Story by Chelsea J. Wysocki courtesy of
Walsh County Record
David Suda, 22, of Grafton, went on the hunt of a lifetime in October and shot a giant bighorn sheep he’d been stalking for weeks just a half hour into opening day. The ram later earned a green score of 190 — crushing the previous North Dakota record of 179 inches.
“The feeling after I got him is something I’ll never forget,” said Suda. “We put so much time and effort into this hunt.”
Suda’s ram will be officially scored on December 29, but the horns measured in at 190 inches. The process now is to wait the mandatory 60-day dry down period for an official measurement.
“We had a good idea that he would beat the state record, but he ended up being even bigger than we thought,” Suda added. “The big game biologist at North Dakota Game and Fish, Brett Wiedmann, confirmed it the day I shot him that he would smash the state record.”
Suda began hunting around 10 years old with both his dad and stepdad and has always enjoyed being outdoors.
“My favorite memory as a kid is going bird hunting with my stepdad and going to the hunting cabin with my dad and getting to see and hunt with the people up there throughout the years,” he said.
Suda applied for a bighorn tag numerous times but knew the chances of actually drawing one weren’t very high with only five lottery licenses available among 17,000 applicants. A sixth tag was also auctioned off.
“It had always been a dream hunt, but I never thought I’d get to do it,” he said.
On top of always wanting to harvest a ram, Suda had also been trying his luck for a rifle mule deer tag for eight years before finally getting drawn this year.
“It was a great feeling to draw these tags,” he said. “I’ve waited a long time for a mule deer tag, so I was very happy about that. Then when I got the call on my sheep tag, I was in disbelief.”
Suda and a couple hunting buddies had been watching the ram he later harvested for six weeks prior to opening day in bighorn unit B4, north of Interstate 94. They were able to find the ram nearly every time they came back looking for him, but Suda got a little nervous when the ram disappeared about a week before opening day. Luckily, they were able to find him again roughly four miles away from his prior location.
“It snowed the week before the season and then ended up warming up so opening day was sloppy and muddy,” he said. “We would put on anywhere from two to eight miles of walking each day of scouting, and on the day of the hunt, we put on about five miles.”
Opening day was Friday, October 30, and Suda headed out with friends Jens Johnson and Ryan Seil. His mom and stepdad were also in the area during his much anticipated hunt. He eventually lined his sight up on the ram he spent so much time watching, pulled the trigger and took down his first-ever bighorn sheep just 30 minutes into the season.
“Our plan worked out the exact way we wanted it to, and I shot the ram I had my heart set on since the first scouting trip,” said Suda.
Just over a week later, on November 7, Suda was out in the western badlands hunting mule deer and ended up filling that tag as well with a 170-inch-class buck — also on opening weekend.
“I don’t have any big hunts planned for now. I’m just hoping to fill my North Dakota bow tag,” he said. “I hope I can get the chance to hunt moose and elk in my home state as well, but I know those tags are also very rare, so I’ll be happy for a very long time with how lucky I’ve been this year.”
Suda is the grandson of Phyllis Howatt of Langdon.