Incredible Once in a Lifetime Oregon Sheep Hunt

August 1, 2017

 

 

Jason Berg (Left)        Eric Swanson (Center) Scott Ness (Right)

You first find out you have drawn the coveted once in a lifetime Oregon Bighorn Sheep tag and then the pressure starts to sets in. I will only draw this once. On top of that, most people who put in for this hunt, will try their entire life and never get it. You realize how truly blessed you are and a little pressure starts to form. From that day on, and everyday leading up to your hunt a few more drops of pressure are added to your hunt’s bucket. Throw in a few sleepless nights caused by anxiety and excitement of your upcoming hunt. Then, you will know how it feels to own a once in a lifetime tag. What you do to get ready from that point on is up to you. You can start by getting in shape, making calls to biologists or past tag holders, getting pertinent maps, going to any offered meetings, reading any online stories or blogs you can find, shooting your rifle or bow, and going on site and scouting to not only find area with sheep but also to learn how to field judge a good one. Hopefully you will do all the above. Getting ready for, and remembering this treasured hunt is truly 90% of the experience. The hunt itself happens fast. I was honored to be asked to go and film this hunt with tag holder Jason Berg of Hotline Guide Service . He brought two close friends with him and myself making a perfect four man team. Jason had drawn a third season November hunt in a Central Oregon unit that on occasion produces some really quality rams. The plate was set, and from the moment Jason drew his tag, he did everything right! He went and practiced long range shooting until he not only knew his gun was driving tacks, but also that he was confident he could reach out and make a long shot if he had to. He trained and got himself in sheep shape, which isn’t hard for Jason, he keeps himself in good shape. He went to the meeting that the Oregon Foundation for North American Wild Sheep puts on every year for everyone who draws an Oregon Sheep or Mountain Goat tag. They do a great job bringing biologists, maps, taxidermists, vendors, and past tag holders to the meeting to show you where to hunt and to visit with you to help calm your nerves.

Weibel Taxidermy who is a third generation taxidermist specializing in sheep and goat mounts, goes to give trophy care tips so people know how to prepare and preserve their mounts. North American Hunting Competition and Weibel Taxidermy teamed up this year and took sign-ups for our State and National Bighorn Sheep and Mtn. Goat contests. Click Here to enter a State or National Contest Weibel is giving away a free shoulder mount to one lucky entry of our Oregon state contests.

Before the hunt, Jason had some tough decisions to make. In the unit he had drawn, a river runs completely through it and you can rent high quality rafts and float the entire unit. Half of the hunters who draw this unit’s tags take this option and have a once in a life time scenic hunt. The other half of the tag holders hunt on the rims above the river by foot or ATV to access the best sheep ground. Both have advantages and disadvantages. The float, although incredibly scenic, has one main disadvantage. Once you go by country and pass rams, you can’t go back.  If you hunt the top, you miss the once in a lifetime opportunity to float one of the most incredible scenic rivers in the west. Tough call and he really struggled with it. On top of that, do you use a guide or do you self-guide. This area has some incredible guides who have all the gear for the float and keep track of some of the best rams. Hmmm, what to do with your once in a life time experience? Sitting reading this article it may come easy to you, but if you are holding that once in a lifetime tag it can be a very tough decision. Jason struggled with these issues and spent a lot of time on the phone with guides and team members thinking of which option to take. I admit, I mentally waffled several times on how I would have approached this hunt if it were my tag! Finally, I gave him the best advice I could think of. Make a decision that best fits you and your goals and don’t look back.

 

He decided to go self guided with his friends. We all had an incredible time. We saw tons of sheep and the country was nothing short of spectacular. We happened to hit it in the middle of the rut.  Rams chasing ewes and butting heads added to this awesome hunt.  He ended up taking an incredible ram several days into the hunt after stalking and passing some great rams. One ram, we believe, was well into the 170 class. After a blown stalk, we never saw him again. Jason’s ram was the biggest ram entered that year from Oregon in the North American Hunting Competition contest. His California Bighorn scored an impressive 168 2/8 putting him in the top third of the Californian Bighorn sheep ever killed in Oregon. I was told his ranking is #82 all time. For my part, I have been putting in for an Oregon Bighorn tag since I was twelve years old. That is 36 years now and haven’t drawn this special gift. My family has put in 145 years cumulative and no tag between us all. So to be asked to go along on this special hunt was truly a gift and will always be treasured. We hope you will enjoy the video at the start of this blog. To us at North American, all hunts are truly special no matter how big or small. This one however is truly a gem!

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