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La Grande Observer 12/22/14

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SCOUTING TRIPS INTO RUGGED COUNTRY YIELD STATELY DIVIDED FOR PERSISTENT HUNTER

HIGH UP: Morgan Olson of La Grande took this Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in the Wallowas. (Joe Moade photo).
HIGH UP: Morgan Olson of La Grande took this Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in the Wallowas. (Joe Moade photo).

Few people who have hunted Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in the Wallowas have been as well prepared as Morgan Olson of La Grande.

Olson took a Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in September on the east fork of the Lostine River. He did so after conducting a series of remarkably thorough scouting trips. He even took to the air, flying over the area in the Wallowas he was to hunt three times.

The flights, provided by a local aviation firm, gave Olson a better understanding of the area. However, he did not see many Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.

"I didn't see that many bighorn sheep but I saw a lot of the country,'' Olson said.

He said that bighorns are hard to see from the air, especially when they are in canyons.

"It's hard to fly low enough to see bighorn sheep in a canyon,'' Olson said.

Olson also took four weekend pre-hunting trips into the Wallowas searching for bighorn herds.

Olson began his hunt with a three-day stint in the Wallowas and then returned home. He came back with five days left in his hunt and took his ram the first day of the second phase of his hunt. Olson hiked and rode horses a total of 80 to 90 miles while scouting and hunting. It was a taxing experience.

"It was rugged and very challenging. It's like running a marathon; you wonder halfway through if it is worth it,'' Olson said.

In the end, Olson's hunt proved to be more than worth it. The horns of the ram he took had a green score of 169 5/8, a solid mark.

Olson, who used a range finder, shot his bighorn from a distance of 209 yards.

He was accompanied by Joe Moade of Corvallis, a friend who provided a lot of assistance.

Others who assisted Olson included Scott Loree of Cove who loaned him pack stock.

Olson also gives credit to Rick Isaacson and his son, Adam Isaacson, both of La Grande. The Isaacsons accompanied Olson on several scouting trips and gave him important information on where bighorns were.

Olson rates the hunt as one of the most rewarding experiences of his life.

"It was definitely a highlight. The challenge was worthwhile,'' Olson said.

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