EP 96: All About Sheep! Bighorn Sheep Q&A with Adam Bronson. In this episode of The Epic Outdoors Podcast We answer listener questions all about Bighorn Sheep. Adam is a former Wildlife Biologist for the state of Utah. Adam received his masters degree in Wildlife management and always had a strong interest in Bighorn Sheep. From where to apply for sheep to long term draw strategies.

Disclaimer: this text was produced through an automated transcription service and likely contains errors. Please listen to the original audio for exact content.

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Speaker 1: Keep your focus about wanting to hunt sheep, where there’s a will that’s gonna find a way to happen. Put your name in as many hats as possible. You always have a chance. You know, a lot of times we’re looking at, you know, 15 to 20 years, so

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Speaker 2: Anything to do with Western big Games.

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Speaker 3: Welcome

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Speaker 1: To the Epic Outdoors Podcast, powered by Under Armour. Hey everybody, appreciate you joining us today with another episode of the Epic Outdoors Podcast. Today we’re gonna talk about sheep. We’ve had a lot of you send in a lot of q and a request for Bighorn sheep type topics, and that’s what we’re gonna talk about today. Adam Bronson with you here, John Peterson’s with me and Chris Peterson with the maiden Voyage in the new sound room here at Epic Outdoors Central. Got a new podcast room. Pretty sweet Chris. Brand new studio. Yeah. Yeah. Bigger roomier. And you know, you’ll probably see it, see it on film here at some point. Chris has done a great job, so I’ve been working on it for about two weeks. We got it, got it dialed in now, so yeah, hopefully it sounds good. But before we kick off, we, like we always do, we want to thank Under Armour for being the title sponsor of our podcast.

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They, they stepped up in a big way and continue to support us and all we do here at Epic Outdoors, we invite you to visit their website, their UA hunting website and look at their gear. You’ve probably seen a lot of that highlighted in our, in our magazine, really appreciative of Under Armour and their support of us here at Epic Outdoors. So speaking of that, I’m wearing my Raider pant right now. Oh yeah, yeah. They saw that. Oh, I’m, I’m trying to convince my wife that I should wear ’em every day. They’re not. She’s saying you can’t wear the same pants every day. Well, they last, they last, they are phenomenal. I need some of the solids, like you’ve got solids, they make Camel version, which I have several of. I need the solid version like John, because I like to sometimes go incognito when I’m out sheet punting, scouting all there, and then you don’t get all the questions of what are you hunting out here?

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You know what I mean? So, yeah, I, I don’t know. I don’t think they’ve ever made a pent with better pocket configuration. Cool. And you put your hands in the pockets. It’s like velvet inside. It’s just, yeah, we’re getting a little touchy feeling now. I mean, I like mine, John, but I wasn’t gonna, okay. I don’t know where you guys are going. Men’s, men’s pants and velvet do not belong together. That’s, that’s what I’m saying. But anyway, John, I guess we’ll just dive into this. Do you wanna, yeah, I’ll do this. Read these. I think a lot of these came into you and Chris over the last several weeks as you threw this out to folks either on our Instagram or webpage or however these came in and do our best to, to answer some of these questions and talk sheep. Let’s kick it off with Ron.

00;02;46;06 –> 00;03;34;26
Question coming from him. Hey guys, my question is about being able to hunt sheep on a budget. I don’t have my the resources to buy a tag for anything outside the lower 48, but I would love to hunt bighorn sheep, whether it’s desert, rocky, or doll. I’m just wondering if you could give me some options for the things that I can do to get a tag at some point. Also, I’m less concerned about trophy size as being able to experience a sheep hunt while I am still physically able. That’s a good question. And, and it’s one that we all have usually most of us at, at a different phase of our life. I was there, oh, maybe 10 or 15 years ago, I, one of my first doll sheet hunt paid 5,000 bucks for it, maybe 15 years ago. It was a cancellation, but that seemed like a hundred thousand dollars to me at that point.

00;03;34;29 –> 00;04;36;08
Yeah. You know what I mean? It was like just outta college, just got a job, you know, making dirt. Yeah. And that was, that was a significant chunk, I think about it now. Not that it’s chump change, but I just think I was a steal. It’s nothing, you know what I mean, compared to what the prices are now. Yeah. So I, I will, I will throw that out there per perspectives change. I’m not saying you’re gonna win the lotto Ron, and you’re gonna be able to go on a sheep punt or two every single year, but keep your focus about wanting to hunt sheep. And if you do where there’s a will, it’s gonna ha find a way to happen. But what you gotta do, you’re gonna have to play the draws. For most of us, that’s, that’s the way that we’re going to, at least if, if a doll sheep hunt, which is the least expensive of the sheep hunts to go and buy or book, if that’s outta reach right now, maybe set a plan to try to make that happen somehow in the next, you know, handful or so years.

00;04;36;10 –> 00;05;24;07
Just while you said like you got a body to do it. We all got a body, but a body that wants to hunt a can hunt, sheep hunt that. That’s right. But having said that, you know, without having to go through every single state right here, there’s some states that surely don’t make sense with the amount of amount of money that you have to pay or the how far you are in the point system behind or things like that. Some that maybe don’t make sense. There’s others that make sense are so cheap that you, you, you, you just bite the bullet and buy a hunting license like in Idaho or something like that. Or pay, you know, if you have some money up front in New Mexico or to buy, you know, apply for desert sheep in Texas. And cumulatively all of these individually, none of them are things that you or I should draw mathematically.

00;05;25;15 –> 00;06;13;22
The thing is, when we read those stats or we put ’em in the magazine, one in 250, 1 in 2000, there’s a one at the front of that. Someone’s drawn that. That’s right. Yeah. And if you collectively can amass enough of those sheep applications throughout your life, that’s the best. That’s just the best you can do. That’s simply it. I don’t know if you’re a resident of one of the western states or on, that might make a bit of a difference. Even some of the lesser trophy zones, like say in Idaho, some of the real butt kicker units in the back country that have the best odds, they’re still tough to draw. If you’re an non-resident of Idaho, the residents can draw a little bit more often and hunt them over and over. You don’t kill, you can wait two years and go back again. But just be persistent.

