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Old 01-11-2019, 02:52 PM   #1
solocam_aggie
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Default Palo Duro Canyon Recap

So I decided to just create a new thread recapping my recent hunt in the Palo Duro Canyon through TPWD. This hunt was so epic, it deserves its own thread! It was an unbelievable experience; something that I will forever remember and be proud of. With that said, this will be a long winded write up! So get comfortable folks.

We checked in at the main entrance to PDC park. There were a few no shows, so park staff drew two cards of four people for the stand by spots. I would guess about 25 folks showed up for that draw; much better draw odds than the normal application! With that sorted out, we then followed the hunt director to another portion of the park that we would be hunting. The first thing that jumped out to us as we pulled in was the view. It was magnificent. The accommodations there were also impressive to me, although they would be of no benefit to us. We began the orientation process, which included stories of medical emergencies and even a death on the hunt. This was going to be no walk to the fridge. Units were decided on, and as I mentioned in the other thread, we decided on unit 4. This was the most rugged and difficult hunt to access, but it supposedly held a great number of sheep. After orientation, we grabbed a few GPS coordinates to put in our GPS unit, then convoyed down into the canyon in our vehicles. From there, we would load our gear into a ranger and driven down to the "rock slide." This would be the farthest point of access by vehicle. Arriving at the rockslide, I seen what all the fuss was about. Lugging our heavy packs over the jagged rocks was going to be a challenge. As we sized up the task at hand, my brother tells us to look up at the ridge to our right. Standing there was a respectable ram watching us. This wasn't our unit, so we didn't bother with trying to get on him, but seeing a good ram this early certainly excited us and gave us encouragement for the hunt to come. We decided as a group to take the high route in getting across the rock slide. It was quite the challenge, but we finally made it across and eventually into our unit. We had already decided on a predetermined camp location, so we found our way to that location and quickly set up camp. Eager to get hunting, we rearranged our packs and headed out to hunt. My brother and I decided to work some ridges to the south of camp, and the other two guys worked north. We kept it low key that evening in an attempt to save energy for the next day's hunt. We glassed a lot, only locating a pair of mule deer that evening. We got back to camp to learn the other guys found two large groups of sheep, but never could get a shot off. With those sightings, we felt good about our plan for the next day. We ate some freeze dried suppers, and called it a night early. I figured good rest would be sparse on a thin pad and hard ground, and boy was it.

Tuesday morning we awoke before daylight and set our day packs up for an all day hunt. We took out heading north with the other two guys. The idea was that we would go together through a drainage till it split, then part ways. The other pair headed west, and my brother and I headed east. Our immediate task was scaling an impressive rock face that would then allow us to access the NE corner of our unit. The guy running the hunt said we should find sheep there. Halfway through that climb we hear a pair of shots from our counterparts. I couldn't believe they were already in sheep, but was certainly happy for them. Finally reaching the top, we proceeded through an abundant amount of sheep sign. I was sitting on sic'em the whole time, expecting any minute to see sheep, but we never did. We proceeded to work the entire ridge, covering a grand total of 12 miles without considering elevation. Finally towards the end of our route, I heard the sound of hoofs on rocks as I glassed a ridge. My brother had jumped a group of four sheep below us, and they were running down the ridge and away from us. I ranged them at 275 yards, and readied for the shot. This is where I completely fell apart. Everything from forgetting my scope cover was still on, fumbling with my bipod, to re-ranging the sheep resulted in them eluding me. They finally came to a stop at 550 yards. Only 1 ewe presented a shot. I checked my ballistics chart, dialed my scope in, and sent a chunk of lead. I hit just a touch low of the ewe, and they disappeared over a ridge never to be seen again. I couldn't believe I had fumbled that opportunity. My brother who spooked them never even seen the sheep who escaped out unscathed. We made it back to camp with an hour of light left, depleted and exhausted. We had a bigger problem on hand than physical exhaustion; we were out of water. Our hunt would have ended here, but fortunate for us the other two guys had brought a water filtration system. They were out of water too, so we gather our water bottles and headed to a running creek my brother and I found the first day. After gathering water, we all decided to boil it too as cheap insurance. Cattle, along with all other wildlife use this same creek for a water source, and seeing cattle feces on the bank upstream was a little unnerving haha. With all said and done, the water definitely had a different taste to it, but it didn't make us sick. We dug in to our sleeping bags and tent that night and prepared ourselves for a cold night.

