Tag Archives: Higher Calling

TPWD Notes Bear Activity in NE Texas

For the second time in less than a week, officials with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD have released a statement on increased bear activity in the state. The last one as reported here involved sightings in the Trans Pecos.

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Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The new reports are from Northeast Texas along the Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana borders.

From TPWD…

Since April, there has been an uptick in black bear sightings in Bowie, Grayson and Titus counties in northeast Texas. The bears are thought to originate from the neighboring states of Oklahoma and Arkansas, or possibly Louisiana, where resident bear populations are well established and expanding. As the numbers of this iconic species grows, dispersing black bears find their way across state lines into Texas, signaling the possibility of its eventual permanent return to our landscape.

“It is inspiring as a biologist to watch these animals make their return to Northeast Texas after being absent for a century or more,” said Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) biologist, Penny Wilkerson.

“Bears do not generally pose a threat to pets or livestock. These critters are omnivores and are more interested in berries, grubs, and acorns than anything else,” Wilkerson said.

The last time TPWD sent out a press release regarding black bears was 2017 and there was another in 2016. Before that, the last release was in 2012.

For TPWD to send out two releases in a week shows there is a major change in bear activity and likely some kind of bear emphasis coming from the department.

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Researchers show black bears are returning to East Texas. The question is are breeding populations established or are bears seen here visitors from neighboring states? (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Photo)

We covered bear sightings on Lake Falcon in South Texas recently here as well as another near Bay City dating back a decade.

The lack of activity in the woods, state parks, and wildlife management areas due to COVID-19 this spring has in my opinion given bears a little more leeway in the woods and emboldened the animals in areas where they have been lurking in the shadows for a number of years.

A recent report from just across the border in Oklahoma shows landowners frustrated with the amount of bear activity. And one of my research partners Todd Jurasek got numerous bears including a 400 plus pound bruin on video in the Kiamichi Mountains along the Texas-Oklahoma corridor.

I will be posting those videos soon along with a massive update on bear sightings by county in Texas.

Chester Moore

Texas Bear Expansion-What You Need To Know

Officials with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) have issued a press release noting a dramatic increase in black bear sightings in the Trans-Pecos region of the state.

This comes just a day after our report of a black bear filmed swimming across Lake Falcon several hundred miles away from the Trans-Pecos.

“There has been a flurry of bear activity in the Trans-Pecos recently. Reports of black bears wandering into Fort Davis, Alpine, and Fort Stockton were received this past week on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, respectively,” said Michael Janis, TPWD Trans-Pecos District Leader.

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(Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Black bears are generally shy, reclusive creatures but there comes a point when populations grow when that can change.

There is no hunting pressure in Texas and Mexico so there is no reason to fear people. In these situations, they may begin approaching human habitations and dry conditions like west Texas is facing now will amplify the issue.

My concern is Texans are not bear aware.

To most encountering bears is something that might happen once-in-a-lifetime when they visit Yellowstone or in the Smoky Mountains.

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I first published this photo by Al Weaver in Texas Fish & Game in 2010. This bear was photographed near Bay City, TX on the Middle Coast.

And these Texas bears are not just in the Trans Pecos.

For more than a decade I have recorded sightings in the Hill Country, South Texas, and along the Middle Coast. The East Texas bear population is a different issue and we will touch more on that next week but there are increasing sightings in the eastern third of the state as well.

Texans need to understand a few things about these unexpected inhabitants of its wildlands.

The following is from TPWD.

Bears have an excellent sense of smell and much of their behavior is driven by their appetite. These natural characteristics can, however, become a problem when bears find an easy meal from a human-related source such as garbage, pet food or corn from a deer feeder. If over time a bear continually finds food around humans, it can become habituated, losing its fear of people and creating a potentially dangerous situation.

Fellow hunters, we are now in the off-season. If you have a bear hitting a feeder, a good option is to shut it down and let the bear move on. Feeding in an area might keep the bear around and give you problems with your feeder (they’ll tear it up) or maybe an unwanted up close and personal encounter.

Another option is electricity.

Bears are sensitive to electricity however, so electric fences can be used to prevent bears from accessing feeders while still allowing deer to reach them because of their ability to jump the fence.  Although an added cost, electric fencing can pay for itself in the prevention of lost feed and damage to a feeder.

TPWD biologists say education is the best way to prevent human-bear conflicts

Residents in areas where bears have been spotted should secure anything that could be a potential attractant (e.g. garbage, pet food, bird and deer feeders, etc.). Residents can also choose to invest in bear proof garbage dumpsters, a recourse that many communities in the western U.S. have deployed to reduce or prevent bear encounters. Double-bagging garbage to reduce odors and keeping bags in a secure location until the morning of trash pickup are also encouraged practices. Similarly, TPWD biologists recommend feeding pets inside or limiting pet food portions to an amount that can be consumed completely at each feeding.