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I don’t know where you live. If you have a ability to go to some of the conventions like the Sheep Show, again, that takes money and time and travel. So I realize some of that maybe is out depending on where you live. But since we’re talking to kind of all of our listeners here to go to the Sheep show, go to the Western Hunting Conservation Expo, apply for the tags there, which has the full Curl Curl Society, maybe your state chapter of the Wall Sheet Foundation chapter and affiliates, or if you’re back east, they’ve got an Eastern chapter and Midwest chapter. You know, in Iowa, they got, they got chapters all around the us And again, some of that may not be convenient if you live in Georgia or Texas or somewhere else like that. I realize that. But where I’m going with that is you just have to, you have to be persistent.

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You gotta pay what you can afford every year on chances to dry sheet punts, whether that’s 50 bucks or a hundred bucks a state, or whether that’s playing all the raffles that 20 bucks or 50 bucks or one ticket in every one of ’em. If you can swallow that, I would just encourage you to do that. And at some time it’ll probably happen. If you want it bad enough, either that will happen. You’ll get lucky, you’ll play enough of ’em that something hits lightning strikes or you get lucky and, you know, maybe save, save some money and you know, maybe somewhere down the road your, your situation financially changes and you got a little bit of money, then take advantage of it. You won’t regret it. Well, with sheep, we’re not talking an outlook of one to two years. You know, a lot of times we’re looking at, you know, 15 to 20 years, so, you know, I I’m sure $15,000 or you said five seems like a lot.

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Or right now, you know, what are our, our doll sheep? Yeah. 20, you’re 18 to 20, 25, depending on where you’re going. So a lot of people have got a truck that’s worth 18 to 25. You know, you’re plan ahead, you’re putting it a hundred dollars away a month or $300 away a month. And it, it’s doable over time. Yeah, it is. It just, we all have priorities that come before sheet ping at different phases of our life. You know, wives, children, education, you know, all of those types of things. But due to the extent possible, save and make it happen. When you see that light crack open, just take advantage of it.

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Speaker 4: So yeah, perfect example of what you’re talking about is, is taking advantage of all the different areas that you can go after. So for example, last year we had Ryan Benson, we had him actually on the podcast last week, but he didn’t have enough points to draw anywhere. And, and so we looked at it, but he wanted to hunt sheep. And so instead of just trying to buy something, he went and we, we applied him in places where he had a chance, places that didn’t have a point system, and he ended up drawing a tag. Yeah. So I mean, it’s, it’s possible as long as, like you said it, you pursue all these avenues and try to put your name in as many hats as possible, you always have a chance. Yeah.

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Speaker 1: I, I don’t plan on drawing sheep tags. The only sheep tag I plan on drawing here soon is Utah, because I’m well established in the point system, but the other ones, I, I have a bunch of points built up, but if and when they happen, I mean, I’m not gonna stop applying. And that kind of has to be your attitude. There are some states that have gotten maybe cost prohibitive or, or I would drop like, you know, maybe a, you know, maybe a Washington or Oregon or California especially because only one tag or up to 10%, which has been one recently goes to a non-residents. Those are hard to justify. So there is a fine line. You’d probably, I’d take that a hundred to 200 bucks and some of those and buy some raffle tickets in some of the statewide raffles before I, you know, probably did those.

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But just, just do it and don’t, don’t give up. If you wanna hunt sheep, you gotta dream sheep. Hunters are dreamers and that’s where you gotta, you gotta hope to get lucky. So, okay, next question comes from Ben, can you talk me through sheep hunting gear a little bit? I know gear on a sheep hunt is extremely important and wanna know some of the things you consider to be most important when selecting gear for a sheep hunt. What are the essentials and what can you live without? What gear do you recommend? Alright, yeah, that’s, that’s a great question because there’s no question. Sheep hunting gear is not, not like antelope hunting gear or something like that. It’s very versatile gear stuff that has a wide range of usability, breathability, you know, wicking ability, you know, warmth ratio for the weight ratio, all those types of things.

00;10;49;23 –> 00;11;52;14
Because you could be on a sheet, a desert sheep punt, that’s 95 degrees, or you could be going, you know, on a sheep punt in the snow in November somewhere. And obviously your specific sheep punt that you have, there are differences that you need to prepare for each one. But the biggest things to point out, I think are, are gear. The, the warmth to weight ratio needs to be high. You want lightweight gear, especially if you’re going for thin horns up north or early season hunts. You can have warm weather, but it’s, you could get nasty cold or even snow weather early. You need to have a bunch of layers that you can continue layer, layer up with, you know, whether it be a synthetic base layer, Marino, a wool type, base layer, synthetic, you know, pants, things like that, that just do not, you know, no cottons, no things like that that, that are gonna absorb moisture and, you know, lose it, lose the warmth warming ability as far as, and then they talk about boots.

00;11;53;00 –> 00;12;41;16
I’ve had hunters show up very recently, I will might add with a brand new set of boots. And they were tres, they’re awesome. I love tres. They’re sponsor of ours here at Epic Outdoors. I use ’em on my sheep hunts. These boots didn’t have a scuff on them, so they were brand, brand new. And I just breathed, you know, deep and I prayed that he was not gonna have problems, you know, and what I, what what I mean by that is not that the boot itself, but every feet are not all the same. Some boots like people’s feet or some people’s feet don’t like certain boots. And you need to use your boots a lot in preparation before you go on a sheep hunt. Can, a tractor are a great, a great boot, but you need to buy ’em, you need to make sure they’re broke in.

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You address any issues, whether you get a, a new insole or things like that. Your boots you live in, ’em, you, you’ve gotta be able to go every day. I can’t tell you. And, and I know some of the eight or 10 day backpack concept north or 15 day hunts, if your feet get tore up with blisters, which that can happen even if with well seasoned feet, but if it’s happening because of your, you don’t know how well these boots are gonna perform with you. You’ve cost yourself a lot of time and money probably by having to sit in camp and dock your feet and rest and things like that. So the boots, make sure you know what your feet like, make sure you’ve used them heavily and make sure that they, you know, perform are gonna be able to perform your whole distance throughout your hunt.

