A young sheep hunter braves the hazards of the Idaho mountains in search of a very special bighorn.
As I watched the bighorn ram bedded beneath the cliff, I wondered what was taking my son Logan so long to arrive. He had been glassing above me, and I when I spotted the ram I had motioned him to come down, around a large cliff face, to where I was. Suddenly I heard some rocks falling from the cliff and then experienced a father’s nightmare. Out of a crack in the cliff something fell, landing on the rock slide below, and began rolling down the jumble of rocks. Watching in horror, I saw arms flailing and hunting gear strewn down the mountain face. What should have been a great moment suddenly turned to a jolt of fear for my son’s life.
Logan began his hunting career at a very young age, and his interest in hunting and trapping is insatiable. Only fourteen years old, he has continually impressed me with his patience and skill in hunting situations. I was thrilled when he told me in the spring of 2016 that he wanted to put in for the draw for bighorn sheep in the unit by our house in our home state of Idaho.
I had put in for sheep in multiple states for nineteen years and never had success in drawing. I found out in June that the draw results were available and hurried to check what I knew would be a familiar “sorry, you were unsuccessful” response. I typed in our numbers, closed my eyes, and hit “enter.” When I opened my eyes I was shocked to see on the screen, “Congratulations! You are SUCCESSFUL in drawing a bighorn sheep tag.” BOTH of us had drawn. We now had two of the only four tags in this unit. I had drawn in my twentieth year of trying, Logan in his first.
As I related in my story in the July/August issue, earlier in the season we had tried shooting at two rams at the same time. I got mine, but quickly went from sheer exuberance to a feeling of guilt realizing Logan had missed. But Logan said, “You know, Dad, I’m actually glad it worked out this way. I would have loved to have gotten that ram but at least it was a clean miss and I got to share the experience of you getting your ram. Plus, now our hunt isn’t over, which means we get to spend more time on the mountain together.”
After packing out my ram, we regrouped and headed back up the mountain in search of a ram for Logan. We searched for two days but could not locate the same band of rams again. In the afternoon of the third day we had traveled several miles along the ridges where the rams had been all summer. Then the weather began to turn. Soon it was blowing and starting to rain and then snow. We decided instead of spending an uncomfortable night on the mountain, we would head down to the house.
The following morning I looked out at the mountain and saw it was still clouded over. We slept in a while longer and when I awoke, the clouds had lifted. I walked into Logan’s room and woke him. As we were talking, I looked out of his bedroom window and noticed something on the mountain. I told him there was an animal over there and hurried to grab my binocular. As I put up my bino I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had spotted a bighorn ram from my son’s bedroom window!
We hurriedly gathered our gear and headed out. After crossing the Salmon River we watched the ram cross back over a saddle and out of sight. We worked our way up the steep face to get to the top, hoping the ram had bedded in the cliffs just beyond the saddle. It took us an hour to reach the top of the mountain and we circled to get the wind in our favor and slowly approached the top of the cliff overlooking where we thought the ram had gone.
Logan Reed with his hard-earned bighorn ram.
We crept to the edge, slowly peeking over, and saw nothing. We moved along the rim, looking down in the rocks below, but could not locate the ram. We then moved to a point overlooking the saddle where the ram had made his appea