Discover The Largest Bighorn Sheep Ever Caught in Arizona

Written by Nixza Gonzalez
Updated: May 11, 2023
Share on:


Arizona’s bighorn sheep population has been dwindling for centuries. Currently, there are an estimated 6,000 desert bighorn sheep left in Arizona. The state offers bighorn sheep hunting on a random draw basis. Arizona desert sheep hunting season is from December 1 – December 31 and is very controlled. These animals can get very big and many people from all over the state enroll in the raffle to enter a guided hunting party. Can you guess the size of the largest bighorn sheep ever caught in Arizona? Continue reading to find out.

About Bighorn Sheep

Bighorn sheep are native to North America. They have large horns that curve at the ends. These horns can weigh up to 30 pounds, which is about the same weight as all the bones inside a male bighorn’s body. There are also three subspecies of bighorn sheep and one is endangered. At its peak, the bighorn population was in the millions, but since the 1900s have been in the thousands because of disease and overhunting. Still, these large animals are interesting.

Desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) in California

The horns on a desert bighorn sheep in Arizona can weigh up to 30 pounds.

©Jilll Richardson/

Size and Appearance

Male bighorn sheep have large curved horns, while females (ewes) have shorter and less curved horns. Every sheep is a different color, but they range from light brown to grayish or a rich dark chocolate brown. They also have a white rump and lining on the backs of their legs. Bighorn sheep also have preorbital glands on the corner of each eye. They are massive animals, sometimes reaching over 300 pounds.

The average male bighorn sheep weighs between 128 to 315 pounds, while females weigh about 75 to 201 pounds. Male bighorn sheep are also 35 to 41 inches tall and 63 to 73 inches long from the tips of their nose to their tail. Females are smaller and are usually about 30 to 35 inches tall and 50 to 62 inches long. Some of the biggest bighorn sheep though are from the Rocky Mountains region. Males easily exceed over 500 pounds and females 200 pounds. However, Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep are the smallest subspecies, rarely weighing over 200 pounds.


Bighorn sheep aren’t picky eaters. They are ruminant herbivores and opportunistic feeders. Most bighorn sheep eat grasses like catclaw, Encelia, sweet bush, and krameria. They also forage shrubs and cacti. One adult male bighorn sheep eats about 3 pounds of plant material a day. They can also go for 5 to 15 days without water. Using their 4-chambered stomachs, bighorn sheep can consume dry vegetation. Interestingly, during winter bighorn sheep seek minerals at natural salt licks.


Bighorn sheep are large and know how to defend themselves. Still, from time to time, they face off against natural predators like coyotes, wolves, black bears, mountain lions, and jaguars. It’s more common for a young bighorn sheep lamb to feel threatened by predators. Young lambs are hunted by ocelots, lynxes, golden eagles, wolverines, and gray foxes. Although diseases are not predators, bighorn sheep are susceptible to many diseases found in domestic sheep. These animals sometimes also die from falling off cliffs. Although they are accustomed to climbing rugged terrain, there’s always a risk.

Male bighorn sheep ram with large horns on a cliff.

An average male bighorn sheep in Arizona can weigh over 300 pounds.

©Georgia Evans/

The Largest Bighorn Sheep Ever Caught in Arizona

The largest bighorn sheep ever caught in Arizona scored 194 3/8. This massive sheep was caught by Edward L. Turner in 2007. Following his catch, Randy A. Weems caught the second-largest bighorn sheep in Arizona in 2019 which scored 194 1/8.

Where Is Arizona Located on a Map?

There are an estimated 6,000 big horn sheep in Arizona, some being Rocky Mountain big horn sheep, and the others being desert ones. There is no set location in the state of Arizona where they live, but one location where sitings are regular is Canyon Lake, Arizona, east of Phoenix. Below is a map of the state of Arizona.

The Largest Bighorn Sheep Ever Caught in the World

The largest bighorn sheep ever caught n the world was massive and scored 205-1/8. It’s held B&C World Record for over 70 years. Carl M. Scrivens of Jackson, Wyoming found an impressive bighorn sheep in 1941 while on a hunting trip to Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. He didn’t catch the massive bighorn sheep. Instead, he found it in an old dilapidated wagon. According to the vaqueros at the rancho, it was killed by an unnamed Native American, who left the skull there the year prior.

Other Animals in Arizona

The state of Arizona has a unique environment with lots of wildlife. Parts of Arizona are deserts which is a perfect environment for cacti and dry-loving reptiles. For instance, chuckwallas are common in Arizona’s desert state parks. They are large reptiles in the iguana family that can weigh up to 2 pounds. They can change the color of their skin to blend in with the red-brown and orange rocks in the deserts. Western diamondback rattlesnakes also call Arizona home. However, they stay away from humans and live in solitude. Other common animals in Arizona include:

Desert bighorn sheep - Ovis canadensis nelsoni

The largest bighorn sheep ever caught in Arizona was in 2007 and it scored 194 3/8.

©Randy Bjorklund/

The photo featured at the top of this post is ©

Share on:
About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.