Wednesday morning we awoke to subfreezing temps. The low showed to be 23, and I believe it! All of our water was frozen solid. It made it very difficult to climb out of the sleeping bag that barely kept me comfortable though the night. My brother was not as eager to get going. The previous day was rough on him, and he's just not a morning guy to start with lol. He ultimately decided to stay back and hunt around camp once it became light out, and save his remaining energy for the pack out. So I headed out solo, with intentions on hunting the southern most ridge that we had yet to cover. As I started up, the terrain proved to be just as difficult as the others. The front face showed signs of sheep, but none were seen. As I neared the top of the ridge, I peered around and immediately spotted sheep. A group of about 10 were feeding on a dogleg 600 yards away, but still on the same ridge as me. Having missed a 550 yarder the day before, I opted to stalk closer for a higher probability shot. I crested the ridge and began working around towards the sheep. As I got within 200 yards of the dogleg, I shouldered my rifle and prepared for a quick shot. The cedars were so thick there I worried about what opportunity I would get should I even see them. I heared a commotion to my left, and figured it to be my group of sheep spooking out of there. I ran towards the direction of the sound, but as I cleared the cedars I didn't see anything. Disheartened, I just knew my last chance at an Aoudad had slipped past me. I decided to work the opposite side of the ridge around to where I came up. 10 minutes later, I hear the same commotion of an animal running. I spring forward through the cedars, only this time I emerge to see a great ram running from me. I threw my gun up, and found the ram in my scope. At about 75 yards, he had ran out of real estate and turned 90 to head up the shelf he was on. I fired an offhand shot through some light brush, and seen the ram react to the shot. How I snuck a bullet through that brush I have no clue. As he dropped below a small hump, a ran forward and found him again climbing. I fired another shot at about the same distance, and with this one the ram raised up and fell backwards, rolling down the ridge and out of sight. My heart sank, as I figured the ram to have rolled off the face of that ridge, and there was no possibility of retrieval if he did. Luckily for me, a rock stopped his tumble a mere feet away from going over the edge. I knelt and gave thanks for this amazing opportunity and animal, snapped a couple pics, and went immediately to work capping the ram. I knew it would be a daunting task getting him off that cliff, so I wasted no time. My only regret is not being able to take a few grip and grins with my ram. I'm a big picture guy, so I was disappointed in this. But a ram on the wall to look at will certainly suffice for my memory bank. Once the ram was caped, I loaded him up into my day pack. I soon realized I grossly underestimated the weight this would be. With the help of some long zip ties, I was able to get the head secure in the pack. The question was if this cheap game winner pack would cut the mustard. As I slowly began my descend, I could hear the zipper clicking down and the pack stretching. Thank heavens that it finally settled in, and survived the whole trip. I made it off the cliff and to the creek where we pulled water from the night before. I had to take a break here, as my shoulders and back were killing me. After regaining some strength, I loaded back up and made it the rest of the way to our camp. Even though I was exhausted, you can bet I was grinning from ear to ear as I entered the camp and displayed my good fortune to the rest of the guys. The ensuing high fives was a great feeling of accomplishment to what I had achieved. As it would turn out, that was the only ram killed out of our group of 16 guys. The other two guys ended up killing 3 more ewes, bringing their total to 5. These were the only sheep killed to my knowledge. The pack out from camp was down right brutal. Already spent from hunting, we had to dig deep to get back over the rock slide. We took a lower route coming out, which proved to be a much better route, but it was still extremely challenging. We finally emerge through the rock slide only to find out that park staff decided to leave early, and would not be coming to pick us up in the ranger. This was extremely disappointing. We had to regather ourselves and find the energy to hike it out another 30-45 minutes uphill. I thought we might be another one of those medical emergency stories before finally reaching the truck.

