Hunt of a lifetime

By Dick Mason, The Observer November 26, 2010 03:29 pm

White put his name in for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep drawings every year since 1976. His name was never drawn over the next 34 years. 

“I was wondering if it would ever happen,’’ White said.

Then it did.

White was on the Internet, which was not even its infancy  in 1976, last May when he discovered his name had been drawn for a bighorn sheep hunt.

“When I checked I could hardly believe it,’’ White said.

Today White, who would later take a ram, has an easier time believing his name was drawn. The drawing had heightened significance because hunters can draw a tag for a Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep tag just once a lifetime.

 Once he got over the shock of drawing a tag, the planning began. White was not about to let a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity slip away. He and two friends, Paul Tate and Jim Witherspoon of Elgin, began going on scouting trips in late July. Riding on horses, the trio scouted the Bear Creek hunt area west of Lostine, which White had drawn a tag for. They rode horses and hiked over many miles of rugged terrain with binoculars in hand.

Armed with knowledge of where the bighorn herds were roaming, White and his two friends developed a game plan. The trio left for the Bear Creek hunt area Sept. 10. They then rode eight miles into the unit before setting up camp.

At sunrise on Sept. 11 White, Tate and Witherspoon mounted their horses and rode about 1 1/2 miles before spotting a herd close to where they expected to see one. Next they tied up their three horses and three mules and hiked about 1 1/2 miles to get ahead ahead of the bighorns.  

Following a relatively short wait, White nailed a ram from about 150 yards around 8 a.m.

Now the real work started. The fallen ram was at the bottom of the steep McCubbin Basin.

“We had to go over a cliff (to get down to McCubbin basin),’’ White said.

White, Tate and Withersoon reached the bighorn and then quartered it. Next began a 150-yard uphill hike with the portions of the bighorn on their backs and slippery terrain underfoot.

 There was a lot of shell rock,’’ White said. “It was hard to keep your footing. My feet kept slipping on the rock.’’

The hike was not as taxing for White as it might have been because of his condition. He had not trained for the hike but said he was up for the trek because of the work he does as a farmer.

The ram White took has a full curl and received a green Boone and Crockett score of 150 2/8. It is now mounted in White’s home.

The hunter credits the help he received from Tate and Witherspoon with playing a key role in making his once-in-a-lifetime hunt successful.

“It would have been a lot tougher without their help,’’ White said.