Nebraska’s only bighorn sheep hunting permit holder for 2016, Brett Roberg of Holdrege, ended his hunt successfully at Fort Robinson State Park on the afternoon of Monday, Dec. 5, by harvesting a trophy-class ram.
The Rocky Mountain bighorn ram, estimated to be 10 years old, unofficially scored 166 using the Boone and Crockett Club’s system. The score is derived from measurements of the horns’ length, their spread and four points of circumference for each.
Roberg obtained the permit through a lottery which is open to Nebraska residents for a $25 application fee. Funds from the lottery, which had 2,593 entries this year, provide vital support for Nebraska’s bighorn sheep conservation program and reintroduction efforts. This marked the Commission’s 21st bighorn sheep hunt since the first one in 1998.
The Audubon’s subspecies of bighorn sheep was native to the butte country of the Nebraska Panhandle but was extirpated from the state because of disease, unregulated hunting and habitat loss in the early 1900s. The subspecies became extinct in 1925.
Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep from Custer State Park in South Dakota were reintroduced to Nebraska in an enclosure at Fort Robinson State Park in 1981. Those sheep were released to the wild in 1988 and 1993 and additional release efforts of sheep from Montana, Canada and Colorado in 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2012 have resulted in about 320 sheep that reside in areas of the Pine Ridge between Harrison and Chadron, and the Wildcat Hills south of Gering and east to McGrew.