Best States for Trophy Sheep
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!
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!
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.
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.
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...
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. :-)
Last edited by Umpqua Hunter; 02-27-2013 at 11:16 AM.
Grand Slam #1005
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.
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.
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.