PDA

View Full Version : Bighorn Sheep



dropkick
2007-06-29, 01:09
Went over the Skallkaho Pass a few days ago and then down the Rock Creek drainage and home. Camped and hiked along the way. Got back yesterday evening. Had a good time and tried out some trails I'd never been on before.

Anyway I was either in the Lolo or Deerlodge National Forest (not sure which) and I came apon something I'd never seen before; a whole herd of Bighorn Sheep down off the cliffs in a field. There wasn't any rams, just ewes and lambs.

There was at least 30 of them and they weren't worried about me at all.
They just moved a short distance away from me and kept eating and watched me as I went by. I was between 5 to 10 feet from some of the adults.

These are wild animals.
I don't understand why they were so calm about the whole thing. I've walked through herds of cows that were more skittish.
I think I was more worried than they were (they have some wicked looking horns).

Anyway it was one of those encounters I'll always remember, I just wish I would have had a camera.


-After reading my post, I thought I should add that my dog wasn't with me. She's visiting my folks. Don't know what would have happened if she was with me.

BigJohn
2007-06-29, 13:22
Cool Story Dropkick, I have a similar story. I remember my first surreal experience in the woods. It happened sometime in July several years ago. I was sitting atop White Rocks at Cumberland Gap eating my supper facing the Southeast. The heat was sweltering and muggy, but not before long the sky darkened as I watched a thunderstorm butt up against the Ridge. I was perched atop a sandstone precipice on the windward side of the mountain. Not wanting to stay exposed to the oncoming torrent I walked back to my camp which was positioned on the leeward. The experience of watching the thunderstorm from above was humbling in its own right but not nearly as awesome as what happened next.

As I made it back to camp the air was dead calm and cool. It was an hour and a half before dusk, and the forest glowed with an eery light reflected from the dense blanket of ferns coverning the forest floor. I sat on a log next to my tent swatting the buzzing nats dive-bombing my face and almost made a game of it by seeing how many I could actually crush in my hands. Eyes focused intensly in the few inches before me, I caught a slight movement in the corner of my vision and down the hill. Curious I turned my attention to discern a doe making her way through the ferns towards my camp. I sat dead still with my hands lowered to my side waiting for her to see me and run. But she continued on her course, moving her ears, and bobbing her head to forage the ground cover. No big deal right? Just a doe...

She continued towards me hesitantly but watchful and began to circle my camp at a radius of ten feet. Enjoying my new company immensely I sat and let her continue peacefully. To my surprise though, I spotted a similar movement to my 8 'o' clock. Another doe was making her way to my camp.

...to make a long story short; this continued for for some time until I had a total of five does circling my camp, sometimes within an arms reach of my position. I could have probably reached out and grabbed one with no problem before they would have all jetted off back into the woods. But I sat content watching the wildlife around me. It was surreal to say the least...before that time the most I had ever seen of deer in the wilderness was their white tails as they crashed through the understory running in fear. I can distinctly remember every minute detail of this experience and is something I will never forget.

But I sometimes wonder. I think the conditions were set just right. I have always heard that animals begin to forage instinctively right before a storm. It was nearing dusk, and I had no camp fire. This was probably the first time I had ever camped without a camp fire and I decided right then and there that I probably would never build another unless I had to. The memory has time and again confirmed to me how much I love being out in the woods and the perks of going out alone.