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As far as the, the types of gear we’re, we’re huge fans of the q u gear. They make from a base layer to outer layer options and insulation options from all the, all the essentials to hoodies and, and gloves and, and outer layer coat rain gear, which is probably, especially if you’re going up north or even in the lower 48 stunt hunts and some of the early alpine rocky hunts, your rain gear needs to be incredibly light, but very effective. I just got home from, from a doll sheet punt in Alaska and, and we, in six or seven days, by the time we, you know, killed the ram and got out, it was a, it was like a half a day or so that we were not in our rain gear. And, and, and that’s, you gotta prepare for that and you gotta have stuff that keeps you warm, but is light because when you’re carrying it on your back, you just can’t go with heavy rubber Helly hanssen or something like that.

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That’s just a slicker, you know, a cowboy slicker is not gonna cut. It might be effective, but it’s not gonna breathe. You’re gonna sweat your guts out and it’s heavy. So can’t say enough about q u gear. They make such a wide range of gear and backpacks for sheep hunting, mountain hunting is their specialty. And when the time comes, if you draw something, whether it be a desert or rocky or you’re gonna plan a hunt up north, you know, you can call us, call us here, or we can put you in touch with one of the guys at q you if you want to get your stuff set up for you. But I don’t know, as far as what you can’t can live without, just the luxury stuff can kind of go by the wayside if you’re doing a backpack hunt. I don’t know, John, I mean, you come to mind.

00;15;17;14 –> 00;15;59;11
I can bring it up John, and maybe that’s just a segue we’ve saved for the podcast, but, but, but, but we went, this has been 10 years ago or so, we went with Jason and, you know, I don’t think you didn’t go with this on the scouting trip in the summer, did you? No, I didn’t. No, no, no. And so that’s part of it. We probably didn’t do as good a job, John, at maybe preparing you and going through your gear as we should have. And until said, Hey, just get your back ready. We’re going for seven days in with Jason on his desert sheet punt. But, and that was a desert hunt to where you, you had way too many clothes on that. Yeah, it was September and it was like not, it was my first really hardcore 10 day Yeah. All out of one backpack.

00;15;59;13 –> 00;16;53;25
Yeah, that was a hunt. I’d done like 50 milers with the scouts and things like that. It’s different story. Yeah. Yeah. You can wear a lot of the same clothes if they’re well built and they’re merino or synthetic, you know, if you’re wearing a cotton t-shirt every day, they’re gonna get rank and you’re gonna wanna throw ’em away every three days because out there they are. But, but yeah, we could have done a better job at communicating that. But I guess the biggest thing is, is based on the duration of your hunt, and if you have, you’re gonna be backpacking the full time, you generally don’t need as many clothes as you think you do. That’s, I will, I will stay. I can’t overstate that. And the biggest reason for that, in my opinion, is the fact that the q u gear, whether it be the synthetic pants, the meno tops, the outer layer, the rain gear, it, it, it keeps you warm, keeps you dry, breathes well dries quickly, and you just don’t need as much as you think you have.

00;16;53;27 –> 00;17;38;23
That’s probably the biggest thing I can, and it doesn’t stink. No. Like you would expect it to. No, after a couple days and, and you can wash it and especially in those desert hunts, it dries out in, in Yeah. You know, five minutes. Yep. It’s perspiration out there. You don’t normally, if it rains, it’s a, it’s a blessing and you dance in the rain for a bit. You pump water right where you’re standing and you know, you don’t care to get wet. But again, a lot of variability on which species of sheep are gonna hunt there been, feel free to call us if and won that lightning strike and get a tag and we can help you with, you know, the gear list specific to your hunt there. So, okay, next question. Okay, it comes from McKenzie. If you plan on getting a grand slam or fool curl, would you recommend a specific order?

00;17;38;25 –> 00;18;29;25
Does one hunt prepare you better for the next, you take ’em when they come, but this, this is kind of a funny story. I, I personally not a funny one, but I guess just interesting perspective, when I started thinking I wanted to hunt sheep, you know, fortunately 20, 20 plus years ago I started putting in for desert sheep and I thought that’d be the first one I would hunt. And just because I’m gonna start putting in, you know, you live here in Utah, it’s what I grew up in Southern Utah and what we saw, what was exposed to and over the last 22, 4 years, whatever, 25, I’ve hunted the other three and not desert sheep. So the one I thought I would get first and start putting it for, and I still don’t have last. Yeah. And so they’re gonna come when they come, when it comes to draws and you take ’em when they come.

00;18;29;28 –> 00;19;17;00
But I will say there is some merit to your question, Mackenzie, in that if you have, if you’re looking to book a hunt and you’re looking, most people will look at like a doll sheep hunt first for a couple of reasons. And probably one of them is financial. And we just got done talking about the cost of them. They’re not cheap, but they are the cheapest as far as if you have the means to go book a hunt and buy one, you’re, you’re talking about let’s just round it to 20,000. Let’s say you got $20,000 or you’re gonna save to that, something you can wrap your head around, you start going to desert sheep, you start talking a cheap hunt at 40, you know, in Mexico or something like that. But you can go on up to buying a state tag or something like that for 60 to 80 or another state tag even higher than that.

00;19;17;23 –> 00;20;08;15
Similarly for Rockies, you’re gonna be 40 to 50,000 for a, for a shot to go to Canada, you know, but more than that to buy a statewide tag or, or a reservation tag or something like that. I guess what I’m saying is 20,000, it’s a risk. You might come home without one, it may happen, but you’re probably gonna find out whether you like sheep hunting or you don’t after that run. And that’s probably the least expensive way to find out. I don’t like sheep hunting or, or if your wife likes she sheep hunting. Yeah. Or, or whatever. Now if you draw a tag, that’s a blessing. Even if you need to book an outfitter, you’re, you’re looking at, you know, 65 to 11,000 depending on the species, depending on the state and the logistics to get in and out and, or you have the ability to maybe to go do it on your own.

00;20;09;04 –> 00;20;55;02
So you, you know, the desert Meraki, if you’re the, if you’re in the category that you gotta wait to draw those, then just take ’em when they come. The dawn and the stone, you know, the cost is, you know, about double to do a stone sheep versus a doll sheep in general terms. And so I I, I mean if, if, if you wanna hunt sheep, you’re probably gonna have to go book one and buy one. Probably start with a doll sheep after that. If you still got some money, probably look at a stone while you’re playing the draws in the background. But if you have the means to, to buy your hunts, I would probably say I’d still start that way. Unless you’re getting to the age that, that you maybe physically can’t go as well, then I would really put the thin horns higher than the desert, Rocky.

