It frequently amazes me that hunters often feel the need to light up the woods as if it were daylight. I am the complete opposite in that I want just enough light to safely drive from camp to hunting area with minimal disruption. When driving my F-150 I turn off all of the lights other than the amber fog lights. After some research, I purchased the Kaper II L16-0075GR Green LED Hunting light to install on my 2017 Polaris Ranger XP 1000.
I bought the light right before the 2020 deer season so I simply spliced in a cigarette lighter plug and temporarily mounted the light in an existing hole in the Polaris metal roof. Worked well enough for its intended purpose but was not the way I like to roll. I wanted to mount the light in the grill area and install a proper wiring harness and dashboard switch.
Once again, I turned to Amazon and settled on the Nilight LED Light Bar Wiring Kit. This kit includes long wires, heavy 14 gauge wire, fuse block, dual leads, and lighted dashboard switch.
I knew where I wanted to mount the Kaper green LED light but wasn’t quite sure how to access the area required to tighten the nut. Turns out the lower grill insert simply pops out! Super easy installation drilling one hole through plastic. Mounting hardware is all stainless steel.
In an earlier article posted to this website, I discussed hunting Bull Elk in the beautiful mountains of Colorado. In this article (Part 1), I will discuss my hunt for a Rocky Mountain Bighorn Ram. In Part 2, I will cover my quest for a Rocky Mountain Bighorn Ewe.
In September 1980 when I retired from the U.S. Army after almost 21 years of active service, my wife and I settled in Colorado Springs, Colorado to begin my second career as an aerospace systems engineer. Several of my co-workers were avid big game hunters and were very familiar with hunting the various species of Colorado big game.
They told me about hunting Rocky Mountain Bighorn Rams but warned me that you could only get a Bighorn hunting license through annual lottery drawings, and it was difficult to get drawn for a ram license. For the entire state of Colorado, only about 90 permits were available per year. One of my co-workers had been unsuccessful in the drawing for 11 straight years. However, they convinced me to enter the drawing.
I followed the advice of my co-workers and applied for a Ram license in 1981. Unfortunately, I was not successful in that drawing. I tried my luck again in 1982 and was lucky enough to get drawn for a ram permit for Sheep Unit S6 which included the Pikes Peak Mountain and the surrounding foothills.
Knowing that the sheep habitat was mostly between timberline (about 10,000 feet) and the top of Pikes Peak, which is at 14,110 feet above sea level, I knew that I had to be in excellent physical condition to be able to successfully hunt the sheep. At that time, I was working at Ford Aerospace Corporation with offices in a 15-story office building in Colorado Springs. Every workday, I would make at least one round trip up and down the 15 flights of stairs in the morning, at noon and again after work.
One of the first tasks, after I received my notification that I was successful in the drawing for the license, was to find a highly recommended qualified licensed guide for the hunt. I got in touch with Dan Aubuchon of High Park Guide and Outfitters from Trinidad, Colorado. Dan was familiar with Bighorn Ram hunting in my sheep hunting unit and had successfully guided Ram hunts in that unit.
Included in his guide fee, Dan provided an 8 day one-on-one guided hunt in September and 4 days of scouting the sheep habitat during the summer. Dan would personally guide me on the hunt. He provided me accommodations in a tent base camp just below timberline near the area he expected to conduct the hunt. The hunt included all meals, lodging, riding horses, a pack horse to pack out my ram, plus skinning and capping of the ram. I agreed to these terms, paid him a deposit, and was all set for my hunt.
On June 19, 1982, my youngest daughter, Debbie, and I drove my pickup to the top of Pikes Peak to get the lay of the land. The view from the top was awesome. We saw no sheep that day.
On July 31, Dan and I made our first scouting trip to the area where Dan expected to find Bighorn Rams. He concentrated on an area called Sheep Mountain. We saw some beautiful country but again no sheep. We saw several large water storage reservoirs owned by City of Colorado Springs, in the foothills surrounding Pikes Peak. The reservoirs collect melted snow and rainfall which is then released, as needed by the city, in streams and pipelines down the mountain to the city water supply system.
