As popular and prestigious as trophy elk and mule deer can be, sheep remain the the most coveted of North American big game trophies. As such, sheep tags are by no means easy to come by. But, as tough as they are to draw, sheep tags are often easier to draw than premier elk or deer tags. It is conceivable to draw one, and if you submit applications across multiple states, it's not a pipe dream to hope that one day you'll draw a good tag in the Lower 48 that will offer you a shot at a reasonably affordable hunt for the trophy of a lifetime.
Alaska, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories offer Dall Sheep. Non-residents must be guided. This is an $8,000 - $15,000 proposition. There are some draw tags, but most tags can be obtained over the counter. I have my first Dall Sheep hunt planned for August, 2008, with John Peterson's Bristol Bay Outfitters.
British Columbia and the Yukon offer Stone Sheep. Non-residents must be guided. This is a $18,000 - $30,000 proposition. Tags are over the counter. I shot a 42" Stone in the Cassiar Mountains of British Columbia with Tom Vince's Turnagain Adventures in 2005. Spectacularly beautiful animals.
Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado (residents only), Nevada, and Old Mexico offer Desert Sheep (in Nevada, referred to by the Arizona Game Fish and Parks as Nelson Sheep). You can buy a hunt in Mexico with a landowner tag for about $50,000. If you beat the odds, you can draw a tag in the Lower 48 for maybe $1,500, and can optinally hire a good guide for maybe $5,000.
Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Washington, and Idaho offer Bighorn Sheep, either of the Rocky Mountain Bighorn or California variety. You can buy a bighorn hunt is some of the western Canadian provinces, but this will be a $20,000+ hunt.
If you ever want to draw a tag, you really need to apply in every state you can possible afford.
|State||Notes||General Tag Quality||Limited Tag Quality||Odds of Drawing Limited Tags||Strategy|
|Arizona||Most likely place to draw a Desert bighorn tag.||N/A||Good||Poor||Apply!|
|Colorado||Lots of tags, good sheep, "reasonable" odds by sheep standards. You have to accumulate 3 preference points before you're eligible to draw.||N/A||Good||Poor||Apply!|
|Idaho||You can only apply for Sheep, Goat, or Moose. Because there is no preference point system, you stand a decent chance at drawing, but you have to buy a hunting license ($143) to participate in the draw. The California Bighorn tags are easier to draw than the Rocky Mountain Bighorn tags.||N/A||Average||Poor||Apply, if you're not going for Moose or Goat in Idaho.|
|Montana||Montana currently produces the biggest bighorns in North America. Unfortunately, the draw odds reflect that. You can also buy over-the-counter tags for some very rough, very unproductive country near Yellowstone -- this is for the hard-core fanatic only.||Poor||Excellent||Poor||Apply!|
|New Mexico||Extremely difficult to draw, but great hunt if you can pull it off.||N/A||Excellent||Poor||Apply!|
|Utah||You can apply for Sheep, Goat, Moose, OR bison. Utah mostly has desert bighorns, with very limited Rocky Mountain Bighorn opportunity.||N/A||Excellent||Poor||Apply, unless you're going for one of the other "once-in-a-lifetime" species.|
|Wyoming||Good opportunites, but hard to catch up with the preference point system. However, 25% of tags are awarded randomly, without regard to preference points.||N/A||Poor||Apply!|