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A Hunt of a Lifetime

by Russ Renner
Fall 2015 California Wild Sheep

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It all began on a cold winter morning at a buddy's office here on the far Northwest coast of California. I have hunted deer all my life on a small family owned ranch, but never had I thought to put in for a draw tag for a hunt in California. Abe, a contractor friend was on his computer that morning and gave me his advice on what to put in for and how the point system works. I, myself, had no clue so I took his advice and entered in the drawings for everything he did. He told me "go ahead and enter for the desert big horn ram, you won't draw the tag, but you will still get the points." So I entered in for the hunt.

Low and behold, when the 2014 draw arrived I drew a desert big horn sheep tag for the Clark Kingston Mountain Range. Since I had little knowledge in big horn sheep hunting, I called Abe for advice. Without hesitation his first call was to Cliff and Tim at Dry Creek Outfitters. They were more than excited to get the call and we were in contact with each other right away. I scheduled my hunt for the first part of January with the intention of bringing Abe.

On January 2nd we set out from Northern California to the Clark Kingston Mountain Range for the hunt of a lifetime. Since Abe could not make the trip, I decided to bring my buddy Van along for a great experience. After 14 hours of driving Van and I pulled into our camp at about two in the afternoon on January 3rd to find Cliff and Tim getting set up for our scheduled 14 day hunt. We were greeted by them with a big smile and we knew right then we were in for a hunt of a lifetime.

As we quickly began to unpack our truck and settle in, Van and I became curious of the terrain and the surrounding mountains and decided to set up our spotting scopes to see what was out there. From the desert floor to the high rocky mountains we were easily looking 2-3 miles. For us, this was like trying to find a needle in a haystack if we were to spot a ram!to Cliff was very helpful and gave us some ideas as
what we were looking for.

As dusk came, the Dry Creek crew started to trickle into camp after a long day of searching for "The Big One". One by one we were introduced to a great group of guys who all had a story of a previous hunt or experience. Cliff's son, Matt, was the last guy to camp that evening, which was for a good reason. Matt told us that he had seen a ram a few miles out and put a really good sneak on him to get some video footage. After dinner Matt pulled out his camera as everyone gathered around to see if this ram was worth a second look at daylight. With a little twinkle in Cliff's eye, he turned to me and said, "This one is worth a second look."

Morning came, Van and I geared up with the expectations of an exciting day and a memorable hunt. Man, were we in for a treat. As we set up our spotting scopes on the desert floor in freezing temperatures, we couldn't help but enjoy the incredible sunrise, shining on the high mountains about two and a half miles from where we sat.

As the minutes and hours ticked by, we patiently scoped out the mountains where Matt had seen the ram previously. Van and I had a hard time determining what was a rock or cactus, and what might be a ram. With Cliffs help, we finally spotted something worth closer inspection. At two and a half miles out, that ram looked tiny and almost unrecognizable. After a half an hour or so of locating the ram and making a game plan, the three of us set out to meet up with Matt to map out the best possible route to get close enough to get a better look, and maybe get a shot at him. From where we stood with Matt, there would be about a mile and a half of steep rocky terrain to hike through, over three different ridge tops and through multiple drainages.

The gear got heavier with every step. Stopping every 10-15 minutes to catch our breath, Matt would relay the coordinates of where the ram was bedded down. Each step got to be more crucial, not to step on a loose rock or stick to make a noise that might alert the ram. From about 800-900 yards out, Matt stopped dead m his tracks and whispered "get down" to Van and I, who were about 5-6 feet behind him. Not knowing what he saw, we hit the ground, trying not to make a sound. As we lay there on our packs, Matt informed us that there were some wild burros about 200 yards to our right and we didn't want to spook them and alert the ram that we were close. Low and behold those damn burros spotted us and luckily blew out in the right direction, not stirring up the ram we had our sights on.
Slowly we climbed to our feet and began sneaking closer and closer to the far ridgeline where the ram was bedded down. As we closed in to the base of the ridgeline of where we would set up, Matt stopped Van and I to give us some last direction as to where to lie. There would be no more talking from here. Step by step and single file, the three of us quietly climbed up the last incline before we would get a good look at the ram. As we neared the top, Matt mentioned to Van and I to stay back while he peered over a large rock to spot the big boy. Soon he motioned back to me to crawl up and hand him my pack to make a rest to lean over with my rifle.