Our second scouting trip on August 7 & 8, included two nights of camping at the proposed camp site for the actual hunt. The site was just below timberline at the base of Sheep Mountain. On this trip we saw numerous sheep. One flock of 11 sheep included three 1/2 curl rams and eight ewes and lambs. Another group included four 3/4 curl rams and one 1/2 curl ram. We also saw several individual rams but no trophies.
Our third scouting trip occurred on August 20 to 23. We again stayed in the proposed base camp. Although we had great clear weather on our first two trips, this trip proved to be more challenging. We scouted in different areas for the other trips. We saw some very rugged country and saw sheep every day. We also saw lots of different animals, including elk and mule deer. We even saw a lone wild white burro (donkey). The burro probably descended from the burros used by gold prospectors during the Cripple Creek gold rush of the late 1800s and now lives in the wild. We also saw several ptarmigan, which is a large bird (grouse) that lives year-round at and above timberline. For camouflage the ptarmigan is white in the winter and brown in the summer. The ones we saw were in transition–part white and part brown. These beautiful birds are only found in this type of mountain environment.
We concentrated on observing a group of three rams–one 1/2 curl, one 3/4 curl and one almost 7/8 curl. Using Don’s 60X spotting scope, we decided that the largest ram was a true trophy. It had unusually heavy bases and was beautifully symmetrical. It also had a distinctive mark on its left front chest for easy identification later. The mark was probably the result of an earlier fight with another ram. I told Dan that if we could not find a larger ram, I would seriously consider harvesting this ram during the actual hunt.
One afternoon as we were riding down the mountain toward our base camp due to a lightning storm moving in, we spotted a young 1/2 curl ram who was standing watch on top of a rock outcropping above timberline. His task was to watch for predators and warn his partners of danger. According to Dan, this is a relatively common sight in this sheep habitat. When lightning struck near us, the young ram left his post to seek shelter. Dan and I could feel the electricity in the air from the lightning and were seeking shelter as well.
Our fourth and final scouting trip occurred on September 5 – 6, one week before the sheep hunting season opened. We again saw some beautiful country and some sheep but no trophy rams larger than the one I had selected on our previous trip.
Now I was ready for my actual ram hunt. The season started on Saturday, September 11, 1982, and I had a contract with Dan that could last as long as eight days of hunting.
As it turned out, September 11 was my Dad, Adolph Scheel’s 70th birthday. My nine siblings and I were giving him a big birthday party with dinner and dance at Bexar Social Club in Zuehl, Texas near San Antonio. My Dad told me to go on my sheep hunt rather than come to Texas for his party. However, I felt obligated to celebrate this important milestone in his life. I decided that I would delay my sheep hunt for one day and start my hunt on Sunday afternoon. Dan told me that would not be a problem.
My wife and I drove by car to Texas to celebrate the birthday on Saturday evening. Early Sunday morning I took the earliest flight from San Antonio to Denver, Colorado where I arrived at about 7 AM. A few days earlier I had taken my hunting truck to the Denver Airport to facilitate getting to my hunt as early as possible. On Sunday on my way to the hunt, I stopped by my home in Colorado Springs to pick up my hunting gear. At about 2 PM on Sunday afternoon I joined Dan at our base camp.
Dan told me that I had not missed anything. It had been snowing heavily all-day Saturday and Sunday with blizzard conditions on the mountain. I settled into camp and had a delicious dinner which Dan had cooked for me. Dan and I reviewed his plans for the hunt to start as soon as the weather cleared, hopefully by Monday morning. We set the alarm for 5 AM and went to bed early.
When the alarm woke us at 5 AM, the blizzard conditions continued so we stayed in bed. At about 7 AM, we woke up to bright sunshine. Dan asked me to fix breakfast while he saddled the horses and loaded our equipment. By 8 AM on Monday morning, we were finally on our way up Sheep Mountain to begin my hunt.
When we got to timberline, our route took us through a deep snow drift. Our horses were belly deep in snow. We continued to the top of the ridge on Sheep Mountain where it was bitterly cold and windy with no cloud in the sky. We decided to ride down the western slope of the mountain to some large rock outcroppings to get out of the wind. We could see the area where we had spotted the large ram on our scouting trips. It was now covered with about one foot of snow with deeper drifts.
After about an hour of looking, I spotted three rams about 1/2 mile away on an adjacent ridge. Dan set up his spotting scope and lo and behold we spotted the big ram with the scar on his chest. That was the ram I was looking for.