00;20;55;02 –> 00;21;48;04
Generally the Desert Rockies in certain places you can buy tags that are physically moderate or easier. The thin horns not always the case. So all sheep should be hunted, tried to be hunted early in your life, earliest in your life as you can, but sometimes you can’t pick when they all happen. So going back to Ron’s question, if size does not matter at all, you just want to experience a sheep hunt, what’s out there? You could go to Montana, there’s the unlimiteds, it’s the only option that you can buy a tag over the counter around and hunt sheep every year. If you kill one, now they got a threequarter curl limitation. You can’t kill or ram unless it’s threequarter curl. They have quotas of usually one, two, sometimes three in those unlimited areas. And you can do that. They’re very remote areas with sprinkling of sheep.

00;21;48;29 –> 00;22;33;07
Frankly, if they were to make them a limited draw hunt, they would still have very low success. And so they’re such big rugged geographic areas. They just figured turn people loose. If they can find three quarter crow plus rams, let ’em take ’em. You gotta call in quick, check it in. You gotta check that every day or so if the quota fills, everybody’s done hunting so it could close, sometimes it closes opening day if it, if it just stars line up. Other times some of those extend all the way through the season and never fill in some of the areas. But hey, if, if you’re like, Hey, I want a sheep tag in my pocket. Yeah. And I’m going, yep, that’s a good option. You can just, you can go to Montana and do it. That’s one option. Otherwise, you know, you look at other, you know, other like we’ve discussed the doll or things like that.

00;22;33;07 –> 00;23;25;04
Yeah. If you’re talking about the four, the four North American, you know, bighorn species, that’s the Montana Unlimited is the only guaranteed way you can go next year unless you pay for something else. So, okay, next question comes from Casey. I’ve seen rams in the desert with giant holes in the tops of their horns. It’s almost like you can look inside and see the bone core. Is that normal in an older ram or is it caused by a disease? Yeah, that’s, that’s a good question and and I see it a lot, it’s a lot more prevalent in like parts of Nevada, Southern Nevada, California, even, even some parts of Arizona. But I, I think it has to do with the extreme heat for whatever reason. But what it’s caused by is a, is like a but fly or something, a larva that gets up in the nasal cavity of these, these rams underneath the horns of a big horn.

00;23;25;04 –> 00;24;14;08
They have a bone cord that’s literal bone that extends back for, you know, on a mature ram, maybe 15 inches or so. And it’s, it’s hollow, but it’s vascular, meaning it’s got blood flowing through it. And it’s part, it helps partly serve as a cooling process. It gets, gets blood out of the body and in through, into the horns, but it also is connected through that whole sinus cavity. And so you’ll get a but fly that lays, lays eggs and the larvae, we probably all killed deer over times that you’ve caped your deer out and you see those big larvae falling out of a deer’s back of its throat or something like that and you’re like, oh, gross. It’s like a big old slug something you’d eat on one of, either on one of those reality shows, you know, but, but they’ll get up in the bone cores of those sheep and it’ll just drive them crazy.

00;24;14;10 –> 00;25;01;18
They can fill ’em in there. And so they’ll start banging rocks or things like that just, just ’cause they’ve got irritation. They don’t know what’s going on, they just know they’re being irritated. And you’ll see them start wearing out concaved portions of the top of the horn horns just destroying their horns. And we’ve killed rams like that. We’ve killed a couple of rams in, in Nevada that were within one or two wrong headbutts of losing their horn. We saw a ram this, this last week down in Utah. I don’t see many of it in Utah, but we saw ram this last week. We could have harvested big ram, probably one 60 caliber better on one side. The other side’s got four inches. His horn and his bone core is gone. And so don’t know the reason for that one. It could always, you know, getting shot in the horn could cause a fracture and things like that.

00;25;01;18 –> 00;25;57;03
And in some states where you, where you have freezing and thawing, you can get moisture in there. The ice could freeze, it could start fracturing that way. But by and large, the, the greatest likelihood that, especially in these desert units is caused by like sinusitis, they call it, it’s a d d disease, that they’ll get a bacteria or one of these butterfly larvae in their, in their nasal cavity and they’ll bang their head against just trying to itch it, for lack of better word, until they finally, they’ll get a hole, you’ll see the core and then then it’ll start rotting because again, they’re vascular, they got blood vessels, you know, going through it. And when it gets like that and it breaks it, usually you’re gonna lose the sheath and things like that. So that’s, that’s what’s going on. It’s, it, it is more common in an older ram, but probably just because the, the condition he has is, you know, a little bit more Percy.

00;25;57;04 –> 00;26;49;13
He’s had it for longer and you know, usually younger s they don’t, you know, haven’t been li live as long to acquire that yet sinusitis or, but fly whatever. Okay. Cody asks, I’m thinking about going to school to become a big game biologist. I’ve heard you guys talk on the podcast about adding Adam, having worked with Utah Game and Fish. I’d love to hear about how he decided to go down that path, where it took him and what his day-to-day responsibilities were. Yep. So yeah, I, I always kind of wanted to do that. I had a, I had a, a brief moment where I thought, oh, maybe I’ll go be a dentist ’cause I can make a little bit more money and, and maybe hunt, hunt as much as I really want to. But during my undergraduate studies, getting a biology degree, it’s the same degree you go to be a dentist or to be a biologist.

00;26;50;03 –> 00;27;33;00
And I just thought of looking in people’s mouth. I didn’t wanna do that. That’s for somebody else, not for me. So I reverted right back to where I had always thought I wanted to. And that was be a wildlife biologist, mainly regarding big game, a terrestrial wildlife biologist, you know, but the species probably that I was most interested in, which is what we have in Utah, you know, sheep, deer, elk, antelope, you know, bears, all that type of stuff. And so, yeah, I got a, a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in wildlife biology. And right outta graduate school I did my graduate thesis work on desert bighorn sheep in Southern Utah.

