Scenario: I have a protagonist who wants to track down and intercept an individual sheep herder--who, in this case, is not a hired hand but a (very) small individual owner of his own small flock--actively grazing on public lands. This herdsman keeps a low profile and has minimal ties to the world at large, no online presence, etc. The protagonist has the legal name of the herder, but arrives at his permanent base address to find that he is out grazing for the season.
- I gather from research that sheep bands are driven over established routes on public rangelands. With the name of the band's owner, would my protagonist be able to look up a route assigned to that permittee and track/intercept them that way?
- If it's theoretically possible, are there any likely obstacles? (E.g., routes are not that specific/not uniquely assigned; routes are specific and uniquely assigned, but they're not public record; etc.)
- If it's not theoretically possible, how would you track down a given band of sheep?
- How long might it take?
- If a band were grazing with just a single herdsman (+ working dogs) driving them, about how many sheep could that one guy wrangle?
- YouTube: searches for "sheep ranching," "sheep grazing," "grazing on public lands" have helped me understand grazing generally (Public Lands 101: Grazing and A Year in the Life of Raising Sheep in Idaho, e.g.)
- A 2008 report, Livestock Grazing in Utah: History and Status" is pretty cool (IMO) but not illuminating on the specifics of grazing routes.
- Other Google search terms: sheep grazing routes on public land, grazing permits, sheep ranching, spring turnout
- Found an "Ask a Rancher" page, but alas, it's been dead since 2013.
Most results returned were about economics, ecology, etc.--which have been fascinating to explore, but don't get my character to his rendezvous. I thought of just emailing the BLM and asking how it works, but then their website reminded me of the government shutdown. :\
I'm not above fudging fine details, nor do I care too much about getting everything faithful to the state of Utah, specifically (21st century western US is good enough for me), but I'd like to get things in the general ballpark.