There was a deep sheer cliff canyon between our location and the rams. We rode our horses to the top of the main ridge on Sheep Mountain and worked our way to the top of the ridge where the rams were located. We then rode down that ridge to within about 500 yards of the rams. We tethered our horses and carefully walked down the ridge toward the rams. At about 300 yards, we spotted the three rams. Slowly we worked our way toward the rams, sitting on the ground and sliding downhill on the seat of our pants. At about 200 yards Dan set up his spotting scope to ensure that I was in fact looking at the correct ram. We confirmed my ram by the scar on his chest.
I then got myself into a good prone shooting position. The adrenaline was flowing but I calmed myself down and took careful aim. As I slowly squeezed the trigger, the 180 grain Nossler partition bullet from my Remington 700 BDL 30.06 did its job. My quest for my Rocky Mountain Bighorn Ram was over. The ram was down.
After the mandatory photo taking, Dan began processing the ram. He field dressed the ram and propped the cavity open to cool the carcass. He then skinned the ram and placed the meat into the panniers on our pack horse Spook. Dan then carefully caped the head ready to deliver it to the taxidermist. After he methodically did all his tasks, he loaded the cape and skull with horn trophy on Spook and we were on our way back to our base camp.
That evening Dan prepared a wonderful dinner in camp. As the appetizer he fried a fresh Rocky Mountain oyster from my ram. That was my first ever experience with eating Rocky Mountain oysters. The appetizer was delicious. It started a wonderful tradition for me, and I have eaten Rocky Mountain oysters from several game animals ever since. Dan packaged the second oyster for me and told me to freeze it for a special occasion. I did as he suggested and took it with me on a subsequent elk hunting trip and shared it with my hunting buddy.
September 15, 1982, we broke camp and headed home. What a wonderful experience of a lifetime. I had just experienced a successful hunt for my Rocky Mountain Bighorn Ram which a small percentage of big game hunters ever are able to experience.
I will digress a bit about the taxidermist. When I first met Dan several months earlier, he suggested that I use a quality taxidermist and not trust any taxidermist to mount my Ram trophy. Dan had recommended a young taxidermist in Colorado Springs who had mounted several rams for his previous clients. I met this taxidermist and arranged to have him mount my anticipated ram trophy. Unfortunately, I do not remember his name. One week before my ram hunt, this young taxidermist lost his life in a Jeep accident on a pronghorn antelope hunt east of Colorado Springs. I normally hunted antelope in that area.
Dan suggested that I contact a mutual friend of his and the taxidermist who was killed. This friend, Rusty Phelps, was not a full-time taxidermist but had done some excellent taxidermy work. Rusty was well known, and is famous today, for his bronze western sculptures which are in demand around the world. As a favor to his departed friend and my guide Dan, Rusty agreed to mount my ram.
The first stop after I got to Colorado Springs with my ram trophy, was at the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW). Mark Elkins from DOW inspected my trophy and assisted me in completing the mandatory questionnaire about my sheep hunt. Mark then placed a permanent small metal plug into the base of the ram’s horn. This permanent marker affords me a measure of protection from theft of the trophy and makes it more difficult for a poached animal to become someone’s illegal “trophy”. The next stop was at Rusty Phelps’ office where I turned over my ram trophy for him to shoulder mount. Out of a total of 93 rams killed in Colorado in 1982, mine ranked #9 from the top.
Today in July 2021 my trophy Rocky Mountain Bighorn Ram hangs in a place of honor in my living room in New Braunfels, Texas where I can enjoy it for the rest of my life. Now I can relive my once-in-a- life-time hunt on Pikes Peak for my Rocky Mountain Bighorn Ram. Knowing that the ram was mounted by world famous wildlife sculptor Rusty Phelps makes it even more special.
This ends Part 1 of my “Pair from the Peak” article. In Part 2, I will discuss my quest for a Rocky Mountain Bighorn Ewe.
