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Jorden
02-26-2013, 12:11 PM
I am looking to start building points for sheep and was wondering what the top states were as far as trophy quality for Rocky Mtn & Desert Bighorn. I am only 24 so I am not looking to go on a hunt anytime soon, I would just like to start building points towards a quality, trophy sheep hunt. Any other advice/tips would be appreciated. Thanks!

Bitterroot Bulls
02-26-2013, 12:22 PM
Montana has the best sheep period. However, even with many points you may never draw one of the best tags in your lifetime.

Idaho has good sheep, and straight up odds, so you would expect to draw a 5% tag sometime in 20 years, but it could be this year.

Colorado has good sheep quality in some units, and a pretty good weighted points system.

Utah has cheap points.

I am sure Umpqua Hunter will have some good info on these and other states!

buckbull
02-26-2013, 12:31 PM
I think the only way you could guarantee a tag would be to save your money for a Canadian hunt. If I was 24 I wouldn't get into the points game for sheep.

Bitterroot Bulls
02-26-2013, 12:34 PM
I would apply in ID.

JEandAsGuide
02-26-2013, 01:16 PM
I have always wanted to go sheep hunting. Being from the southeast and completely ignorant to hunting the west, I just assumed I would never be able to afford the hunt. Then I found out about hunting on public land and points. I am 29 now and started building points in most states 3 years ago. I already wish I would have just started saving the money to go somewhere else but I am in now so I guess I will stick with it.

Drhorsepower
02-26-2013, 05:34 PM
I apply In several states, you can't hunt any sheep if you don't enter the points game. I'm also starting to save up for a sheep hunt, a little here, a little there...

Umpqua Hunter
02-27-2013, 01:30 AM
To quote Sargent Schultz "I know noooothing!!"

My wife, sons and I have drawn 5 sheep tags this millennium, and have taken 2 desert sheep, a California bighorn, and two rocky mountain bighorns....with that said.....

Count the cost! Drawing a sheep tag is typically costly, and most guys never will draw after making the investment. Many guys who finally do draw figure they never will draw again and fork out another $6K-10K for an outfitted hunt. With your application fees, lost interest on money fronted, future tag fees, and so on, if you are spending more than $100 for each 1% chance to draw, you'd be better off saving the money for a Dall hunt in Alaska if you are purely looking at the economics of it, and you will for sure get to go.

The vast majority of guys just starting out with points and hoping to one day draw on points, never will. Just starting out, you need to go into it with your eyes open, that with point creep, it will take 30 to maybe even 40 years of point building, and that is IF the states keep their point systems that long. It is likely they will wise up and realize that they have excluded most applicants from ever drawing. I say this as someone who already has a lot invested in the point systems with max or near max points in four states.

Plan to do an absurd amount of research. I've been seriously applying for sheep for 30 years and kinda have it down to a science. Looking back, I think using the time I have spent to make, save and invest money, then buying hunts, would have been cheaper in the long run. The research is just something I love to do though.

As far as the states go, there are some excellent sheep hunts EVERY western state, and there are some duds:

Montana is the best as BB said, but their system has been in place for 12 years. They squares points so the guy with max points has 145 chances in the draw (12 squared + 1) and the newbie has 1 chance.

Idaho has descent odds and no point system, so you are on even footing. You have to buy a hunting license to apply and its the only hunt you can apply for which helps the draw odds. Make sure you calculate the draw odds for a NONRESIDENT. That means divide the number of non-resident applications by the number tags actually available for non-residents to draw. Idaho's odds are deceptive and aren't nearly as good as most guys think. I actually rarely apply in Idaho, but every few years, I'll throw my name in the hat for their top unit.

New Mexico: Everyone is in the same boat with no points, the odds are long (about 1 in 300 chance), and the full $3K license fee has to be fronted.

Wyoming: Will cost you $100 a year if only buying points. WY is over 15 years into a point system, and it will likely take over 30 years for a new guy to draw on points. You can also apply for a tag by fronting the tag fee, the app fee and the preference point fee ($100) and have about a 1 in 200 chance to draw each year.

Utah is relatively inexpensive IF you are applying for other species, but odds are ridiculous. I have max points for desert sheep with only about 20 other applicants, and still don't expect to draw unless something changes.

Washington, Oregon and California: Some great sheep hunting but super low odds, with high costs relative to draw odds, unless you're already buying a hunting license for other reasons.

Colorado: You aren't even in the draw for a tag until you have 3 points. You have to front the tag fee each year. Max point holders have been at it for 12 years.

Nevada: Nevada squares their BONUS point. Being a bonus point state, everyone has a chance to draw, but you have guys with 20 years invested that have 401 times greater odds than the newcomer to draw (20 squared + 1 =401).

UT, NV, AZ, OR, CA are the most economical to apply in IF you are already applying for other species and buying the hunting license for other reasons.

If that sounds like something you want to jump into, go for it.