00;27;35;13 –> 00;28;27;01
Just inventorying water sources and other habitat modeling issues with the newly reintroduced populations around the kapawi units. And just by stroke of luck, about the time I was done with my master’s, there was a job opening up in the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. I applied for it and got it in the very area. I did my stuff down in Canaan, Garfield Counties. And it was a great job. Thought I had my dream job. I did. I mean, it was a great job. It was just, you know, in charge of, you know, from surveys to habitat hunt recommendations, anything, you know, that was going on in my geographical area with, with game species. I still did manage turkeys and, and lions and bears and things like that. I didn’t have, I didn’t do anything with the non-game or fisheries. There’s other biologists for that. But had a great job.

00;28;27;24 –> 00;29;27;09
I, I did that for about four years until the opportunity came open to the big game project leader, the state of Utah, which dealt with special projects, mainly the big horn sheep program, other once in lifetime issues, things like that. I took that job, worked a little bit more statewide and really, really liked it. Loved the survey part of it. There’s always part of any, I guess, government job that you’re gonna feel like you’re a little bit handcuffed or have to go with the flow because that’s either the law, the legal responsibility or, or whatever. But there were a few things of course that I didn’t, didn’t enjoy as much, but by and large loved it. Had a, had a, I was only there a little over almost five years. Four and a four, four and a half plus. But before I had the opportunity to jump to the private world, I guess to be a hunting consultant, which was not something that I ever really saw coming aspire to.

00;29;27;20 –> 00;30;10;13
Whatever just kind of happened. And I’m sure even though my degrees in wildlife biology, you know, were not, I guess being used as much as they were as I was a state biologist. I’m sure it is why I was being looked at to be a, be a consultant. I mean, I had that background. That’s exactly why I was kind of in on the, our scheming. You were there to poach you. That was back in the day there. So that was back in the day. And, and, and I hunted a lot and so I hunted a lot, but I was also trained as a biologist. And so I, I have no, I have no regrets about going to that as a career because that’s, it’s, it’s, it’s taught me a lot. It, it, it, it’s where my, I guess my initial or, or deeper, I always had an initial like affinity I guess for big horn sheep.

00;30;10;13 –> 00;30;55;15
My dad took me down to some southern Utah when I was a kid looking at ’em. But then once you study ’em and he, it just, they become so fascinating and, and just be became, you know, part of I guess who I was. And to the part point that once I quit the state and went to the private world, I, I got licensed as a guide and outfitter here in Utah and now a couple of other states to, to just hunt sheep more than just a couple of times in my life. So that’s, and take people that get tagged. And so that’s how I, that’s how I got into that. It’s a, it’s a good career. Not a lot of jobs. I will freely, there’s not high turnover in that field, whether it be the state agencies, a lot of people that get jobs stay there for most of their life.

00;30;55;16 –> 00;31;40;07
And so there’s not a lot of, not a big turnover, obviously different parts of the state. You get to Texas and different places like that. You’ve got, you know, private, private ranches that hire biologists to manage all their, all their wildlife. I was, I was, I was only working for a state agency out here in Utah. But it was a, it was a good career. What would you say percentage of time spent in the office versus in the field on that job? You know, I I where I wasn’t in the, in a city, I, I was in a remote town. I, my office was in my house, you know, which is a computer and phone. And so I was in the field a lot more, I think than than other biologists that had to go to their regional office to even open their, to do their email and all that.

00;31;41;04 –> 00;32;32;08
And so overall I would say mine was probably more 70 30, 70 in the field, 30 in the office. I’m sure that there’s biologists that are laughing when they hear that ’cause they’re thinking, yeah, it’s more like 50 50 or 40 60 the other way. But, but it’s because they probably report to a regional office every single day. Right. And that’s where they’re at and they’re, that’s where they do their, their their work there. You know, when you’re, when you’re in your home office, you can get stuff done when you’re in the office. ’cause there’s nobody, you know, chewing you at the water cooler. Yeah. And hey, what, you know, you’re, you’re just, you get your stuff done and hey, I’m going back out. So anyway. And I, I think we need more people who are into hunting in those state agencies, you know, no question. They’re getting, you know, stocked up with, with tree huggers and, and naturalists that, that, you know, have never hunted.

00;32;32;29 –> 00;33;29;00
And so I, I would encourage anyone who’s even remotely interested in that to, to check it out, pursue that. There’s a lot more art in wildlife management than just science. There is the science part of it, but there’s a lot more art. And that art comes with, you’re managing socioeconomical stuff, you know, sportsman’s stuff needs first is just the xs and nos of how many bucks do I need to breed the dough on the unit? Okay, biologically, that might tell you one thing, but there’s a lot of other factors that go in and you, you work for the public, that doesn’t mean you cave to everything. They say you can’t do that. There’s management plans that hold you, hold you accountable for how you manage your wildlife. But it’s, you’re right John, I mean, a hunting perspective, especially in our, in our world, our hunting world, we like to hunt and we like to hunt a lot of different states to have a hunting perspective from somebody who’s a biologist.

00;33;30;18 –> 00;34;23;21
I can feel the difference from we’re researching all around the west from somebody that I know as an avid hunter and a little bit more, I guess, sees things through that filter versus just a x’s and o’s ratios. Plug a model out. This is what I’m told to do. Yeah, definitely. All right, next question comes from another female listener, Brittany. I’ve heard people talking about aging rams by looking at the rings on their horns. Can you explain how the rings would specify age and how I would learn to do that? Yeah, so sheep are a little bit unique. Most other well antler animals like deer and elk, you know, they shed their antlers every year and regrow a new set. Sheep grow every single, they start growing and they, they grow continuously throughout their life. The most rapid growth in sheep occurs in that first five or six years of their life.

00;34;23;21 –> 00;35;16;01
When they’re growing, you know, they’re growing ver growing very rapidly. And during, and it varies a little bit by species of sheep. A lot of the sheep like thin horns or some Rockies that grow that, that grow in really cold environments where winter is where they lay down that, that rutt ring where their, their winter ring, when their horn growth almost just stops and they’re just literally surviving Other times, like some of our deserts here in Utah and, and Nevada, you’ll see streaking, they’ll, they’ll, like we just killed a ram a couple weeks ago that his six, seven and eight year old rings were double rings about, you know, a half inch apart. You know, it’s just like he’s still growing so fast. He’s slowing for the rutt where they don’t eat as much, they don’t grow as much, but they kind of streak and there’s some variation in it.