I lived in Colorado Springs, Colorado for about 21 years–3 1/2 years serving with the Army at North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) from 1970 to 1973 and from 1980 to 1998 as an Aerospace Systems Engineer with several government contractors after retiring from the Army in 1980. During those years living in Colorado I had the opportunity to do a lot of hunting and fishing throughout the state, mostly on pubic land. I successfully hunted various species of big game to include big horn sheep, Rocky Mountain goat, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, elk and wild turkey. Mounts of several of those animals now grace my living room walls in New Braunfels, Texas. Although I had a 6 x 4 shoulder mount of an old bull elk, which I killed in 1985 I was never able to kill a nice 6 x 6 royal bull, which bothered me a lot.
After restring from active employment in 1998, my wife, Jean, and I moved to Garden Ridge, near San Antonio, Texas. We had been living away from the San Antonio area 39 years and we had decided to live out our retirement years near our families and life-long friends. Where ever my army career and government contractor jobs had taken me, I always had the opportunity to hunt big game animals. The only exception was my one year in Vietnam where I was the “hunted” rather than the hunter. Over those years I selectively had various species of animals mounted which resulted in a diverse collection of animals. In order to display those mounts, we built a large rec room in our Garden Ridge home where our 9 grandchildren could play and entertain themselves whenever they visited. The walls held my 17 should mounts and one full body wild turkey tom allowing me to relive the hunts where I harvested them in several states as well as in Germany. I was very satisfied with my collection, except for the bull elk. I swore that I would someday add a royal bull to my collection.
In 1999 I joined my father, Adolph, on a low fenced white tail deer lease in Zapata County in deep South Texas. My Dad and four Marbach brothers started hunting on that ranch in 1955 and he remained there for about 40 years. It was a joy for me to be able to hunt on the lease with him for several years before he quit hunting at the age of 92.. Over the years while I lived in Colorado my Dad joined me on several hunts and harvested several mule deer and pronghorn antelopes. He also went on a guided hunt for a bull elk in extreme western Colorado where he bagged a huge 8 x 7 bull elk. My daughter and son-in-law, Denise and Bob Staudt, now own my dad’s big elk and his mount graces their home in La Vernia, Texas. Seeing his trophy bull elk, strengthened my desire to add a royal bull to my collection.
My move to Texas did not cut my ties with Colorado hunting. In 2000, I made the long 800 mile trip to my friend’s ranch by myself. I met my long time hunting buddy, Emerson (Charlie) Bowman for the third elk season which started the first Saturday of November. On opening day, we had a light snow which was good for seeing signs that the elk were there. In years where the snow storms come late, the major herds are still in the high country above timberline. No signs of elk on Saturday. On Sunday it snowed most of the day and we saw a few big elk tracks in the snow which were probably made by some lone bull or bulls who were not members of a large herd. They probably lived on our ranch or on the neighboring ranches because they could feed on the south facing slopes where the sun melted the snow. They had plenty of water in the two streams which flow through the ranch. This is a good sign because very often these lone bulls get up during the day and feed. However neither Charlie nor I saw them; only the tracks.
That evening after the hunt on the walk back to camp, I slipped on some snow covered boulders and hurt my hip. I limped back to camp and had a miserable night trying to sleep with the intense pain. I was afraid that I might have broken my hip. To get it checked out by a doctor, I left Charlie at the ranch to hunt by himself while I drove my truck the 140 miles one way to Colorado Springs. When I got to Charlie’s home, his wife called their family doctor who was in his office. I got to talk to the doctor who asked me to perform several movements with my legs and back. He determined that I had no broken bones; only a badly bruised hip. He gave me a prescription for pain medicine and told me to go back to the ranch and continue my hunt. By 3 PM I was back in my blind on the ranch. I saw a few fresh signs, but no elk. No sign yet that a large herd had moved through our ranch.
On Tuesday morning I decided to hunt along a boundary fence overlooking a trail which came through the fence and continued though the dark timber on our side of the fence. Individual and small groups of elk like to use that trail as they come from their night time feeding areas downhill from our ranch because they can remain in dark timber without being seen in the open meadows as they move to their daytime bedding area on the ranch uphill from our ranch.
(Several years earlier, my brother, Elton, had brought his friend Elroy Penshorn as his guest on a hunt. Elroy owns the Penshorn Meat Market in Marion, Texas Elroy was hunting this trail one morning when a lone bull came through the fence from the neighboring ranch and he shot the large bull at very close range. Elroy butchered the bull on the spot and left the entire skeleton in the woods. Parts of that skeleton are still laying in the area after 25 years.)
