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Once-In-A-Lifetime Tag

ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME TAG • ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME ADVENTURE
ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME SHOT

by Britt-Marie Jacobson-Bogue
California Wild Sheep - Summer 2012

2012-california-wild-sheep-article-photo-bogue

Let us begin this story back in June 2011. I was with a girlfriend on a cruise to the Caribbean. We were on the ship “Oasis of the Sea,” one of the largest cruise ships inthe world. We had a wonderful time. When I returned home, my husband, Dan, handed me an envelope. It was from the California Department of Fish and Game. I opened the envelope and I couldn’t believe what I was reading. We have been applying in California for about 22 years. We have always said that our donations were going to a good cause, never really expecting to be drawn. Well, this year I was one of the lucky ones. I had been drawn for a California Bighorn Sheep Tag! We just couldn’t believe it!

The very first thing I did was to send in my check to the Department. The next thing was to do some research on the internet about Nelson bighorn sheep, available guide services, and any articles about hunting the Mojave National Preserve for sheep. The unit that I was drawn for was the Kelso Peak/Old Dads. We knew of some people that had been drawn for that unit and were told that access was pretty good. The more I researched, the more I realized that this was going to be very difficult for us. As I mentioned earlier, Dan and I have been putting in for the draw for about 22 years. During that time age has crept up on us, along with physical problems. Both my husband and I have heart conditions and are in need of pacemakers, defibrillators, artificial heart valves, etc. I also had a knee replacement 2 years ago, and my doctor just informed me that my other knee needs to be replaced as soon as possible. I only mention this because the articles that I read mentioned a lot of walking. I can’t even go down to the floor. Yes, this was not going to be easy.

Since we are retired, time was not going to be an issue. Everyone we spoke to was very helpful and gave us all kinds of suggestions and ideas. I remember talking to Tim Mercier and Cliff St. Martin of Dry Creek Outfitters. Even after explaining to them about my handicaps, they were very understanding and assured me that they would be able to get me very close to a ram.

We were in the process of moving from Livermore to a Del Webb Retirement Community in Manteca. Since we were retired, we had plenty of time to devote to the hunt. We decided to try hunting DIY to begin with.

In October, we went to the mandatory sheep hunter’s clinic in Rancho Cucamonga. The clinic was held at the Bass Pro Shop and I would receive my once-in-a-lifetime tag after completing the orientation. I was the only female to get a tag this year and I was so excited about the hunt. We received so much information about the desert and about Nelson bighorn sheep. We realized that it was going to be very difficult to get close to these animals. It was enjoyable meeting all the people that had been drawn for tags, along with different guides, and those involved with the clinic.

In November, we were finally settled in to our new home at the retirement community. It wasn’t long before December was upon us and it was time for my hunt to begin. We arrived in Baker, California and checked into the only hotel available in town. It was an older hotel, but it was clean with a hot shower. We did some scouting on Friday. It was a beautiful sunny day and the desert looked fantastic. We were glassing Kelso Peak, Jackass Canyon, and other areas that had been pointed out to us — but no bighorn sheep. We met up with Eric (another lucky tag holder), his wife, Anna, his mother and father, and their friend and his grandson. We all met at the helicopter pad and had a great time. They were the nicest people. They had all been out hunting but had not seen any sheep yet either.

The next morning my husband and I got a really early start. It was early in my opinion, but I was in banking for 40 years, so we have a slight difference of opinion when it comes to early mornings. We glassed for some time without any success. We ran into Eric’s parents and they mentioned that Eric and Anna had gone on a long hike around Kelso Peak. No one had seen anything yet, so we decided to go to the Kelso station for lunch and see the museum. We enjoyed a nice lunch, spoke to the Rangers and had a wonderful time. We learned more about the park system and different places to look. I was born and raised in Sweden. I came to the USA in 1960 by myself. I have traveled all over the world, and the United States has the most beautiful parks around.

