Field-Judge a Trophy Sheep

Hunting Tips | Wild Sheep and Mountain Goat

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Today hunting guide providing hunting tips about Wild Sheep and Mountain Goat. First of all, you should know about species of them.

Hunting Tips | Wild Sheep
Wild Sheep

There are 2 species of wild native sheep in North America, the bighorn sheep, and the Dall sheep. There are 3 subspecies of bighorn:

  • The Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep (Ovis Canadensis Canadensis)
  • The Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep (Ovis Canadensis Sierra)
  • The Desert Bighorn Sheep (Ovis Canadensis Nelsoni).

There are 2 subspecies of Dall sheep: the Dall sheep proper and the Stone sheep.

Glass in The Morning

Although sheep move most during the morning and evening, it’s generally a bad idea trying to find the animals late in the day. Sheep live in high, rough country. Unless you’re prepared to spend the night, you don’t want to get caught on the side of the mountain in the dark.

Watch for Their Rumps

Bedded sheep will almost always get up and move around a little . . . between noons to around 1 PM. They may feed for a few minutes, or move from one group of beds to another nearby. Or they may only get up, stretch, turn around and lie back down in the same bed. If you are watching the right spot at the right time, you’ll see their white rumps and know exactly where they are.

The Colors of the Mountain

Bighorn sheep come in a variety of colors, from light tan to dark brown to a deep blue-gray.  These colors vary from region to region (and sometimes within a single region). Because the animals tend to bed in spots that match the colors of their coats, it’s a good idea to have a sense of the common shades found in the area you plan to hunt. Look for ground that matches these colors, then look for sheep hidden there.

How to Field-Judge a Mountain Goat

Identifying a trophy mountain goat is not easy. The differences between a good billy’s and a record-book animal’s horns will often be less than an inch. The first step to finding a record is to make sure the animal you’ve spotted is, in fact, a male.  Billies have high, humped shoulders, and shaggier coats than nannies. Once you’ve found an old male goat, straighten out his horns in your mind’s eye and compare that length to the length of the animal’s head. If the stretched horns reach from the animal’s nose to the bottom of its eye, they are less than nine inches long. If they reach from the nose to the base of the ear, they are at least nine inches long and will qualify as a true trophy.

Creep Across Crests

When stalking sheep and goats, be extremely careful to never silhouette yourself against the skyline. If you must cross the crest of a ridge or a saddle, do so on your hands, knees, and belly, and move as slowly as you can.

How to Field-Judge a Trophy Sheep

When glassing for a record-book sheep, always look for a full, curling horn that’s bottom extends below the line of the lower jaw. You want heavy, thick horns with broomed tips, which will score higher than un-broomed horns of the same length.

Field-Judge a Trophy Sheep
Field-Judge a Trophy Sheep

Scan for a Silhouette

Sheep easily spot a skylined hunter’s silhouette, especially when the hunter is moving. But the reverse is also true. When glassing for sheep, always keep a close eye on the tops of ridges, cliff edges, and the skyline over a saddle. Scanning for silhouettes is the easiest way to spot these animals.

Don’t Educate The Herd

If you’re hunting with friends or as part of a guided group and are lucky enough to kill a sheep, don’t immediately rush in to claim your kill after the shot. Stay hidden, watch to see where the animal falls, and wait to retrieve it until the rest of the herd has left the area. Avoid startling them and other hunters in camp will have a much easier time of stalking sheep in the area.

Account for The Hump

Don’t let an old billy goat’s hump throw off your aim. This massive growth of fat and hair covers a ridge of finlike vertebral spines and gives the animal a unique profile when compared with other big game. When preparing to pull the trigger, don’t put your crosshairs roughly halfway up a mountain goat’s body the way you would on an elk or a deer; the animal’s vitals will be located in the lowest third of its body. Hold at the top of that lowest third to ensure a killing shot.

Read more about Bear Hunting Guide.

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