First-Hand Report On Hunting Kofa Desert Bighorn Sheep In Arizona


Published: November - 2009

After reading Senior Western Correspondent Lance Stapleton's comments this month on the Kofa sheep population in Arizona (see page 5) you may find this hunt report from subscriber Lon Bothwell of particular interest. Despite an extended drought in the area and its impact on the entire Kofa sheep herd, Bothwell has very positive things to say about a desert bighorn sheep hunt he experienced there in December of 2008. Bothwell notes it took him 17 years of collecting bonus points to draw this tag, but the wait paid off with a very handsome ram that scored 163 6/8. (See photo in our Trophy Gallery.)

Among the highlights of his hunt (other than taking the best ram among four hunters) Bothwell lists hunting with guide Larry Heathington of Sheep Limited. Bothwell gives him excellent ratings across the board and says, "He told me to hold out and we would kill a big ram. Indeed, we killed the biggest ram we had seen on day nine of what could have been a 15-day hunt."

Still, Bothwell notes that sheep were scarce. He says a 10- to 12-year drought in Arizona has taken a toll on sheep numbers and trophy quality in that unit. Indeed, the drought has affected all wildlife in Arizona. "Overall, the trophy quality was poor, though the Kofas historically have produced trophy heads," he says. He goes on to observe that all the sheep he saw there have lived in drought conditions with poor food their entire lives. He reports seeing 134 sheep on his hunt with 67 of them rams."

Bothwell recommends Heathing- ton's services and the page on his web site about draw and auction permit recommendations in Arizona. See www.sheepltd.com/recommendations.htm. Bothwell lists the cost of his sheep hunt as $10,000.

(Postscript: For more information on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge visit the web sites www.fws.gov/Refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=22570 and www.azgfd.gov/w_c/bhsheep/index.shtml. It's interesting to note that the figures on the Arizona web site confirm Bothwell's observations about low sheep numbers. Historically, the refuge holds an estimated average population of 732........(continued)

 
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