Black bears are potentially dangerous animals. And while they are not likely to attack, their ferocity upon attack can be fatal.

In a story in the March/April 2020 edition of Sports Afield, I outlined a surprising study on black bear attack behavior.

A study published in The Journal of Wildlife Management documents 63 people killed in 59 incidents by non-captive black bears between 1900-2009.

Here is the standout quote.

“We judged that the bear involved acted as a predator in 88 percent of fatal incidents. Adult or subadult male bears were involved in 92 percent of fatal predatory incidents, reflecting biological and behavioral differences between male and female bears. That most fatal black bear attacks were predatory and were carried out by one bear shows that females with young are not the most dangerous black bears.”

There are a couple of things that should jump out at outdoor lovers here.

  1. If you are attacked by a black bear you must fight back. While many grizzly attacks are territorial or perhaps because the grizzly didn’t like you way you looked that day, most black bear attacks are predatory and nearly all of the fatal ones are. Play dead for grizzlies. Fight like crazy against a black bear.
  2. Big male bears are the biggest threat. If you see one in an area or have game camera photos of one, take extra precautions.

Black bears are protected in Texas, so hunters should keep that in mind and especially when hunting hogs in areas with bear sightings at night. A bear could easily look like a hog hitting a bait pile especially if you are using night vision or thermal imaging.

Black bears returning to Texas is exciting but everyone needs to stay informed. I will continue coverage here as the great American bear returns to the Lone Star State and shows up in places where few expect to see them.

(TPWD is requesting bear sighting information. Click here to find a biologist in your area. Email chester@chestermoore.com to send bear photos and videos.)

Chester Moore

Border Bear: Black Bear Swims Across TX-Lake Falcon (Video)

Lake Falcon on the Texas/Mexico border is known for its huge largemouth bass and monstrous alligator garfish.

So, when 15-year-old Joseph Belcher and his uncle Sherman Pierce hit the water in mid-June 2020, they were focused on fish.

That is until they noticed something swimming across the lake.

Moving closer to investigate, they saw a black bear coming from the Mexican side and were able to capture footage of it mid-lake and were gracious enough to share it with Higher Calling. Thanks to Larry Belcher for making the connection.

Black bears are native to both Mexico and Texas.

Ursus americanus eremicus, the Mexican black bear, is protected from harvest in Mexico and Texas, and over the last two decades, they have been spilling into Texas from the Sierra Del Carmen Mountains and other areas.

Most of the population is centered around Big Bend National Park but there are verified bear sightings and road kills near Alpine and also as far east as Zapata County where this sighting took place.

A 2012 report shows another bear sighting in the county but this one was on dry land.

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The Bay City area black bear. (Photo courtesy Al Weaver)

Ten years ago a hunter named Al Weaver sent me this photo from Bay City, TX on the north-central tier of the Texas Coast. I wrote about it in Texas Fish & Game in 2010.

Last year, I wrote this story, showing this individual had to take a pretty fantastic journey to end up where Weaver got the photo.

It’s called “Journey Of A Wayward Black Bear”.

Black bears are also slowly returning to the Pineywoods of Texas from Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Listen to the podcast I did with officials from Stephen F. Austin University for a lengthy discussion on this topic.

The extent of the black bear’s return to Texas will have much to do with habitat quality, access to migration points, and protection from poachers.

If you are intrigued by bears in Texas, follow this blog. There is more to come.

Chester Moore

Check out the Higher Calling podcast with Stephen F. Austin University officials talking black bears returning to East Texas here.

America Is Still Beautiful

Oh beautiful for spacious skies for amber waves of grain.

I’ll never forget sitting alone on a rock on a distant hill in South Dakota watching the northern lights as a pack of coyotes sang in the distance. The skies were truly spacious and grain plentiful as I ended a long day of pheasant hunting with friends.

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For purple mountain’s majesty. Above the fruited plain.

Just as the sun rose above the Montana mountains, I could finally understand the lyric “purple mountain’s majesty” as one of the peaks in the distance had a light purple hue. It was a special moment because in the plain below, just in front of me were two pronghorn bucks in an intense battle, almost as if to say, “I’ll be the king of this majestic scene.”

Oh, America how God truly shed His grace on thee, even before anyone other than the Creator Himself set foot here you were special.

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(Photo by Chester Moore)

And I have been exceedingly blessed to see so much of your beauty.

