G&F: Sheep hunts in Mohave County 'outstanding'

Butler had choice of weapons, chose bow to bag trophy ram

Dan Butler and wife Erin with the trophy ram he took down in the Black Mountains.

Courtesy<BR> Dan Butler and wife Erin with the trophy ram he took down in the Black Mountains.

Kingman resident Dan Butler is one lucky guy.

After 17 years of applying, Butler got one of the four sheep tags that were issued for the month-long hunt in 15D South.

By rule, he would be allowed to use any legal method of take he wanted, but Butler decided that it was his bow and arrow that he would use on this hunt.

Butler knew that his unit didn't have the population of rams that inhabit 15D North, and his hunt would be difficult at best, and maybe even impossible given the terrain and his chosen method of take.

But this quiet and dedicated outdoorsman set out on a quest to find and take an old ram in the Black Mountains west of Kingman. And he was determined to do it without a lot of fanfare and help.

The hunt turned out to be mostly a family event, with his wife, Erin, and two sons, Tate and Van, assisting. One of Butler's good friends, local archer John J. Steele, also assisted during the preseason scouting and the first 2-1/2 days of the hunt.

Butler said that in the course of the five months of preseason scouting and the hunt, he lost 30 pounds while hiking and backpacking through the wonderfully rugged Black Mountains.

When the season opened he was ready and was on sheep. In the first three days of his hunt he found 24 rams and 36 ewes.

Lady Luck smiled on Butler and the hunt ended quickly when he arrowed what turned out to be the oldest ram taken this year by any of the Region III sheep hunters.

Butler took a ram that was aged at 11+ years old with a perfectly located arrow at a range of 55 yards.

The ram, whose horns were heavily broomed off, was scored by Region III personnel at 158 inches gross and 157 2/8 inches net, which easily qualifies the ram and Butler for entry into the prestigious Pope and Young record book.

Hunting desert bighorn sheep in the Black Mountains is one of the toughest challenges that any sportsman will have, but when you take on that challenge with only stick and string, and are successful, then that accomplishment is magnified many times over.

Butler didn't go on his hunt thinking about any record books, however.

His hunt was all about taking on the personal challenge of an archery hunt for desert sheep, and sharing this experience with his family and a good friend.

The success he had was due to months of hard work and preparation, and being dedicated to the challenge he had before him.

He may have taken his once-in-a-lifetime ram on the third day the season was open, but in reality Butler had been hunting for five months. He just didn't have his bow with him.

It wasn't just luck that he found and harvesting the ram he did.

He had spent many days in the field, hiking and glassing the rough and rugged country looking for sheep.

By the time the hunt opened, he knew where to go and where to look, and his skill with a bow and arrow finished the challenge.

This ram is the fifth of Arizona's Big 10 that Butler has taken with his bow. He has taken more than 20 javelina, three antelope, two elk and six mule deer in his bow hunting career.