Management Unit 46B
this unit: Bighorn Sheep
|That portion of the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge west of the Yuma-Pima County line.
Desert Bighorn Sheep can be found throughout
the Sierra Pinta, Cabeza Prieta, and Tule Mountains. Past rams harvested
have scored 125 and 170. I recommend hunters
to scout early, to allow themselves
plenty of time to explore all areas
and especially see as many sheep as
possible. In late August and into September
the rams are in the rut; excellent
opportunity to observe several rams
in fewer areas. Keep in mind that the
temperatures will range into the hundreds
and that its monsoon season. Between
personally dehydrating and being stranded
by flooded washes, please use common
sense and be prepared for desert survival.
The rams you may have observed in September
will not necessarily be there by December.
Mature rams have been known to roam
in small bachelor groups or be solitaire;
do not over look adjacent small hills
to a large mountain as your hunt approaches.
The Department completes sheep surveys
by October. Note - not all units are
surveyed each year.
A strategy for your hunt; round up friends prior to your hunt, to scout
out the unit. The more eyes helping you look will increase your odds in
finding them. A great time to carry a camera or video camera. By late November,
you should have a good feel where to start your hunt. Hopefully you have
in your mind the ram you plan to harvest from your earlier scouting effort.
In locating sheep, the preferred method is to observe with an at least a 10 or 20 power
binocular/scope first from the base of the mountain. This allows sheep
plenty of escape room and sheep that are there may stay and watch you.
Otherwise, a direct assault on the mountain will more likely send sheep
fleeing before you see them. As curious as sheep are, they may watch you
approach without running. Make an indirect approach, as if you're searching
for your keys (avoid eye contact), you'll surprise yourself how close you
may get. Practice this technique during your scouting effort. When you
are on the mountain, stay within the first two-thirds of the way up; the
third above you will still provide sheep escape room. Regularly stop and
sit and listen as you use your binoculars. Chances are you'll hear sheep
before you see them, as rocks fall from the sheep's movements.
If drawn, guides and taxidermist will find you. I recommend you attend
the October sheep clinic held each year in Phoenix, sponsored by Arizona
Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, ADBSS. You can ask questions in person to
wildlife biologists, wildlife managers and various government agencies
that administer the land your hunt is on. If you're not drawn, I encourage
you to participate as a helper in a sheep hunt.
Areas: Contact the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge at 1611 N. Second
Ave., Ajo, AZ 85321 (520) 387-6483. Ajo is located 40 miles south of Gila
Bend on S.R. 85. The Refuge will provide you a welcome packet with the
rules of the refuge. The conditions are extremely primitive and harsh.
Four wheel drive is required on the Refuge. The refuge is primarily a wilderness
area. A BMGR (Barry M. Goldwater Range) permit is required for access on
to the Refuge, because of military over flights. The sheep from this area
have a unique reputation for its red stained horns, as well as its horn
size. This hunt is not for the meek and the weak. Increase UDA ( undocumented
aliens) and drug trafficking is a reality; hunters should use discretion
and good judgment where to hunt and camp. In the past, hunters have used
horses to negotiate the terrain and distance you may have to travel to
reach many parts of the refuge.