"As I write this, outfitter Wayne Zachary has a permit for a free-ranging Texas desert bighorn and knows the location of a ram he estimates at 175 B & C! His hunting client has backed out, and Zachary is looking for a replacement hunter. Originally priced at $75,000, he was offering the permit for $69,000.
"The hunt is on the 32,000-acre Circle Ranch in the Sierra Diablo range near Van Horn. Last year, Zachary successfully guided hunter Monty Davis to a 167 7/8 B & C ram, a hunt that was written up by Davis in The Hunting Report. The outfitter had six guides out scouting for that sheep, which they found at 9:30 am on the first day of the hunt. They shot the ram at 2:30 pm. That morning, said Zachary, they spotted seven rams, including two other Class IV rams big enough to kill.
"The Sierra Diablos are among the oldest mountains in North America. Elevation shouldn't be a problem for a reasonably fit hunter, but erosion has made the footing treacherous. There is a lot of rubble, and walking is difficult. Otherwise, this is about as easy as mountain sheep hunting gets.
"Desert bighorn sheep have quietly become a success story since the species was reintroduced into the rugged mountains of west Texas. Annual helicopter surveys keep tabs on the wild sheep population. Last year's count approached 1,200 animals. Texas Parks and Wildlife issued 11 permits to private landowners who are instrumental in sustaining the sheep program. The landowner permits are generally sold for market value. More than 50 percent of the rams killed since the very restrictive hunting began in 1988 have scored well enough to qualify for B & C records.
"One additional 2008 permit was sold at auction through the Wild Sheep Foundation, and........(continued)