by Dan Smith lll
“He is a big ram, Ok let’s do it”. Those were the words spoken by good friend and hunter Daniel Smith
lll. I slowly looked back over my shoulder to my son Matthew. He was locked on the bedded ram
with his 15’s at only 175 yards away. He glanced at me with this huge smile as I nodded confirmation
back. As Dan was settling in for the shot the ram caught movement and jumped to his feet. I knew at
that moment within seconds the big ram would be gone.
For a number of years we had been talking to Dan about the possibility of hunting sheep someday in
his home State of California. He assured me that one day he would be hunting with Dry Creek
Outfitters. He had been keeping a close eye on us and knew we had been taking some great rams.
Dan and his father both have contributed so much to the conservation and the protection of wildlife
and their habitat in California. They have hunted all over the World and have taken many great
Shortly before the January 2016 sheep show in Reno, Nevada, Dan lll and I began discussing several
potential rams that we knew of. On Saturday night of the banquet Dan lll acquired the 2016-2017
California Open Zone Desert Bighorn sheep tag. The hunt was on!
Throughout the summer we would communicate back and forth also sending pictures of many rams
we were seeing during our scouting trips. Several of the rams were over the 180” class. Most of the
units in California have trophy class potential but we were concentrating on four particular units with
the largest rams in the State.
By the time the hunt began on November 5 th we were feeling good about the rams we had seen in one
particular unit. Dan Smith lll along with his father Dan ll arrived in camp and settled in for the
opening day. For several days we were seeing a number of good rams but not the ram we were after.
The hot weather and influx of deer hunters were not helping the cause. Dan lll had work obligations
and so he and his father decided to leave but with the instruction if we were to find the ram, call him
and they would be back the next day.
Two days after they left, we found the ram we were after. The only problem was he was on the
constant move. We would pick him up in the morning and watch him travel for miles. I called Dan
and he and his father were there the next day. As luck would have it, we lost him again! After three
days, Dan lll and I were in the process of discussing the possibility of him leaving again when his father
Dan ll exclaimed, “I got him”. By the time I picked him up he was just topping over the ridgeline about
three miles away. No question, it was the ram we wanted.
Early the next morning, Dan lll and I along with my son Matthew and Dan ll were making our way to
the top of the mountain. We knew we were in for a long day. The ram we had seen the evening
before was still about six miles west from where we were but because of wind conditions this was the
only route we could take. The Dry Creek Crew had been strategically placed at the base of the mountain in the hopes of not loosing this ram again. Shawn and Nate separated on the West end
while my partner Tim, Clay, and Tom were spread out on the South. Ben would be in the “crows” nest
on the North with Brooks watching the “back door”.
It was around 11:00 A.M. before we first laid eyes on our ram. He was still over one mile away and
moving west. He would bed numerous times during the stalk for maybe ten minutes then up again
and traveling. By 1:30 P.M. we had closed the distance to 900 yards. From this point on we would
lose contact of the ram until we were inside 200 yards, a location in which we felt was our only
choice. Moments before I peered over the rise to locate the ram, Dan Smith ll whispered, “ Danny you
better kill this ram or I’m taking the next flight home”. We all grinned, together we had seen a
number of big rams and I think Dad was getting impatient.
Finally, at 175 yards Dan lll was getting his first up close look at this magnificent ram. We both went
over the numbers again; “16 plus bases, 52 mass and 40 long on the left, little shorter on the right”. I
believe I heard a sigh of relief from Dad once Danny got on the gun. The shot from the Brown
Precision 7mm Weatherby Magnum was perfect. Congratulations, hugs, and slaps on the back
continued as all of the Dry Creek Crew arrived and joined in for a quick photo shoot. We finally made
it back to camp around 9:00 P.M.
Dan’s ram would end up being the largest ram taken in the State for the year and the largest ram ever
harvested by an auction hunter in California. Numerous times during the hunt Dan would mention
the close bond and friendship that he and his father shared together. He also mentioned he and his
father saw the same in my son Matthew and me. I agree! Thank you, from the entire crew!