A few take aways from this experience; this hunt is every bit as challenging as they say it is. It is a must to be physically in shape. What saved me was hitting the squat rack and running stairs. My brother who thought he could wing it suffered pretty bad through it all. If you want the most out of this opportunity, do the work beforehand. If you draw units 3 or 4, the rock slide is the real deal. A few folks thought we were crazy for camping in the unit, but after crossing that slide twice a day every day, decided it was the smart thing to do. Traversing that slide packed down with camping gear is a new level of suck, but it can be done. If camping in, bring some sort of water filtration device. I don't know if you can physically pack in enough water to last you till the end, unless you don't eat freeze dried meals. I had failed to look at how much water these things took, which was 2 cups for each meal.

In closing, I've never been more proud of a trophy than this one. As hard of a hunt as it is, it's twice as rewarding. If you would have told me that I would log 23 miles on foot in a little over 2 days, and pictures of the ridges and rock slides I would be climbing, I would say there is no way I could do it. It's crazy what strength and will power you can find when you really want something. I'm convinced I conquered the most challenging hunt Texas has to offer. It's an accomplishment I'll be forever proud of.

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Last edited by solocam_aggie; 01-11-2019 at 03:04 PM.
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Old 01-11-2019, 02:53 PM   #2
solocam_aggie
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Pics

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Old 01-11-2019, 02:54 PM   #3
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Old 01-11-2019, 02:56 PM   #4
solocam_aggie
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Youtube link to short videos I made. I sound like a goof lol.

https://youtu.be/JpIjWEiasuc

https://youtu.be/TFDon9744bA


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Old 01-11-2019, 03:00 PM   #5
docmay
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Congrats on the hunt and the ram. It’s beautiful country out there and rugged as hell! I would love to see some pics.
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Old 01-11-2019, 03:03 PM   #6
Txsurveyor2014
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Awesome! Congrats on the hunt and ram!
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Old 01-11-2019, 03:03 PM   #7
Abu_dude
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great write up. Sounds like a hell of a trip!
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Old 01-11-2019, 03:06 PM   #8
txoutdoorsman24
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Heck yea. Great right up. That’s what a hunt like that is all about
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Old 01-11-2019, 03:09 PM   #9
Throwin Darts
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awesome hunt and awesome recap. well done!
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Old 01-11-2019, 03:15 PM   #10
DNTRanch
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Very cool and what a great write up!!! Good job and congrats !!!
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Old 01-11-2019, 03:16 PM   #11
Jzoch
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Congrats on the ram!! Looks like you definitely earned every bit of that one!! Awesome pictures and a great write up.
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Old 01-11-2019, 03:17 PM   #12
TX_Hoghunter
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Congrats and a great write up.

-john
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Old 01-11-2019, 03:23 PM   #13
outlook8
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Awesome, congrats!

I noticed that Palo Duro started requiring groups of four the last couple years and figured there must have been an accident or something and they wanted to make sure guys hunted in pairs.
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Old 01-11-2019, 03:37 PM   #14
TildenHunter
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Congrats! I have been looking forward to this write up. Well done. What did your ram tape out at, 28"??

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Old 01-11-2019, 03:37 PM   #15
BJ DUPLECHAIN
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Congrats!
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:02 PM   #16
twdjr
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Congrats!
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:09 PM   #17
hoythunter28
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That’s awesome! Congrats
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:10 PM   #18
HIDE-N-SEEK
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With all this past year has had in store for you, there is something very special in what god has orchestrated. God is good! Truly a season (and a year) you will never forget. Congrats my friend!
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:32 PM   #19
Lee230
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Congrats on the trip, harvest and experience!! That country is just simply awesome and you just have to get in it to appreciate it!!
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:47 PM   #20
roberts
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Congrats on the ram. Thanks for the write up and taking us along. The country looks amazing and rugged out there.
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:49 PM   #21
Jspradley
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Congrats!!!! I can't wait to draw that hunt... one day lol
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Old 01-11-2019, 05:10 PM   #22
Aggie PhD
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Great one Colton!
I'm pretty sure that would kick my tail in my present level of fitness
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Old 01-11-2019, 05:11 PM   #23
sp-bow
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congrats, awesome hunt.
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Old 01-11-2019, 05:13 PM   #24
Tedshell
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That’s awesome!
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Old 01-11-2019, 05:25 PM   #25
Rebs55
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Great read congrats
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Old 01-11-2019, 05:32 PM   #26
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Congrats what a great hunt!
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Old 01-11-2019, 06:00 PM   #27
Anvilheadtexas
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Awesome recap! Thanks for sharing
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Old 01-11-2019, 06:06 PM   #28
Blank
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Congrats on a nice ram. When we hunted it a couple years back, we were in Unit 5 and it is the farthest walk. This was before you were allowed to camp down in the area. The rock slide is serious business, and takes some getting use to in the dark both ways..
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Old 01-11-2019, 06:23 PM   #29
solocam_aggie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blank View Post
Congrats on a nice ram. When we hunted it a couple years back, we were in Unit 5 and it is the farthest walk. This was before you were allowed to camp down in the area. The rock slide is serious business, and takes some getting use to in the dark both ways..
They combined units and did away with unit 5. It's now a part of 4. Did you guys get anything?

