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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I don't know where to begin this story, or if I can even overcome the emotions I'm feeling right now while writing it......

5 years old is much too young to lose your father...or your husband...and that's where Braedon's memory barely begins...he and his mom, reeling from a devastating loss. Right now, as I picture my 4 year old son, and imagine losing my "daddy" at that age...the tears can't be denied. While there were no deep conversations or emotional moments on the hunt, I’m certain everyone involved has reflected on the circumstances that led Braedon here, and found some emotion in experiencing his triumph.

Braedon's step dad, Bobby, has begun to introduce him to the outdoors in recent years, and opportunities Braedon only dreamed of. Being asthmatic, Braedon hasn’t experienced many physical adventures, and admittedly spent a lot of time in his room, playing video games, doing school work, reading, and looking into a career in video production or photography (can’t fault him there! :) ). But when Bobby checked the draw results this summer, Braedon’s world was about to change! 500 SERIES BIGHORN SHEEP WARNER UNIT (574) SUCCESFUL!!!

Faith in the Field was invited along to film the adventure, and film it we did! And thanks to Braedon, we not only got to go on one bighorn sheep hunt, but FIVE bighorn sheep hunts!!! :) :) :)

On day one, Braedon, Alex (family friend and fisherman983 here on Ifish), Ben (family friend), David (filming with me) and myself began our first ascent up Abert Rim to get in position as another tag holder was stalking the herd we’d bedded the night before. They successfully got the ram they wanted, but “Big Orange” (the ram we wanted) and rest of the group didn’t go as far as we’d hoped before grouping back up and settling in to feed for the morning. The stalk was now on, and as we crept over that last ridge an hour later, within 130 yards of Big Orange, a thunder storm decided to roll in. It was 80 degrees at 8am that morning with no storms in sight, so we weren’t prepared for the chills of the wind and rain. Couple that with the uncontrollable shakes from excitement and adrenaline, and our first opportunity ended with a miss.

Big Orange


That afternoon, we side-hilled a mile or more below the sheer face of Abert Rim as we went after another group of rams we’d located to the south. They say bighorn sheep have 10 power vision, and I’d put them at a close second behind the keen eye of a turkey. They are tuned IN! As we crept within 250 yards, they were on us…heads held high, curious, attentive…then they filed up and began to walk away. Braedon got set and was tracking the lead ram in his crosshairs while Ben ranged them…230…250…at 280 he stopped, broadside…”Hold right on the top of his back and squeeeeeze”……….Braedon JUST missed high as the rams crested the ridge to no man’s land……..doh!

Ram #2


As you can imagine, Braedon was a bit deflated at this point. It’s easy to think of it as being “only the first day” while you’re telling the story, but after an early morning, a 2000 ft climb to the base of the rim, being cold and wet, experiencing miss #1, sidehilling through scree fields, boulders and sage for the next two hours as the day gets hot, dropping into a giant boulder field and missing a second time through the heat waves……..it’s draining………and it doesn’t feel like “it’s just the first day.” :) But those alongside him continued to encourage and explain that hunting is about far more than the kill. This was as good as it got without notching that tag. It would happen.

The next morning, we had another group of rams feeding along the hillside. Up we went, for the second time in as many days. Half way up the canyon, the rams decided to switch directions on us…nice! :palm: Already committed, we decided to continue the climb allllll the way to the tippy top of Abert Rim. We would hunt along the top, peering over the jagged edge of the up to 600ft cliffs! Up the scree and boulder fields we went, nearly rock climbing through a narrow chute to reach the top. 2,430 feet later, we crested over the top and began the hike the flats to the north.



Our spotters had watched the rams feed into the shade of a rock ledge before losing them, but we were headed that way to seek them out. Along the way, we realized that we had neglected to ask our shooter if he was afraid of heights…and afraid he was. And not jokingly afraid…like, noticeably and sincerely afraid. I’d hiked a day and a half in some nasty stuff with Braedon, and at a standstill, on the only flat ground around, this was the first time I saw any sign of asthma. I can smile now…but it was a concern at that moment. :)

After a 30 minute rest in the shade of the only tree in sight, we were back at it, headed to our rams. Once we were near where they disappeared from our spotters on the road, nearly 2500ft below, Ben and I began scouring the bottoms, inching our way down some sketchy rock faces to see into the nooks and crannies of Abert Rim. Some 50 yards below the top, about to give up my search, I tip toed onto one last rock and peered into one last face and spotted the rams!



Big Broomer we called the ram we wanted in this group…he was a heavy horned dandy that was broomed back. Ben and I approached Braedon with cautious confidence, because the route down the finger to get a shot was sketchy at best. And let me tell you what…Breadon conquered his fear of heights in that next 45 minutes. I wish I had a better picture of what we scaled, but it made all of us a bit nervous. We made it into position and were all set up…120 yards away from a dream ram in an EPIC location. Nasty bluffs, quiet seclusion, it was an awesome experience. After several minutes of preparation and adjusting, we were ready…………….CABOOOOOM….rocks exploded an INCH above Big Broomer and he bolted out of site. Uuuuughhhhh……

Just before the shot...


