High Fence Hunts – For the Lazy Hunter? Or Fun For the Whole Family?
We have all seen the adds for different high fence hunts. Most probably think like I did, “That is no type of hunting for me”. Well, after talking to a few guys I know and hearing their stories my outlook began to change. Then one day my dad decided he wanted to go hunt a pig at this ranch in Iowa. It was a few hours away and he offered to book a ram/pig combo. After a little thought I decided what the heck, I’ll give it a try. Boy was I glad I did! The hunt turned out to be one of the most fun and memorable hunts with my dad.
Sure there was a 9 foot high fence around the place. But once you stepped inside that gate there was as almost 700 acres of thick timber, deep draws, and lots of pasture grass almost as tall as me. The rams I would be hunting see more hunters a year than most deer on a lot of Nebraska’s over crowded public lands. The hunting was not how I thought it would be, I had to out work, out think, and out smart these extremely wary sheep. After a few failed stalks, I came up with a game plan that would prove to be a home run. I found myself at 18 yards from what would end up being the largest Painted Desert ram taken by a bow in the U.S. in 2014.
Different Terrain, Same Wary Sheep
Fast forward to 2018, I just completed my second high fence hunt for exotic sheep. Harvesting a beautiful Mouflon ram and a great Texas Dahl ram. I was joined on the hunt by my dad and a good friend. My friend and I have hunted whitetails, Mule deer, Antelope, and black bear together. This time the location was different and the terrain was completely opposite. Of course, the species was the same and they were very aware of our presence. This hunt took place in the northwest corner of Colorado. It was near a small town named Dinosaur. And for you Colorado elk hunters it’s in the heart of Unit 10. The terrain was flat, with steep canyons, lots of sage brush, and nowhere to hide when out in the open.
The almost 7000 feet elevation made basic flat land walking a little bit more of a struggle. Also trying to get within bow range of a group of 28 sheep with little to no cover proved to be a challenge in itself. With 56 eyes scanning the horizon for danger it’s difficult. After getting our butts whooped by the sheep a couple times, my partner and I decided to split up. We were going to hunt them from different angles. This decision proved to be the right choice for us on this hunt. I managed to slowly work my way to within 62 yards of the group. The waiting game was on! It seemed like forever waiting for a good ram to separate away from the heard. Eventually one did and a few moments later my Texas Dahl ram was down.
My Dad Captured the Whole Thing
Little did I know my dad was set up snapping pictures of the whole stalk and watching through his telephoto lens. Right away he was there to greet me with a great big, “That a boy!” as we both arrived at the downed ram. We headed back towards camp after a few moments of admiring the beautiful creature and thanking him for giving up his life for me. On our trip back to camp, I spotted a small group of rams bedded in the shade up in front of us.
Having one more ram to harvest, I quickly looked over the rams and found a beautiful mouflon bedded on the hillside in the shade of some sage. I crawled into comfortable bow range and ranged my target at 52 yards. I waited a few moments for him to hopefully stand from his mid day bed. With no luck I stood up and came to full draw. But still they stayed bedded. At this point, I resorted to plan C and kicked the dirt which caused the bachelor group to rise. Knowing I only had a moment, I let the arrow go as soon as his knees locked. The hit was true and after a few steps he expired. My hunt was now over.
One of My Funnest Hunts in 23 Years
This hunt proved to be one of the most fun hunts I have ever been on in my 23 years of bowhunting. Sure there may have been an 8 foot fence around the 640 acres we were hunting, but that didn’t change the atmosphere inside that fenced in area. The animals were very much wild and not tame in the least bit. We still had to work hard for our success, I have had spot and stalk antelope hunts go easier than that hunt did.
The excitement and adrenaline was very much real, just like being in a stand watching that buck you have been waiting for all season make his way to your stand. Yeah the animals may all have ear tags, but that’s for your benefit. They let you know how much that animal is going to cost you before you decide to harvest it. You don’t want to shoot an animal to find out its 2 or 3 times more than you wanted.
Make for a Great Summer Getaway
Many exotic outfitters will cater to the hunter, whether it be towards first time hunters, kids, disabled hunters, rifle, or bow. The outfitter will do his part to make sure you have a fun and enjoyable hunt. These high fence hunts are reasonably priced as long as you are not looking for a world class trophy. Most exotic ram hunts begin around that $400 price and go up from there. These hunts make great summer weekend getaways with the kids or with good friends.
The fences may be higher but the hunting is still very real! They are not a high mountain back country hunt for elk or mule deer, but they are a whole lot of off season fun that you can enjoy with people of all skill levels or age. So the next time you see a high fence hunt advertised, take a look at what they offer, it may just turn into your next summer trip with the family. I know I’m sure glad I gave them a chance, now I’m dreaming of my next one, which will also be to complete my exotic ram slam. So happy hunting, and remember it’s not always about the size of the horns, but about the memories made that make the trophy.
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