I'm tired and headed to bed, so hopefully I didn't make too many mistakes. :-)

Zim
02-27-2013, 05:51 AM
Umpqua Hunter is spot on. I am 53, apply in most those states with about 15/18 points and would consider it a bonus if I ever draw just one in my lifetime. That is the reality. If you do the odds it's just like UH says, may be better ROI for Alaska Dall. Given the point cheapening going on, for a young guy like you I don't know what to tell ya. The future seems to be like in Utah where they auction away your odds down to propostorous percentages.

A more realistic strategy would be to get in law school, graduate high, develop an SOB attitude and lower your ethics to become a good trial attorney. Get good at lying. Save and invest your income for 10 years, then head for the Utah Expo and outbid the bigshots. And you are sheep hunting by age 40. This is not a joke. It is reality.

Montana
02-27-2013, 06:11 AM
Only thing i would throw in the mix is what is your definition of trophy? If you are willing to accept a 160 class ram then it changes the game entirely, well not entirely, but I would say you could expect to hunt sheep in a 10 year period. Just hunting sheep will make you a new man :) It does something to you, I know it sounds cheesy but it's quite an experience. And that size animal is still a fine representative, I guess you could compare it to a 160 class deer.

ProjectCO87
02-27-2013, 06:29 AM
Umpqua Hunter is on top of his game! I would agree as well but I will say this, I am within my first 2 years in the game here out west and I have applied in CO for Rocky mtn bighorn just because of their true point system. The more points the better your chances. I also apply in Montana because of the size of their sheep. The way I look at it, is if I don't apply I automatically lose and I stand no chance what so ever so don't get discouraged by the waiting game. I would still plan on looking at a pretty pricey hunt in Alaska some time in the future since you are entering the sheep game.

Good luck! :)

Ridgerunner
02-27-2013, 07:11 AM
Don't know what else to add as it has been covered pretty well already. My advice is to save money and go to Alaska on a dall hunt ASAP before those hunts get unaffordable. I wish I had done that when I was your age. Going to alaska this fall and drew a wa sheep tag in 2010, praying to draw a desert at some point in my life but a stone is a pipe dream. Do count the cost of applying because it is a very expensive game with little return most of the time but when you hit the jackpot it will be worth it.

Muleys 24/7
02-27-2013, 07:35 AM
Im not exactly sure how all the states work but if you are willing to take a long shot most states have a raffle, you can buy a ticket for fairly cheap and still get your name in the hat. I know here in California having max points doesn't necessarily I mean you have better odds in some areas, for example some of the areas that have only 1 tag will be a random draw instead of going to a max point holder. The reason why they do this is because everyone has to have a chance. Other areas with 2 to 3 tags will benefit max point holders more because maybe only 1 of those tags will go to random draw.

Also forgot to add everything stated above is for Resident of ca

Umpqua Hunter
02-27-2013, 10:47 AM
Building on what Montana and ProjectCO said:

If you live in a sheep state, apply in your home state. It is usually fairly reasonable. That is what ProjectCO is doing in his home state is the right way to go, but still don't expect to be drawn, most won't. I've been at it 30 years in my home state of Oregon.

As Montana mentioned, applying in units with 160 class sheep does have better for draw odds. All the sheep tags we have drawn are in those types of units. Draw odds in the top units in each state are horrible. Still to draw every 10-15 years will require a substantial financial investment, that may be better spent on saving for a guaranteed tag with a guide.

Things have changed a lot over the years. When I first got into applying for limited entry hunts (early 1980's), there were some great opportunities and lots of "sleeper" hunts for various species. More recently, over the past couple years, I've spent months digging up half a dozen of those "sleeper" hunting opportunities for elk, only to have the big magazines promote them and have the draw odds ruined.

I just tell you this stuff so you have your eyes wide open when you go into it.

Bitterroot Bulls
02-27-2013, 11:06 AM
More recently, over the past couple years, I've spent months digging up half a dozen of those "sleeper" hunting opportunities for elk, only to have the big magazines promote them and have the draw odds ruined.

I just tell you this stuff so you have your eyes wide open when you go into it.

This is the problem with sites like this one. I love them, but when it comes to discussing draw units, the word gets out.

About 10 years ago I started to apply for a really neat mule deer draw here in MT. The odds were around 20%, and I figured with points and just a touch of luck I might be able to draw it twice in 15 years.

The unit has a very low success rate, and trophy quality is better than average, but not great.

the unit hit the MRS and HF a few years ago, and odds have gone to 3%! Hunter success has not gone up. People apply for it solely based on the magazine write up and expect it to be 200 inch deer off the road. They try to penetrate the nasty country and soon give up.

So now it is a once-in-a-lifetime tag for guys that could make the most of it. Sad for sure, and I now apply in different units, and might just not apply for deer permits at all, to do my part to increase the odds for the other guys.

I think MT should allow for points-only draws also, so folks can just apply for a point, and not ruin odds for those that actually want to draw that year.

Umpqua Hunter
02-27-2013, 12:03 PM
I think MT should allow for points-only draws also, so folks can just apply for a point, and not ruin odds for those that actually want to draw that year.


