Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Field Judging Desert Bighorn Sheep-The "Rocky" Ram

This is an awesome Unit 22 ram that was nicknamed "Rocky" by Ernie's son, Seth.  He was high on the list of exceptional rams that we found while scouting for Ernie's hunt.  We had this spectacular ram at 150 yards the day before the season started but chose to continue looking for one of the bigger rams that we had seen earlier in our scouting.  Only in Unit 22 do you even consider not shooting a ram like this.  If it was any other unit in the state of Arizona we would have been camping on this ram and waiting until daylight the next morning.  If it were not for the other couple of bigger rams that we had seen while scouting we would have been ecstatic to try and harvest this monarch.  Our friends at Little Horn Outfitters, got their hunter Mr. Ron Crowe on this ram on opening day.  Congrats to Mr. Crowe on a beautiful trophy and a ram of a lifetime!  This ram had the longest left horn of any ram I have ever seen at 39 2/8.  Job well done to Josh, Geof, Jim, Tim and Bob and the rest of their crew.  This ram is definitely one of the prettiest desert sheep I have ever laid my eyes on.

I will describe some of the thoughts we had when trying to score and field judge this ram and am in no way taking anything away from this ram or Mr. Crowe's impressive accomplishment.  For the sake of trying to analyze and sharpen our field judging skills here are some of the things that were going through our minds.  First impressions are important and this ram certainly made a great first impression.  The first thing that jumped out at us was the incredible length of the left horn.  When Seth and I were evaluating this ram our only concern was that he looked skinny out on his 2nd and 3rd quarter measurements.  Between the very long horns and big bases (16 4/8) it really gave the appearance that he was getting skinny towards the tips which he was.  We didn't quite have his bases at 16 and thought that his 3rd quarters were between 7.5 and 8. 

We were certainly also using the big, bigger and biggest method while evaluating rams for this hunt.  I think that is something to keep in mind while trying to field judge rams or any other animal regardless of score, if you have a top five list and have them categorized from biggest to smallest then at least you have them organized.  Also, sometimes score is not the most important thing and the hunter may like a particular ram better than a higher scoring ram.  Sometimes there are other factors such as time, physical limitations, other commitments and schedule conflicts that would make a hunter shoot one of the smaller scoring trophies.  We all know that a trophy is in the eye of the beholder.
When this ram would look at us we both would gasp and say "look at that!"  It became pretty comical because we could not get enough of this ram head on.  Seth and Ernie had seen this ram many times but most were from a long distance.  Up close he was even more impressive!  When the horn bottoms out then starts to curve upwards it is easy for the length to add up quickly.
 Below are the official measurements of this incredible ram.  He ended up netting 182 3/8!
This ram has 106 5/8 inches of mass which falls right in line with the baseline number for these large Unit 22 rams of 105 inches of mass.  I would say using 105 inches on the largest of the five rams in this unit would put you conservatively close to the real number.  110 inches of mass would be the number used for the two largest rams in this unit.  Then just add the horn lengths, so 106 5/8 plus 37 3/8 and 39 2/8=183 2/8 gross score now subtract the symmetry in the mass measurements, which is 7/8 and that leaves 182 3/8 NET.

Most sheep horns do not have the upward curl as much as this ram.  He easily gains an extra three inches per horn because of this.

 You can see in both of these rear angle photos that he has really big bases.  I love how the horns flare out at the tip.  Another thing we noticed is that the horns had very little chipping in them and were very clean.
Congrats again to Mr. Crowe on his magnificent trophy!

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