How to Score a Bighorn Sheep's Horns

Q: Which of these sheep would score the highest?

A: Ram A has the highest-scoring horns, according to B&C scorer Fred King.

Bighorn sheep permits are hard to come by. If you're lucky enough to draw one, you'd better be able to separate the men from the boys before you squeeze the trigger. Trophy rams have blocky bodies and thick necks that set them apart from younger animals, but to pick out a record, you need to eyeball its horns.

[A] MASS Official scoring uses four circumference measurements and only one length measurement, so the mass of the horn and how far out from the base it maintains thickness is the most important aspect of judging a ram. Look at the horn halfway out on the curl. If the circumference there is the same as that at its base, start getting excited.

[B] CURL A big ram has a full curl that drops below the bottom of his jawline when viewed from the side. And the hole inside the curl should be at least the size of a softball. If it looks as if you could pass through a volleyball, the sheep will probably place in the books.

[C] LENGTH A full-curl ram is defined as having a horn tip that, when viewed from the side, extends upward beyond an imaginary straight line drawn from the center of the nostril to the lowest, hindmost base of the horn. Trophy rams will have horn tips that sweep above the bridge of the nose.

[D] SYMMETRY The Boone and Crockett scoring procedure deducts points for asymmetry, not in length but in thickness, so look for horns that are close to equal in size and have not been broomed back, or worn down, too far. --KEITH McCAFFERTY