John “Timmer” Reeves is kind of a nut—about bighorn sheep.
I just spent a couple hours getting to know Timmer, and it’s hard to keep up with him, because he’s bubbling over with projects, books he’s written, books he plans to write, and the continuing theme is wild sheep, especially Montana’s bighorn sheep. It comes naturally, considering he grew up in Anaconda, where a band of sheep regularly comes down to the highway in the West Valley. He lives in Butte, now, and the sheep in our area Highlands mountains are known for trophy horns.
“Wild sheep are my favorite animal,” he explains, and it’s a true enthusiasm for wild sheep because, despite his passion for sheep, he’s never hunted sheep. That’s not for lack of trying, but in some 40 years, he has yet to hit the jackpot and get drawn for a tag. Getting a permit for a bighorn ram is something that many people aspire for, and if they win the lottery, they had better hunt hard because the odds are they’ll never have another chance. The real trick is to draw that tag before they get too old to use it.
Still, his enthusiasm continues to boil over and he’s a fixture in Montana’s wild sheep community, as he has collected the stories and photos from the lucky people who have hit the jackpot and followed up with collecting a trophy.
Those stories are the basis for Timmer’s first book, Giant Rams of Montana, Volume 1.
Timmer’s fascination with sheep also carries over to mountain goats, the ghosts of the high peaks and vertical alpine cliffs, and stories of mountain goat hunts will be published next month in Rocky Mountain Goat Hunts, Volume 1.
He has two more books in the works, with Quest for Giant Dall Rams, Volume 1, to be released in the fall of 2022, and Giant Rams of Montana, Volume II, to come out in 2023.
Timmer has had more challenges than collecting all those hunting stories, as he has also been fighting cancer for the last few years, and he’s clearly a survivor. He also plans to finally go on a sheep hunt next August, when he’ll go to Alaska in search of a Dall sheep.
Timmer’s books are published by Stoneydale Press Publishing Company of Stevensville, Montana, and can be purchased through Stoneydale’s website, www.stoneydale.com.
On the topic of books, I regretfully note the death, on November 13, of one my favorite authors, Wilbur Smith. Smith died at his home in Cape Town, South Africa, at age 88.
Smith was known as an author of “swashbucklers,” stories that author Stephen King described as books “in which the bodices rip and the blood flows.”
Many of his books tell the stories of the adventurers who plundered Africa, collecting ivory, mining for gold and diamonds, and falling in love with beautiful women. They had to defeat the most villainous of villains and overcome great odds to prevail and create dynasties for their descendants. The settings are often in the 19th Century, though he also wrote a brilliant series of novels set in Egypt during the time of the pharaohs.
I somehow got acquainted with Smith’s novels around 40 years ago, though they were difficult to find at that time. We were living in eastern North Dakota at the time and on a day trip to Winnipeg, Manitoba, I shopped several bookstores and found a whole trove of paperback editions of Smith’s books that had been published in Great Britain, but not distributed in the U.S.
As it happens, I just started reading a new book by Smith, another novel of ancient Egypt, The New Kingdom. Presumably, this might be his last book, though this one, along with several other recent novels, had a “co-writer” Mark Chadbourn. I was once a fan of another popular novelist, Robert Ludlum. He died in 2001, but other writers keep churning out “Ludlum” books.
I have thoroughly enjoyed Wilbur Smith’s novels, but I’m willing to let Smith rest in peace.
Paul Vang’s new book, “Golden Years, Golden Hours,” is available at How Novel, The Second Edition, Isle of Books & Books, or online at http://writingoutdoors.com.