00;35;16;01 –> 00;35;59;12
But I guess the simplest thing is that, that each year of a ram’s life and that when that period of time where the horn growth slows to a stop, it lays down a little bit of a, an inta indentation in a ring. And that’s an annual ring called an annual lie. And you know, like when you go up and hunt thin horns up north, they, they have to be either eight years old or full curl. And that’s what they’re counting, they’re counting the lamb tip and then every annual ring after that, right up to the base to determine the age of a ram. So it’s when that horn slows nearly to a stop and lays down a a, an annual ring before it starts picking up heavy, heavy growth or growth of any kind. Again, the next, you know, usually generally in the spring or summer.

00;35;59;23 –> 00;37;02;29
So, okay, next question’s from Bretton. I know there are some areas in states like Nevada where desert sheep and Rockies have a range that may touch or cross. Would it be possible to have a desert rocky hybrid? Yeah, that’s, that’s an interesting question. It’s actually happened a couple of times. There are a couple of places like in Arizona where the same geographical unit, maybe the very southern end of one of ’em has desert sheep. And the northern end of, of that same unit has Rockies in, you know, 27, 28, some of that country there likewise in, in unit 13 in, in Nevada there, which is normally a desert sheep area unit. But they did have a wandering rocky show up, down, down in that unit, oh, eight or 10 years ago that was a tank. And the governor tag that bought one of the desert sheep tags shot that shot that ram in a desert sheep unit.

00;37;03;14 –> 00;38;08;07
And it was a rocky and it was a giant, it was like 189 or eighty, a hundred eighty five or 90. Don’t wanna shortchange the hunter. I know he is. So if you’re listening, I, I don’t remember the exact score, but he was a tank. And consequently that unit from that point forward is listed in the regs in Nevada, that rams that come from that unit cannot be scored officially for Boone Crockett as desert sheep anymore, for the potential cross-breeding issues there that have gone on. So it can happen most of the time you’re talking about, you know, very cut and dried habitat differences between rocky and desert and desert sheep. And that’s the case in most units. But there are a few or they can overlap and that could possibly happen. That one unit, I, I don’t know of every other unit in, in the lower 48, but that one in Nevada that I recall is the only one that I recall reading specifically every year in the regs that these sheep may not be scored Boone Crockett as a, as as a desert sheep, much like happens with, you know, black tail and mule deer in northern California or Oregon.

00;38;08;12 –> 00;39;10;05
You know, you get that, that, you know, line in the sand so to speak. But it can happen. It’s pretty rare, mainly because due to habitat differences are so great. So next questions from Marcus. Hey, love the podcast. Keep it up. I’ve booked a doll sheep hunt in Alaska for 2019. I’ve heard that there is no hunt as physically or mentally challenging than a sheep hunt. How would you prepare yourself for a backpack sheep hunt from a both a physical perspective and from a mental perspective? Yeah, so I get this question a lot from, from hunters that I take every year and, and I have to try to do as much of, much of a interview with my hunters prior to them coming so I can fill them out before they get here. And I realize, okay, we’re, we’re not prepared. Having said that there are easier, you’re specifically talking here, mark is about a dollar sheep hunt.

00;39;10;05 –> 00;39;56;26
There are some that are easier than others. Not all sheep punts for doll sheep or stone sheep or desert rock are created equal. So I, I know some that are, you’re flat out somewhat easy compared to others and others that are flat out butt kickers with hardly any sheep. But so first off, you need to try to really try to gauge where on the spectrum your doll sheep hunt is. That could maybe be a call to us or perhaps talk with the outfitter or the hunters that he’s taken there recently to get a feel for it through their eyes. You know, how many days they went into the hunt, how many miles they were putting on a day, how many sheep they were seeing or rams they were seeing, things like that to get an idea, okay, this, if I see illegal ram, I’m lucky and I need to kill it because it may be the only one.

00;39;56;29 –> 00;40;40;17
Or geez, you know, sounds like there’s sheep everywhere. You know, they land you amidst the sheep and you know, or they, it’s a horseback hunt perhaps somewhere, things like that. But you can never be being overtrained or overly physically prepared is never a problem. There have been people that have come with me and said, geez, if I knew you were gonna kill on the first day, I wouldn’t have trained as much as I thought. And I’m like, well yeah, but this could have turned into a seven or 10 day grind. You just don’t know. And when you have to turn that switch on and say, all right, these more moderate areas that we’re, we’re hunting now are not producing. We need to, we need to go hard. We need to go in a little bit deeper. We’re gonna stay overnight or hey, we’re going to the backpack area from the start.

00;40;40;20 –> 00;41;25;07
You need to be able to hopefully do that. Now that’s not to put pressure on you if you are to an age or have a physical limitation, you can’t do that. You just need to be frank with the people that you’re going hunting with because they need to know, like from my perspective, some of, some of the units I guide, we can go both directions. We can go deep and backpack in, or we hunt the fringe day hunt areas and more moderate to easy areas. I need to know that before the hunter gets there. Otherwise I’m spending two to three days figuring that out. And I should have just started an easy area to start with, or I would, or I want to take him to the deep stuff ’cause he’s capable. And usually I know that every once in a while I’m surprised. So be straight up if you’re going with an outfitter of your limitations.

00;41;25;21 –> 00;42;11;19
But also I’ve had a lot more people tell me they’re in great shape and they can go and they show up and they really can’t. And, and I realize us guys, it’s hard to admit, hey, I’m, you know, I’m outta shape, I’m a softer, you don’t want to say that about yourself, but, but you owe that to your outfitter and you owe that to yourself because if they take you on your, based on their word and they get you into a situation that you’re in over your head, it’s only gonna hurt you. And you’re gonna choose through days on your hunt. So be straight up with them. Work as much as you can. A variety of different, a variety of different workouts. I mean, work in your legs seems obvious, but work in your ma your arms and your upper body, it, it all helps.

00;42;12;01 –> 00;42;57;01
I mean, you’re, you’re, you’re carrying a backpack. I mean, if you just worked your legs only that’s part of it, but you’re carrying a heavy backpack and you’re, you’re using muscles that don’t get used except for on backpack sheet punts. I, I found out that I, you know, and so everybody that lives in around the US is capable of working out differently. We’re fortunate. We hike the mountains right here. There’s nothing like that for me. I, I break in my boots, I wear my pack, I work, I go uphill, I downhill, I use my trekking poles, you know what I mean? It’s, it’s the complete package. I realize that’s, that’s not, that’s fairly unique and you can only use what you can, whether it’s football stadiums ’cause you live in flats of Kansas or wherever you’re at or that it’s a StairMaster in a gym or whatever.

