By Robert Hanneman, April 2016
This year, I again have the pleasure of writing this article about hunting the Unlimited bighorn sheep units in Montana. I have been lucky enough to hunt or spend time in most of the Unlimited units, so this is one of the articles I always look forward to writing. Talking to the different biologists and other hunters and going over all of the harvest data since the beginning of the Unlimited sheep areas has been a passion of mine for the last 15 years.
This last year, I once again had an Unlimited sheep tag in my pocket. I chose an area where I hoped the season would stay open until November as I had too many hunts lined up in September and October. As opening day passed, I checked the quota status every time I came into cell service. Luck was on my side, and the season was still open in early November. I called my hunting buddy who also had a tag for that hunt. The bad news was that he had committed to guiding elk hunts in New Mexico for the rest of November and was unable to go on the hunt. Plans change fast in my life, so I have a short list of people I would take on a hunt like this. My first call was to my buddy, Johnny Burford. After filling him in on my plans, he decided this was an adventure not to pass up. Johnny’s wife, Kelsie, was not one to be left behind, and she decided to join us. We had a great adventure hunting sheep at 10,000' in the middle of November. It made for an enjoyable trip snowshoeing around, looking for rams. We found a lot of sheep but never did locate a legal ram. This was the most enjoyable hunt I have ever had in the Unlimited areas. If you harvest a ram in an Unlimited area, you must wait seven years before you can hunt the Unlimited areas again. Montana raised the price of the bighorn sheep tags for non-resident hunters. New for 2016, non-resident hunters will have to pay $1,250 to have the opportunity to hunt rams in the Unlimited areas.
There are five units in Montana where you can buy a bighorn sheep tag overthe- counter by May 2nd and then go bighorn sheep hunting. This may sound too good to be true, but the success rate is very low. The upside is that you are hunting bighorn sheep. If you are a hunter who really wants to hunt bighorn sheep, you should think about the Unlimited bighorn sheep areas of Montana, especially if you enjoy remote, roadless, grizzly-filled country.
I have updated all of the Unlimited bighorn sheep information for this article. As always, if you have any questions on these areas or any other Montana sheep units, give me a call. Good luck to all who are hunting the Unlimited units this year!