Editor’s Note: Pat Reeve and Nicole Jones’ TV show, Driven with Pat and Nicole, airs on the Outdoor Channel Tuesday nights at 8:00 pm and Friday nights at 10:00 pm EST. For the last 3 years, this husband- and-wife duo has won a Golden Moose Award for excellence in TV production from the Outdoor Channel. “Driven” features big-game hunting around the world, but its main focus has been whitetails. Pat and Nicole wear the Mossy Oak Treestand and Break-Up Infinity camo patterns.
After hunting Dall sheep in terrible conditions for 8 days, on the ninth day, we finally spotted the Dall sheep ram that was big enough for me to take, Nicole, Terry Overly, another guide, and I started to climb for 3 hours to get to the ram. The weather was beautiful, but as we got higher on the mountain, the weather deteriorated. It rained, next sleeted and then snowed. The snow got so heavy that we couldn’t see where the ram had been. We were just guessing where this band of eight rams might be. Finally, we got to the top of a ridge and thought the rams should be right below us. I was the fourth person in a parade of hunters going up the mountain, so the three in front of me had loosened all the rocks on the trail. The rocks were breaking loose under my feet. The only thought going through my mind was, “I’m about to die.” I kept telling myself, “Keep going. Keep going. There’s a ram at the end of this torture. Once you get to the top of the mountain, you’ll be all right.”
When we finally reached the top of the mountain, we peeked over the edge, and I saw the rams standing in the snow. They were hard to see, because they looked just like the snow. Finally we located the big ram, but he had a smaller ram standing in front of him, preventing me from taking the shot. I laid my pack on the ground and rested my rifle on the pack. I looked through my scope and found it had fogged-up. I was shooting a Knight KP1 single-shot rifle with a .300 Win Magnum barrel and a Nikon scope. After I got the snow out of the scope, I easily could see the sheep at about 175 yards. As I looked at the Dall ram through the scope, I also was trying to decide how I would get him mounted when I got him home. I knew all I had to do was squeeze the trigger, and the ram was dead.
The little ram walked away from the big ram, but all eight of them were looking at us. Terry said, “Pat, have you got a good rest?” I said, “Yes”. Terry said, “All right, take him any time you want.” I squeezed the trigger. Terry said, “Good shot. You got him.” I quickly tried to reload for a follow-up shot, but the gun was jammed – maybe because of the weather or being jostled around so much on the rocks. This was a break-open rifle, and when I released the barrel, the spent shell was still stuck in the chamber. I looked up. The rams were running, and I desperately was trying to get that shell out of the barrel. Terry was screaming, “Shoot him again. Shoot him again.” I started pounding the stock of the gun on the rocks to try and loosen the shell in the barrel. Then the extractor (the device that pulls the shell out of the barrel) fell out of the gun. I reached in my pocket and found another shell. I was able to pry the spent shell out of the barrel and put in another shell. When I finally got the gun locked back together, we ranged the rams at about 470 yards. I shot again. Through the scope, I was able to see my bullet hit the ground at least 12 feet above the ram. Terry said, “You shot way too high. Shoot again.” As I reached in my pocket for another shell, I watched that ram – my Dall sheep of a lifetime – go over the rim of the mountain and out of my life. Just as I took a third Hail Mary shot, the guide said, “I don’t think that first bullet hit him after all.”
This was the last few hours of our hunt, and I just screwed it up and missed the Dall sheep ram of a lifetime. I never have felt so bad in all my life, but the hunt got worse. When I reached down to get my binoculars that were in the bino harness on my chest, they were gone. Remember, these binoculars were one of three prototypes that the president of Nikon said I had to return as soon as the hunt was over.
Later as I thought about all three shots, I knew I had aimed accurately. The only thing that could have happened was that since I had my gun in a saddle holster for 9 days, it could have gotten knocked out of alignment. It had been dead-on when we arrived in Alaska. That walk and ride back to camp was probably the most-miserable time of my life. We got back to camp after dark. When I finally climbed in my sleeping bag, I wished I could snap my fingers, be back home in my own bed and wake up knowing this had been a horrible nightmare. Not every hunt goes the way it’s supposed to happen. We don’t always take the game, and we don’t always have the fun time it seems like we do on our “Driven” TV show. Once again, I learned that hunts aren’t always successful, but they can be memorable because of the adventure you’ve survived. The good news is that Nicole and I got married on June 23, 2012, and you won’t believe what she gave me for a wedding present. She bought me a big-horn sheep hunt in Alberta, Canada.