Coming from an East coast hunter and a novice with regards to sheep hunting, would anyone have any thoughts or experience in putting in for a Big Horn Sheep tag. To be more specific, which state out west would I have the best chance to draw a tag over the next 5 to 10 years? I have heard Nevada has the most fair system with regards to bonus points accumulated over time.
Thank you for any input.
If your goal is 10 years, you will need to apply in every western state. In fact, if you hope to draw in your lifetime, I would recommend applying in at least 3 states.
Draw odds are going to typically be less than 1% per state and more typically 0.1% to 0.5% especially when you are just starting out with no preference. Remember that most states (WY, MT, UT, CO, AZ) have preference/bonus point systems and just starting out you will have applicants that are 20 years ahead of you and it will be that way for many years.
Plan on costs of roughly $50 to $170 per state to apply. In the past 30 years my family (me, wife, sons and brother) have drawn 6 sheep tags.
Last edited by Umpqua Hunter; 12-13-2013 at 08:32 AM.
Thank you for your input. Are there any states that allow you to buy additional points in order to give you away to better your odds at drawing.
You can actually get a guaranteed tag in Montana for one of the "Unlimited Areas" and you would be able to hunt next year!! The downside is that the rams don't usually run as large as rams from some of the better areas in the state. The country can be brutal and the odds of harvesting a sheep aren't really very good but at least a person can actually get to hunt a sheep with an actual sheep tag in his or her pocket! I have been applying for a permit area here in Montana for sheep now 35 years and have not been drawn. If I don't draw this year I'm thinking about applying for one of the unlimited areas. At least I can have the opportunity to hunt a ram, get to see some beautiful country, and have a heck of a good time doing it whether I get a ram or not!!
NRA Life Member
Montana Wild Sheep Foundation
Boone & Crockett Club
Montana Bow Hunters Association
"One loves to possess arms though they hope never to."
Don't forget some states have ewe tags...a great way to get your feer wet...I enjoyed my hunt.
The unlimited sheep tags in Montana are an option. If a guy invested a week of hunting every year for 5-7 years of backpacking in those units, they would probably stand a pretty good chance of killing a ram.
For a guy who just wants to hunt sheep one time in his life with a high chance of success, my STRONG advice is to save for a Dall sheep hunt. Put $1500 to $2000 a year away in an account just for that and save the money of applying for a tag you may never draw.
My personal goal when I was in my early 20s was to get a grand slam by drawing the bighorn and desert sheep tags, so I started out in the early 1980's faithfully applying in multiple states, and finally got the tags and the sheep. Plan to submit 100+ applications for each tag you draw.
The above are strategies to make your best effort at getting a sheep. The other is the "lottery" approach. That would be just to pick a state each year, make the investment and hope it pays off. Your odds are probably around 1:5 if you stick with that approach for 30 years.
Last edited by Umpqua Hunter; 12-13-2013 at 09:45 AM.
I might be able to shed some light on the Montana Unlimited areas as I used to live in Montana and knew some of the guys that hunted them. If you really want to get a sheep in one of the unlimited areas you'll need to backpack in a week before the opener and you may not even find a ram before the opener. Sometimes you'll find a ram, but by the time the season opens it has moved out of the hunting district (some areas this is very common). You'll need to plan two weeks hunting time each year. One of the guys I knew that was successful was a marathoner and the hunt kicked his tail as these districts are some of the roughest country on the planet so you better be in shape and I recommend a partner to share the load and for safety. The sheep tend to run small on the horn and early weather can be an issue. Most guys I knew that DIY and were eventually successful had 5-7 years invested....hope this helps. As you can expect this hunt benefits local residents more than nonresidents.
Don't forget about raffle hunts! Some states sell raffle hunts that have as good of odds as a non-res drawing a tag. Last year Oregon sold 3780 tickets for the Oregon Sheep tag, not bad odds for a non-resident. Odds can be better than drawing a tag depending on how many tickets you buy. Not to mention you can hunt any unit available, earlier and much longer.
Thank you all for you thoughts and experiences. I will use what you guys have shared with me to find a way to get a tag some day.