A few folks have noticed my many posts and pictures of a herd of bighorn sheep south of Watford City the last two weeks.
It's true, I'm fascinated by these creatures, especially since just 330 exist in North Dakota. I've found a herd of 23 or 24, including four or five mature rams, many ewes and lambs. North Dakota's bighorn season opened Oct. 28 with eight licenses, and the rut is on, so it's never been a better time to seek out a bighorn sheep.
I've found them six times now on six consecutive visits, so pretty good stats since locals around here say the sheep are hard to find.
That may be so. I've been told the sheep are hard to see in summer as they bed down in the cool junipers to escape the heat. Makes sense.
Now that the rut is on, the herd near the Long X Bridge and Little Missouri River are regularly out, in early afternoon, evening and sunset, I've seen.
Rams are chasing ewes and each other, and I've even seen a head butt. Would love to see some ram battles, but then again, I'm not sure I want to be that close to rutting rams. Yikes.
I'm a sucker for uncommon and unique species in North Dakota. Bighorn sheep. Zander. The western fringed prairie orchid, North Dakota's only endangered plant is the pinnacle of anything I've seen in this state.
So I'll keep seeking out the bighorn sheep. They're a charismatic bunch, and a photogenic group too.