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»Know Your Game - Desert Bighorn Sheep

Desert Bighorn Sheep

HOME RANGE: Desert sheep are naturally found in desert mountains, which must have sufficient permanent water, as water is essential for them. While desert sheep may forage for considerable distances, they must return to drink every few days during hot weather. Desert sheep can be found in the U.S. states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah. They are also found in the Mexican states of North Baja, South Baja, Sonora, Chihuahua, and Coahuila.

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Desert Bighorn Sheep

Ovis canadensis

ANIMAL SUMMARY: Weights for desert bighorn sheep vary greatly depending on their particular habitat, where they are located and, to some extent, genetics. Certain of the subspecies are generally larger than others, but again, habitat dictates body size as much as genetics (more on subspecies later). Many believe the desert sheep is a bighorn that has adapted to a hot, arid environment with limited forage and water. It is smaller than the Rocky Mountain bighorn, with a smaller skull, bigger ears, paler color and a short coat. Desert bighorns are also smaller than the California bighorn, but do share many similar characteristics such as horn configuration. The white rump patch is small and usually is divided by a dark tail stripe. The horns are almost as large as those of a Rocky Mountain bighorn and tend to have more flare (like a California bighorn). This, combined with the smaller body size and shorter coat, makes the horns of a good desert ram appear huge and almost out of proportion to its body. Females have short, thin horns.  

BEHAVIOR: The desert bighorn is almost always hunted on foot in steep mountains with crumbling rock and under hot, waterless conditions.  

Super Ten®/Super Slam®: The map above is used by permission from the on-line Safari Club International (SCI) Record Book of Trophy Animals. Visit www.scirecordbook.org.”

Desert Bighorn Sheep Species Map

Desert Bighorn Sheep Range in North America: The map above is used by permission from the on-line Safari Club International (SCI) Record Book of Trophy Animals. Visit www.scirecordbook.org.