About an hour before daylight, I heard a faint bugle downhill from my position in the direction of the large meadows where the elk like to feed at night. I used my bugle to respond to him. He immediately responded to my bugle. I waited a few minutes and bugled again. He responded immediately. I could tell by the sound of his bugle that he was closer to me than the previous bugles and that he was heading in my direction. I again waited a few minutes and gave him another bugle. He responded again and by the sound I knew that he was continuing to get closer Since the bull knew where I was located, I did not want to overdo the bugling so I waited for him to make the next move. After a few minutes I was surprised by a very loud bugle, this time on the ridge about 100 yards from my position and on my side of the fence. I now knew that he was not coming on the trail I was watching. He was using the trail on the next ridge over from me. I carefully started moving down the fence line toward his position. The cows and calves were calling back and forth. Apparently they could not cross the fence where they were located. I moved down the fence line, the cows must have seen my movement and spooked. I quickly made a cow call on my “Cow Talk” mouth call. This calmed the cows and calves and they did not run very far. I proceeded down the fence line looking for an opening in the dark timber to my left to see if I could spot the bull. All of a sudden, I saw him about 100 yards away in front of a large ponderosa pine tree. He was looking directly at me. Since I don’t like to make quick off-hand shots, I spotted a thin aspen tree about three feet to my right; a perfect rest that I could use. I slowly took one step to my right. The bull did not move. I took one more slow step to the right and I was ready to bring up my gun when the bull spun around and jumped behind the tree and looked at me through the pine tree branches. I could see his head and antlers and his neck down to his chest. I put the cross hair on his chest and squeezed the trigger and the loud shot rang out and I could hear the flop as the 180 grain Nossler Partition bullet from my Remington 700 BDL 30.06 did its job. I could hear the remainder of the herd crash through the timber on the other side of the fence from me heading downhill away from me.
My buddy Charlie was in his ground blind, which we know as “Charlie’s Nest”, about 300 yards uphill from where the bull was located when I shot. He had heard all the bugling which the bull and I had been doing. He also heard my cow call when I calmed down the herd. He knew that the herd was moving in his direction because the trail crossing the fence led directly to the meadow he was observing. The moment I shot, a large brown colored black bear came out of the woods where the bull was standing when I shot and ran full speed up the meadow in front of Charlie and on up the hill into the dark timber at the top of the meadow. What is strange about this scenario is that the bull was in front of the herd and crossed the fence first rather than bring up the rear of the procession which is generally the case. I believe that he did this because He knew where I was at and thought I was another bull and did not want me to steal any cows from his harem. Other than this situation, I have never seen a herd bull leading a procession . The big bull has always been at the rear of the procession. Smaller bulls will be toward the front and middle of the procession, but seldom is the herd bull first, which my royal bull was.
Everything was quiet after I shot. I walked to the spot where the bull had been standing and I saw lots of blood in the snow. I tracked him down the hill back toward the fence and found him laying a few feet on the opposite side of the fence.
This photo shows the dead bull as I first found him. I probably shot him in the heart because he ran about 100 yards before he jumped the fence and died as he landed on the opposite side of the fence.
Charlie then joined me and we decided on how we would load the bull. We went back to the cabin to get our butchering equipment and an old toboggan and headed back to pick up the bull with my pickup. I was able to get within about 100 feet of the bull with my truck.
After the required picture taking, we butchered the bull on the spot he died, being careful to preserve the cape since I knew I would have him shoulder mounted. Using the toboggan, we hauled the meat to my truck. The toboggan made it easy to haul him uphill in the snow. By 11:00 we had the meat, cape and head loaded in my F150 pickup.
Me with my trophy
Another view of me and my trophy
This photo shows the antlers in the bed of my pickup as we prepared to take the meat and the head to the butcher shop.
By noon we had the meat, cape and head at the butcher shop about 25 miles away. The butcher promised to process and quick freeze the elk and have it ready by Friday. Friday morning we loaded our equipment and went to the butcher shop. We divided up the meat, I took 1/3, and Charlie took 1/3 each for himself and for the owners of the ranch. I then headed for Texas and Charlie went to Colorado Springs.
About four months later, I had my mounted Royal 6 x 6 Bull Elk hanging in the place of honor in my rec room to enjoy for the rest of my life. My quest for the Royal Bull had finally been fulfilled.
