Saturday

Dad's Big Game

Two years ago when we went to Montana for Christmas we had many plans of activities to try while at home... however my dad's body had other things in mind. We had purchased tickets to fly to Missoula on Christmas Eve, but dad went into the hospital 4 days before our flight with a ruptured appendix. My husband and I went to the airport 3 days early to catch an early flight to be with him, but United Airlines sucked dick (See previous post).

Dad was out of the hospital on Christmas Day that year (I am so thankful for small blessings). He has recovered better than anyone expected him to, back to hiking and hunting within 6 months of his surgery, and now he's 100% recovered.

In early October, I got a phone call from Daddy - and I could tell he was just bursting and giddy to tell me something. "Jenni - I got my Ram!"

Since I was a little girl, my dad has applied for a Ram permit every year. In Montana - the average number of permits available for the entire state is under 20. This year only 5 were issued. Of those 5 - my dad was the only person to bring home a Ram.

The day after his permit arrived, he called his friend to go hiking and to spot where the game was traveling... no real plan for hunting (guns along for protection - prime season for Grizzlies to be out eating berries in prep for hibernation). They started out in the afternoon, climbing up steep inclines, heading above the tree line. As they rounded a cooley, they spotted a herd of 50 mountain sheep - several Rams in the mix. Dad pulled up his scope to get a look - and he saw a 1 1/4 curl ram bedded down, but when the ram turned his head he was missing one of his horns (likely a rut fight incident). Just down the slope was another Ram, full curl horns (both of them), munching away on mountain grasses.

Dad and his friend sat and watched for awhile. As the sun began to set a few sheep began making their ascent up the mountain from directly below where the guys were positioned. The guys scrambled up the slope to stay ahead and yet not alert the herd across the way. They stopped when they reached a small tree clinging to the mountain side. Dad and Ed sat down to get another look at the Rams... his friend pulled out the distance scope to give my dad an idea of how far away they were. "Ernie - it looks like about 221 yards." Dad sighted in his gun using the tree for extra balance - compensated for the slight breeze - took a deep breath, and squeezed the trigger.

BOOM! The herd took off up the hillside... the ram Dad was aiming for stood up and followed after for about 20 yards. The beast fell and tumbled down the mountain a little. He stood up, then fell again, and came to rest against a log. A clean shot to the heart - Dad had his ram.


Together, Dad & Ed got the Ram 1/2 way down the mountain slope to the tree-line... but since they had only planned to go for a short hike, neither had brought along any food for energy. As the sunlight vanished - they found themselves hungry and exhausted. They left the ram on the hill in the dark, and hiked down to their vehicle. Once in range of a cellular signal, they called in some friends to meet up for dinner at a local bar & grill.

A few cheeseburgers and sodas later, the group of now 4 men made their way back to the valley. It took all of their combined strength to get the animal through the trees in the dark, but dad's ram was hanging in his garage by midnight.

Timing on the hunt couldn't have been better. Because the rams had not gone into the rut (mating season), the meat was perfect. You see, most hunters don't get lucky enough to save ram meat because by the time they get their permit and make the hunting trip - all of the animals are pumped up with mating season hormones and adrenaline - making the meat rancid.

Look at hunting however you will, but I grew up on wild game and I am in better health as an adult because of it. My family only had store-bought meats in the freezer when we were in between hunting seasons and running low on game. This year Dad has a load of ram burgers, steaks, ribs, and more... and he has the bust of his prize on the wall of his living room.

1 Comments:

Blogger Throckmorton Jones said...

Wow! Great story and beautiful ram! The only wild game I've ever eaten has been elk, and I didn't really like it that much, but I had friends in high school that home grew almost all their meat- lamb, chicken, and rabbit- and they had a lot of BBQs. .. lol.

1:50 PM  

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