Thanks everyone for the posts!

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Old 01-11-2019, 07:21 PM   #30
Flint knapper
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ttt
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Old 01-11-2019, 09:48 PM   #31
coachwhip
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What a great write up really enjoyed reading it and seeing what y'all endured well earned trophy congrats!

Last edited by coachwhip; 01-11-2019 at 09:49 PM. Reason: Spelling
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Old 01-11-2019, 09:57 PM   #32
sandbill
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Wow!! Congrats on drawing the hunt, taking that nice ram, and having an experience of a lifetime! I can sure appreciate your descriptions of the beauty and magnitude and physical challenges involved in this short but epic hunt. I can only hope that my PD Canyon hunt next week is half as epic as yours was! Cheers
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Old 01-11-2019, 10:18 PM   #33
LegacyArcher
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Congratulations. That hunt is in my bucket list for sure

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Old 01-11-2019, 10:48 PM   #34
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Awesome stuff!! Congrats


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Old 01-11-2019, 11:04 PM   #35
buckerup
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Thanks for sharing with us.
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Old 01-11-2019, 11:11 PM   #36
Blank
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I tend to trophy hunt and my partner kills everything he's allowed. He killed a small 20" ram and 2 ewes. I missed a really big ram up in the cliffs on the south side and passed on some hogs. It was a great hunt, as evidenced by your nice write-up.
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Old 01-11-2019, 11:18 PM   #37
rvd
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Congrats!
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Old 01-11-2019, 11:34 PM   #38
Bone Thug
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Congrats!!!
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Old 01-12-2019, 03:17 AM   #39
Crazy Horse
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great recap
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Old 01-12-2019, 06:04 AM   #40
solocam_aggie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coachwhip View Post
What a great write up really enjoyed reading it and seeing what y'all endured well earned trophy congrats!
Thank you! Wish you guys were able to bring you one home. Great experience nonetheless I'm sure.

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Old 01-12-2019, 09:48 AM   #41
Boyd1212
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Great story, and nice ram!
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Old 01-12-2019, 01:27 PM   #42
solocam_aggie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TildenHunter View Post
Congrats! I have been looking forward to this write up. Well done. What did your ram tape out at, 28"??
Thanks bud. Finally put a tape to him this morning. 12.5" bases, and if I held the tape just a little loose, he'll hit 30" Both sides were 29 3/4

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Old 01-12-2019, 02:06 PM   #43
coachwhip
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That is one to be proud of especially for DIY public land!
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Old 01-12-2019, 02:31 PM   #44
TildenHunter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solocam_aggie View Post
Thanks bud. Finally put a tape to him this morning. 12.5" bases, and if I held the tape just a little loose, he'll hit 30" Both sides were 29 3/4

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Awesome!


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Old 01-12-2019, 02:51 PM   #45
Raypo
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Awesome!
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Old 01-12-2019, 03:57 PM   #46
Mexico
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Nicely done!
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Old 01-12-2019, 06:24 PM   #47
Cazador
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That is awesome, way to get it done! Congrats!
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Old 01-13-2019, 09:41 AM   #48
texashunter
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Great read. Congratulations
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Old 01-13-2019, 01:40 PM   #49
twobittxn
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Great write up.

Thank you for sharing your story.
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Old 01-13-2019, 04:00 PM   #50
Dale Moser
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What a great ram, and a fantastic write up! They are neat animals, and bigger than you think.

I want to hunt in that canyon someday.


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