Big Horn Sheep Surprise

Marc, asked me if it was fun driving around in the desert in my Jeep. Being as how it was a subjective question, the only real answer, was to invite him to go with me and find out. I just recently met Marc. He married one of my neighbors a few months back; and guess what, he grew up about 10 miles from where I grew up, back east in upstate New York. I told him I took my back seat out of the Jeep, but my front seat was available if he wanted to go without his new bride. That next morning we headed out to the area west of Ocotillo. We seemed to have the whole desert to ourselves. Not another soul in sight. I showed Marc the spring, and the old water tower. We hiked along the tracks a little. We found a nice spot to eat an early lunch we brought with us, under a wooden trestle. Our conversation was pretty charged up all day. We tried to think of old friends we may have had in common, and how many great places there were out here to see, once you get the blacktop behind you.

It was when I pulled onto the trail that would lead us back to the blacktop, that it happened. With my tires flinging stones against my skid plates, and plumes of dust rising to the sky behind me, I caught my first glimpse of movement. In mid-sentence, I paused, downshifted, and came to a complete stop. I shut off my engine. Were my eyes deceiving me? Four big ole fat Big Horn sheep scooted across the trail only 30 to 40 feet ahead of us. How could this be? We were noisy and highly visible below our plume of dust. Were they fooled about our position by echoes off the low range of mountains? Whatever the case may be, there they were. Four of the healthiest Big Horns I ever saw. I quietly pulled my camera from the center console, and climbed out of the Jeep. They had crossed the trail and climbed part way up the boulders on the opposite side. I had difficulty locating them in my view finder. My camera couldn't even focus on them as they blended perfectly into the background. They didn't seem concerned at all about our presence. I decided to put my camera into movie video mode. If they aren't moving, you really have a hard time seeing them. I clapped my hands to encourage them to move along a little. All four of them tuned away from me and left me staring at their back sides. I think they may have actually been mooning me. So I beeped my horn. If you've ever heard a Jeep horn, you know it's not too intimidating.... they moved just enough to look at me with contempt. Here I was using my entire camera's memory and battery power to video sheep that aren't even moving. Later, as I reviewed my pictures and video, I made some observations. First I noticed that they didn't have any collars. They have never been captured and tagged. Secondly I noticed they were very well fed...even pudgy. I also noticed that my pictures were mostly out of focus. They blended into the background so efficiently, that I had trouble finding them in my viewfinder, and the camera had trouble focusing on them when I did.

It was a great experience. I assured Marc that this doesn't happen very often. We were both having a pretty great adventure in the deserts of Imperial County.