When it comes to Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep hunting, Montana is commonly known to be the “Land of the Giants.” To many, drawing a Missouri Breaks sheep tag in units 482, 622, or 680 is at the very top of their hunting bucket list. Last year, 5,663 non-resident sheep applicants applied for a ram tag in one of the three famed units of the Missouri Breaks. Only five of them were successful in drawing a tag. Statewide, of the available non-resident units and excluding the unlimited hunts, just nine of the 7,186 non-resident ram tag applicants were successful in drawing their tag. Despite the long draw odds, anyone who wants a chance to hunt giant rams someday has to be applying in Montana.
If you’re after a shot at a 190" ram, you’ll want to stick with one of the units in the Breaks. If you just want the best opportunity at putting a Montana sheep tag in your pocket, consider applying for one of the four hunts available in the western end of the state. For 2022, hunts in units 124, 214, 340, and 422 will each be available for non-residents. On each of these hunts, beginning in late October, most of the rams will come down from their summer range in search of ewes.
Montana is the only state that offers over-the-counter bighorn sheep tags. This year, hunters can choose from five units – 300, 303, 500, 501, and 502. The tags must be purchased or applied for by May 1st. The odds of harvesting a ram are typically around 2%, but every year, some lucky hunters take rams home. Last year, 11 hunters harvested rams in the unlimited areas. See the “Unlimited Bighorn Sheep” section for more information on all of the units and hunts.
For the most part, sheep populations are holding steady across the state, and the most recent population estimates have put the statewide population at around 5,500 animals. Efforts are underway to reestablish bighorn sheep herds in the Little Belt and Tendoy mountain ranges. In December 2020, 50 sheep were successfully transplanted into the Little Belts from unit 482. Another 26 sheep were relocated to the Tendoys from Wild Horse Island in February in an attempt to reestablish a herd there. The hope is that within a few years the sheep populations in these areas are increasing, possibly leading to additional opportunities to be hunting Montana’s sheep in the future.
For 2022, there will be up to nine limited-entry non-resident ram tags available. If you are a Montana resident and you would like to talk about the other units available to you, give us a call. Good luck in the draw!
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The Montana Bighorn Sheep application deadline is May 1, 2022.
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|Base Hunting License||$15|
|Bonus Points (optional/per species)||$20|
|Sheep, Moose, Goat, and Bison Application Fee||$50|
|Bighorn Sheep Permit||$1,250|
|Bow and Arrow License (required for all archery hunts)||$10|
|*Fees do not include the additional 2.5% convenience fee.|