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GRAND SLAM CLUB / OVIS HISTORY

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Bob Housholder of Phoenix, Arizona, founded the Grand Slam Club in 1956.

Many people in the hunting world have heard of the Grand Slam® and the Grand Slam Club™. The fact is that in March 2001 the Grand Slam Club technically became known as Grand Slam Club/Ovis™. We will get to the name change a little later, but first we will look at the history of the original Grand Slam Club.
There have been many misconceptions over the years concerning the Grand Slam Club. Most knowledgeable hunters would readily define the Grand Slam as being one each of the four different North American wild sheep, which of course are the Dall, Stone, bighorn, and desert bighorn. However, this would not be technically correct. One should also realize that all four sheep have to have been taken fair chase by an individual hunter and documented with Grand Slam Club/Ovis. A popular misconception has been to believe that those who have taken all four sheep
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Jack O’Connor is listed as documented Grand Slammer #1.

automatically become members of some informal, almost mythical, fraternity, but such is not the case and never has been.
In April 1948, TRUE magazine published an article by Grancel Fitz, titled "Grand Slam in Rams." No other known individual picked up on its significance until 1955.
Bob Housholder of Phoenix, Arizona, was the man who founded the Grand Slam Club. In 1955, he was guiding a sheep hunter, Bernard Briggs, and realized that the desert ram taken on that hunt would have completed a Grand Slam according to the Fitz article. Housholder became curious as to exactly how many hunters had accomplished this feat.

Being an outdoor writer himself, Housholder contacted several of his outdoor writer friends, and put out the word that he was looking for people who had taken the four rams as described by Fitz. Before long, he had a list of 20 names. One of those writer friends, the late Jack O'Connor, was registered as Member #1 of the Grand Slam Club because he was the first to document his four sheep with GSC.


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Dennis Campbell (in this 1982 photo) took over as executive director of the Grand Slam Club in early 1990.

The Club was officially founded in February 1956, and has been called in print "the most prestigious big game hunting club in this country." The Grand Slam Club is also the forerunner of all the other sheep hunting organizations. A not-so-well-known fact is that the Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF), was originally the Midwest Chapter of the Grand Slam Club. Eventually the chapter changed its name and incorporated as the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep (FNAWS). Of course, FNAWS became WSF in 2008.
On September 16, 1989, GSC founder Bob Housholder suffered a serious stroke. His condition would not permit him to carry on his work with the organization. In February 1990, 34 years to the month since its inception, the Club was turned over to Dennis Campbell, who was an outdoor writer/photographer, but more importantly a sheep hunter and conservationist.

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In July 1992, the GSC publication’s name became GRAND SLAM.


The Grand Slam Club, under the direction of Campbell, was incorporated as a tax-exempt conservation organization, and in 1991 the U.S. Internal Revenue Service assigned it the 501(c)(3) status. One of the main purposes and objectives of the Club is to be the only established documentation and records-keeping organization for legally taken Grand Slams of North American wild mountain sheep. The Club has fulfilled this purpose since way back in 1956, when Housholder began to gather those original 20 names. The Club, as of 2009, has documented more than 1,500 legally taken Grand Slams.


The Grand Slam Club got its first official publication when Bob Housholder produced what he termed a "bulletin" in July 1967. This one page quickly grew into a multi-page affair. Sheep hunters around the world hungrily devoured every word this interesting hunter/writer had to say about their beloved wild sheep. Of course, hearing about other sheep hunters and their exploits was a big part of the "Bulletin." Housholder's last "Bulletin"(#74) went out in July 1989, shortly before his stroke.

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GRAND SLAM began to be published in color for the first time in January 1994.


Then, in March 1990, Grand Slam Club members received Bulletin #75, written by the new executive director, Dennis Campbell. Campbell stuck with the old format of straight typewritten text on legal-size sheets of paper for only three issues. For the first time ever, in Bulletin #78, Grand Slam Club members saw photographs and professionally typeset text. With issue #85, published in July 1992, the publication finally got an actual name: GRAND SLAM. Then, in January 1994, the publication progressed to color covers and photographs, and a format which has remained basically the same to this day.
GRAND SLAM has retained its down-home appeal to sheep hunters. The unique style that Housholder began, using an editorial format rather than individual articles, has been retained throughout all the changes. Bob Housholder was still alive when photos were first seen in GRAND SLAM. Right there on the cover, as the very first photo ever, was Housholder himself. Even though he was not able to communicate well because of the stroke, Bob's brother Bill reported that founder Bob Housholder was most pleased with the photos and the fact that the Club was continuing. Bob Housholder died in December 1993.
Now to explain why the organization Housholder founded is now known as Grand Slam Club/Ovis, or GSCO. Ovis canadensis canadensis (Rocky Mtn. bighorn), Ovis canadensis nelsoni (desert bighorn), Ovis dalli stonei (Stone sheep), Ovis dalli dalli (Dall sheep)... Yes, these sheep comprise those necessary to qualify for the Grand Slam of North American Wild Sheep®. Well, what about Ovis ammon ammon (Altay argali), which is the largest wild sheep in the world, or Ovis ammon polii (Marco Polo), which probably is the most nostalgic and arguably the most beautiful world sheep?

