Fish & Game
Largest-ever Texas bighorn is harvested at Elephant Mountain.
On March 22, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff guided Robert Theis on a record-breaking desert bighorn hunt at Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area near Alpine. With an astounding Boone and Crockett score of 187 2/8”, Theis’ harvest blew the previous record holder (184 B&C) out of the top spot in Texas. The hunt was purchased at auction during the annual Wild Sheep Foundation convention.
In the context of Texas wildlife conservation, this ram represents much more than a numerical score.
Bighorns were restored to Elephant Mountain in 1987. Rising 2,000 feet above the desert floor, the mountain’s steep slopes provide excellent habitat to an estimated 190 desert sheep. Highly adapted to their environment, bighorns here continue to thrive, providing hunting opportunities and surplus sheep for restoration efforts. The greatest threats to bighorns are resource competition from exotic species, habitat fragmentation and disease. The record ram represents the culmination of many years of restoration efforts at Elephant Mountain and across the Trans-Pecos.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department offers only a few public land hunting opportunities for desert bighorn sheep per season, based on the herd health and the capacity of the area to support the animals. Proceeds from these hunts, the sporting goods excise tax and donations from dedicated partner organizations are used to raise funds for research and conservation.
Aug. 8 marks the two-year anniversary of the tragic loss of TPWD bighorn advocates Dewey Stockbridge, Brandon White and Dr. Bob Dittmar in a bighorn surveying accident. Continued efforts to preserve the species honor these men, those still working in the field and the animals and wild places that mean so much to all of us.
Immanuel Salas; Cody McEntire
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