"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

One ugly hunting trip

By on March 1, 2018 in Columnist with 0 Comments

Keith Kellogg was forced to retire after suffering an injury while working.  Keith is now enjoying as much time outside as he can, and loves being with his two daughters, two grandbabies and three dogs.

By Keith Kellogg

I have three real passions in my life: family, travel and hunting. When I can put all three of those together it usually amounts to a good day, but not always.

On the last day of January a few years ago, my youngest daughter, Kirsten and I left for New Mexico for a Barbary Sheep (Aoudad) hunt. Kirsten is my favorite hunting partner, and she has hunted internationally with me a few times, as well as in many western states. Besides the adventure we love good quality wild meat, and I make every effort to utilize every piece we harvest.

I had purchased this hunt at an auction, so there was no opportunity to check references. We were going in blind. Red flags should have jumped up when the outfitter, Vince charged me $800 each ($1,600 total) for lodging and meals, and told me there would be no refunds even if we took our sheep within a day or two.

On top of that I had to pay trespass fees directed to the land owner, and for licenses. In total I was into the hunt for $4,360 (outside of the initial auction fee, and airline costs). It’s just money, right?

With no direct flights, it took 18 hours to get to camp outside of Roswell, NM. Camp was an ancient farmhouse in the middle of nowhere.

We were sharing camp with two gentlemen from Wisconsin, who had also purchased an auction hunt.

In the morning we head out to hunt. Kirsten and I were with a guide named Dexter, a real life cowboy and bull rider. It was 8 degrees and a strong wind. It was cold, but Dexter gets us on some sheep, and Kirsten harvests a really nice ram, so that period of cold wasn’t too bad.

We get Kirsten’s ram back to camp, and find out that both guys from Wisconsin had harvested small rams. We then have a late breakfast. I have hunted in enough camps to have certain expectations with the money I pay. Mushy eggs, sausage and tortillas did not match up to my expectation.

It kept getting colder and the pipes in the house froze. We were forced to get buckets of water from an outside well to flush the toilet.

Vince and Dexter take me out that afternoon. The weather was horrible, and we see nothing. They were referring to the weather as a 50-year storm. That night we get hamburgers and soggy oven-baked French fries. In the morning we get cold cereal. Expectations? I am on a slow boil.

Vince and Dexter take me out. It was now -2 degrees with a strong wind. Eventually I spotted some sheep on a hillside, and after getting set up they tell me the sheep are at about 300 yards, or so they say. I miss the shot. The sheep are then running across the hill.

Barbary sheep are an odd species in that both the males and females have horns, though the female horns are smaller, so when they are running through the brush it is hard to tell what is what. The sheep slow and Vince tells me to shoot the last sheep in the line.

By this time I’ve been able to measure the distance and know it is 409 yards. I shoot and the sheep drops on the spot.

Vince grabs the gun and takes a shot at a sheep. I was totally confused. I guess he had a tag of his own, but this never was clear.

Vince misses and we walk across the canyon to my sheep. A mature ram is a beautiful creature, with long backward sweeping horns, and long hair on the chest and legs. This unfortunately is not a ram, it is a ewe.

Vince, in his infinite wisdom says, “I guess that’s not what we were hoping for.” I was speechless as I stared at him.

We drag the sheep back to the vehicle. Vince then says, “That will be some really good eating.” I stare at Vince, through clenched teeth.

My expectations were to have a reasonable chance at a good sheep, to have decent accommodations, to have decent meals, and more than anything to have a guide give me accurate information (i.e., accurate distance, and the right animal to shoot).

None of these expectations have come true. What else could go wrong?

We get back to camp, and everyone is in agreement that we need to get back to civilization. I’m on hold with the airline for 67 minutes before they forward me to another line, which will not connect.

Finally while on the road I get through to the right person and get the tickets changed, but because of the bad weather the airport in Roswell is closed. We need to go to Albuquerque.

After a four-hour drive Vince stops at Arby’s, and gets us lunch before he drops us off at a hotel. Nice guy! What happened to all my money?

It is -8 degrees. That night all the pipes froze in the hotel. I boned out both sheep that night in the hotel room. I divided the meat into a large cooler I had brought, and into a plastic tub. The meat freezes solid in the bitter cold air.

At the airport the tub weighs 63 pounds, and the cooler weighs 81 pounds. Each basic bag will cost $25, each additional bag will cost $35, overweight bags between 51-70 pounds will cost $60, and bags between 71 and 100 pounds will cost $100.

On top of that I’m told that my cooler is oversized and will cost another $150. It’s almost $400 for baggage fees. I’m speechless, again.

I do my best to strip down weight by stuffing meat into our carry-on bags. By now quite a crowd has built up, I guess to watch the incensed traveler. I ask two janitors if they will take the cooler and use the meat. They say yes, so there goes my $110 cooler, and a whole bunch of good meat.

We make it to Dallas no problem, and then to Seattle.

About the time we are ready to board for Wenatchee the sign reads, “Flight Delayed,” and a few minutes later, “Flight Cancelled.”

By now I’m sure it’s a conspiracy to see if they can make me go postal. My options are to get a hotel, which will not be paid for by the airline, or to get a rental car. One rental car agency wants $180 for a one way to Wenatchee, and the other wants $250. Ugh!

We get a hotel, and eventually make it home the next day.

We still laugh when we talk about that trip.

There is no price equal to our father/daughter time, and that will last forever.


Keith Kellogg, East Wenatchee, was forced to retire after suffering from a work related injury. He is now living the outdoor lifestyle, traveling, and embracing time with family. 

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