After two full days of riding nine hours on horses and not seeing any bighorn sheep at all, the day finally came when Shawnee Barnes of Castle Dale, saw the one she felt was big enough to hang on her wall. Shawnee's father, Glenn Nelson of Huntington, knows the San Rafael desert as well as anyone and was her scout/guide throughout her hunt. "We got a late start on the hunt and went out the second week and saw about 60 head", Shawnee said, "and then my brother who was just promoted to Commander in the Navy Seals came home and we missed another full week." The hunt goes from Sept. 21 to Nov. 8 and Shawnee was 1 of 10 who had drawn a Desert Bighorn Sheep tag for the North San Rafael.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime hunt.
Shawnee says that it is hard to judge how big they are when they are so far away, but they teach you at the hunt orientation how to score a big ram so you can harvest a mature one. The ram Shawnee shot was aged and scored by the Division of Wildlife Resources to be approximately 11 years old and scored 157-158. "I am very happy with this ram and didn't realize just how big he was until we got him back to camp and my heart rate returned to normal," said Shawnee.
Shawnee's daughter, Shaffryn Schade, drew out when she was 14-years-old and was the youngest female in North American to ever harvest a bighorn sheep. Glenn, also took a nice ram a few years ago.
Her brother and ex-husband also drew sheep tags. This makes three generations to successfully get a desert bighorn sheep in one family!
"Shawnee passed up a few nice ones," her father commented, "and I was starting to get worried that she would be too selective and we wouldn't find what she wanted, but her patience paid off and now I am just glad it is over so I can go fishing!"
Shawnee's mom, Sylvia Nelson, was the camp tender and she helped out by making sure supper was on when they came in tired from a full day of hiking or horseback riding.
Shawnee is a native of Emery County and loves the desert and mountains and being outdoors, hunting, fishing and horseback riding.