There may soon be two rams occupying the top spot in the hunter-shot bighorn world-record book.
Justin Sheedy's father put the 20-year old in the annual drawing for one of Montana's bighorn sheep tags, in spite of his son's heavy schedule. The younger Sheedy only had a 1-percent chance of winning the draw, so his dad probably figured it was a longshot anyway. But, Sheedy's name was drawn, and now he's about to be in the running for tying the bighorn world record.
Justin Sheedy was busy working on his degree at Montana State University, serving in the Army National Guard and working a part-time job. But once he knew he had won a coveted bighorn sheep tag, he did his best to carve out enough time to hunt the elusive animals. It took three weeks and five separate trips into the backcountry before Sheedy pulled the trigger on the big ram, but what a ram it was.
His bighorn scored 203 3/8 inches, tying with a ram shot in 2000 by Guinn Crousen in Alberta, Canada. Sheedy has to wait a little longer before his score is officially verified. After the requisite drying time, Sheedy's final Boone and Crockett scoring will take place August 2019.
If his initial scoring holds--and it's expected to--he'll share the top spot in the hunter-killed bighorn world record book.
The top three all-time record bighorns were all deadheads people found and submitted for record book consideration. The number one ram in the book scores 216 3/8.
Montana is producing some very big animals in recent years, including the top typical, archery-killed and nontypical elk.
These animals are proving to be evidence of Montana's effective and successful wildlife conservation program.
"So we're doing something right," said Keith Balfourd, director of marketing at the Boone and Crockett headquarters in Missoula. "When it comes to sheep, it's all about habitat quality, more so than genetics."
Balfourd noted that Montana is "producing the largest bighorns in history, and that history goes back to the 1830s."
Sheedy shot the ram at 279 yards, two weeks after first spotting it.
"We worked really hard backpacking in," his father said. "The sheep live on public land, but you have to hike in 5 miles before hunting."
When he finally did have a shot, Sheedy and his group spotted the ram among a group of 16 others.
"I was shaking more than normal with the adrenaline and cold wind," he said.
Given his time constraints and how hard he worked at getting his ram, Sheedy obviously feels a sense of accomplishment that goes beyond the score of his ram's curl.
"In the outdoors, being away from people and technology, I don't have to worry about the stresses of life," he said. "And it's great pursuing a challenge you're passionate about."
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