Outdoor Storytellers – Bighorn Sighting

HELLS CANYON — Every once in a while, there are things that we see that make us wish we had our cameras with us, but on a recent trip the Hells Canyon in Idaho we found out how lucky we were to be carrying filming equipment.

A person could spend years in the wilderness and never get the chance to watch bighorn from close up, so when we came acorss an instance like that, I jumped at the opportunity to film it.

With trepidation, excitement, and a bit of nervousness, we got our camera and sat near a dirt road among the native scrub-brushes to witness one the bighorn.

From what we observed, they didn’t really care we weren’t more than ten or 15 feet away from them. We weren’t using some wild sophisticated 1,000 mm lens to get close, we were right there.

The moment lasted just over thirty minutes and during that time we were able to witness the dominant male ram asserted his authority to the other sub-ordinate rams.

We saw how he walked among his group, tended to his ewes with a gentle rub, and push the little lambs around. At a few brief moments, he ever stared us down, but overall he never seemed too threatened

Eventually, he wandered off and continued to forage through the wilderness.

After this unique experience, we decided to get some expert advice on Bighorn from Idaho Fish and Game Wildlife Biologist Frances Cassirer.

“Bighorn sheep are very sociable. Very gregarious,” Cassirer said. “They like to be in flocks, or herds. Most of the year males and females are in separate groups. Then during the fall, during the breeding season, they come together and that’s really the only time that you’ll see them consistently together.”

Just as she described, we saw them together.

Because it’s that time of year, Cassirer went on to tell us that the herd we saw stays in the same area pretty often. She also said that seeing those bighorn is not as rare as we thought.

However, even if our experience was not unique to the area, it was a sight that we will most likely never forget.