Deployed Soldiers secure chance of a lifetime
July 24, 2011
“I literally fell out of my chair,” he said.
The euphoria lasted only seconds, however, when Roscoe glanced at the calendar and realized he wouldn’t be able to hunt this year because he was in Iraq.
During an ordinary hunting season, missing the chance to stalk game is usually overshadowed by the knowledge there is always next year; except, in Oregon and when it comes to pursing bighorn sheep.
The hunt for bighorn sheep in Oregon often takes on mythic status. That’s because the hunt is a short one and because only a limited number of tags are issued per year. No matter how many hunters put in for a tag " and the numbers are usually in the high hundreds " only a very limited number are issued by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Roscoe said he was in for another surprise a few days later when Sgt. 1st Class Lance Albert, a platoon sergeant with Charlie Co., and a native of Vale, Ore., approached him and asked if he obtained a bighorn sheep tag.
When Roscoe told Albert he had drawn a tag, Albert told Roscoe he, too, had secured a bighorn sheep tag.
Both men said they were surprised, not only with the fact they managed to attain one of the most sought after and rare hunting tags in Oregon, but also because both are in the same battalion in separate companies assigned to Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq.
“It is kind of neat two deployed Soldiers drew a tag,” Albert said. Except neither was, or is, sure they will make it back to participate in the hunt, set for September.
For a short time both men said they tried to get past the fact they were not going to be able to hunt bighorn sheep. That essentially meant that the duo would probably never get another shot at a tag.
“They are extremely hard to come by. For example, I have a neighbor who is now in his 50s and he started to apply for a bighorn sheep tag years ago. He still hasn’t got one,” Roscoe said.
Albert said he has applied for a bighorn sheep tag every year for 17 years. Roscoe said he started to put in for a bighorn sheep tag 13 years ago. Neither even came close to a tag until this year.
“It is like winning the lottery. If you are an avid hunter, it is probably the biggest one as far as hunting goes,” Albert said.
Roscoe said he decided to at least make an attempt to explain his and Albert’s situation to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Roscoe said he contacted the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and told the agency the dilemma he and Albert faced. He asked if there was any way the agency could extend the hunt for a few days or give him and Albert a few extra days if they do not make it back to Oregon before the hunt starts in the fall.
Rather than get the proverbial door shut in their faces, Roscoe said the agency was very helpful.
“They [Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife] have been very gracious. There looks like there might be a good possibility they’ll work with us,” Roscoe said.
Time will be a clear factor determining whether the two men will get the chance to hunt. Whether the unit will make it back and then move through the demobilization process in time for hunt is an open question.
“I’m staying positive,” Albert said. “I hope they give us the latitude. I’ll take one day or as many as they are gracious enough to extend to us.”
Roscoe said a lot will depend on how fast the battalion moves through its demobilization process. And both said their focus will remain firmly fixed on their outfit as it transitions back from deployment.
“Sgt. Albert and I both have obligations to our units,” Roscoe said.
Both men understand their chances of actually securing the extra days to participate in one of the most coveted hunts in Oregon may be slim. And they both understand their duty in Iraq comes first.
“If it comes down to it I’ll chalk it up to life,” Roscoe said. “It sure would be nice to get to hunt bighorn though.”