Thursday, August 7, 2014

Desert Bighorn Sheep Scoring and Field Judging-What does this Ram Score?

We have been so blessed over the years at Colburn and Scott Outfitters to have hunted with many great people and have shared some awesome experiences and adventures.  This year is going to be another one of those years.  Darr and I have the privilege of guiding the Arizona Desert Sheep Auction hunter and have a couple of Arizona general season sheep hunters in some of our favorite units.  Scouting is going very well and we are expecting good results for our hunters this year.

We are going to get back to the question from the earlier post.  Go ahead and write each of your estimates down and then when you scroll to the bottom of this post see how close you are to the actual measurements.  So what does this ram score?  How long are his horns? How about his mass?

Here is a comparison photo of this ram 27 months apart.  Darr and I nicknamed this ram "Pretty Boy".  You can see from the photos he filled in his mass.  Look around his ears,  See how it seems the horn has gotten much closer to his ears. 
This photo shows how he broomed off the tip of his left horn a bit.  See how it is a bit rounder in the 2013 photo?  Over time rams will square off or broom the tips of their horns.  Another thing to point out is when looking from the side or from straight on, having a ram with a horn that drops even with or below the jaw is a good indication of a good sized horn.  Look at this rams body as he got older.  See how blocky his shoulders got.  Look at his pot belly.  How about his the roman nose.  Paying close attention to body characteristics can give you a good indication of age as well as counting the growth rings discussed in an earlier post.

It is evident in this photo that 27 months worth of growth has really helped the size of this rams horn.  This angle really show the maturity of the roman nose.
Here are the actual measurements of this great ram that was harvested in 2013.  The scores listed are the actual game and fish scores from when the ram was checked out.  How close were you in you guesses? 
One thing to note here is notice that I always try to keep track of a rams mass per side.  In the photo above you can see this ram has 51 2/8 inches of mass and the photo below has 51 1/8.  That means the ram has a total of 102 3/8 inches of mass.  This goes back to a general rule of thumb that I use when field judging sheep.  A book desert sheep will generally have 100 inches of mass then all you have to do is estimate the horn lengths and you have the estimated score.  For instance, if I thought this rams horns were 36 inches long plus 100 inches of mass I would score this ram at 172.  This would be my first glance estimate.  This is where it helps to know the total mass per ram that has been harvested in the unit you are hunting.  I try to have every ram from the unit I am hunting base measurements and mass totals.  I keep them in my records for future ram evaluation.

This photo really show a good depth of curl.  I will dive further into this in a future post.  Look how the horn coming out of the head goes up and back.  It does not lay flat and immediately drop down.  Then the horn goes back a good ways then drops down making a large open curl.  Usually big open curls like this tend to score very well.  Also note how this horn tips up which gives the horn even more length.  Be very careful of tight curled rams.  They tend to be short on horn length.  This ram is nice and long.

How did you do?

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