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Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep
I am looking for some advice / guidance on what states to apply to for Rocky Mountain bighorn in the lower 48 for a rifle hunt. I would like to narrow the search down to 2-3 states if possible. From what I have read in a short period of time on this site it sounds like a I'm getting into a research project. That being said I would appreciate any information. Also any thoughts on the cabelas tags program ? Thank you
I would never trust a 3rd party to apply for me.
With the odds to draw a bighorn tag as a Non-Resident so low, you should apply to every state and every raffle to have any hope of getting a tag. If that's not possible with $, then focus on states with random odds that you will have the same chance as everyone. Most bonus point states you will be so far behind it won't help unless you out live everyone and draw when you are 100 yrs old.
Same here, I would never trust a 3rd party for my applications.
There are a few states that have no point systems for sheep - Idaho, Oregon, New Mexico, etc that are pure random drawings and several with bonus point systems that you could draw your first time in the ringer but the odds are very tough.
The alternative is to shell out the $$$$$$$$ for a hunt in Canada or try the unlimited areas in Montana (that can be really tough). In the long run, it may be better save up your money to go to Canada than to play all the application games in the western US.
I do prefer to do my own applications as well, but if using an application service allows you to apply when you otherwise wouldn't be able to money-wise, I would consider it. You would obviously have to come up with the $ if you manage to draw. For pure random draw, I would suggest ID and WY. Even though WY does have points, you'll never catch up to max, but you do have a chance in random draw. If you want to play the points game, I'd suggest MT or CO. Odds are very slim in MT, but some of the biggest sheep anywhere.
You will likely spend gobs of cash on pref/bonus pts, application, license costs each year if you apply in multiple states. If you aren't already in the pref pt game in Wyo you hardly have a chance of ever drawing plus the cost to apply is doubling from 2018 onward. In Idaho they don't have any bonus pt/pref pts so every nonres has the same lousy draw odds. You have to buy an Idaho hunting license to apply. In Colo you don't have a chance to draw until you have 3 pref pts. You can apply for multiple species of sheep in NV but it costs a couple hundred bucks plus to apply each year. You need to decide if it's worth donating hundreds of dollars each year with horrible odds of ever drawing a tag in your life.
You can hunt Montana sheep every year. You can also hunt Alaska dall sheep every year. You don't need a guide if you are an Alaska res to hunt sheep. Move up to Alaska for a few years and have the time of your life! There are some fantastic "poorman's" sheep hunts such as free ranging auodad hunts, etc in New Mex and Texas. A buddy of mine went to TX this year on a guided auodad hunt for around $4,500. He got a whopper ram and saw lots of sheep. You will likely spend that kind of cash in around 5 years if you apply for sheep in multiple states!
I trusted a 3rd party to do my Applications ONCE. These screwed me in Utah and that point has cost me the elk tag I want for 7 or 8 years now.
If I were limited to applying for 3 states for Bighorn I would pick Colorado, Idaho, and Wyoming.
I drew a Wyoming Rocky tag in 2004. I passed a young ram first day and never saw another ram. Been applying in CO, MT for Rocky, NV for California, and NV and AZ for desert for 23 years without another tag . Good luck!
Better yet, move to BC! Stones, California’s, Bighorns, and a few Dalls - and you can get OTC tags! All you got to worry about is applying for desert sheep! Or just saving up for a hunt in Mexico since you don’t have to fork over all the coin for outfitters in BC!
In others words....don`t waste your time....lol Take the money you would spend on tags buying lottery tickets or starting a business. That`s what will up your odds.....tons of $$$$.
I’ve been on the multi state application game for about 8 years now and I would strongly recommend saving your money and going on an outfitted hunt if you really want to hunt sheep. There’s no guarantee you will ever draw through the application process. Know one guy that has been doing it for over 25 years which put him in on the ground floor of most states preference point systems and he has never drawn a sheep tag.
I am into many states drawing systems well into the double digits. Luckily, I live in a state with sheep so I have been lucky enough to draw several bighorn tags here over the years. I drew a ram tag the first time I put in with 3 points and another at 3+4. Back up to 3+10 now. Even so, I have not managed to kill one, yet.
Applying in NM, ID, and WY will cost you about $400 a year. Because those states have random draws, they are the only ones I would consider applying in if I were just starting out.
Invest another $100 in the raffles: WY, MT, OR, WA (state-run) and ID, CO, AZ, NM (local WSF/ADBSS-run).
Just have to decide if the $$ invested each year for a long shot at a tag is worth it to you.
I have been in the application game about 17 years now - it now costs me about $1500/year to play - the average cost over that time has been probably $1000/year.
