Montana Outdoors

December 8, 2007


Several years ago I had the rare privilege of witnessing a battle for supremacy within a group of Rock Mountain Bighorn rams, and I’ll never forget it. One huge ram took on all challengers, calmly, one at a time, until he was the undisputed king of that mountain. The sound of their massive horns colliding echoed back from the cliffs clear across the Clark Fork River valley. It was a magnificent display of power and confidence, and ever since that day I have felt good just knowing that animals like that are still out there in the wild country as their ancestors have been for thousands of years.

Today I was able to approach a big ram and get close enough for this photo. I know of no other animal that would have enough confidence to remain lying down even when I got to within 15 yards of him. His attitude was that he would be able to handle whatever challenge was coming his way, and if I were to become a threat, he would simply stand up and butt me off the mountain. Short of that, there would be no cause for excitement on his part. How I admire that!

Rocky Mountain Bighorn

This is a completely wild Bighorn living in the Cabinet Mountains of western Montana. He’s not in a park or a wildlife area, or any kind of an enclosure. He’s as wild and free as he can be and a picture of complete confidence. He’s simply awesome!


  1. WOW! were you scared at all…that he just might come over and butt you off the mountain?? I bet watching that match years ago was amazing! too bad you didn’t have a video camera then! this picture is indeed one of complete confidence. very nice.


    Comment by silken — December 9, 2007 @ 7:50 am

  2. I have always found them to be non-aggressive as long as I’m careful to be non-threatening. I think we understand each other. They are amazing creatures!


    Comment by montucky — December 9, 2007 @ 9:17 am

  3. The other one has a pretty calm expression, too. Oh, wait…

    Excellent shot!


    Comment by Pinhole — December 9, 2007 @ 3:21 pm

  4. Yes he does. When I got close several moved behind the big guy where they knew they were safe. It was a little crude of him to moon me though.


    Comment by montucky — December 9, 2007 @ 3:38 pm

  5. What an awesome animal! The only time I’ve ever been that close is in a zoo, though they do come down close to the highway occasionally.


    Comment by wolf — December 10, 2007 @ 9:29 am

  6. Unfortunately, they come down to the highways here, too. The road crews in the winter still use chloride to break up the ice, and the sheep will lick the pavement to get the salt taste. A couple of weeks ago a fool driving a big truck killed 7.

    It’s unusual to be able to approach this close though in their home setting. What impressed me was that, while the others were a little nervous and moved away or behind the big ram, he didn’t even get up.


    Comment by montucky — December 10, 2007 @ 9:46 am

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