04 March 2013The trip to Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico was a fine and peaceful one. Once in the airport I quickly cleared Mexican customs, had my rifle checked and gun permit reissued, then stepped out to be met by Chapo Juvera, chief guide for Sonora Dark Horn Adventures. It was good to see Chapo again who had been my guide and now close friend, on my two previous trips to hunt with Sonora Dark Horn Adventures for Coues whitetail and desert mule deer. Both those hunts had been supremely successful. Now I was back for my third hunt, this time for desert bighorn sheep. Hunting desert bighorn sheep is something I had wanted to do since I was a mere youngster growing up in rural Texas. I well remember listening to my mother read to me from the pages of Outdoor Life when Jack O’Connor wrote about hunting desert bighorns in the same mountains where he had once hunted. I was thrilled! The desert bighorn sheep is the essentially the smallest of the four basic bighorn sheep found in North America. Far north of Alaska and the Yukon is the all white Dall sheep; a bit farther south in the mountains of British Columbia, Canada is the Stone sheep; then from there south for a while is the Rocky Mountain bighorn, the largest bodied of the bighorn sheep, then in the desert mountains is the desert bighorn. In years past I have had the opportunity, although unsuccessfully I should add to hunt Dall and Stone sheep. With my Stone sheep hunt, I arrived in camp to be told there were no legal rams in the area, so I spent my time looking and dreaming. With my Dall sheep hunt I spent much of my time in base camp where I waited for the wrangler to shoe horses and gather tack. Then we rode throughout an entire night to reach “sheep camp”, only to spend most of the rest of my time in camp riding horses in the river bottoms looking a the tracks of grizzly bear. I extended my hunt and finally we hunted the mountains for sheep for two days, only to see rams that were a long way off. But they were also not legal (legal sheep had to be at least 8 years of age, or be full curl, or have both horns broomed). I did not see such a sheep! Thus my experience of sheep hunting. My record going into my desert bighorn hunt wasn’t all that great. In preparation to my hunt I had spent a fair amount of time at the FTW Ranch shooting my Ruger American Rifle in .270 Winchester, and topped with with a Zeiss Duralyt scope, a combination I had used for my desert mule deer hunt as well as several others this past fall. Using Hornady’s American Whitetail ammo which is loaded with Hornady’s 130 grain Interlock bullet. I learned at the FTW’s SAAM ranges that my .270 Ruger American Rifle grouped 3 shots of Hornady American Whitetail essentially in the same hole at 100 yards. At 200 yards the group size increase to about 2 inches and at 300 yards the group size increased to 3 inches but was only about 9 inches low with a dead-on sight-in at 100 yards. I carried two Ruger American Rifles topped with Zeiss scopes to Mexico, the .270 just described and a .30-06 topped with a Zeiss scope. The latter was the rifle I used on my Coues deer which I shot at just shy of 600 yards. I chose to use my .270 Win Ruger rifle over the .30-06 primarily because of my years of reading Jack O’Connor and his preference for the .270. And to frank I loved how accurately it shot. There are those I’m sure who seem to think it would have been a good decision to take a custom rifle for a hunt as important as a desert bighorn. My Ruger American Rifle cost me $365.00, my Zeiss Duralyt scope cost me just shy of $800.00. So for less than $1,200 (with my choice of scopes costing me double as my rifle) I had my “Ideal Desert Bighorn Sheep” rifle. Regarding ammo I decided to use the new Hornady American Whitetail, not one of Hornady’s higher priced ammo. But as mentioned earlier my Ruger loved it! And I had seen what the 130 grain Interlock bullet did as far as terminal performance. Once in camp I shot my rifle and it hit exactly where it was supposed to. I knew it would but, I ALWAYS check where my rifle shoots when I get to camp. I used what I consider the best products, but in traveling via airlines there is never any telling how my baggage had been truly handled. So regardless, even if means missing part of a day of hunting, I want to be assured my rifle is shooting where I am expecting it to. That night over a delicious meal I had the opportunity to visit with the ranch’s owner and also talk at length with Chapo, then head to bed. For the ten or so days before I had had very little sleep. The ranch we hunted lies along the coastal area of Sonora along the Sea of Cortez. It is extremely well-managed for wildlife and livestock. It is the home to some of the finer desert bighorn sheep, but also desert mule deer in Sonora, Mexico. And it has proven itself many times over. I will tell you I shot a nice desert bighorn, my first bighorn sheep ever! What I won’t tell you here is how we came to get him. You’ll have to watch my “DSC’s TRAILING THE HUNTER’S MOON” television show which will debut in late June or early July, later this year on The Sportsman Channel. My desert sheep hunt was a dream come true. And I can hardly wait to get back to Mexico this this coming year. Perhaps you’d like to join me there on a Coues whitetail, desert mule deer or possibly even desert bighorn sheep hunt with Sonora Dark Horn Adventures. I dearly love Sonora, Mexico. If you’d like more information contact me here or go to www.sonoradarkhorn.com.