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Through Mike Eastman’s Lens – The Sheep Rut

#1.-BH-SheepBlogWEBBy the end of October 2012, I found myself heading to the special rutting grounds to film and photograph the mule deer and bighorn sheep courtships. I have been doing this trip every year since the 60s when I would film for my father Gordon Eastman.While I was searching, I ran across this ram I had photos of from the sheep rut in 2011. I compared it to a photo I took this past fall and wondered if it was the same ram? Could he have made it through the 2011-2012 winters, wolves and fall hunting seasons? Sure enough, it was, as the chips and hole in the end of horn are a dead match. This is incredible because these rams are hunted in the fall and this is a great Wyoming ram that eluded a few lucky sheep tag holders.

This old ram banging heads left his horn severally chipped on the driver side. Not only is the chipped horn a dead giveaway, but also the scar on his shoulder. Look how much horn growth he put on in just one year.

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This is a photo of the ram the from November 2011 rut. Look at the chips on the horn and the scar on his shoulder.

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Here’s a photo from this past December. The scar and chips match up identically.

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In 2011, I filmed the ram fighting with a smaller ram. Notice the chips out of the horn on the driver side. He banged heads with this ram for two hours – a real fighter for sure!

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  1. Mike, I cannot express how I felt when I first saw the Ram film your dad made. It sparked a love and passion for sheep in me that has not stopped for 51 years. Thank you for those gut wrenching climbs. The days staring in the scope.The hours of editing. The freezing nights in the hills.The equipment portages, I could go on and on. Thank you for the wonderful pictures. The impressions that those rams live as they have for eons, INCREDIBLE. I imagine so much with just a single picture. Your work gives me, a real definition of RAM TOUGH.

  2. Mike, thanks for the photos. I have spent 53 days hunting Bighorns (DIY and solo) with my bow without harvesting a ram. If I have to spend another 53 days then so be it as there is nothing that compares to hunting sheep with a bow. I have taken a great goat (in nasty typical goat terrain) and had plenty of chances at younger rams but have always backed off. These photos are great and just get my juices flowing to be back up with these monarchs.

  3. Rick Ellison

    That is incredible horn growth. The 2011 picture shows a much tighter curl that the deeper heavier curl of the next year. He is a dandy ram for sure. Someone would be very lucky to run into him with a tag in their pocket. Thanks for sharing Mike.

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