After leaving the Kelso Depot, we decided to take a dirt road toward the Marl Mountains. We suddenly saw a man standing on the dirt road that we were driving on. It was Eric’s dad, and they were glassing three rams that Eric’s mother had spotted. Eric was already on his way toward the rams, so we all joined with our spotting scopes to watch the whole scenario unfold. It was exciting to watch the sheep sparring and eating barrel cactus. It was beginning to get late in the afternoon when we heard ashot and the voice from Eric stating that a ram was down. Since it was late and we were unable to help, Dan and I gave our congratulations and headed back to Baker. We told everyone that we would see them tomorrow.

The next day we stopped to see Eric and his family and congratulate him on a very nice ram and a job well done. Then Dan and I headed off to the same area where Eric had taken his ram. There had been two other rams with the ram that Eric shot, and we were hoping to find one of them. But no such luck. We also tried looking at several other areas, but again no sheep. For the next several days we hunted hard looking for my desert bighorn sheep, but we had no luck in finding him. We decided to go back home for the Christmas holiday.

Fast forward to January 7, 2012 and back to Baker, California and the Mojave Desert, Wildlife Biologist Andy Pauli, Cliff and Tim with Dry Creek Outfitters, and friend Joe Wyman, who had drawn a sheep tag back in 2004. Even Eric and his wife Anna wanted to come back down and help us on the hunt. Bruno, another sheep hunter in the unit, called and told us that he had killed his ram, so we were the only ones left in the unit hunting.

We called Cliff St. Martin of Dry Creek Outfitters and he told us that he could possibly help us for a few days, after they finished up a hunt with a client in the Marbles. We told him that we could sure use the help. That same day, I saw six to eight ewes and a lamb. I was very excited! We also saw some quail, Jack rabbits, a golden eagle, and a coyote. It seemed that the desert was full of life. I was sure that my ram was out there, but I just couldn’t see one.

The next day Cliff called and told us that their client Bob Totah had just harvested a big ram and that they would be able to help us for a few days before their next scheduled hunt. We were both ecstatic because we knew that we needed help in a big way and Cliff and Tim were aware of our health problems.

January 10 at 6:00 a.m. (that’s early) we met with Cliff, Shawn and Brooks at the hotel in Baker. That morning we found out how you are suppose to hunt desert bighorn sheep. These guys definitely know what they are doing. We drove to some areas that Dan and I had not seen before. The cinder cone lava beds and up a mountain that was all black from the crushing of lava rock. Cliff had Shawn and Brooks looking in different areas. It wasn’t long before we had spotted three rams. These rams were very nice rams; however, they were not in an easy spot to get to. We watched them in the spotting scope and determined that two of the rams were very big. We told Cliff earlier that I didn’t care about the size as long as it was a legal ram and that I could get to it. Cliff asked if I could handle a walk along the wash to possibly set up for a shot if the rams were to drop off the mountain to a lower point. I told him no problem as long as we didn’t have to climb a mountain. The rams were slowly feeding and working their way downhill. Dan and I followed Cliff’s lead and came in from the side of the rams, but they were still about two draws away from us. After getting as close to them as we dared (600 yards), we sat down to see if they would feed closer to us. Dan had been great by always bringing my little 3-legged chair and my tripod to shoot from when the time came. I had my walking stick, and I was carrying my husband’s 300 Browning automatic rifle. The same rifle I had used to harvest my elk in Colorado.

The rams did feed down the hill and bed, but they were still too far for a shot. Eventually, after about three hours, they got out of their beds and fed back up the mountain and away from us. We decided to back away from the rams and maybe get a chance at them at a later time. There were a few hours of hunting left when we arrived back at the truck, so we decided to continue working our way down the road and glassing. Shawn and Brooks went ahead of us to glass.

