North American Sheep Slam
Are you a dyed in the wool sheep hunter? Does sheep fever course through your veins? I know it does mine.
I have been lucky enough to harvest great Dall and Stone Sheep, and have had the opportunity to help guide on a number of Desert, California and Rocky Mountain Bighorn Hunts. Yet, no matter how many opportunities I get to pursue these amazing creatures, I still find myself daydreaming about them each and every day. I am not totally sure what it is about sheep hunting that gets so deep into the core of some hunters, is it the amazing scenery, the sheer difficulty of the hunt, the limited opportunities or the amazing sight of these animals in their native habitat.
The downside to sheep fever is that most of us are limited by cost and draws in our opportunities to pursue them and slake our fever induced thirst. But the fact is with some planning and diligence most of us can put ourselves in a position to complete a FNAWS or Slam depending on which camp you fall into. Regardless of what it is, the fact is sheep fever is a very real thing… and the North American Sheep Slam is on almost every hunters’ bucket list.
The North American Sheep Slam is comprised of four distinct subspecies. Dall Sheep; Desert Bighorn Sheep; Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep; and Stone Sheep.
- Dall sheep are the least difficult and least expensive North American sheep to hunt. Their population is steady and increasing and they are easy to glass. Dall sheep hunts are available in Alaska, the Yukon, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories.
- The Rocky Mountain bighorn is the largest of the North American sheep. They are found in Alberta, British Columbia, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and Nebraska. Most hunters play the waiting game for Rockies and hope to draw a tag and either go self-guided or hire an outfitter in the area they drew.
- California bighorn sheep are a separate subspecies located in parts of British Columbia, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Utah. They are considerably smaller than the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, their horns are shorter and less massive, and tend to have more flare. *California bighorns count towards your Rocky Mountain bighorn for the Grand Slam.
- Stone sheep hunts are available in northern British Columbia, into the southern Yukon Territory. A Fannin sheep is usually significantly lighter, but is technically still considered a Stone sheep. Their habitat is generally a little steeper and more rugged, but other than that, they are quite similar.
- The desert bighorn sheep is usually the last ram of a“grand slam” to be taken, and is often never taken at all. The Desert bighorn can be tough to hunt, but the greatest obstacle is the difficulty of getting a permit… there aren’t many available. Limited permits are available through drawing in Arizona, Nevada, Utah and a few other states, but few permits are allotted to non-residents. The easiest place to hunt a desert bighorn ram is Mexico, where good hunts are operated by the government. Unfortunately though, these hunts are VERY expensive.
Here are a couple of things that you can start doing now to make your sheep hunting dreams a reality:
- Put in for as many of the draws as you can afford and stay with it. If you are diligent you will pull a tag, on average it will take between 8-12 years to pull a tag depending on the state and the trophy quality.
- Play the raffles. In many states you actually have better odds of getting drawn in their raffle drawings than you do out of the normal draw pool, so set aside some money to put in for the different raffles as you never know when the hunting gods will smile on you. If you don’t draw, be happy knowing that you made a charitable donation to conservation.
- Set up a hunt savings program! I wish I would have done this back when I was young and single as I would have a pretty nice hunting budget these days. Look at setting up an investment account to build a long term hunting budget and make it a goal to put at least $100 a month into something like a mutual fund. For shorter term goals, you may want to just set up a savings account that is automatically transferring a certain amount each month until you reach your target amount.
- Book a hunt now for a couple of years down the road. Nothing like firm commitment to force you to save money.
- Sell old gear to jump start your investment program.
- Win the lottery… ok just kidding, but for a sheep hunter how nice would that be?
Your dreams are only your dreams until you start to take action, then they become your objectives, and objectives are achievable with some planning and hard work.