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An Unexpected Hunt: Sheep, Goats and Mountain Climbing Horses

An Unexpected Hunt: Sheep, Goats and Mountain Climbing Horses

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Larry is a 66 year old hunter from Texas. He has been hunting for years in the most adventurous places including Alaska, the Yukon, and Africa. Larry first came California Bighorn sheep hunting with BCTMO Conservation Club twice in 2019. But he wasn’t able to harvest a sheep at that time. He came back for his third time with us in September 2021 for what turned out to be a very unexpected hunt. He shared his trip with his guide Dale and assistant guide Lea. On the last few days, he also got to hunt with outfitter, Kevan and guide, Manon. Larry is the perfect example of a 6th stage hunter, and here is his story:

On the 9th of September, I was returning for my third California bighorn sheep attempt. I was glad to see that Dale and Lea would be my guides for the next two weeks. I was not in the perfect physical condition due to a late knee surgery. Knowing that the hunt would be intense, I had prepared myself as much as I could by riding horses back home. Nothing however prepared me for the 7 or 8 hour rides, or for the long downhill walks. The hunt would be tough, I know it, but I will love it anyways.

“On the second day of the hunt, it so happens that my shoes didn’t fit me anymore. My big toes were bloody from the padding. Luckily, the magic potion of my guide and some Ibuprofen helped me overcoming the pain. Except for this, the terrible weather, and the fact I had not seen a sheep in 7 days, I found the first week of the hunt easy compared to the last 2 sheep hunts I had done in the past. How frustrating was it to see all these sheep trails without getting to spot the ram I was looking for! Riding some crazy and treacherous terrain, glassing for the whole day, I couldn’t wait to see one.

“After 10 days without seeing a sheep, a Plan B had been set up for me. We were meant to head back to the ranch and see what Kevan was preparing. I was now going for a billy goat. It started off well, but I had my concerns because I was now hunting with Kevan, the owner of the outfit. He rides fast and fearlessly, and he pushed me beyond my capabilities. Manon, another very talented guide, also joined the expedition. I had a strong team with me, and we were looking for success. We started riding on the harshest ground I ever rode through. Several times, we had to walk the horses to pass some obstacles.

“When spotting a herd of 5 mountain goats, we decided to follow them hiking in hot pursuit. Struggling to catch up with my guides on the steepest and most slippery terrain, I finally almost made it to the very top. I didn’t plan that my feet would slip. Then I ran down the slopes being terrified of hitting rocks, branches, or the horses at the bottom. I felt somehow humiliated even though my guides didn’t see my sliding’s gold medal performance. After pursuing the goats riding several mountains, we headed back to the ranch right before dark.

“On day 12, the last day of my hunt, Plan C was about to happen. After we started our 45-minute ride that ended up being 8 hours, Manon and Dale spotted a billy goat. At about 7500 feet, we started the chase. As I think back, the following part of the story is a bit unbelievable.

“In order to cross over the last mountain peak, we had to cross over from the peak we were on. There was no crossing! Dale and Kevan began moving rocks to create a 16” place to travel. We had to take the horses through the pass with a several thousand feet drop off. I never looked down while riding the horses across the narrow passes. We also introduced the horses to climbing, and they made it.

“We finally ended up finding the goats, and after determining which one to shoot, I harvested a billy at 130 yards. Plan C of Kevan, the guide outfitter, worked, and the shot was the easiest part of the hunt. I was confident in my shot, and it really was the stalk that will make this the most interesting hunt of my life. We took several pictures of the goat, and at 6pm, we started to skin the billy.

“We were burning day light, and while we started the decline, it became harder and darker. Kevan made the decision it was safer to stop on the mountain side and sleep there. We built a big fire. Right after considering that we were lucky there was no rain neither wind, rain started to fall while wind started to blow. The mountain side we were on was so steep I had to sleep behind a tree to keep from sliding down. Of course, we had no food, water, or anything to sleep on. It was a long night.

“After finding the horses the next morning, we rode for 4 hours to the trail head. An interesting thought: throughout this ordeal, I watched Kevan, Dale and Manon, and none of them showed much concern as if this was a normal adventure. It gave me some comfort, but it also made me realize I have lived a very safe life in comparison. However, when we returned to the ranch and I heard back from the rest of the crew, I heard a totally different story: It was tough for them too! They were just being macho!

“While it was full of bounces and turns, and that I didn’t harvest a California bighorn sheep, it has been one of the most exciting and challenging hunts of my life. My family and friends will hear about it for a long time, before I come back with some new crazy stories.”