Field Judging Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep
Other Helpful Tips
1. Watch for chips or dents in the horn where quarter measurements are going to fall. If you get a bad chip in the horn and it falls right in a quarter measurement spot you will lose score.
2. Try to picture where each quarter measurement is going to be on the horn. Does it look bigger or smaller in that area?
3. A ram scoring over 170 usually has at least 100 inches of mass. If the ram looks extra heavy then add inches; if a ram looks light then subtract inches.
4. A good rule of thumb is 100 inches of mass and then determine each horn length and then total (100+37+38=175 Gross).
5. Spread is not a factor that is measured for the gross score of a ram.
6. Boxy looking rams are often the bigger scoring rams.
7. Big rams look big. If you ever look at a ram and you think from some angle, “Oh, he’s not that big,” then he probably is weaker than what you thought. Giants look big from all angles.
8. When looking for signs of an older ram look for swayed backs and pot bellies.
9. Look for horns to go back out of the head and then drop really low for maximum length.
10. The third quarter measurement should look heavy, not thin. You want the whole horn to carry the mass all the way out.
(Courtesy of Clay Goldman, Mogollon Taxidermy)
• Ear to ear length: 13-14"
• Front of eye to front of eye: 5 1/2-5 3/4"
• Base of horn to nose: 8-10"
• Shoulder to shoulder: 13-14" (but can vary quite a bit)
• Top of shoulder to hoof: 38-40"
• Front of eye to tip of nose: 8-9"
• Length of the ear from the opening to the tip: 4"
Sheep Scoring Practice Test
Tim Rushing’s son Cody drew a tag in Colorado for September of 2010. After reading this article you should now understand how important historical data is to predicting the mass measurement of a bighorn sheep, but the unit Cody drew had never been hunted so there was no historical data available. After an exciting summer of scouting, learning new country, and evaluating sheep, Cody harvested a gorgeous ram. While scouting they were able to capture some live photos of the ram, offering us a unique chance to estimate his score before actually putting a measuring tape on him.
Chris Denham, Editor
Post Hunt Thoughts
I slightly overestimated this ram in every category. Since the hunting unit was brand new and there was no historical data to use as a predictor of base size, I went off of previous kill pictures from across the state for comparison. I maintain that knowing historical data of previous ram kills to be one of the best predictors of base size per hunting unit. Base size is typically the critical element for higher scoring trophies. Judging horn length is usually the easiest part of the horn to estimate and as I look at scouting photos on this ram, I see my errors. About 80% of the photos I have make this ram look around 38"+ long. The other 20% of the photos make the ram look smaller than 38". In the future,I will let that conservative looking 20% define the length and overall score. Photos don’t lie and they can provide an accurate synopsis of all the different views necessary for accurate judging.
– Tim Rushing
Score should never define a trophy
All wild rams have inherent beauty and uniqueness
The big ones still always look big!
This article originally appeared in Western Hunter Magazine and appears courtesy of Western Hunter Magazine. Western Hunter Magazine is your best resource for hunting information for all western species. Whether you are interested in elk, deer, antelope, bighorn sheep or moose we will bring the adventure to your mailbox! Our subtitle is Gear - Tactics - Information - Adventure and we take each of these seriously. We only feature the finest hunting gear available from the finest makers in the world. If you are looking for information or looking to buy, we will steer you in the right direction. In each issue you will learn tips and tactics from the most experienced hunters in the west. With articles on field judging trophies, glassing techniques and calling strategies, we guarantee you will learn something new in every issue, and will continue to become a more knowledgeable and skilled Western Hunter.
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