In less than an hour, we were informed that the boys had located a single ram feeding down low on the backside of Old Dad Mountain. After seeing the ram, I was so excited! But how would we get to where he was? We drove up the road and got out of the pickup. Cliff had instructed us to be calm, and we slowly walked in the direction of the ram. This was our only option. I hadn’t realized until later that Cliff had already ranged the ram at the pickup and it was 600+ yards. Dan and Cliff kept telling me, “Just a little farther. You can do this.” The ram was still feeding and was not acting alarmed. We finally got to a good spot that was flat enough for my 3-legged chair. Dan and Cliff got me organized with the tripod, and I got my rifle in place and tried to find the ram in my scope. Cliff guided me calmly until I had the ram in sight, and he told me to put the crosshairs on the top of the ram’s back. I did … and pulled the trigger. The ram spun around, but I had shot just above him. Now I had to find him in my scope again for another shot. Cliff again guided me patiently and calmly and told me to put it right on him this time. I found the ram once again in my scope, did what Cliff said and squeezed the trigger. I waited a second, and with a smile on his face, Cliff said, “Ram down.” I just looked at him dumbfounded, and he repeated, “You have a bighorn sheep on the ground.” I could not believe my ears. Then the excitement kicked in. Adrenalin was going through my whole body, and then came the shaking. Cliff said, “Do you know how far you shot?” I told him, “Not a clue.” He said, “422 yards.” I still had no clue, being Swedish; I never really got the hang of yards or inches. I only knew meters or centimeters. Cliff said it is more than four football fields long, and then it registered. What a shot! My husband just kept shaking his head in disbelief. All of my shots at game before were at 100-200 yards. After the high-fives and hugging, Cliff insisted that Dan and I work our way back to the truck since it was getting late. Shawn and Brooks were about a mile or two away and they had seen the whole thing. They saw the ram drop and a few seconds later they heard the shot. They were so happy for me and they were on their way to help me to the pickup and take care of the ram. We had about 200 yards to get to the truck. I was still shaking and couldn’t believe I had just shot a ram that was more than four football fields away!

Cliff went up to take care of the ram while Shawn and Brooks helped me down to the truck. Then back up the mountain they went. What a team! They walked on those rocks like they were mountain goats. Yes, everyone was so happy for me, and part of me thought it would never happen … but it did.

Thanks to my husband, Cliff, Shawn, and Brooks. What a wonderful experience! My ram may not be a Boone and Crockett sheep, but as far as I am concerned, he is the best looking ram in the whole Mojave National Preserve. I’m sure he is probably the longest shot by any woman in the 25 years since sheep hunting in California began … 422 yards … WOW!

The next morning the guys went back up the mountain and brought the ram down for me to have my picture taken with him. After the pictures were over, they butchered up the ram and packed it away in ice chests, along with the horns and cape.

On January 12, 2012 we took the ram to Andy Pauli, the wildlife biologist. Andy and his wife were very happy that I had gotten my ram. My ram was #321, which means that only 321 rams have been taken in the 25 years. During that time, less than a dozen women have been fortunate to draw a tag. By the way, this all happened on both my birthday and my anniversary. We had been married at a Safari Club Convention in Las Vegas some years ago. What a fantastic birthday and anniversary present!

I would like to say thank you to my husband, Dan, for being so understanding and being my guide, chauffer, and helping me in all aspects of the hunt. Thanks to Cliff St. Martin for having the patience and understanding of our health problems and his calmness for me to be able to shoot the most beautiful ram in the Old Dad Mountains. And to Andy Pauli, George Kerr, and everyone we came in contact with prior to and during the hunt. Everyone was so very nice and so helpful in making a dream come true. We are all very fortunate to live in the beautiful State of California with the ocean beaches, redwoods, mountains and the deserts. Yes, I have a lot to be thankful for. My son and grandson, together with all our friends, are all amazed … including some friends I have lunch with once a month, who worked with me in banking back in the sixties. They are all saying, “Well, Annie Oakley did it again”… and I sure did!

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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