooking for and we were still indecisive aboutwhether to get a guide or do it ourselves. Wekept scouting and put some cameras out.The cameras were great and showed us a lotof sheep in the area but there wasnever anything that really jumpedout to us as being “exceptional”.We scouted about 35-40 daysduring those months.
When I wasn’t out scouting,I was practicing shooting. Mydad was adamant that I becamea better shooter and handle therifle at the distances that I mightneed to shoot during my hunt.I learned how to reload andshoot with a stick. I had startedback to school in Septemberand wouldn’t turn 16 untilOctober and I was also on theHigh School Rodeo Team,so this made it more difficult for me to goscouting. I had to rely on my family to goout when they could and try to find thebest area to start hunting. I also harvesteda deer with my muzzleloader during thistime.
I wasn’t able to go out on opening dayand hunt because I had a test in school,but I began hunting the following Friday.My dad and Tyler went out on Thursdayfor a few hours, with a requirement thatmy mom and I have our phones and beready “just in case”. On Friday, theyhad seen a really nice ram that tookoff and ran down to thelake,so we decided on a newgame plan. Saturday rolled around andsix of us loaded up in our boat and startedsearching for this one ram. Saturday didnot produce the ram we had seen earlier,nor anything worth going back for. We alsorealized that it was rather hard to scout andhunt from a boat so we went back homelooking for new ideas.
My dad and I could not go out the nextday, but Tyler and his friend Matt did. Theywent quite a ways back into the mountainrange. The first ram they saw was the biggestone they had seen since the hunt started.They thought of going to get me rightthen. They didn’t know if that was the bestone they would find, because they hadseen a lot of rams, so they kept looking until dark. Happy with thefirst ram, they came homethat night with big plans forMonday morning.Monday morning Tyler,Matt, my dad and I met upand decided to find the niceone they had seen. We hikedinto where they saw the ramfrom the previous morning.They decided to sit tight andwatch. After about 20 minutes, the ram justseemed to appear on the hill very close tothe same spot he was in the day before. Wediscussed it for a while to make sure that thiswas the one that I should go after and how Ineeded to get it done. I said, “How far? I amready to go.” The guys told me he was about250 yards, hold right on him, and let it go.When I finally took the shot, the sheepdropped right where it was standing. Weimmediately ran over to the ram to see ifit was as nice as we had hoped. All of ouranxiety was now over and the excitement hadbegun. I was very happy with my shot andwas glad I was able to get it with just a singleshot. It seemed to take hours to take picturesand gather our thoughts on packing theram out. We were busy calling and textingpictures to everyone we knew and especiallyto those that had helped. I am so glad I hadeveryone with me to pack this out. It wasa lot of work and took all of us a while toget it back to the vehicle. That night a lot ofpeople came by to give their congratulationsand see the very nice ram I drew out for andharvested at 16 years old.