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The first issue (Volume 1, Number 1) of OVIS was published in the summer of 1997.


Wild sheep are found worldwide, at least in the northern hemisphere. In 1996, GSC executive director Dennis Campbell realized that the wild sheep of North America had been given a tremendous amount of attention by the many outdoor magazines published on the North American continent. However, the other wild sheep of the world had not been nearly so popularized by North America’s publications. Occasionally SCI’s SAFARI magazine would have an article about an argali or a urial, but for the most part talk of the other wild sheep of the world received a minimum of attention. To Campbell and other world wild sheep hunters, this phenomenon was regrettable.
Therefore, Campbell conceived the idea of producing a publication similar to GRAND SLAM but devoted to the other wild sheep of the world. Campbell felt that the publication just had to be called OVIS, because of the scientific name for the sheep of the world. It took a lot of work and preparation to get this idea off the ground, but finally in the summer of 1997 the first issue of OVIS was published.

OVIS was so well received by the international sheep hunting community that an exciting thing happened before the second issue appeared. Many notes, letters and phone calls came in with accolades and requests for Campbell to expand on his idea. The Grand Slam Club had been so successful that Campbell realized this model should be duplicated (just as the magazine model had been used), so when the second issue of OVIS hit the mail in January 1998, a new organization had been born: Ovis, Inc.

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International sheep hunter Dennis Campbell conceived the idea for the OVIS publication, which led to the formation of the organization Ovis, Inc.


Ovis, Inc. was formed with Campbell as president of the corporation. He continued as executive director of the Grand Slam Club, but ran Ovis, Inc. concurrently. OVIS the publication and Ovis, Inc. the organization grew by leaps and bounds. By late 2000, it became apparent to Campbell, the Grand Slam Club board of directors, and most of the membership that the two organizations should merge. In March 2001, the Grand Slam Club board voted unanimously for such a merger, and the organization became known as Grand Slam Club/Ovis, or GSCO.
With the two organizations merged, and the membership rolls combined, changes took place with the two publications. Up to that point, OVIS had been published twice yearly and GRAND SLAM was generally published four times per year. Beginning in Spring 2001, both

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GRAND SLAM is published four times per year.

publications became quarterly and were issued together, bound within two different covers. GRAND SLAM/OVIS retained their separate identities, so in reality the membership today receives eight unique publications per year.
In addition to documenting North American Grand Slams, GSCO continues the practice begun by Ovis, Inc. to recognize people who have accomplished the Ovis World Slam®. The Ovis World Slam requires the documentation of 12 different species/subspecies of the world’s wild mountain sheep. Shortly after the merger of GSC and Ovis, Inc., Campbell realized that most sheep hunters also hunted wild mountain goat species, which have the scientific name of Capra. Therefore, the concept of the Capra World Slam® was created. GSCO now recognizes and documents the Capra World Slam as the registration of 12 different species/subspecies of the world's wild goats.

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OVIS and GRAND SLAM are published together, but are bound within two separate covers. GSCO members receive eight unique publications per year by this method.

The Capra World Slam has given these great mountain animals the respect they have always been due.
Many hunters do not stop after achieving the 12 sheep or goats required to document an Ovis World Slam or Capra World Slam. For those, GSCO has the additional designation of the Ovis World Slam Super 20, Super 30 and Super 40, requiring the documentation of 20, 30 or 40 species/subspecies of sheep, and the Capra World Slam Super 20 and Super 30 for the registration of 20 and 30 species/subspecies of goats.

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Most wild goats carry the scientific name that begins with Capra. Dennis Campbell (shown here with an Alpine ibex from Switzerland) conceived the idea for the Capra World Slam of wild mountain goats.


An additional recognition is awarded to those who have completed a Grand Slam, an Ovis World Slam and a Capra World Slam. This combination of all three Slams is known, appropriately, as the Triple Slam™.
It is not necessary to have taken any sheep or goats to be a member of GSCO, which boasts a membership of over 5,000 members.

 

 

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GSCO executive director Dennis Campbell has taken more than 30 species/subspecies of the world’s wild mountain sheep, which qualified him for the Ovis World Slam Super 30.

 

 

 

 

All persons interested in the conservation of wild mountain sheep and goats are encouraged and welcomed to be members. The dues are only $60.00 per year, and most people say the GRAND SLAM/OVIS publications alone are worth that price; a Life Membership is $1000. Join today!