Bringing back a nice Elk trophy is the icing on the cake. The mounted trophy which now hangs in my living room in New Braunfels, Texas allows me to reminisce and relive that memorable experience of my successful hunt for my 6 x 6 Royal Bull Elk in Colorado.
This photo shows me admiring my Royal 6 x 6 Bull in my living room in New Braunfels, Texas in 2021.
Went out for a nice 4 days of hunting over the Christmas break with my son David (14) in search of a good cull buck. He got the job done Friday evening. I had spotted a deer before and had pictures of him and discussed with the lease manger. Definitely a targeted hunt for a specific deer that met ranch criteria.
It came in Friday evening and it was windy. Deer were skittish and would just take off for no apparent reason. I saw the buck come in and told David “he’s back” and we shifted seats. He got the 7mm08 in position and it started to walk off into the brush, I said “he’s leaving, get on him but don’t rush the shot” BWAM—— sssscccchhhhhhtttt THWAP! IMPACT!
Saw the deer take off, hit the ground, turn and run, hit the ground again and go off into the brush. I asked him how he felt about his shot, where he aimed, etc.. “In the leg” he said. “In the leg??? !!” was my response.. “In the leg?” He was like, “well,, the shoulder” Ah.. ok, then he grinned and said “He’s dead” Confidence is everything.. We waited about 30 minutes and sure enough, there he was, laying down, antlers up. He made it about 30 yards total. Both legs broke. In the area we were hunting if a deer runs into the thick brush they can be VERY hard to find and people lose deer out there more often than they should. I would rather lose a few pounds of shoulder meat than a whole deer.
Took some pics, high fives, loaded up and headed back to camp. Always funny to see everyone hanging around the cleaning station judging everyone else’s deer. My boy did good.
We had a great 3 days of hunting this past weekend. Good times with my son and brother. Sharing the great outdoors with family and close friends is what it is all about. I am very thankful that we get to do this and I know my boys will remember these times as the grow old. Hopefully they are able to have good jobs and can afford to go hunting when they are old dudes! Getting harder and harder to afford good hunting and that is only going to get worse. We only shot a cull and a doe, but it was a great weekend!
Along with the anticipation of this year’s daily limit for Pintail increasing to two per day, per hunter, there will be much more wing action available in the back lakes and along the bay front up and down Matagorda Island along the southern portions of Espiritu Santo Bay and San Antonio Bay. There will be redheads (and lots of ’em!), widgeon, blue and green-wing teal, canvasback, bluebill, gadwall, and even the occasional cinnamon teal and mottled duck.For those passionate about the outdoors, summertime along the Texas Gulf Coast typically means school is out, vacation time is near, and some of the year’s best fishing has yet to come. And regardless of how true that statement is, for us here at Bay Flats Lodge Resort & Marina the beginning of summer also means it’s time to begin our preparations for the upcoming duck season. That’s right, even with the hottest part of summer still months away, we’re already strategizing and planning for all that will be required of us in order to provide our guests with yet another satisfying and successful season next winter.
If that’s not enough to satisfy your waterfowl thirst, perhaps our latest addition to this year’s lineup of duck season tactics will entice you. Earlier this year we were fortunate enough to secure duck hunting privileges on a new piece of inland property, which is located just moments from the lodge and currently holds three freshwater ponds. We’re diligently working to complete seven more freshwater ponds prior to opening-day, and we look for this property to hold great potential for this year’s hunting guests.
Although not yet finalized, the TPWD “proposed” dates for our Texas south zone of the 2018-19 Duck Season are November 3-25, 2018, and then December 8, 2018 – January 27, 2019. For a first-class duck hunting experience along the mid-portion of the Texas Gulf Coast, look no further than Bay Flats Lodge Resort & Marina.
With temps warming up and the tide dropping fishing is getting back to what we have been use to here on the Middle Coast. Walking knee to thigh deep grass beds throwing Down South Lures soft plastics, we saw limits of trout and reds today.
Opening Day of deer season is a treasured tradition throughout Texas. It is a day when families come together in the field to celebrate the hunt. Uncles coach their nieces and nephews on trigger technique. Grandmothers bake everyone’s favorite pie. Grandpa spins tall tales of the black panther he saw down by the creek that evening.