Here’s wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year, and as a holiday gift I’ll give you this, one of my favorite stories from the recently published “Sportsman’s Quest Book.”
The folks in this story are role models for a family that enjoys the outdoors together and parents that are leading their children down the right trail. I hope you will enjoy the story as much as I enjoy them.
“The Holiday Ram”
“Could you do a story about my husband’s recent desert bighorn sheep hunt? It would be my Christmas present to him.” That was the first e-mail I’ve received with such an interesting request.
Well, I’m a dedicated sheep hunter and always willing to hear a good story so I replied, “Let’s get together and hear about it.”
That’s how I met Derek and Kendall Foreman. Derek is a local chiropractor and he and his charming wife practice at Spring Mountain Chiropractic in Pahrump. What follows is their account of a classic, yet extraordinary hunt.
Derek first learned of his sheep tag in a text from his brother, as he was preparing to go home saying, “What the heck are you going to do with this sheep tag?” He arrived home to cheerful hollers and an excited family.
This was the 11th year he had been applying for the tag, but knowing that some wait as many as 20 years before drawing one; he wasn’t really expecting this surprise. Raised in California, but having also lived in Montana, Derek has become an avid hunter of big deer and elk in Wyoming, Colorado and Idaho before moving to Nevada.
As he began planning the hunt he gathered maps, equipment and started scouting on the Muddy Range above Lake Mead. He had decided to go with his best hunting partner, his 10-year old son Tristan. They were practiced and ready.
It began with their walking on a ridge while glassing the opposite hillside for shapes and the characteristic white rump patch, which due to the sheep’s coloring is often the first, or only, indicator of their presence.
After hours of walking and glassing they spotted one, then more. Seeing a “good” one, they attempted a stalk, but their progress was prevented by a steep cliff. They backtracked and tried to go around the ridge, but it was getting too late as the sun began to set.
The next day they found a better access road their Jeep could handle and tried again. They once again saw the group, which also saw them and headed for the next range, and day two was over; so it was back to camp and stories of what might have been, if only …
Day three: it was climbing, walking, and glassing, but no sheep were to be found so it was back to camp for some more father and son stuff. Derek said, “It was one of our finest days as we had time to enjoy each other, have a trail snack together, then return to camp where we talked long into the evening recounting past trips and spoke of future hunts we wanted to share. Our main focus, however, was tomorrow’s quest for that elusive Desert Bighorn, a once in a lifetime adventure that would be a marker of time – forever.”
Derek also told of hunting trips he had made with his dad and knew this would be one Tristan would share with his own family, when that time came. Life was good.
Day four: Thanksgiving Day, while walking the same ridge they spotted eight sheep across the valley, on the next ridge. Two looked good, so they headed down and began the climb up the other side – “busted.” The keen eyes had spotted them and the sheep began to walk over the ridge. They were 650 yards, uphill, a tough shot and one I wouldn’t even attempt. Derek, however, is a marksman with hours of practice at 700 yards and more. With Tristan behind him as his spotter he took the shot using his 7mm Remington lightweight custom magnum with a 15-45 power Zeiss scope.
At the first shot, Tristan whispered, “High dad, just over his back.”
Next shot and Tristan said, “Good hit,” as the sheep walked a few steps and went over the top of the ridge.
Climbing the steep slope, they found the trail and a few yards more the sheep, just inches from going over a precipice. They walked to it excitedly and said a prayer, just as our ancestors have always done.
“The animal had given its life for our sustenance.” An appropriate holiday prayer on this special day.
They then caped and packed the animal out, with Tristan taking a 60-pound hind quarter and back strap in his pack. It was a quicker walk downhill and they made it back to the Jeep and headed home to celebrate the holiday meal with Kendall and the family.
Arriving home, the hunters were greeted excitedly with enthusiasm and shared their tale of adventure with the entire family. They sat down to the traditional turkey feast memorializing an earlier time, a time when our forefathers also gained sustenance from nature’s bounty and the land.
This is your Christmas present, Derek, from your loving family, and a Merry Christmas to all and Best Wishes for the New Year.
Sportsman’s Quest is conducting a survey and would appreciate your commenting on the types of stories you most enjoy, or for more information on Sportsman’s Quest the Book, please email me at email@example.com or visit us at www.sportsmansquest.org.
Here is a drink I would like to share with all of you, my fellow travelers. I have enjoyed sharing your stories, and mine, this past year and raise my glass with wishes for you, and your adventures in the coming year. Here is to a merry Christmas and a joyful New Year from Blondie, Jim, Ol’ Seldom and the crew here at Sportsman’s Quest.
Ingredients: 1 bottle Burgundy; 1⁄2 bottle rose’ wine; 1/4 cup white sugar; mulling spices: 6 cardamom seeds, 5 whole cloves, 6 allspice berries, 3 strips of orange peel, 3 whole cinnamon sticks, wrap in small piece of cheese cloth.
Procedure: Place all ingredients in large crock pot and let simmer for about 2 hours. You can also find mulling spices prepackaged in stores.
The outdoor convention show season is coming. Here is the latest schedule of great events. I plan on attending all and hope to see you there.
The SHOT Show will be held Jan. 20-23 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center. I will look forward once again to seeing Tom Blais and Ron Cross at this year’s SHOT Show. It, and they, never cease to go beyond my expectations for excitement and fun. This trade show will have representatives from virtually all of the world’s outdoor and hunting manufacturers; if it’s new, you will see it here.
Safari Club International’s Annual Hunter’s Convention is Feb. 4-7, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. This convention has everything that a man (or woman) can dream of with over 650,000 square feet of exhibitor space. With many continents under one roof you can book hunts almost anywhere in the world. Come get together with old friends and meet new ones, shop for the latest guns and hunting equipment and talk to notable authorities of the outdoor sports and shooting industries. There are informative and educational seminars with countless topics that appeal to the hunting sportsman. For more information go to, www.scifirstforhunters.org.
The 2015 Grand Slam Club/OVIS Hunter and Outfitter Convention will be held Jan. 28-31at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno. Go to www.wildsheep.org for more information.