Bad Decisions In Bighorn Sheep Management In Montana And Arizona


Published: November - 2009

I am compelled this month to report on examples of what I feel are unfortunate decisions by officials responsible for managing our limited wildlife - in this case wild bighorn sheep. Last year, a ram was killed in Montana that has been the subject of many rumors. You may not have heard about it because of circumstances surrounding how it was killed. I first learned about this ram shortly after it was shot. It is a magnificent ram, and one that any diehard sheep hunter could only dream of seeing, let alone ever harvesting. That's the rub when you know the rest of the story. Here's what happened:

It seems that this unnamed hunter (later called J. G.) contacted John Lewton, a taxidermist and filmmaker from Whitehall, Montana, and told him that he had drawn a sheep tag in the coveted Missouri River Breaks, an area that has produced outstanding rams in the past. So far, everything was normal because Lewton was well known and had participated in other hunts in this area.

I'll use excerpts from Lewton's written account (please excuse the errors) to describe this 2008 hunt. He wrote, "I found this ram before the season and this was the largest ram I had ever seen in Montana. . . . I called a young man from Helena who had stopped by the shop and told me he had a tag." He went on to write, "I was in the breaks filming a sheep hunt and had two friends helping me James Reed and Blake Trangmoe. We decided it would be a good idea to keep a eye on this ram until the hunter could make it up." Then, "The hunter arrived on Wednesday afternoon we headed in to meet with James and make a plan to get on the Ram. . . . We quickly put together a plan and made a run on the ram. He had a 300 yd shot but pulled it." This went on for a total of three shots and as many misses over two days. Finally, Lewton wrote, "This time his........(continued)

 
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