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California Bighorn Sheep Hunting 2023

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As a whole, sheep in California are doing great. The famed San Gorgonios will not have a hunt again for the 2023 season. There will be no additional units opened for 2023, and permit numbers will stay the same across the board except for the Marble/Clippers, which will be decreased to one permit as numbers continue to fall. As per usual, harvest success was through the roof, besides the few unsuccessful hunters last year in the Whites and Old Dad. California is the land of giant rams for the lucky few who end up with tags each year, and it strongly has to do with how conservatively they manage their permit allocation. The rule for bighorn sheep allocation is up to 15% of legal rams counted, meaning California must count seven legal rams (1/2 curl) to issue one permit. It may be hard to draw a sheep permit in California, but for those who are fortunate enough to draw, they will be in for a hunt-of-a-lifetime.

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Desert bighorn sheep in California are thriving in most areas outside of the San Gorgonio, Sheep Hole, and Marble/Clipper Mountains units. The San Gorgonio and Sheep Hole units will not be offering a tag for the 2023 season. In addition, the Cady Mountains hunt continues to go downhill. Reports of cat kills on old rams as well as lambs might start to take out some of the top end over time.

The hardest part of sheep hunting in California is actually getting the permit. Some of California’s sheep hunts can be extremely difficult, and hunting can take place at elevations over 10,000 feet. If you are not in good shape, make sure you read the comments in the table and only apply for the units that fit your physical ability.

If you are looking for a 175"+ ram, you need to be applying for the Orocopia, Clark/Kingston, and the new Newberry, Rodman, and Ord units. The White Mountains can be good for a 170" type ram, but we cannot stress enough how difficult that hunt is. For 2023, there will be 23 permits. If you draw a Desert bighorn sheep permit, give us a call as we work with the best sheep guides in California.

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Self Guided DIY California Bighorn Sheep Hunts

For access to all of our research and data we've collected over the last 20+ years, then join today and access the best research tools for hunting Bighorn Sheep in California including 3D Maps, Draw Odds, Consultations and much more. Go on more hunts with better information!


Application Dates for Bighorn Sheep in California

The California Bighorn Sheep application deadline is June 2, 2023

Our online/print magazine has everything in one location: Application info, draw details and odds, fees, hunter requirements, point structure, age restrictions, youth information, weapon restrictions, other tag opportunities, hunt planning and much more. If you would like access to all of our research join today!

California Desert Bighorn Sheep Season Dates

Species Season
Bighorn Sheep (Zone 7 - White Mountains) August 19th - September 24th
Bighorn Sheep (Zones 1-6, 8-10) December 2nd - February 4th


California Non-Resident Bighorn Sheep Hunting Fees

Up-Front Fees
Adult Hunting License $204.69
Junior Hunting License (under 16) $15.38
Application Fee per Species (sheep, elk, and antelope) $8.13
Deer Permit (refundable if unsuccessful) $343.25
Post Draw Fees (if successful)
Bighorn Sheep Permit $1,977.05
Wild Pig Permit (OTC) $94.22
Bear Permit (OTC) $361.90


California Bighorn Sheep Hunting Articles from Huntin' Fool Magazine