My Best Hunt Ever

by Dave Pritchard

My-Best-Hunt-Ever-12010 was a great year. After 30 plus years of hunting I managed to fit more into one year than I ever thought possible. I started out in September with a landowner elk tag for the Central Mountains on the Manti unit of Utah, hunting with Bruce Hubbard of Triple H Hunting. My guide Greg Farmanian and I hunted for three days seeing elk every day. On the third day we had 2 different bulls coming in, both bugling and looking for a fight. Finally one bull showed himself to my right at 30 yards. He looked good to me so I raised my rifle and shot. Greg looked at me and said “what did you do that for, the other one was bigger”. The other bull was 10 yards to our left in some thick cover! I was very happy with the bull I got, a really nice 6 x 6. Plus I can still talk about the one that got away. Next was a mule deer hunt in Nevada where I had drawn a tag on the Baker Ranch after several years of applying. The outfitter was again Bruce Hubbard of Triple H hunting. My guide this time was Greg Hubbard. After looking over a lot of deer I was able to harvest a nice buck which green scored 182” typical. This was an excellent hunt and we saw a lot of deer and some really good bucks. After this I had two hunts in November, one in Southwest Colorado for mule deer and elk and another muzzleloader elk hunt in New Mexico. After 2 full hunts the results were a 4x3 mule deer and the elk populations in both Colorado and New Mexico were no worse off than when I arrived. Right before attending the Lehigh Valley SCI dinner last year I found out that a desert sheep tag was available for the Ejido Alfredo V. Bonifil (Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve) in Baja California. I have been applying for years to try and draw a desert sheep tag so I could complete my second FNAWS. I finally got tired of waiting and the mountains are not getting any less steep. These tags are only available at auction. At the Lehigh Valley Dinner two board members of Eastern Wild Sheep Foundation, Rick Booth and Jim Wilson were talking about what a good hunt this was and what the chances of getting a good ram would be. Before the night was over I told them to make the call about the hunt and Jim said he would go along to keep me company. My-Best-Hunt-Ever-2On December 9th we left for Los Angeles where we had to overnight before our flight to Loreto. When we arrived in Mexico we were met by Oscar and Alfredo, out interpreter and head guide. After a bit of an issue involving paperwork, guns and the military we were on our way with a 4 hour ride to main camp. When we arrived there were 17 people in camp plus 3 cooks and I was the only hunter! After a nice dinner where we got introduced to everyone the plan was laid out for us. Jim and I were told to have things together that we would need to spend a few days in the mountains. They told us to leave our things with the wranglers and they would bring them along at the end of the day. After a couple of days we would come back and resupply if necessary. The next morning we headed out after breakfast, driving to the far side of a mountain we could see from camp. We looked over a lot of area, climbing to different vantage points. At one point a ram was spotted high on a distant mountain with the Sea Of Cortez in the background. Being that he was a long way off it was decided we would go up another mountain to where they had seen a ram a few days earlier. As we were gathering our things one of the wranglers appeared with two mules for Jim and me. We rode up the mountain for a few hours spotting only a few ewes and lambs. Just before dark we stopped and Oscar said we would make camp. I think it was the only flat spot on the mountain. We thought they would just bring our sleeping bags and just the basics but about 45 minutes later two wranglers and about 10 burros ,fully loaded came over the hill. Within an hour we had a complete camp set up with tents, tables and chairs in the middle of nowhere. That night the wind picked up and it blew all night sometimes flattening the tents right down on top of us. The next morning after a breakfast of beans and tortillas it was time to keep going up the mountain. We were able to ride the mules for a little while but then it was time to go on foot. After a few hours we were looking down into a canyon that seemed to run right down to sea level. We saw some ewes and lambs but the ram was nowhere to be seen. The guys decided to work our way down deeper into the canyon. As we were working our way lower the ram suddenly appeared at 225 yards across the canyon. Alfredo threw his pack on the ground and I got a quick rest and shot. We knew he was hit hard but he disappeared from view, having fallen behind some thick brush. The guides who were uphill from us could see him laying there so we knew he was done. It took us almost an hour to reach the ram since we had to go down to the bottom of the canyon and back up again. When the group met at the ram it was quite a celebration. After waiting over twenty years I had finally completed my second FNAWS. It felt great! After pictures and skinning were done one of the wranglers showed up with a burro to pack the ram off the mountain and we all started down. We thought we would spend another night in our mountain camp but the guides wanted to push ahead and get back to the main camp. When we reached the bottom of the mountain just after dark, a lot of the people from the main camp were waiting for us with a cooler of cold sodas and cervasa’s. From there it was back to the main camp for a great dinner where we re-lived the highlights of the day. The next few days were spent hanging around camp and then we got in some sightseeing. We went to the mountain town of San Francisco to view cave paintings that are thousands of years old. Riding up the narrow mountain road we made sure we had our seat belts on. Oscar was laughing and told us if we went over the edge the seat belts would not help. We laughed back at him explained that we knew that but they would make sure our bodies were found with the truck. We survived the ride and since Christmas was fast approaching and both Jim and I had been gone quite a bit we decided to surprise our wives and head home a little early. When I shot my first ram in 1980 with Ross Peck, a Stone Sheep with a green score of 169 5/8”, I never thought I would be on such a quest. I’ve met some great people along the way. I have been able to hunt from Canada to Mexico with a trip to Azerbaijan thrown in too. It has been quite an adventure, a trip that has lasted over thirty years!