Big Curl – Western Hunter


A trophy ram in a near-impossible location

The hunt began on a weekend in the course of August 2020. My spouse and I loaded up three horses and began for the headwaters of the Inexperienced River within the Wyoming Wind River mountain vary. The trailhead is ​an hour’s drive in on ​a bumpy street that injects itself into the Bridger-Teton nationwide forest. I ​am​ aware of the final space as a result of once I was a child, my household ran livestock on 4 summer season allotments, two of which had been wilderness models. I’ve had my justifiable share of 8-12-horse pack trains and horse blow-ups and skilled among the unforgiveness the weather and terrain can have on somebody caught unprepared.

Realizing I used to be in for an journey, my spouse Becky and I headed up the path with two saddle horses and one pack horse to ascertain a base camp 12 miles in. It took most of at some point to get to base camp and we determined to make a weekend out of it by spending the evening at 10,000 ft. We hauled in about 25 days’ price of preserved meals, with base camp performing as a staging level for my spike camp. After our weekend within the mountains, my spouse and I headed house, setting the stage for what was going to be a hunt of a lifetime.

Lengthy Manner Up

In anticipation of opening day, my good friend Dave Edwards and I headed again up on foot on August twenty ninth to start out the 12-mile climb into base camp. We made it there 7-8 hours later with a number of burning muscle cramps and our heavy packs in tow, understanding they had been going to get heavier with meals once we tried to summit the following day. The season didn’t open till the primary of September,​ so we determined to glass round camp for at some point and let our our bodies get well. Utilizing my Swarovski​ recognizing scope, I discovered a small 1/2 curl ram a number of miles out beneath a cliff face feeding and bedding. Base camp did not maintain any mature rams and was extra of a ewe and lamb space. 

The subsequent day rolled round and we bought our gear packed up, able to climb out of the rock basin. It was difficult making an attempt to navigate by way of and round rocks the scale of vehicles! As soon as we bought on high, the land was bleak and splattered with rock parallel; nonetheless, that’s when issues took a flip. There was some cloud cowl that moved in on us and it began to snow huge, heavy flakes. I had not scouted the spike camp space, apart from on Google Earth and maps. The climate had us blocked in and it was snowing profusely. We couldn’t see 100-150 yards. We wanted to cross this huge rock valley to get to the opposite aspect, however we didn’t understand how or the place precisely to cross.

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The rocks had been getting coated in snow and it was turning into very treacherous navigating the jagged boulder subject. We continued to hike and eventually got here to a small glacier that I assumed was secure to journey throughout. I took a number of steps onto it, fell straight on my face, and to the underside I went with my pack and gun. We then got here to a second glacier, and I knew higher than to attempt to cross it. It led straight into a chilly mountain​ lake and had a small 5-6’ cliff that an individual would​ catch air off of earlier than flying into the lake.

After about 5 hours of mountaineering and combating bloody noses from the altitude, we realized we had gone manner too far south. We wanted to move east with a slight backtrack north to get to my meant spike camp space. After eight hours of mountaineering, we arrived at what I assumed was my spike camp space however couldn’t actually inform as a result of the mountain had us socked in with snow and heavy fog. The subsequent day, we crawled throughout the desolate, snow-covered rock and glassed off the cliffs into the basins. The primary two basins didn’t produce something apart from a vertigo chill.

“Huge Curl”

Within the third basin, we discovered a giant ram​ in a really nasty cliffed-up chute close to the highest of the mountain. We watched him for some time as he was shifting and hoped he would mattress. I named him, “Huge Curl” since he had an​ open body with a large,​ basketball-sized curl. I had him at 950 yards and felt we might get nearer, regardless that I had shot my gun confidently and precisely to 1,125 yards with a ballistic truing sequence.

We ended up shifting to 623 yards and arrange for a shot. The ram saved shifting round and I lastly determined to take him. With Dave as​ my​ spotter within the Swarovski recognizing scope, I known as for the shot and despatched the spherical. I smoked the enormous rock proper in entrance of the ram, lifeless true however 12-16 inches low. Dave known as the correction, and I despatched a second spherical nevertheless it went three ft left. The ram climbed a cliff I didn’t know was doable to climb and gave me another skyline shot, which I missed. One thing clearly had ​occurred to my gun once I fell within the rocks or on the glacier.