As I handed him my rifle and pack, the emotional thoughts entered my mind of my best friend and greatest dad ever. It was his rifle I was using, a 270 Winchester. I got it from him when he passed away a few years ago. Matt took the rifle and pack and set up a spot for me to take a good look at the ram. As I crawled up to take the spot, Matt motioned to Van to stay back. Matt didn't want too many heads poking out, so we wouldn't scare the ram. Not liking Matt's decision, Van sat back begrudgingly.

As I took rest over my bag, Matt explained quietly where the ram was bedded down. All I could see of him was his left horn as it poked out from behind a large rock. He was looking straight away and the horn looked massive. My breathing quickened as I scoped him out and Matt assured me that, yes, indeed he was a shooter, but it may be hours before he got out of his bed for me to get a decent shot, and to make it worse, he would only have to take three steps to the north and he would be out of sight for good. Time ticked by with the big boy laying behind the rock and a small little ram feeding close by and keeping a keen eye out for any danger.

Over an hour had gone by with Matt and I conversing very quietly hoping that he would stand up. A restless Van was sitting almost acting like a school kid, hoping that Matt would give him permission to come sit with us. At one point, I see Van reading the directions to a new video camera that we had bought in route to the hunt. FINALLY, some movement, the ram stood up. Three hundred yards out and he looked massive, even being partially hidden by the rock. Excitement came over me as Matt cautioned me to stay calm, get a good look at him. In what seemed like a lifetime, he took those three awful steps, that we hoped he wouldn't, and disappeared. As we sat there quietly, hoping he would reappear, we watched the small ram mill around, keeping a close eye on his big friend. As hope started to fade, my attention was brought up the ridgeline about 30 yards, there he is, standing front and center, staring straight down on us. He looked enormous! At that instant, I set my sights right on his chest and whispered to Matt "I can take him" Matt, knowing that I had some experience hunting through my life, advised me that he would like to see him tum broadside before I shot, but if I felt confidant, go ahead and shoot. It only took him the time of saying that one line before I blasted away with my first shot, and be damned if I did miss him. Shaking like a leaf, I cracked another bullet in the chamber and squeezed off another shot!
At this point, Matt exclaimed "Slow down, you're pulling to the right" So as I put another bullet in the chamber, I thought to myself, think about what dad taught you, and squeeze the trigger, don't pull it. Holding my sights just slightly to the left, I squeezed the trigger one last time knowing I wasn't going to get too many more chances, and in an instant Matt exclaimed "he's hit!, he's hit!"

I pulled my eye away from the scope to catch a glimpse of him lunging forward. It was then that I knew he was hit well and it was only a matter of time before he would succumb. With my knees rattling like they never had before, I stood alongside Matt to shake the hand of what I would say was the hunt of a lifetime.
On side note, Van did get that camera figured out and got some great footage of the ram and the shots it took to kill him. The ram was beautiful and scored a 172, which makes the Boone and Crocket book. All the boys from Dry Creek Outfitters made it to the kill site, and took tons of pictures.

Thank you Cliff, Tim, Matt, and the gang!!!

Who We Are

Dry Creek Outfitters is a professional hunting guide and outfitting service. We specialize in Trophy Desert Bighorn Sheep hunts in Arizona, California, and Utah. We also offer hunts for Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Mule Deer, Elk, Pronghorn Antelope and Javelina. We are fully licensed, bonded, insured, and permitted.

We have a full time team of professional, knowledgeable guides. Please take a few minutes to look over the information we have provided for you. We think it will substantiate the professional and dependable guide service we have to offer. We sincerely hope that you will consider using Dry Creek Outfitters to assist you in making your hunt truly a HUNT OF A LIFETIME.

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