All photo credits: Randy Johnson of High Desert Wild Sheep Guides — A goHUNT Business Member
All photo credits: Randy Johnson of High Desert Wild Sheep Guides — A GOHUNT Business Member
What is it about sheep hunting that ignites that burning passion and desire within our DNA to sacrifice hard-earned financial resources to climb remote, rugged mountain ranges that laugh at their insignificant human challenges in pursuit of trophy rams? Why would we choose to risk life and limb crossing raging rivers or struggle under the weight of a burdensome backpack to embark on a death march into the scorching heat of an arid desert searching for the elusive, treasured Ovis canadensis nelsoni?
From my perspective, sheep fever is highly contagious and incurable once you become infected. It is what I refer to as an adrenaline-induced sickness! The legendary Jack O’ Connor succinctly described sheep hunting with the following words:
No one could have stated it better! I believe that each of us become addicted to sheep hunting for a wide variety of reasons. I personally love the unmatched physical and mental challenges that present themselves when I venture into a big ram’s playground. Where else can you find such an unprecedented, natural adrenaline rush as when you match your skills against the unpredictable forces of Mother Nature and the majesty of wild sheep that inhabit the most formidable, yet beautiful country on earth? From the wild splendor of Canada to the jagged, cactus-choked, volcanic canyons of Sonora, from the vast steppes of Asia to the maze of unforgiving sandstone canyons in Southern Utah, bighorn sheep have captivated the souls of a man with their priceless grandeur through the windswept dust of centuries.
Trophy rams indeed capture our imaginations and dwell in the hearts of men and women. They stare down at us from craggy mountain peaks that spring to life in our dreams. Sheep hunting could be referred to as a hypnotic spell, a viral infection that permeates the conscience of man. It will lead you down paths highlighted by extraordinary adventure, undaunted exploration and the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the Native Americans, guides, hunters, and outfitters who paved trails into the mountains centuries before us! Dreaming of matching a hunter’s skills against a magnificent ram is what motivates the souls of sheep hunters worldwide to scale higher peaks, to inhale the fresh air of solitude, to explore the unexplored and ,finally, to experience the exhilaration and challenge of navigating through some of the toughest terrain on earth while stalking a prized ram in our individual quests to harvest the ultimate trophy.
It’s funny how one isolated, seemingly inconsequential incident can change and define our lives in profound ways. I discovered this myself years ago when I climbed up over a rugged knoll on the edge of a formidable plateau while hunting mule deer to suddenly find myself staring into the eyes of six magnificent desert bighorn rams. In a flash of movement and wisp of dust, they were gone, scrambling off cliffs that I couldn’t imagine any animal capable of navigating. At that precise moment, I became a lifelong sheep fanatic—totally infatuated with these incredible animals!
Now, years later, after completing my personal goal of completing the Grand Slam or Full Curl of North American Wild Sheep and having guided countless, dedicated and passionate sheep hunters to trophy rams of their own, I understand why the majority of hardcore, dedicated hunters believe that hunting trophy rams are the consummate quest!
Successfully guiding countless fellow sheep hunters has enabled Randy Johnson to infect them with “Sheep Fever!
Yes, drawing or purchasing a sheep tag is extremely difficult. Sheep hunts are expensive and normally beyond the grasp of the average person’s financial ability.
Yet, what would life be if we didn't have goals to shoot for?
For many of us, the difficulty of scraping together enough money to book a sheep hunt can be a daunting proposition. However, if there is a will, there's a way to fulfill your dream. I guarantee that designing a plan to hunt wild sheep will involve incredible personal sacrifice, unrelenting, selfless family support, unforeseen obstacles, and backbreaking work stained with the sweat and toil of dreams. Your personal sheep hunting journey will translate into the pure love of unclimbed mountains, unexplored terrain, surviving the merciless wrath of Mother Nature, and fair chase hunting. Along with your sojourn, you will understand the true definition of what I call the encompassing experience and countless cherished memories will forever become branded into your mind to never be erased. Your life—if you are privileged to hunt wild sheep—will inevitably be touched with lifelong relationships established with individuals of unbreakable character that you climbed the mountains with, shared the warmth of a campfire, and tasted the bitter and painful mental anguish of a trophy ram that escaped your stalk before ultimately culminating in the exhilarating exuberance of success. Sheep hunting translates into grown men and women crying together, the tears of celebrating one of the most difficult hunting achievements in North America streaming down their faces after harvesting and honoring the prized ram they hunted.
Each aspiring sheep hunter must recognize that without the vigilant efforts of wildlife conservation activists who generate and appropriate the money needed to put wild sheep on the mountain, that they would not exist today for you nor I to enjoy and pursue. I encourage you to join, support and get involved with organizations whose vision and goals are to put wild sheep on the mountain! What great personal satisfaction you will gain in becoming part of a hunting fraternity that supports and works to see that the dreams of men and women who wish to hunt wild sheep are achieved?
As life races on I encourage those of you who question whether you can find the resources or time to complete your personal goal of hunting sheep to take the challenge before the twilight of time envelops you. Sheep hunting will give you the will—and determination—to achieve physical and mental goals that you may have never dreamed possible.
On one of my recent sheep hunts, it seemed as if I was standing on the fingertips of God, as my view of the Absaroka Range in the Central Rockies of Wyoming was literally unbelievable. Find a path to fulfilling your dream!