April/May 2012 EHJ (Issue 130) - With a good rest, I whispered to Colin and asked if he was a shooter. He told me it was. At that moment I realized 25 years of applying and six months of preparation were about to conclude. This was likely the first and quite possibly the only opportunity I’d ever have to harvest a desert bighorn sheep. After six days of searching for this guy, my emotions were high, but my focus remained intact.
When I logged onto the California Department of Fish and Game website in late June to check the draw results, I was amazed to find that I had drawn a desert sheep tag. It took a few days and hundreds of folks congratulating me before it really sunk in…I was going sheep hunting!
I’d spent the last 34 years around the West in pursuit of all kinds of animals, but never sheep. After months of looking at images and reading every bit of information I could get my hands on, I started to get more comfortable. I also knew I did not want to squander this opportunity and shoot a lesser animal, so I contacted Terry Anderson from San Gorgonio Wilderness Outfitters and arranged to hunt with him. Terry had been a wealth of information during my sheep crash course. He lived in the area where we would be hunting and had already been directly involved in the harvest of somewhere around 120 rams.
I put in extra conditioning and studied sheep all summer…December couldn’t get here fast enough. We would be spending New Years in the desert of southern California while most of the world watched some ball drop - I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I was so excited my wife and I returned from vacation on December 26 and I spent the next day finishing packing my hunting gear and hit the road at 5:00 a.m. the 28th to start my hunt early. It was a long 12-hour drive before I finally arrived at Terry’s camp. After an evening of jawing with the crew and getting my gear in order for the morning’s hunt, I hit the sack.
After counting sheep all night, it wasn’t hard to pop right out of bed the next morning. I was so excited I was bouncing around like a BB in a band-aid box. My excitement however was short lived when I learned my first lesson…sheep hunting and rain do not mix. With a light drizzle and rain expected, we hung around camp until the weather made up its mind. This gave me more time to get acquainted with the crew that would be sharing this awesome adventure with me. There was Colin Jewett, who was a school teacher in real life; then came Andrew Pontious, a fire fighter when not engaged in the outdoors; Jake Franklin, the youngest of the crew, who was an outdoor fanatic and looking to make guiding his full time job; and finally, John Bates, our cook and camp tender. And to round things out was Terry Anderson, who was a sheep hunter in real life and it showed right away. He had all the plans lined out, and knew these hills like the back of his hand.
For a full account of Parrey's adventure, go to page 18 in the April/May 2012 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.