Catching Wild Sheep
My brother Jace Clark works for the Quicksilver company with owner and pilot, Rick Swisher. Rick has been operating a helicopter to help the Wild Sheep Foundation, Game and Fish and other organizations catch live animals for testing and other forms of research for 30+ years.
In February of this year, I was fortunate enough to get to ride along with Rick, Jace and Tru as they caught 23 head of wild sheep off of Wild Horse Island, MT.
It was one of the wildest and best days of my life. We started at daylight and met in a parking lot with biologists from the Montana Game and Fish as well as the Wild Sheep Foundation.
Within 20 min we were in the chopper flying low of the mountain and timber to look for sheep. Rick and Jace in the front, Truman and I in the back. Jace is the gunner and shoots .308 net gun that slows the sheep down. Once netted, Tru and I would bail out of the chopper to hobble, blindfold and put the sheep in bags so they could be safely flown back to the biologists. While we were doing that, Jace and Rick would go net a couple more. Jace would bag those as Rick would come back to where the first bunch were and Tru would attach 2-4 head of sheep to the chopper to be flown back.
Right off the jump, Jace netted a sheep in which Tru bailed out to take care of. The chopper never sat down, about 6 ft off the ground is as close as we usually got. Truman had barely hit the ground when Rick lifted us up an spun around to catch another sheep which Jace netted. Jace hollered at me "Skye! Get that biddie (slang for sheep). I had no clue what I was doing, but swung my camera around to my side and bailed out of the chopper at about 6-8 feet and ran up the hill to where a sheep was netted and trying run off. I got a hold of it and laid down and waited for Jace to come back about 5 min later to bring the hobbles and gear we needed. He showed me the proper way to hobble, blindfold and get the sheep securely in the bags, and the rest of the day I had a job.
I was thinking I was just going to be a camera gal for the day, but I'm so glad I wasn't! And I should have know Jace would put me right to work.
It was an experience of a lifetime, and being able to witness and work with those guys was incredible. They are truly talented in what they do and know how to handle the animals so they aren't hurt at all.
On this particular day, the Game and Fish and the Sheep foundation took blood samples, put some tracking collars on the sheep and transported them about 3 hours away near Dillon, MT to be relocated to help populate a new area.
Here are a few images I took during the day.
I hope you enjoyed those. My 2022 Calendar includes 2 images from this day. If you would like a calendar, they are on sale. Normally $35, but just $27 now. I ship world wide!
Have a good un!