Desert Bighorn Trip

After I leave work on Friday November 1, I’m driving to western Colorado to go on a bighorn sheep hunt with my father. We’re looking for what are called “desert bighorn sheep”. In case you’ve never heard of them, desert bighorns are fairly rare compared to the ones most people see, which are called “Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep”. I’ve heard that rafters on the desert rivers (like the Green, Colorado, Dolores, San Juan, etc.) see desert bighorns a lot, but I have never even seen one. I’ve hiked or visited several of the areas in Colorado and Utah where they’re known to live, but even with all the time I’ve spent visiting the desert over the past 18 years, they’ve always eluded me. I’ve hiked in the Pollack Canyons, the remote western part of Arches National Park, and the even more remote Maze District of Canyonlands National Park. Those are all places desert bighorns supposedly live, but I’ve never seen one. So I’m really looking forward to it.

Dad and I went bighorn sheet hunting last in about 1984. (He says it was 18 years ago, but I can’t remember for sure) It was either the fall of my sophomore or junior year of high school. I drew a bighorn sheep permit and we spent many weekends scouting the area, then a couple weeks hunting. But I only got one shot at a bighorn ram, and missed. I did find the skull of a ram that died the previous winter, but that’s the only trophy I took home. I’ll try to get some good photos of this year’s trip and post them on my website for all to see. And I’ll see if I can dig up some photos from our first bighorn hunting trip.

It’s quite lucky to draw a desert bighorn sheep permit. In the area we’ll be hunting, which covers several hundred square miles, only 6 permits per year are given out each year. Dad says that given the number of applicants, there’s only about a 1% chance of drawing a permit each year you apply. So if you apply every year from age 20 to age 70, you’ve still only got a 50/50 chance of drawing. And once you draw a permit, you are ineligible to ever apply again. So it’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime event!

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