Dry Creek Outfitters Logo

Surprise! Arizona Desert Sheep Hunt

by Roger McCosker, Life Member
California Wild Sheep - Spring 2016

article mccosker 300

I was very surprised to receive in the mail in early August, 2015, an Arizona desert sheep tag, as an out­of-state resident.* The odds are very difficult, but, as the saying goes, you can't draw, if you don't apply! (The same happened to me 20 years ago, when I drew a desert tag in California.)

Because of the distance (10 hours) to the unit from my home, and that I wanted to have the best opportunity for a good ram, I engaged Dry Creek Outfitters, an experienced outfitter from California, who specializes in trophy sheep hunting, primarily in CA and AZ.

I had met Cliff St. Martin previously, as we are both members of CAWSF board. I found Dry Creek Outfitters to be consummate professionals that know desert sheep hunting: experienced, did their homework, pre-scouted the unit extensively - early/ late, met with AZ fish and game officials, including reviewing their recent sheep helicopter survey, photos, etc. The unit was known for having an above average population of sheep, but it was not known for having 'book' rams (which proved to be an incorrect assumption.).

I arrived and met with Cliff, Tim and crew (2), a couple days before the opening, to assist in pre­scouting. We spotted quite a number of rams, and scouted some new areas, but did not enter the prime hunt area of the unit (which they had pre-scouted, prior to my arrival), until the opener Dec. 1st. The hunt proved challenging, at times, with some major ups and downs, with multiple other hunters in the area (8 tags), as well as weather issues. We spotted some excellent rams in the first few days (including three 170's type rams in one band of 9, in the afternoon/evening of the first day, which got my attention!). As the evening approached, we had time to view them extensively in our spotting scopes, at distance, and two of them, were incredible! We were going to go after them in the morning.

Fortunately, we were able to relocate the same 9 rams in the morning, and initiate our stalk. During the latter part of our stalk, as we were approaching the ram's location, we observed two 'yahoo' hunters (one with a rifle, one without, 50 yards apart) walking along a trail, above the sheep, directly toward our bedded rams. I appeared that the two hunters hadn't seen the sheep, nor knew much about sheep hunting, as they were walking in the open. Then, BAM!! They spooked the rams, and the rams were gone in an instant. We were so close, but yet so far! Nobody got a shot!

Later the same day, we were able to sneak on several of the same rams, which led to my having an excellent shot opportunity at the smallest of the three largest rams, but I chose not to shoot!! As you might imagine, I lived with this decision for the next six days of hunting, at, times, questioning my sanity?

As the hunt progressed and the days went by, the weather continued to be a major factor, handicapping distance, our hunting. Sheep do not like high winds, as they tend to hunker down (seemingly disappear?), which we experienced on hunt days 4 to 7, as well as some rain and overcast. We were regularly seeing lots of average rams, but not the big boys.

I finally got my opportunity in the morning of the 8th day, during a surprise break between weather systems, as the winds (curiously) stopped on Sunday morning. Within an hour, we had spotted two large rams, and we decided to make a stalk on the largest\closest, that was last seen, moving through the saddle on high ridge. During the stalk, the ram caught my guide, Tim, and I, off guard, as the ram was bedded slightly over the ridge (out of sight), and exploded from his bed running a full speed, starting at 100 yards. As I still had my backpack on and rifle shouldered, I moved faster than you could imagine: it probably took me 15 seconds (or less) to get my rifle and pack off, chamber a round, get into position, estimate the distance and adjust my scope for 250 yards, in time to see the ram pause on a large boulder, before disappearing over the canyon rim. I tried to set up on my pack, but it was too low to see the ram, so I had to hold my elbows high on the pact, to have a clear shot! I did not have chances to think, just place the cross hairs on the ram's shoulder, focus, and squeeze the trigger. He dropped off the rock, like a sack of potatoes! What a thrill!

Thank you, Dry Creek Outfitters,** for your perseverance and professionalism. The ram green scored 173 1/8 gross, and 172 4/8 net. I have done a fair amount of No. America sheep hunting (7), but this was my first book ram!

Who We Are

Dry Creek Outfitters is a professional hunting guide and outfitting service. We specialize in Trophy Desert Bighorn Sheep hunts in Arizona, California, and Utah. We also offer hunts for Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Mule Deer, Elk, Pronghorn Antelope and Javelina. We are fully licensed, bonded, insured, and permitted.

We have a full time team of professional, knowledgeable guides. Please take a few minutes to look over the information we have provided for you. We think it will substantiate the professional and dependable guide service we have to offer. We sincerely hope that you will consider using Dry Creek Outfitters to assist you in making your hunt truly a HUNT OF A LIFETIME.

Copyright © 2017 Dry Creek Outifitters. All Rights Reserved.