00;42;57;05 –> 00;43;45;27
You’ve gotta do all you can do. The mental part of it is tougher. I’ve found. I’ve had a lot of people that are not as physically prepared, but they’re, you know, and I’m just throwing out people from like Wyoming, they’re tough guys from Wyoming and they all just grit through it. And I would personally rather that guy that’s more mentally not gonna quit and he’ll gut it out because normally after two to three, four days, their legs will start to get back under ’em if they’re worn out after a day or two. But I want a mentally tough person because when we need to go do something, if they’re shot mentally, and I’ve had guys as recently as this year too, I’ll be, we’ll be glassing one direction and they might say, why are you looking over there? And we’re like, ’cause there’s sheep over there.

00;43;45;28 –> 00;44;35;15
I said, well, I’m not gonna hike over there. And we’re like, okay, I guess this direction. Guess the road’s this direction. And that’s an example, probably more of mental preparation than physical because if you tell yourself something like that right off the bat, it, it’s pretty hard to overcome the physical part after that. Mentally. How do you prepare for that? That’s the harder thing. You’re either born with it, you, you have it through maybe an athletic career or something that you’ve worked hard for. But it’s a, it’s a harder thing. And particular, particularly if you don’t live out west and you don’t see mountains or you see big mountains for the first time on a doll sheet pond in Alaska and you get overwhelmed. It happens, it happens every year. We hear about it from members, we hear about it from outfitters and it’s hard.

00;44;35;17 –> 00;45;21;15
And so I would, I would say if you fit into that category, maybe you live in the eastern part of the US and you’ve never seen the mountains out west, you need to at least take a vacation, come out, hike ’em, and, and not be overwhelmed by the, by my mountain country. That sounds very rudimentary and very basic, but trust me, it happens every year. People show up to sheep camp and they’re done by three days, three or four and they just can’t hack it. And so that’s part of maybe finding out the sheep huntings, maybe not for you, but at the same token, I I would, I would dare say more people are cut out to sheep hunt than they give themselves credit for. If they just set their mind to a little bit more, work hard toward it and just don’t, don’t let giving up it be an option.

00;45;21;23 –> 00;46;07;13
I mean, everybody, you know, if you find a big white tailed deer somewhere back east and you want to kill it, you’re all in. Have that same mentality when it comes to a dollar sheep, do whatever it takes to prepare, you know, you’re not, you know, you’re, you’re doing different things, but the physical and mental part of it is a, is you know, it’s hard to teach physical. You can do something about mental it. It’s a tougher thing to just say, you gotta get ready. You gotta mentally say yourself can, you can do this Just doesn’t always resonate with people sometimes some people just can’t, just can’t bear down and focus to that and it’s tough. Well, I think your advice of getting to a mountain going, you know, for five days, take your wife to Jackson for the week after the weekend, or yeah, putting a backpack on.

00;46;07;19 –> 00;46;51;08
I mean the difference between Salt Lake City, even the difference between hiking six miles in the mountain with no backpack and the d and you know, and then putting a backpack on that, that has five days worth of food and clothing is, is just enormous. It is. And I realize that’s, that’s tough. But if you look at what some of these sheet hunts are gonna cost you a a thousand bucks to fly to Salt Lake, spend a couple nights in a hotel and go hunt, hike some mountain country and figure out, okay, what am I, am I really prepared? And that’s for the people that have never spent time in the mountains. I want to emphasize that. I don’t wanna say that every sheep hunter needs to come and hike the mountain before your sheep hunt. I’m not saying that, but if you’ve hunted the mountains, you’ve hunted elk or deer out west and you love it and that you’re driven for it.

00;46;51;10 –> 00;47;39;10
We talk to people every day here at Epic Outdoors that live on the East coast that just love to get back out west out in the mountains. I’m not talking about those people. I’m talking, if you’ve never done it and you don’t, there’s a lot of unknowns. You better try to, don’t let the first mountain you really hike in be the one you spent a $40,000 for a stone sheep on it. Very good. So Harold says, do you think sheep populations in the lower 48 have become more healthy in, in general over the last decade? Or are we losing ground? Also, what can I do as a hunter to help ensure that my kids and grandkids will have the opportunity to hunt wild sheep in the future? You know, that’s a great question and with without question, as a whole, sheep around the, around the Western us are in better shape now.

00;47;40;20 –> 00;48;48;09
We are not losing ground, we’re making more ground. Now for those of you that think that’s an absolute, I realize there’s some that are struggling. We have die-offs. There’s some issues going on here in Utah as we speak that weren’t going on last year. But as a whole, our, our education has expanded so much through the research of the state fish and game agencies, organizations like the Wild Sheep Foundation that have dumped a lot of money and all the chapter and affiliates of the Wild Sheep Foundation have dumped money into research through some of the western universities to help understand big horn biology, big horn disease transmission with other, you know, domestic sheep or goats. There’s so much that’s been learned and, and what we know now about, you know, keeping things separate. Separation is key that, that we every, everything’s better. That doesn’t mean you can control, you know, sheep getting where they’re not supposed to be, or domestic sheep or goats getting where they’re not supposed to be and keeping separation all the time or you know, having issues such as winter killer, things like that.

00;48;49;00 –> 00;49;40;08
But no question, I mean, if it wasn’t for state fish and game agencies and organizations like Wild Sheep Foundation, you know, and all this chapter and affiliates of that sheep hunting would be sheep tags are rare now they would be a fraction of what they are now if it wasn’t for these organizations over the last, you know, I’ll just say rounding it, you know, 30 years, 20, 30 years, no question. Things are better now and are the vigilance of which all of these state chapters and national organizations and now state fish and game agencies are working together at to, you know, micromanage sheep because that’s how you have to man manage ’em. They’re not like elk. Elk will take care of themselves if you just don’t kill ’em. They will proliferate sheep take intensive manage, whether it’s predators, whether it’s disease, whether it’s winters, whether it’s salting on the highway and they get taken out by highways and trains.

