Saturday, August 2, 2014

Desert Bighorn Sheep Field Judging and Scoring-How Do I Score a Sheep

First and foremost, let me answer a question that has come to me by way of email after my last post, "Is there a difference between Rocky Mtn, California and Desert Bighorn Sheep scoring, aging and field judging?"  The answer to the question is scoring and aging will be pretty much the same for every bighorn and thinhorn sheep for that matter.  The complex part of the answer comes when field judging.  Each of the bighorn have different body sizes and characteristics and that is an important part of determining the size of their horns while in the field.

Now that we have briefly covered aging a ram in the last post lets go over what makes up a bighorn sheep score.  To keep it simple, there are 4 mass measurements per side or each horn.  The mass measurements are the circumference around the horn.  There are obviously two horns so there is 8 total mass measurements.  Then you measure the lengths of each horn (see Horn Length chart below).  You add the mass of each side and horn length of each side to get you one side or one horn total.  Then you add both horn totals together for your gross or total score. (see above chart, add column one and Column two). Then you need to compare each mass measurement to the other horn and deduct the difference (see chart above, Column 3) to get your net score.

In order to get each mass measurement you need to measure the length of each horn.  Take the length of the longest horn and divide it by 4.  Let's use a 36 inch horn as our longest horn so 36 divided by 4 equals 9 inches.  So there will be a measurement taken at 0 (base) or D1, 9 inches or D2, 18 inches or D3, 27 inches or D4.  The first mass measurement is always taken at the base of the horn where it meets the head, which is called the "D1" measurement on the Boone and Crockett score sheet, then you continue 9 inches down the length of the horn to the second measurement and so on.  One thing that confused me when I was first learning about how to score sheep is guys would talk about the 1st, 2nd and 3rd quarters.  In essence what they are talking about is D2, D3 and D4.  So the Sheep lingo goes BASE, FIRST QUARTER, SECOND QUARTER AND THIRD QUARTER.

For this example our longest horn is 36 inches, lets say or shorter horn is 34 inches.  You still start at the Base then measure 9 inches, then 9 more to the 18 inch mark, then 9 more to the 27 inch mark.  Side note and more of a field judging tip, the mass measurements (D1,2,3,4) of each horn make up about 60% of the total score of your ram so finding a ram with good mass is essential to a high scoring trophy.

Back to our ram from the first post,  when I am evaluating a ram I am trying to split the horn into each quarter measurement.  I am looking for big chips or dents in the horn that may greatly affect the score of that ram.  In this case the horn seems pretty smooth where each quarter measurement falls.
Here is an example of having a quarter measurement fall directly in a bad spot, crack or dent in the horn.  Claude's ram lost over 3 inches on this D2 or Second Quarter measurement.  This unreal ram gross scored 185 3/8 even with this unlucky measurement.  It would have grossed darn near 190 if it matched his opposite side.  Keep in mind though all rams have dents and cracks so in essence all rams lose a little here and there.

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