A Rocky Mountain bighorn ram emerged from the edge of a steep slope and made its way toward me. I have encountered mountain lions, bears, huge whitetails, and even great white sharks in the wild but nothing compared to this. Wild sheep are stunning.
Through the lens of my camera, I was looking at the most majestic game animal in North America-the bighorn sheep. This beautiful rocky mountain ram grazed near the slope’s edge and was joined by a smaller ram shortly. For a solid hour, I was within 30 yards of the animal that has fascinated me since childhood, and I am not sure I will ever be the same.
North America has five varieties of wild sheep. Let’s begin our journey learning about them. Desert Bighorn: This native of the Southwest is present from Mexico to the South, across the four corners into northern Nevada. They inhabit high desert with extremely trying conditions for hunters and sheep to survive. Rocky Mountain Bighorn: The sheep with the most extensive range is the Rocky Mountain bighorn.
They not only inhabit the mountains of Colorado, Montana, and Canada but are also found in Nebraska and recently reinhabiting parts of Oklahoma. They can be found on the highest peaks and are an icon used on everything from trucks to sports uniforms.
Dall Sheep: Found only in Alaska and Western Canada this snow-white sheep is as beautiful as its epic landscape. Don’t let the white color fool you.
They may be a little easier to glass (find with binoculars) than other sheep, but nothing else is easy about finding them.
Stone Sheep: Found only in British Columbia and the Yukon these sheep have a unique coloration part bighorn and part Dall. This may be the hardest sheep to encounter and is the most revered in North America due to its beauty and rarity.
California Bighorn: This relatively little-known subspecies of the bighorn ranges in the arid high country of California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and British Columbia. They have been the subject of some controversy over their population status in recent years.
These animals have an amazing history and life habits that make them some of the world’s most exciting creatures to study.
Texas Fish & Game Editor-In-Chief Chester Moore has created a free curriculum on North American wild sheep for home school, private and public school as well as scout and church groups. This is a sample of one of the lessons. If you would like to recieve the free curriculum, email [email protected].