00;49;41;00 –> 00;50;30;11
Sheep are susceptible, they’re more fragile. They’re gonna always take intensive management. And the more time that continually goes by, the more we understand about that intensive management. And so I would encourage you, wherever you live, Harold, to, to join the National We Sheep Foundation there, it’s a great, they put out a publication four times a year called the We Sheep Magazine. You can read a lot about what’s being done in the We Sheep Conservation world within that. But if you live in one of the states or areas that have a geographical chapter belong to that as well. Even if you live in a state that doesn’t have sheep, there’s something for you to do and encourage you to do that. Next one, what would you consider prime age for a trophy ram? And how long does sheep usually live? Yeah, a lot of variability for that.

00;50;30;12 –> 00;51;23;24
But in general I would just, I would generally say, you know, eight years plus would be, I mean that’s the classification of sheep, you know, has anything, eight years or older is a class four ram, you know, a six and seven year old or class three ram, you know, class three to five or class two rams. And then you got a class one as a two year old and then you got yearning. So anything eight plus sheep, it’s been said that sheep are born looking for a place to die. And I give them a little bit more credit than that. However, they are more susceptible. We’ve just got done talking about that, whether it be to disease, whether it be to some of these other things. But that’s not to say there haven’t been some magnum six and seven year olds, the biggest ram we’ve ever guided, all right, ever was 182 and a half net was a six year old.

00;51;24;00 –> 00;52;18;26
Wow. What state, I mean was that that was Nevada. Jeez. I mean, so there are anomalies just like in people, there are freaks of nature, just like in people that, that are just unexplainable really. But generally, I would say eight years plus life expectancy. Again, a lot of variability based on, you know, winters, especially up north in Alaska and Canada, it’s, it’s dark 20 to 22 hours a day. I don’t know, I frankly do not know how in some of these mountain ranges, it’s possible to survive a winter. I don’t know how I’m susceptible to the cold. I know these animals have adapted to it, but that aside, I don’t know how they can survive. And so a 10 or 12 year old ram is an old ram. It it, it’s an old ram. There are examples of 12 to 14 or occasional, maybe a 15 year old I hear of various species.

00;52;19;14 –> 00;53;08;23
That seems to be more rare in the thin horns. I think partly due to the really dark long winters. Yeah. But having said that, an eight to a 10 year old ram is just, that’s a, that’s, that’s, that’s primed up after that their, their days are numbered for the most part. And they’ve got a, they’ve got got either dodge predators, have no winners, either just get lucky or be in some kind of an area that’s somewhat secluded or they’re able to grow older than that. They don’t grow much beyond that. Their horns, as we talked about, the annual I, they grow less and less each year. The older they get from eight or nine plus, they just, that shrinks to sometimes, you know, a half inch or a quarter inch or even less as they get older. And that’s, that’s very minimal. But that’s what my, that’s what my thoughts on that.

00;53;08;23 –> 00;53;59;05
You talked about anomalies and, and you get a giant once in a while, once in a while we hear about dwarf. Yeah, that’s true. Talk about that. That’s true. I guess just like people as well, there’s conditions that, that, that, you know, humans have, you know, that, that genetically they, whatever didn’t, didn’t align up. That’s, that’s what they’re gonna be. And that’s happened in the sheep world. It feels like it happens a little bit more in the thin horn world than it does in the deserts and the Rockies. But I have had a few of those that I’ve seen. They’re like, whatever’s going on there, his horns do not match, you know, what’s what, what should be going on with everything else. And their body size generally doesn’t either, is smaller as well. And so usually the only time you have to really be careful of that is if that ram is all alone.

00;54;00;04 –> 00;54;46;29
Because sometimes they can look really good and big and then you walk up to ’em and they’re 50 to 75 pounds lighter, which throws all of their proportions off their head’s smaller, makes their horns look bigger than they really are. ’cause in proportion of their head and their body, they look big when reality, they’re just a, they’re just adored. It’s not super common, but it, but it can happen. And that’s why if I’m ever, you know, if I’m ever suspect to something, I like to use the, you know, hopefully use the other sheep that I’m seeing right there as a, as a barometer. That’s not always possible. But I, I almost don’t, don’t, I almost ignore that in a lot of my sheep gutting where I’m at. But in the thin horn world, I’ve seen more examples of that than, than it seems like the big horns are, are the deserts.

00;54;47;08 –> 00;55;36;15
So, awesome. I, we’ve got quite a few more questions, but I think we’ll save that for a part two. Yeah. And wrap up here by just thanking all of our sponsors. We want to also throw a shout out to phone scope and they’ve got a brand new product this year that, that is shipping. It’s called Scoped Vision. So if you want to go check that out on their website, it’s phone scope.com, that’s p H O N e ss k o p e.com. It allows you to, to film what’s going on through your scope. So you shoot an animal, it’ll, it’ll get to, you know, the moment to where you pull the trigger and then, you know, as fast as you can get back on that through recoil, you can video that right through your scope. Also, it’ll allow, you know, let’s say you’re hunting with a kid, you can look and see what they’re seeing through the scope.

00;55;36;17 –> 00;56;42;02
So that could be pretty awesome with the kid. Yeah, make sure they’re lined up on the right animal and you can just tell ’em, nope, the one, one left of that or whatever very cool, innovative product and encourage you to maybe try it out this year. And we’ll just give a shout out to the other sponsors that we’ve probably talked about a little bit in this podcast. Q u if you wanna check out their products. Q u.com. K k u i u.com. Trek, k K E N e t r e k.com Wild Sheep Foundation. Adam, what’s the website for them? I believe it’s we sheet foundation.org if I’m not mistaken. Okay. So, and last but not least, hillberg.com/epic. And if you could just do us a favor, go there, visit that hillberg slash epic berg.com/epic site. We get a few brownie points if you just go visit that site, check out their tents and then phone scope, which we said www.phone scope.com.

00;56;42;22 –> 00;57;19;17
P h o n e s k o p e.com. And we appreciate you listening and you know, these sponsors help keep this podcast free and bring it to you. And so be awesome if you support those guys. And while you’re at it, go give us a review. Those really help us in promoting, promoting our show. So if you’re on iTunes, click on review underneath our show and leave us a, a review. If you’re on Google, the Google Play, then do that as well. Helps us out a lot. Well, I think that’s it, Adam. Time to go hunt sheep. I’m outta here.