2021—A Few of the Big Boys

The band of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep that we photographed last week just outside of Yellowstone National Park had eleven rams. Several, like this group of four, were the Big Boys, the elder statesmen so to speak, with the huge curls. Their horns grow into curls as the rams mature and start to curl around their faces when they’re about 8 years old. The horns weigh up to 30 pounds, more than the weight of the animal’s skeleton. Fall is the rut, the season where the rams clash for dominance and when they become very interested in the ewes. The rest of the year, they stay in groups separate from the herd of females and lambs. We saw some efforts at dominance over each other but no great clashes although the mild head butts we did see were also quite audible. When not pursuing their amorous instincts, the rams tended to stick closely together. When one moved, the others followed.