I used to be fairly bummed-out, as I assumed I simply blew a large ram out of the zip code and ruined my probability of killing a once-in-a-lifetime ram. We spent the remainder of the week glassing however didn’t see the rest, apart from a monster, 180 class, 12 ½-year-old document e book winter-killed ram. I marked the placement so I might discover him once more if I used to be granted permission from the WYGF to take away it. I used to be fairly excited in regards to the discover since they are often rarer than discovering a reside one.

Backup Plan

Dave suggested me to regroup, get my backup elk rifle verified, and are available redeem myself. We made the 20+ mile trek again to base camp after which the trailhead over a few days. I went house and began getting my backup gun prepared.

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The second hunt rolled round and I had my backup gun, a .300 Win Magazine, capturing out to 600-700 yards fairly comfortably. I had a tough time discovering anybody to return into my spike camp, so I ended up making the second journey solo. I discovered a mountain-lion-killed deer on the path, which had me somewhat involved because it was inside a mile of my base camp. (I seen on the way in which out that the grizzlies devoured the carcass!) My evening at base camp was fairly stressed, because the wind and coyotes saved me awake.

I ventured again as much as my spike camp and located Huge Curl in the identical space however he stayed out of vary of my gun’s functionality. I wasn’t in a position to shut any distance, because the basin was cliffed-up, apart from one steep entry chute. The one downside was, the highest of the chute had a 30-foot corniced glacier in it. I rapidly realized that if I used to be going to get this ram, I wanted a spotter and a few rappelling rope; so I pulled off the mountain to return house and put together once more.

I made some telephone calls and my longtime good friend Kayle Case ready to return in with me. I purchased some rope and bought a loaner 1,000-yard custom-built gun for this third hunt. I ran a ballistic truing sequence on the gun and bought comfy with capturing it to 1,125 yards. Kayle and I headed again up on foot and made the two-day hike into spike camp.

On the second day, we bought pounded with a blizzard. It was one other huge storm that coated the rocks and made it very harmful to navigate the rugged terrain. The wind blew all evening and I wasn’t certain our tents had been going to outlive. It was drifting snow beneath the tent flaps and thru the mosquito netting. We survived the storm and the following morning, I discovered Huge Curl after an hour of glassing. He was excessive on the mountain, hiding in a rock cliff and making an attempt to climate the storm, I suppose.

We made a plan, and I moved in for roughly the identical 623-yard shot. After I bought there, I couldn’t see the ram and advised myself I wanted to shut any distance I might. With flashbacks of a ​missed shot working by way of my thoughts, I moved to what was​ roughly​ a 550-yard shot and waited.

Wrangling Nerves

The ram didn’t transfer​ for a number of hours, which gave me loads of time to calculate the scope dope and put together for the shot. When he lastly did get shifting, I let him come beneath a big cliff space in worry he would roll down the rock chute and off an enormous 400-foot cliff if shot within the improper spot. I double-checked my dope, bought within the scope, and couldn’t make the shot. I needed to management my respiration and settle in for the two.5 lb pull.

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Having shot fairly a little bit of long-range, I fell into my capturing sequence of getting ready myself to reduce interference. I held regular, exhaled, waited for my coronary heart cycle, and eased into the set off. The sound of the shot shattered the calm silence of the mountain air, and I watched the ram as he fell towards the cliff for steadiness and dropped. Huge Curl was down! I couldn’t imagine I killed a large 170 class, 10 ½-year-old ram in some of the troublesome terrain models in Wyoming on a DIY wilderness hunt.

A whole lot of answered prayers and laborious work went into this hunt! It took us two days to get again to base camp and one other day to the trailhead. Kayle and I got here within the following day with a string of horses and labored on getting base camp out. The storm had blown within the path with bushes and we needed to minimize our manner in with axes because you couldn’t navigate off the rockslide trails. We had been in a position to get base camp out and even took time to get pleasure from seeing the Kokanee (landlocked sockeye) salmon spawning within the tributaries, together with the rocky mountain pika.

I walked over 165 miles, rode horses 50 miles, and misplaced nearly 20 lb in 24 days. The expertise was a check of will and perseverance and was my hardest hunt so far. It proved to me that you must fail in an effort to make corrections for achievement. I need to thank Dave Edwards, Kayle Case, Val Jones, Andy Boyak (Andy’s Lengthy Vary Shooters), and my spouse Becky, together with all of the individuals who supported me on this expertise for a real hunt of a lifetime.

-Ben Thoman WY 2020





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