It was all worth it when I drew an AZ desert tag in 2014.
I think you need to figure two things out first before you start to apply for sheep. 1- How important is actually hunting a sheep to you? 2- What is your financial status. If you have lots of disposable money, then apply in as many states as you can. This will add up each year and looking at it realistically, the odds of you drawing a sheep tag being so far behind in the points pool is slim to none, but there is a chance. Focus on states where there are random draws and no points. If you have the money, save and just book a hunt. Sheep hunts are extremely expensive but if there is a will there is a way.
Save your money and do a Dall. Alaska is usually cheaper but Canada offers a better shot at a lot of other species in addition to your sheep. Alaska also has additional species but the right concession with the right outfitter can put you in the catbird seat to bring home multiple species in Canada.
I'm sure if you drew a Rocky, you'd consider an outfitter, as you should. That'll set you back about $6,500-$7,500. Double this amount and you are hunting white sheep next year with some outfits in Alaska.
Don't forget that even for people that spend the money on the draws, application process, if and when they finally do draw a tag it's not like it's a free hunt. Most people at that point then hire a service or have to pay _______ to make that hunt happen. Some if not all of those costs would be covered within the outfitter cost. Also, will you be ready to hunt sheep at any point over the next 25 years? Is your life flexible enough that at that time when you draw you'll be able to put the necessary time into it? Most people when they draw want to hunt for a few weeks to make sure they put their effort in. Is that an option for you? Are you prepared to go without scouting or would you take scouting trips? How much time and $ does that cost? What is your opportunity cost on scouting time? (ie: how much $ would you have made if you were working instead of scouting) If you want to look at such an expensive venture as sheep hunting I think you need to consider ALL the variables involved. If you REALLY want to hunt sheep, I think you need to expect and accept that it will be expensive no matter what.
If you don't have the money and just want to play a random draw odds for a few years that's an entirely different scenario. Just make sure you are prepared financially to do what you want to do if/when you draw a tag. Almost nothing would suck more than drawing a tag and not having the funds or time to commit to it the way you always wanted to in your dreams.
My 2016 Rocky Mtn Bighorn Sheep hunt in Wyoming costs :
1) 20 years application costs
2) Four years from my tag I made my first scouting trip. Airfare , rental truck , odds and ends. a get familiar with the unit trip.
3) 3 years from tag another scouting trip. Drove out. Gas , food , minimal lodging. Concentrated on finding sheep in certain areas.
4) 2 years from tag. Drove out , see expenses above. Joined up with a resident Bowsiter on a scouting trip for his friend who drew a tag that year.
5).1 year from drawing my tag . Drove out. Accompanied resident Bowsiter on his archery season hunt. See expenses above.
6) Drew my tag. Drove out in August , See expenses above add 2,250$ for tag. Didn't tag out , returned home 3 weeks later. Couldn't get back out till October. Called an outfitter , drove back out and killed my ram. Paid the outfitter , tipped the guide , Drove home .....see expenses above. The reason I didn't put actual monetary values on my expenses ? Scared to death to add it all up !
4) 2 years from tag
Just looking at the cost of an outfitter in Wyoming for sheep is way out of my price range!
Have to keep plugging away to try and draw a unit that I will not need that extra expense. It is a very long wait. Going into the draw this year with 17 points and still a long way out. Really stinks that these states keep raising the cost of applications and tags along the way.
Wyoming is going to be a pricy endeavor and well into thousands of dollars, just on the application fees alone. It is hard to quit once you are stuck in the system and finally getting close, though.
Guided hunts are not a sure thing except for getting a tag . i have a buddy that has been on 4 sheep hunts in Canada and has not filled a tag My self I do Montana, Nevada, Utah & Arizona
I think you should just got otc in montana. You can hunt there every year! Hunting most likely all youll be doing though
As Treeline mentioned...the going rate for most guided sheep hunts in Wyo are outrageous! In fact, most are close to $14,000! Almost all of the sheep in Wyo are inside wilderness areas where they require guides. Do you think the guides had a say in the guide in wilderness law? The same thing is true in Alaska for nonres where guides are required. The going rate for the better dall sheep hunts in AK are around $14,000 to $16,000.
I got out of the Wyo sheep draw years ago when I was 2 pts behind max so haven't really kept up on Wyo sheep. If you are just starting out, you may want to research how many units have random tags available for nonres where sheep are found outside wilderness areas...and the draw odds for those random tags!
If you are lucky enough to have sheep in the state you reside your draw odds will improve and the price to apply will decrease dramatically! If you aren't a rich dude move to a state that has sheep!