I am totally with you on that one BB. Last year we did that in Montana for antelope. Applied for a unit with 2% draw odds expecting not to be drawn. We were and we nearly walked away from the tags due to very difficult scheduling issues.

Jorden
02-27-2013, 02:14 PM
Thanks for all the great information everyone. I really only plan on applying in one or two states in the hope that someday I will draw, but I also planned on starting to save money so hopefully one day I can go to Alaska after dall sheep. Reading all of your posts, its rather sad what the commercialization of hunting has done to the sport. Hunting the west is something every hunter should do, unfortunately, only a handful of people will ever be able to do so, and it doesnt look like it will get any better in the future.

Umpqua Hunter
02-28-2013, 01:15 PM
I'll throw one more post into this string.

Idaho has a reputation as being one of the easier states to draw a tag so I am going to use that as an illustration.

Many guys think that Idaho California Bighorns have great odds. Some magazines publish the simple odds which increases "hope". Magazine publishers do that because they sell magazines by selling "hope". In reality what the magazine is actually publishing is the resident odds (Idaho resident). Non residents on the other hand have a far lower allocation of the sheep tags. Here is the history for non-resident draw for California Bighorns in Idaho:

2012: 414 applicants, 3 tags = 0.72%
2011: 417 applicants, 3 tags = 0.72%
2010: 444 applicants, 3 tags = 0.67%
2009: 281 applicants, 3 tags = 1.07%

Today you basically have a 0.7% chance to draw. To apply it costs $154.75 for the hunting license, and $14.75 for the application fee. You have to front the $2100 license fee as well, which at 2% annual interest for 2 months is $7.00, for a grand total out of pocket of $176.50 for less than a 1% chance to draw.

I'm just going to do a simplified theoretical calculation, and believe me, I realize there are a lot of other variables. Let's assume all things being equal, you could apply in 10 states with those odds and each state had the exact same costs (theoretical I know). You would have a 7% chance to draw, which doesn't seem too bad. That 7% chance to draw would have cost you $1765 each year with all things being equal. Statistically, you would need to apply for about 14 years to draw, now costing you $24,710 total. You would then have to buy the sheep license for $2,100 costing you $26,730. Then after all that time and financial investment you would likely hire an outfitter for say $7000 bringing the grand total to $33,730. (Note: Of course if you hunt Idaho on an OTC elk or deer hunt you would already need the hunting license, and it makes sense to throw your name in the hat for a sheep tag).

Let's say instead you saved that $1765 each year, in about 7 to 8 years (with interest), about half the time to draw a sheep tag, you would have $15,000 saved towards a hunt of your choice. Something to think about.

Ridgerunner
03-01-2013, 11:57 PM
A lot of truth in that last post. If a guy really wants to hunt sheep Alaska is the best option going right now. Book a hunt now must outfitters will honor the price, plus it gives you a few years to save the money.

tim
03-04-2013, 06:01 PM
if you don't apply you don't draw. with that said. i have not fully let my wife in on how much the application process cost me every year. But i want that desert ram. And when i look at the cost of a desert sheep hunt in mexico i better keep applying. But i probably spend $2500 a year to apply in all the states with desert sheep hunts and the cost of the service. I am also applying for some other sheep hunts. I just need that desert and the grand slam is mine.

I would have to have the expensive goals.

Umpqua Hunter
03-05-2013, 11:34 AM
if you don't apply you don't draw. with that said. i have not fully let my wife in on how much the application process cost me every year. But i want that desert ram. And when i look at the cost of a desert sheep hunt in mexico i better keep applying. But i probably spend $2500 a year to apply in all the states with desert sheep hunts and the cost of the service. I am also applying for some other sheep hunts. I just need that desert and the grand slam is mine.

I would have to have the expensive goals.

Good point Tim. The goal for a grand slam changes everything. That's a different scenario than if someone wants to hunt sheep one time in their lifetime. That person would be far better off saving for a Dall sheep hunt.

tim
03-05-2013, 04:59 PM
umpqua

so it take it you have yours registered with the grand slam club. I am a member but i don't like what they did to FNAWS.

also congrats on the grand slam. IT truly takes you to the mountains of north america.

Edelweiss
04-12-2013, 01:52 PM
The only reason I subscribe to both sheep magazines is, in the past FNAWS has not done so well on highlighting foreign sheep hunts. This is starting to change, and hopefully they will continue to do the work they stared a couple years ago.

Grandslam has been doing it forever, and they are the best source for foreign sheep and goat information.

BKC
04-12-2013, 07:42 PM
The only reason I subscribe to both sheep magazines is, in the past FNAWS has not done so well on highlighting foreign sheep hunts. This is starting to change, and hopefully they will continue to do the work they stared a couple years ago.

Grandslam has been doing it forever, and they are the best source for foreign sheep and goat information. Isnt the NA in FNAWS, North American? Why would they need to highlight foreign sheep hunts?