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Sheep Harvesting Club

April 2022
Story by Dylan Schillinger
State: Washington
Species: Sheep - California

Back in 2020, my dad told me that if I could pass a hunter safety course, he would put me in for New Mexico. I passed a hunter safety course on a Saturday, and I put in for New Mexico on Monday. Low and behold, I drew my first deer tag in New Mexico as a 9-year-old youth. After killing my first deer, I was hooked. Fast forward to 2021 when my dad put me in for Washington, like he’d always done in years past. He had been putting me in for Washington since I was born. Years ago, you could put in for Washington when you were a baby with no hunter safety card.

Things have changed now, but I’ve been building points since then. Last year, my dad put me in for everything I could possibly apply for. I got lucky and drew my first sheep tag at 10 years old. With all the anticipation of having a sheep tag in hand, my dad made multiple calls to friends of friends who had hunted the unit years ago with their kids.
The day finally came to begin packing up and get ready to leave for Washington. Getting up to Central Washington was a long drive from our home state of California. On this hunt, my dad took my brother, Logan, who was 8 years old, and me. The first evening before checking in to our room, we took a drive through the unit and I spotted sheep out my window immediately. We were excited that we were already seeing sheep on the first evening of scouting. I was so excited about seeing sheep that it was tough for me to sleep that night.

The next morning, we loaded everything up and started at different points on a map that were given to us to begin our scouting. Each glassing point we made it to, we picked up more and more sheep along the way. The day went by so fast because we were having so much fun glassing into different canyons and picking up sheep. With one more day to scout, we checked out some different country to see what we could find.

Finally, opening day arrived. We started our hunt off on the north side of the unit, hiking into a big drainage. We glassed up multiple sheep that morning but didn’t find anything we wanted to shoot. Pretty much the same thing happened that evening with just some small ewes and two bigger rams.

The next morning, a lot of the sheep had moved up higher into the rocks in the tops of the drainage. Being only 10 years old and also bringing my 8-year-old brother, it would have been an all-day event just to get into this deep country, so we chose to glass different areas throughout the day, hoping the sheep would come down off the cliffs.

Just before dark, they started coming down, but we didn’t have enough time to make a move on them.
The next morning arrived, and my dad and I put a different game plan together. We chose to start on the south end and glass up to where we had originally seen some sheep the first time driving in. At first, we glassed up a big ram and then just below him laying in the rocks were a couple ewes. My dad told me they were in a decent place where we could possibly get a shot on them, and I started to get excited. We loaded up our packs and started the long walk through the rocks to get close to the sheep. About 20 minutes in, we got stuck in the bottom of a canyon because a different group of sheep we hadn’t seen winded us. We decided to lay down and wait until the sheep calmed down and kept feeding away from us.

About an hour later, the sheep fed away from us and up and over the mountain. My dad crawled up a smaller hill to see if the sheep we had seen were still there. I looked at him from below, and he gave me a thumbs to walk up to him. I started the hike up to my dad to get set up, but the sheep started getting up and walking towards us down the cliffs. My dad told me to set up on the bipods and get ready to shoot. The sheep stopped, and my dad said to shoot when I was ready. I whispered over to him that I couldn’t see the sheep. My dad told me to look through the scope as the sheep were right there. I told him the sheep were way too far and I couldn’t shoot that far. My dad looked at my scope and noticed it was turned down to 3 power and not turned all the way up to 18 power. The sheep were 380 yards away. Once I got everything set back up and the sheep stopped once again, I pulled the trigger and hit the ewe. I reloaded and fired another shot, and down she went. My dad and I started jumping up and down and hugging each other. We were so excited that I had killed my first sheep and we were both in the same club of harvesting sheep.

The moment was so amazing when we walked up to see this magnificent animal. I’m only 10 years old, and I’ve already killed a deer, an elk, and now a sheep. The excitement of this hunt is something I will never forget. To have my dad and my brother there to share this experience is something that I will cherish forever. I want to thank my dad, Jason, for being such a good role model. I couldn’t do it without him showing me everything you need to know about hunting and also being a taxidermist, mounting all my animals for me. Also, thank you to Logan for hiking up and down those steep cliffs just to tag along. I hope someday you experience a sheep tag just like I did. Thanks to Robert Hanneman of Huntin’ Fool and also to Stacey Hunt for giving some great information on the unit. And most importantly, I want to thank God for giving me the opportunity to hunt and to be healthy and enjoy the creation He has created on earth.

Washington Bighorn Sheep