After gathering our stuff and inching our way over to a rock slide to get to the bottom of the rim, we rested…and began picking out a new group of rams within striking distance. Problem was, we were in plain sight with no way around it. We got within 500 yards before they’d had enough and headed away and out of sight.

Hours later, back down to the road, we watched some sheep til dark and rested from two days of highs and lows, physically and mentally. Ben had to head home that night, and since Braedon was set on taking the day off on Monday, David and I were set to head home Monday morning. Bobby and Alex couldn’t help themselves though, and at about 8:30 Monday morning, Alex pulled back into camp with a quick way about him as he gathered his stuff, telling us they’d spotted some sheep that would be relatively easy to get on if we headed out. We didn’t need any coaxing! Game ON!

We got ahead of the rams scooting along the hillside at a good clip…hoofed it up ahead of them and sat in position…not 30 minutes later, they crested the ridge, only 300 yards away!!! Then, after their 4 hour journey that morning covering 3-4 miles, they bedded down…right there. Seruously?! :palm: I know what you’re thinking…SHOOT ONE…but we’d already missed 3 times and weren’t gonna get quick on this shot. An hour passed….then two…it was hot…it got hotter……then 3 hours and some Ewe’s fed their way through the rams…30 minutes later they popped up RIGHT BELOW US! 20 yards…



Ever heard a Bighorn ewe snort? How about 8 of them snorting at you? Braedon, Alex, David and I now have. :) Luckily they snorted their way around us and continued their journey away from us and the rams.

Now 4 ½ hours have passed, our butts are numb, the sun in beating down on us, but the rams are finally beginning to stand up at 3:30 or so in the afternoon. At this time, we decided to take a shot at the biggest ram at 260 yards…and we should have waited longer…we’d missed again.

Just before the shot...


At that point, Braedon was defeated, head down and feeling like he had let everyone down…as if he just wasn’t cut out for this. I could tell he wanted to be home. And to be honest, we were all a bit beat up at this point. But to sneak a life lesson in here…sometimes life’s about what you do when you’re in that low. This was just a hunt, but representative of so much in life.

After Braedon missed that last shot, the rams had filed directly at bighorn tag holder #4 in this unit, who connected on one of the rams we'd just watched for 5 hours, only a short ways from the road in the bottom. After his shot, the rams went only a short ways and stood, huddled up, only 350 yards above the road. An hour later, once we’d all made it back to the rigs, we could see the rams still standing there! After chatting with the other hunters, they offered to let Braedon use their gun…a 30-378 with a 20 power scope, dialed in well beyond 500 yards. Braedon’s not a fan of big guns, his .270 rings his ears and kicks him good enough…but when presented with the option, his words were, “I suppoooose I can give it ooooone more shot.” And that he did…creeping above the road to a 313 yard reading from the range finder, Alex got Braedon set up on a boulder while Davy and I filmed.....................the rest is......................priceless................



















Never ever give up.

Braedon, I’ve never been more proud a perfect stranger turned friend, and I know everyone on the hunt is equally as proud…Bobby...your mom…........…and your dad.

Don’t ever forget that you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to…nothing can stop you. Not heights, not asthma, not the loud noise or the kick of one of the largest calibers hunters know. I believe the Lord took you through the valley so the view from the top would be that much better...and so your confidence would be built to withstand more than a hunt or a mountain. And now you know what you’re capable of. We’ll all heckle a 15 year old kid for drawing a bighorn sheep tag as his very first tag and hunt, but a once in a lifetime tag could not be more fitting for the 3 days that have transformed your life.








 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
And FYI...for those of you wondering, we did check his gun, and it was on. ;) sometimes a switch can bring back the confidence...a 20x scope helps too. :)

Also, this hunt will of course be on our next DVD.
 

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That is one of the best hunting stories I have ever heard. I love it when things work out for the kids. Thanks for sharing such an adventure with words and pictures.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hey......got a question for you. Was the guy who let you use his gun a Man and his son. A man named Heke Fry. His son drew the tag and actually got a Bighorn in that unit. Just curious.
I didn't catch their name...but it was a father and son and a few others from Hillsboro. There was another father/son with the tag from elsewhere that killed theirs on opening day.
 

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Once again thanks for spending the time....not only on this hunt but with the write up after....really takes a person there and could have been done sooo many other ways that would not have transported us with all of you!!!!

Great hunt and for sure that boy has some memories....and great pics as well to remember it all by!!

Thank you!!!:applause::applause::applause:
 
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