Feature Article: Bighorn Ram

Woman bags best bighorn ram in White Mountains unit in 2018 hunt

BY JIM MATTHEWS/Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Oct 10, 2018

BISHOP — Bagging a bighorn sheep in California requires hunters clear two major hurdles. First, most hunters face over 1,000-to-1 odds of getting drawn for a tag. Second, hunting in most of the zones requires major physical exertion simply to get to where the sheep live in remote mountain ranges.

Carolyn Yount, a 34-year-old Bishop woman, overcame those tall hurdles – and one of her own – to take the biggest ram to come out of the White Mountains hunting unit in the 2018 season, a heavy-horned ram that rough-scored 167-7/8 inches on the Boone and Crockett scoring system, the best of the three sheep taken in the zone this season. The ram was taken Saturday, Sept. 22, the fifth weekend of the season that ran from Aug. 18 through Sept. 30.

carolynyountCAROLYN YOUNT’S heavy-horned ram, shot in the White Mountains, rough-scored 167 7/8 inches on the Boone and Crockett scoring system, the best of the three sheep taken in the zone this season.

Yount had the help of an entire community, but especially her husband Matt and a neighbor and archery deer hunting friend Danny Eder. The three spent eight weeks of scouting time before the season and then five weekends of hunting to find Yount a ram. They were also trying to find a ram in a location that would be possible for Yount to reach.

Yount’s third hurdle is a rare condition – for which she had surgery – called chiari. The problem limits her physical abilities and balance. She has to keep her blood pressure down or she simply passes out. “When fatigue set in, I have to sleep. It’s not something I can control. If I don’t let myself go to sleep, my body does it for me and I pretty much just pass out.”

Danny found the big ram Labor Day weekend while scouting. Yount says he told her he was archery deer hunting, but she didn’t believe him. The spot was a big meadow Yount said was like a “golf course,” but it was five miles of uphill climbing and hiking from the end of a four-wheel drive road to reach the spot.

Was it a place she could reach? It turns out determination overcame her condition. She not only made the trip up the mountain once. She made it twice. The first time she missed a ram.

“It just devastated me. I cried a lot. I was so disappointed in myself. A miss? How did I miss? I have shot several deer at 400 yards. How could I have missed such an important shot?” said Yount.

But the second trip up the mountain everything fell into place. Yount said they left the truck at 5 a.m. and it took five hours of uphill climbing to reach the spot where the big ram lived.

“There’s no flat, there’s no downhill, it is all uphill, and it took me a long time because we had to go so slowly or I would pass out,” said Yount. But at 10 a.m., Yount, her husband Matt, and Eder were looking over the band of seven rams trying to figure out how to move into range. With a swirling wind that kept changing directions, the sheep caught their scent on a couple of attempts to move in and were on edge, moving into a rugged slide of boulders. The trio caught a break with the wind and moved to within 145 yards, and Yount made a perfect single shot this time with the borrowed 7mm Weatherby Vanguard, a gun her father had just won this year at the Bishop California Deer Association banquet.

“How many 34-year-old people can say they finally fulfilled a dream they’ve had for 30 years,” said Yount.

A life-long resident of Bishop, she had been dreaming of hunting bighorn in the mountains east of her home since she first saw the animals as a four-year old. Coming from a family of avid hunters and marrying an avid hunter, she said “hunting is a very important part of our family.”

Yount said she didn’t start applying for bighorn sheep, however, until the White Mountains hunting zone was first opened in 2005, meaning she did not have enough bonus points to be eligible for the special pool of tags for those with the maximum number of points. Her odds of getting that single tag in the pool of tags open to all applications were over 1,500-to-one.

Even though Yount has short-term memory loss as part of her conditions, she knows this is an experience she will never forget.

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