by Kai Jahnsen
Jim Doering is an 80-year-old with a rebuilt hip, one rebuilt knee, 5 titanium discs in his back, along with other health issues. Even with all that, he’s a huntin’ stud. During the warm months every chance he gets he’s out on the water, in his 1970 tri-hull boat that he rigged up with a 4-foot stand on the bow, shooting carp with his bow and arrow. He is one of those guys that is the definition of the term “Die Hard”. Jim has been putting in for the California Desert Big Horn Sheep hunt since the drawing started in the early 80s.
When the 2019/2020 application season began, Jim put in for the drawing just like every year. This time he got it! Jim called me up and told me that he had been drawn. It was one of those “bucket list” things. He told me that he had booked his hunt with Dry Creek Outfitters, and that he was able to take ONE person along on the hunt with him for free. Jim asked if I wanted to go with him to be that person. I was SO EXCITED to be able to share this “once in a lifetime” hunt with him.
The day came to head to Primm, Nevada, where we would be staying for a possible nine days in hopes of Jim finding and bagging a BIG RAM. I worked the graveyard shift the night prior and after I got off, I headed over to Jim’s house at 0400 hrs. Jim drove the entire way, a nine-hour drive.
Once at our destination, Cliff StMartin met up with us, got us settled in and told us we’d be eating breakfast at 0500 hrs. Cliff and his crew: Kirk, Jason and Jason’s father, Doyle were AWESOME! The crew was very easy to get along with and just good ol’ down-to-earth guys, full of hunting stories and experience.
It was January 15th, 2020, the first day of hunting and we had just finished our breakfast and were heading out. Cliff sent his guys in all different areas in hopes someone would spot a nice Ram for Jim. Jim and I hopped in the truck with Cliff and we were off. It was approx. 28 degrees outside, and the wind was coming from the S/E. We checked out a few areas but spotted nothing. Cliff wanted to check out this one area where he had previously seen sheep. Once at the spot, we all got out and started glassing the mountains. Within approx. 4 min. Cliff spotted some sheep. We went to where Cliff was, and he pointed out to us where they were on the mountain side. He said that they were feeding on a barrel cactus. He told us there were two Rams and one looked good. Jim and I located them and saw the one he was talking about. I liked what I saw. Jim looked through Cliff’s spotting scope at the bigger ram, I asked Jim what he thought, and he looked at me and said, “I’m just not seeing The WOW factor”. Cliff and I just laughed. Cliff told Jim he thought it was one of the nicest Rams he had seen this season. The more Jim looked at it the more he liked it. Cliff said he knew it was the first day of the hunt but thought that we should take a closer look at the Ram before Jim made his final decision.
The Rams were approximately 1500 yards from where we were. There was a saddle just to the west of the Rams. If we could make it there, Cliff calculated that we would be within 300 yds. Cliff called
his guys and they came over to where we were to keep an eye on the Rams. Meanwhile, Cliff, Jim, and I made our way up to the saddle.
We drove around the west side of the mountain and parked. It looked like a pretty steep hike to the top, but we would go at Jim’s pace. I carried Jim’s rifle for him so all he had to do is get himself up to the saddle. As soon as I stepped out of the truck, I glassed the mountain side that we were going to hike up to. We were going to make sure that there weren’t any sheep or other animals that might spook the rams we had been watching on the other side. I spotted a lone Ewe. I told Cliff and he spotted it as well. He said she looked like she was getting ready to give birth and probably would not go to where the other sheep were. She had laid down and we decided to make our hike up the mountain and keep our distance from her. She stayed put.
Once at the top in the saddle, the wind was perfect. Cliff ranged the Ram and he was only 250 yards out and he was bedded. Jim was shooting a .270 cal, it was a money shot. Cliff positioned his pack on some rocks for Jim to shoot from. Once Jim saw the Ram through the scope there was no question, he turned and looked at me with a huge smile and said, “I’m going to shoot him”. As Cliff was getting the camera set up on the tripod Jim got behind his scope, then BOOM!! Cliff looked at me and then looked through his spotting scope at the Ram. He saw the Ram stand up with blood pouring out of him and it laid back down. Jim had just bagged himself a trophy. The closer we got to the Ram the bigger he was. Cliff recorded Jim walking up on his Ram and his reaction was epic. Jim couldn’t contain his excitement when he picked up the massive horns of his Ram. It was like a kid on Christmas morning. Cliff then called the guys up and Kirk, Jason and Doyle hiked up to where we were and all four of them processed the Ram with a quickness.
The Ram scored 180 1/8” gross which made it the largest Ram taken this year in California. I was so very honored to be a part of the whole hunt and thankful to Jim for inviting me. A HUGE thanks to Dry Creek Outfitters, Cliff, Kirk, Jason and Doyle for showing us an epic time.