New Desert Bighorn Hunt Produces Five Record Book Sheep First Season


Published: December - 2012

Subscriber W.L. (Bill) Walters was lucky enough to draw one of the two public tags for the first desert bighorn sheep hunt offered in the Fra Cristobal Mountains on the Armendaris Ranch in New Mexico, and I was lucky enough to be invited along to provide extra eyes. This was Walters' 17th sheep hunt worldwide, and he was rewarded with a 10-year-old ram that green scored 171 4/8. Incidentally, the other public hunter also took a 10-year-old ram, as did one of the private tag holders. Walters booked his hunt through Turner Ranch Outfitting (www.tedturner.com/ranches.asp; neil.lawson@turnerranchoutfitting.com). Neil Lawson personally guided the hunt with the help of E.D. Edwards. Walters reported all aspects of the hunt (quality of the outfit, food, condition of camp and equipment, ability of guide and trophy care) as "excellent." That's actually a bit of an understatement. In fact, Walters' hunt was an exceptional opportunity for high quality sheep. We stayed at the Deep Well House, a renovated turn-of-the-century ranch house to which a guest house and additional buildings have been added. The original house, where we took our evening meals, includes a cistern inside the house (necessary to protect a drinking water supply back when Apache warriors scoured this country). The bunkhouse had individual bedrooms with a common bathroom, satellite TV and good, comfortable beds. Sadly, I never saw the place in the daylight. We were there for the sheep, and the Fra Cristobal Mountains have plenty. The New Mexico Game and Fish Department estimates 200 sheep on the mountains with about 90 rams. That's nearly a 1:1 ram-to-ewe ratio and provides plenty of rams in each age class to assure trophy quality for the future. Given the conservative permit numbers, hunters on this ranch can reasonably expect to take 9- to 10-year old rams every year. This is typical desert sheep habitat, with little vegetation, lots of rocks and little water. Few roads penetrate the best sheep habitat, but there are enough around the mountain that glassing is possible from the trucks. Roads go to water catchments and one of the hunters tried to bowhunt from a blind over these water sources.........(continued)
 
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Facilitators: Turner Ranch Outfitting; New Mexico Department of Game & Fish; Tierra Encantada Outfitters; Wild Sheep Foundation;

  


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