James Donovan Yoakum
1926 - 2012
James Donovan Yoakum

June 14, 1926

November 20, 2012

Born in Templeton, California, James D. Yoakum enlisted in the Navy at 17, serving from 1944-1947 and bearing witness to the last and toughest battles in the Pacific, including Iwo Jima. His time in service was a short part of his life, but Jim always said that it was the most important thing he ever did, giving him an education, a career and a place to call home. After seeing the devastation of war, Jim looked for refuge in wilderness and wildlife. The first purchase he made after he returned to civilian life was buying a saddle, and taking a job as a fire lookout in the back country of Big Sur, California. At the end of that summer, he attended Humboldt State College in Arcata, California, where he studied the Roosevelt Elk of the area. After graduating in 1953, Jim went on to Oregon State University, where he did research on pronghorn in the Lakeview, Oregon area. During this time, Jim's professional personality began to be forged, making a name for himself raising orphaned animals, including a pair of bobcats both named "Rufus." After graduating with a Masters Degree in 1957, Jim was hired by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the very first wildlife biologist hired by the agency. During his career with the BLM from 1958-1986, Jim was a stalwart advocate for wildlife and wildlife education, ruffling a feather here and there with steadfast advocacy for all things wild, but still managing to make lifelong friends wherever he went. He was first assigned to the BLM station in Ely, Nevada and then Reno for the duration of his career. He traveled the world with an interest in studying, photographing and advocating for wildlife. Up until his death Jim poured his heart into the study and advocacy of pronghorn. Jim co-authored "Pronghorn: Ecology and Management," a comprehensive and definitive 903 page book which represents a monumental bookend to his love of wildlife and wild places, and a solid foundation for those who will follow.

Memorial contributions may be sent to "Friends of Nevada Wilderness" http://www.nevadawilderness.org/ where funds will be used to support pronghorn research and habitat protection.

To plant trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published by The Reno Gazette Journal and Lyon County News Leader on Dec. 16, 2012.
No memorial events are currently scheduled.
To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Add a Message

Not sure what to say?

9 Entries
The pronghorn, a unique and beautiful species, had a passionate advocate in Jim Yoakum. He lit the fire in anyone who worked with him and his legacy will live on in the lives of those of us who had the good fortune to know and work with him. Thank you, Jim.
Thomas Pojar
December 23, 2019
I had the fortuitous opportunity to make friends with Jim due to my involvement with the North American Pronghorn Foundation (NAPF) and attendance at wildlife professionals' annual meetings. From day one he was a force to be reckoned with when it came to wildlife and conservation. Our personal relationship was initiated through a number of official visits and personal ones to his house outside of Reno. He was a valuable asset to the NAPF as a life member and professional advisor who helped us write up reviews for various state wildlife programs. Without his participation our organization and its recommendations simply would not have had professional gravitas. We and his many colleagues will continue to miss his presence.
Robb Hitchcock
December 10, 2019
Jim was the consumate wildlife professional that set the bar at the top setting so that those of us who knew him and had the opportunity to work with him could strive to get up to his level. He was an inspiration for myself and many others in our pursuit of excellance in wildlife management and for some us to become competent wildlife photographers. Having hunted with Jim for pheasants many times, I hope there is an unlimited supply of shotgun shells as he and all of his wonderful retrievers cover all the fields up there in the happy hunting grounds. As I recall, the birds are pretty safe with Jim looking down the barrel of his 12 gauge.
Rick Hafenfeld
January 5, 2013
A great friend, colleague, mentor and champion for all things wild....let's remember Jim's vision for the land he so loved.

The Hart Mountain Legacy

We envision Hart Mountain:
-- as a natural wide-open, pungent sagebrush-grassy western landscape, “Where Rolls the Oregon”;
-- home for pygmy rabbits, bighorn sheep, mule deer and pronghorn fawns to romp and play;
-- where the horned larks, blue jays and kestrels soar above “the Blue Sky Hotel” and nest in secluded pine forest;
-- (where) we experience bunchgrasses waving in the winds, butterflies, primroses, and fields of irises, lupines and paintbrushes;
-- (where) we remember watching strutting sage grouse courting elusive hens wanting to raise a clutch of chicks next spring;
-- (where) we seek opportunities to discover, and leave where found, an ancient arrowhead so expertly flaked centuries ago;
-- (where) we long to bath in the soothing hot springs while listening to bubbling Rock Creek wind its way down the mountain;
-- (where) we look forward to picnicking again on the meadows with golden aspens near the pioneer Post Cabin remembering yesteryears;
-- (where) we dream of a quiet, peaceful, friendly environment to inspire our spirits and provide a quality life on Earth.

-- Thus, we wish to inherit the natural riches of Hart Mountain, its abundant wildlife, flowering fields, deep canyons, verdant streams, lakeside vistas and panoramic prairies.

Jim D. Yoakum
June 14, 2004
Bill Marlett
December 29, 2012
Jim, perhaps even greater than your many accomplishments in wildlife conservation and elsewhere was the friendship we had over many years on a personal level, a friendship Evy and I cherished and will sorely miss. Our many visits to each others homes helped cement a relationship that few are able to achieve in a lifetime. We will miss you old friend. Robb and Evy
Robb Hitchcock
December 27, 2012
Jim was a Champion for the Pronghorn. There is no greater or more passionate advocate for Pronghorn conservation. He, with Bart O'Gara, helped raise the awareness of this unique North American mammal. Those of us who worked on the species owe a great deal to Jim. He was always eager to help students and established professionals alike by sharing his vast knowledge and most complete pronghorn library. No university collection is as complete. Jim, you will be missed but your influence on Pronghorn conservation and management will remain. Thanks my friend.
Rich Guenzel
December 26, 2012
Jim was the greatest advocate for the American pronghorn and its habitat. His unwavering loyalty, his deep and profound knowledge of the species, and his critical, scientific mind are becoming rare commodities in our world today. Thank you Jim, for your complete committment to scientific stewardship of our natural resources!
Steve Kohlmann
December 24, 2012
Jim, knowing you and working with you on our favorite topic - pronghorn - has been an absolute pleasure that will always be one of the highlights of my life. Thank you for enriching my life and the life of all you encountered.
Tom Pojar
December 21, 2012
Jim, the knowledge of others so offten comes too late. Had I known that you were a black shoe in the Canoe Club, we could have told many sea stories to each other. Our feelings for the most important phase of our lives and love of wildlife and big open Nevada, as the sea, were running parallel. Keep the sea water wrong out of your socks old Buddy.
Allen Bruner
December 17, 2012
Showing 1 - 9 of 9 results