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In Pursuit of the Golden Ticket
Editor’s Letter, Mar/Apr 2018
By Travis Moncrief
With last year’s hunts starting to turn into memories it’s the time of year I catch myself staring at the photos on my phone. Each one brings back the sense of excitement that was felt at the moment. For me, it is truly the best part of having a smart phone: memories can be captured the instant they happen and relived any moment you want.
Looking back at the animals harvested—whether it was my kids, friends or family—it gets me thinking what this coming year will hold for everyone, and of course what tags we will draw. Many hours are spent planning and researching in order to get the most out of every hunting season. The goal, at least from my perspective, is to participate on as many hunts as my schedule allows.
One of my hunting partners and I are heavily vested in the point system across the western states, as I suspect many of you are as well. While this allows for some excellent hunts it can offer a dilemma. Is this the year we burn points on a Colorado mule deer or should we head to Arizona in pursuit of Coues deer?
Or should we do both? Good troubles to have I guess, but in all seriousness, I do have a problem, and it’s a real one. One that I am afraid there isn’t much I can do about. Three of the last four years I have participated on an Oregon bighorn sheep hunt. I think I have be- come addicted to them, and like an addict I am worried how I will get my sheep fix in 2018.
Being up close and personal, getting to wrap your hands around a massive set horns, is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and is the obvious gauge of success. But having experienced three sheep hunts it has become very clear it is much more than a harvest of a ram. Pardon the cliché, but it has been a true reminder of why I hunt. Most hunts we all participate in are usually about ourselves and our desire to overcome the challenges to punch a tag. But when a buddy or family member has a sheep tag it becomes an all-out effort of close friends to help the tag holder succeed.
Being invited on someone else’s sheep hunt takes on new meaning and it becomes a selfless journey that you’re honored to be a part of. On those sheep hunts I have been blessed to be a part of, the comradery has been nothing like I’ve experienced on other hunts. I suspect it’s largely due to gravity of the hunt. All of the sheep hunts have been a process that takes place over several months, beginning with multiple scouting trips and many conversations of planning from when and where to hunt, down to what food to bring. It’s like an NFL team prepping for the Super Bowl. The tag holder is the quarterback and the rest of us are going to block our tails off so he/she can get into the end-zone. No one is taking a knee. When the game is over and a ram is on the ground we are all champs.
My first sheep hunt took place four years ago when long time hunting partner, and WHJ shooting editor, Kevin Madison drew the once-in-a-lifetime Oregon tag. A veteran of five sheep hunts now, Kevin writes about what it takes to be successful sheep hunting in this issue. It is a must read for anyone who dreams about hunting bighorn sheep, which I suspect is everyone who buys a hunting license. The following years held sheep tags for my dad and WHJ’s own Pat Hoglund. All came with the same experiences as the previous hunts except we were becoming more seasoned sheep hunters with each tag. Dad’s hunt had special meaning for personal reasons, and Pat’s was like rocket fuel as we worked on the launch of the magazine. Timing could not have been more perfect. If you missed Pat’s story, read the premiere issue of this magazine or check it out on our website.
As you plan your upcoming hunting season make sure you give yourself a shot at the golden ticket. Should you draw, assemble a team of friends and family to share it with; they will get as much out of it as you do and you’ll be glad they were there. And if you know someone who is fortunate enough to draw a tag, volunteer your services. You won’t regret it. But be warned: once you’ve experienced hunting bighorn sheep you’ll spend the rest of your hunting years applying for a tag or trying to get in on another one.
Get In The Hunt.