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Cortez teenager Cruz Plewe downs desert bighorn sheep in hunt

Cruz Plewe, 14, with the desert bighorn ram he shot on Nov. 1, opening day of the monthlong hunting season. (Monica Plewe/ Courtesy photo)
Nearly 7,000 people apply for a tag, and only 15 receive one in Colorado each year

Cortez teenager Cruz Plewe on Nov. 1 became one of the youngest hunters in Colorado to shoot a desert bighorn ram in the once-in-a-lifetime hunt.

According to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife, nearly 7,000 people put in for a tag to hunt a bighorn sheep, but only 15 are awarded each year, and without accrued preference. Desert bighorn hunting is allowed in only five game units, and Plewe was one of three hunters with a tag in this area, according to the 2023 Primary Desert Sheep Post Draw Report. He hunted in Unit S64, which runs from McPhee Dam north through Dolores County on both sides of the Dolores River Canyon..

Once the 14-year-old Plewe drew a tag to hunt a desert bighorn ram, the preparations began. Before the hunt even commenced on November, time was spent practicing and scouting.

And the practice paid off. Plewe filled his tag with a large ram that was “about three times his size,” according to his mother, Monica Plewe.

Cruz Plewe holds up is desert bighorm ram. He is pictured with his father, Todd Plewe, left, and his older brother, Hayden. (Monica Plewe/Courtesy photo)

It was also a family affair, as Plewe shot the ram with a shot through the shoulder and vitals from 153 yards with his father, Todd Plewe, and brother, Hayden. He hunted with a left-handed Ruger American 6.5 Creedmoor.

“Also amazing, is the support Cruz received from the community. So many professionals and friends alike rallied around Cruz to help him be successful. They donated time to help Cruz with shooting practice, scouting, the animal and outdoor skills. Last year was Cruz’s first year ever hunting,” Monica Plewe said.

Cruz Plewe expresses his excitement over filling his tag and his gratitude for the support of his family and community. (Monica Plewe/Courtesy photo)

“This was a very unique hunt, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity I had to go hunt for this amazing animal. This is a once-in-a-lifetime hunt. There is no way I could have done it with out the help of friends, family and our great community. I am glad I was able to have my big brother and dad with me during the hunt. It’s an honor I was able to get this tag at such a young age,” Cruz Plewe said.

The lifetime bag limit for desert bighorn is one. The season runs Nov. 1-30, and only three ram licenses are granted in Unit S64.

In celebration, the Plewe family cooked the tenderloins for a dinner, as the family said they eat what they hunt.

According to the Colorado Wildlife Draw Coordinator, Cruz Plewe might be one of the youngest to bag a bighorn sheep ram in Colorado and in the Dolores River Basin and Dove Creek/Egnar areas.

There might have been a 12- or 13-year-old who received the same opportunity, according to records that only go back to 2011, but there is no record of whether that child filled their tag.