by Shanon Cabebe

We were only 90 yds. away when Matt whispered, “ He’s clear, whenever your ready”. The report from
my 300 Weatherby Magnum scattered rams everywhere.
My hunt started out like a lot of the stories I read about.  I was wondering why I wasn’t been able to
draw a premium tag in any of the states, when I was sitting on so many points?  I have been a member
of Huntin Fool for many years and following their advice on recommendations for hunts. I knew that
sooner or later it had to happen. By this time it was the end of June and I was trying to figure out where,
and what kind of hunting I was going to do this year… then my luck changed!  I was out of town working
in Alaska when I received a phone call from my friend Dan Grove, who said, “you did it, you finally drew
a sheep tag!”  I was trying to make sense of it all, because it was only 5:00 o’clock in the morning Alaska
Time, so I was half asleep.  It finally hit home when again he said, “you drew a desert sheep tag in
California!”  I could not believe it.  Out of all the states, I was lucky enough to draw a desert sheep tag in
my home state!  I couldn’t think of a better State to draw in.  Later that day I had to call the California
Department of Fish and Wildlife to hear the news for myself.

I knew right away with a tag like that, I was going to want the help of a good outfitter.  I had heard of
Dry Creek Outfitters through a friend of mine, Travis Scott of Arizona.  He did some guiding for them a
few years back and had nothing but good things to say about them.  So I got in touch with Cliff
St.Martin, one of the owners of Dry Creek Outfitters, and knew immediately they were the guys I
wanted to hunt with.  Cliff told me that the San Gorgonio unit that I drew, was one of the better units in
California and with a little luck, we should be able to shoot a book ram. California requires you to go to a
sheep orientation program before they will give you your tag, and if you use an outfitter, they are also
required to attend.  Matt St.Martin and Shawn Lindy, from Dry Creek Outfitters went to the orientation
with me.  It was very valuable information.  They informed us on the different sheep units, how to judge
sheep, and where to check them in to get them validated and plugged. I could tell the California
Department of Fish and Wildlife take their sheep population very serious.  That was the first time I had
met Matt or Shawn, who would later end up being two of my guides that I hunted with.  You could tell
right away that they were extremely passionate about sheep hunting.  

My unit opened up on December 19th and ran through February 21st.  I began talking to Cliff back and
forth; trying to figure out when would be the best time to go down.  He decided I should go down the
first part of February, he said by that time, the weather should push the bigger rams down out of the
high timbered country, where they are sometimes hard to find.  I felt like the day would never come,
that I would finally get to go on my sheep hunt.  This particular year, we were getting a lot of weather
early and by the end of November the boys were already starting to see sheep down below the tree
lines.  There were a group of sheep that they hunted last year that survived the season, and they had a
good idea of where they were.  The boys had a few different names for each of the rams.  Scar Face and
Chip were two of them.  Then there were three rams which they named Number 1 Ram, Number 2 Ram
and Number 3 Ram for obvious reasons.

I got a call from Cliff the beginning of December, they were on a sheep hunt in Arizona and he said
things changed a bit and he wanted me to come down and hunt the opener instead of waiting until
February. Cliff said that the crew had found several big rams and that we shouldn’t wait. I got in touch
with my two good friends, Dan Grove and Tim Robbins who were planning on going with me on the
hunt, and told them we would be hunting earlier than originally thought. Finally the day came!  We
loaded up the truck and drove down to Palm Springs to meet up with Cliff and his partner Tim Mercier,
Matt, Shawn, Clay Gibert, and Tom Humphreville. With all of them, and my two friends, I had quite the
crew to help me find a trophy ram! We decided we would all split up and cover as much country as we
could, so Matt, Shawn, Cliff and I took off on foot to try and locate the rams they had seen earlier, while
the rest of the guys went to glass other canyons.  We hiked up a creek bottom for a few miles, then split
up and started climbing to the top of the mountain.  It felt like forever to get to the top and by the time I
got up there, Matt was already behind the glasses looking at sheep.  It was amazed to see so many
sheep!  Everywhere we looked, you could see rams and ewes, and it didn’t take long for Matt to find
what we were looking for.  There were three big rams with a group of about 40 sheep ewes and other
rams mixed together.  We got the spotting scope out and he recognized the three rams.   One had a big
chip missing on his left horn, which is where the name “Chip” came from.  The other two were Number
1 Ram, and Number 2 Ram.  The only problem now was that they were at the top of another ridge,
about 1,500 yds. away and we didn’t know if they would still be there by the time we climbed off this
mountain and made it to the top of the other mountain where they were.  We decided to go for it!  It
just so happened, that when we split up earlier,  Shawn was on the top of the mountain we were
heading for, and he could see the sheep from where he was at.  It took, what seemed like forever, but
we finally made it up the other mountain where Shawn was.  We knew the rams were on the back side
of a ridge a couple canyons over so Matt and I took off after them. Cliff and Shawn had a bird’s eye view
of everything and they decided to contact the rest of the crew and let them know what was going on.

They were able to move their location and set up there spotting scopes from a few miles off to watch
the show.  As we got closer, it was starting to sink in that there was a good chance that I was going to
get a shot at one of the big rams!  We got a few hundred yards from the sheep when all of a sudden
about 40 ewes came over the top of the ridge, about 60 yards from us.  They must have winded us,
because they took off running, and that’s when things got really exciting.  Matt said “here come the
rams”; there was a group of about 10 rams all together.  They must have been following the ewes.  They
got about 90 yards from us, when they realized something was up. They all stopped and were staring in
our direction.  At that moment, it was obvious which ram was “Number One Ram.”  Before I could get a
chance to shoot, they all grouped up in a ball about 8 feet in diameter (a defensive move) and of course
the big one was directly in the middle. This went on for about 10 minutes, which felt like hours.  Then,
all of a sudden, Number One Ram moved out of the middle of the group and to the outside, which gave
me the opportunity I was waiting for.  Matt whispered, “Whenever you feel ready”… by that time, I was
already pulling the trigger!  After I shot, all the rams took off over the ridge and I couldn’t tell if I hit him
or not.  As my adrenaline was pumping, I could hear the guys yelling, “He fell off a 20 foot ledge, he’s
down!”  I was so pumped!  As we walked up to him, the rest of the group of rams wouldn’t leave his
side.  It was pretty cool, because we were able to get some good pictures before they finally took off.

When we finally put our hands on the ram it was amazing!  The mass and size of the ram… he was even
bigger than I thought!  We got him, I got Number One Ram!  The best part of the hunt was that everyone in the group got to watch the whole thing unfold.  We set the ram up and waited for the rest
of the crew to arrive and take pictures.  After getting my ram capped out for a full body mount, we all
gathered around to have Tim lead us in a prayer and to thank the Lord for this great opportunity and for
harvesting such a ram. I can’t believe how lucky I was.  The way everything played out, it was an
amazing experience, one that I will never forget.

The next day we checked our ram in with the biologist and he scored the ram at 176 0/8”, and aged hi
at 11+ years old. He would end up being the largest ram taken in the State of California for the
2015/2016 season!

I would like to thank the whole crew at Dry Creek Outfitters.  They are an amazing group of guys and
unbelievable hunters.  I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a guide. I would also like
to thank my wife for always supporting my hunting, taking care of things at home and keeping my family
safe while I’m gone. And last I would like to thank the gang at Huntin Fool for their recommendations.
It did finally pay off so…Apply, Apply, and Apply!