SOUTHERN BC BIG HORN SHEEP

The Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis) is one of 4 species of wild sheep native to North America. Rams (males) are named for their large impressive horns and are a symbol of status among males and used as weapons in epic battles to establish dominance within the herds. Ewes (females) also have horns but they are much shorter. These sheep occupy the mountainous regions of North Western United States up into Southern British Columbia and Western Alberta. Breeding season for Bighorns begins in mid to late October, and can run until the end of November. Rams typically will not range with the ewes until breeding season. During this time rams will fight for dominance and mating rights, they will face each other sizing one another up. If one of the rams doesn't back down they rear up on their hind legs, and hurl themselves at each other in charges up to 20 miles an hour. The resounding clash of horns can be heard echoing through the mountains as this confrontation is repeated, sometimes for hours, until one ram submits.

The Bighorn ram is one of the most sought after and majestic trophy animal species in the world. The Kootenay region of British Columbia and Western Alberta is the only place that hunters can purchase tags without having to go through a draw system, however, there are a small number of tags issued to outfitters each fall. We begin scouting for rams in the summer months, keeping a close eye on the different bands of Bighorn Sheep and the basins they reside in. Hunting season begins in September and this is often the best chance for a big mature ram. Be prepared to stay in tents at high elevations, spending many hours glassing mountain peaks, timbered ridges and alpine basins. Once the snow begins to cover the mountain slopes, sheep become very active and start migrating to their breeding range. This is a very physically and mentally demanding hunt and can test the nerves of even the most patient hunter as it may take several days to locate a trophy sized ram, but is also one of the most rewarding hunting experiences.