Recently, Clint Capurro pulled a bighorn sheep tag in Nevada. Along with family and friends, Clint searched the Nevada desert in hopes to fill his once-in-a-lifetime bighorn sheep tag! Watch the video below to follow along!
Nevada Bighorn Sheep
Ah, the desert bighorn sheep! One of the most challenging quarries for a hunter, bighorn sheep are also highly protected through conservation efforts making a sheep hunt a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Bighorn sheep were hunted nearly to extinction through the 19th and early 20th centuries leading to heightened efforts to grow their population from hunters and ecologists alike. Now, only around a thousand tags are issued for bighorn sheep nationwide! To hunt bighorn, you are winning a very competitive lottery!
The Wild Sheep Foundation was founded in 1977 with the mission “To Put and Keep Wild Sheep on the Mountain®,” since raising over $49 million dollars from selling special hunting permits and tags that go directly to wildlife agencies. Sheep hunters can quickly become fanatics, and many spend a long time and a lot of money hoping for a chance to chase these majestic creatures.
Here’s a little more information on bighorn sheep.
Facts and Characteristics of the Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis)
The most notable characteristic of the bighorn sheep is, yes, their big horns. Mature rams have massively curved horns that curl around the head reaching up to three feet in length and can weigh up to 300 pounds. Ewes have shorter backward curving horns that look more like a goat’s and get up to 200 pounds. Both sexes are short and stocky animals and use their horns to break up cactus for food and water. Plus, males use their horns to fight to mate!
Even non-hunters have likely seen bighorn sheep fighting on National Geographic; it’s a truly incredible scene. Bighorn sheep ram each other head-to-head at nearly 70 miles per hour. Their skulls are built to withstand incredible collisions due to the way their cranium sutures come together and they can fight for hours.
Bighorn sheep are herd animals, like mule deer, and while ewes and rams typically live separately most of the year, they come together during the rut to breed from July to September. Both males and females are excellent rock climbers, using their concave hooves to scale mountainsides, which make them a challenging game for predators and hunters alike!
Mountain lions are the top natural predator of the bighorn sheep. These are some of the only animals that can follow sheep up craggy cliffs and ambush them when they least expect it, especially since sheep are more active during the day and bed at night which is when lions hunt. Bighorn sheep that make it to old age usually live for 10-15 years, though there have been reports of ewes living for 20 years.
Hunters typically go after four types of desert bighorn sheep in North America: the Rocky Mountain bighorn, California bighorn, Baja bighorn, and desert bighorn sheep. There are also many subspecies of bighorn in different regions including Montana, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico.
Bighorn Sheep Hunting in Nevada
Nevada holds a lottery for residents and non-residents for bighorn sheep tags. However, Nevada provides a bonus point each time you enter the lottery. In fact, Nevada squares the number of bonus points so if a resident has tried for a tag 10 seasons in a row, his or her name would be entered 100 times in the lottery. It makes for a great incentive to try for a coveted tag!
The application period for big game hunting usually runs from mid-March to mid-April leading to the main draw and a second draw. Applicants must have a hunting license and pay the non-refundable resident or non-resident application fee. More information on the drawing process can be found on the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) website: http://www.ndow.org/Hunt/Applications/Application_Process_and_Deadlines/.
There are close to 100 hunting units in Nevada, each with its own benefits and geographical challenges. Depending on your skill level and experience with the area, you may also consider hunting with an outfitter or guide.
The Sheep Show
Each year, the Wild Sheep Foundation holds a convention called The Sheep Show where hunters can bid on an auction tag, securing a bighorn sheep hunt. Tags can go for upwards of $60,000 but that money goes toward conservation efforts. A growing sheep population potentially means more issued tags!
Prime Revolution | Desert Bighorn Sheep Hunts
Mike Dianda from Prime Revolution just got back from Mexico and filled his bighorn tag! His father, Norman Dianda, recently had a tag here in Nevada. After chasing a desert bighorn sheep for a few weeks, he wasn’t able to get close enough for a true shot and unfortunately did not fill the tag. But he’s proud his son got one!