Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A horse named Ovis: a sheep story

Ovis (C. Craig)
Well his name isn't really Ovis, it’s actually Taco, but for the six days he carried my butt up and down steep rocky trails we didn’t know that – he was borrowed from someone else you see. ‘New Horse’ was his more used alias but ‘Ovis’ seemed fitting for a horse that carried me on my first attempt at hunting Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep (Ovis canadensis canadensis).

My interest in pursuing these icons of mountain game has remained on simmer for the last few years and I should admit this with some self-criticism. This is because the constraints on sheep hunting in Alberta are essentially self-created. Barring a few areas with licences on a draw-only basis, most sheep can be pursued by residents of the province with an over-the-counter tag. That’s right, you buy a tag, lace up your boots and pursue Big Horn rams! Of course these licenses are for ‘Trophy Rams’ only, limiting the hunter to rams with a very strictly controlled minimum horn length (tips must pass an imaginary line that extends from the front of the horn base past the front of the eye). Legal rams are therefore not exactly a Sunday morning doddle to bag but hey, only ones ambition, skills and physical condition separate you from pursuing one of the apogees of the hunters’ realm. Why didn’t I try this earlier?