From the incredible pink dolphin that graced our presence on the Louisiana coastline to the hundreds of thousands of ducks and geese I have seen in those marshes.

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(Photo by Chester Moore)

From the Rocky Mountain bighorn I photographed at 12,000 feet in Colorado to the big eastern gobbler I bagged in the rolling hills of New York.

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Chester is a passionate turkey hunter. Here he prepares for a long walk back to camp with an eastern turkey taken near Cato, NY. (Photo by Lou Marullo)

And Texas, our Texas, oh hail my home state.

From the big bucks of the Pineywoods to the ocelots in the valley to the clear streams of the Hill Country and the mule deer of the west. You are incredible.

America was not chosen by First Nations people or European settlers because it was a big chunk of land. It was because of abundant timber, water and wildlife. America’s very greatness is tied to its wildness.

Naturalist Henry David Thoreau wrote that, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.”

And while the exact intent of Thoreau’s quote has been debated since he wrote it, there is no question America without wilderness is not America at all.

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The author photographed this bighorn at 12,000 feet in Colorado. Photo by Chester Moore)

And the further we get from the roots our ancestors planted, the further off track we’ve become. There are agendas on top of agendas for destruction of this nation. To plunder it To control it. To manipulate it and confuse.

There are so many voices demanding our attention, it is crucial that all hunters, anglers, hikers, campers and wildlife lovers go out into the wild for clarity.

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(Photo by Chester Moore)

I just returned from a remote area of Texas and at one point found myself in crystal clear water, surrounded by stunning limestone cliffs and there was no one around. Even my fishing partners were about 1/2 mile away and it was just me, God and His creation.

There was no one telling me who to be angry with. There was no one demanding political affiliation, holding a sign or fighting.

There was…peace.

America looked quite beautiful from here and I suspect on my coming trip to Alaska it will be just as majestic. As I seek to photograph Dall sheep, the only intent will be to capture one of the Lord’s finest creations to share with the world so others can care about their existence.

When I have been on wild turkey releases, bighorn captures, bay cleanups and stream enhancement projects there has been only one true agenda. To keep America wild and ensure what our forefathers no matter where they came from first marveled over when reaching the country remains.

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(Photo by Chester Moore)

Don’t let anyone tell you America is not beautiful anymore.

Don’t let anyone tell the nation is not worthy of adoration. I have ventured from sea to shining sea and feel blessed I was born here to experience the wild things that inhabit our woodlands, waterways, mountains, prairies, marshes, deserts and tundra.

Politics and media manipulation enter the woods only if you bring it.

It’s time to go beyond the pavement, into the wild and thank God for shining His most creative blessings on the United States of America and its wild lands.

Chester Moore

 

A Truly Higher Calling

In January 2019, I had an incredible experience while praying.

The Lord impressed two words upon me-“Higher Calling”.

I could feel the weight and depth of it in my bones as I knew a significant shift was coming to my life. It was one of those few times where I knew the Lord had a message for me to unravel.

Some say He no longer communicates with people but Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice”. (John 10:27)

And in this case, the significance of sheep cannot be overstated.

That prayer time began a journey of soul-searching and a path back toward the very beginnings of my career as a wildlife journalist and even younger.

For starters I knew the Lord wanted me to dedicate more time to Him, studying His word and praying. That was first.

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Chester Moore loves the mountains and forests of America and feels most at home there.

But there was more.

I love pretty much all aspects of fishing, hunting, and wildlife but if someone had given me a chance to do anything I wanted at 19 years of age when this journey began I would have pursued the wildlife of the mountains and forests.

I’ve always written about it but when paying opportunities came in other areas of the outdoors industry, I went where chances to make a living came.

Very much of that for me was in the Gulf coast fishing boom of the 1990s and early 2000s. I have loved coastal fishing my whole life so it was natural for me.

But my deepest love has always been mountain and forest wildlife.

So, last year I decided to put all career time outside of what I do at Texas Fish & Game toward writing about and advancing the cause of the conservation of mountain and forest wildlife. That is why this blog exists and the Higher Calling podcast and it has expanded into articles in numerous national and regional publications.

By discerning the two words “Higher Calling”, a new purpose was birthed into my writing and broadcasting and an epic year ensued.

I went from having never photographed bighorn sheep to photographing them in four different states. I went having only hunted and photographed Rio Grande turkeys to photographing the Grand Slam of the four major subspecies all in 2019.

And I managed to bag a big eastern gobbler in New York in the process.

In the fall of last year, we started a new outreach of our ministry called Higher Calling Wild Wishes Expeditions which has the goal of taking kids in our Wild Wishes program into mountain regions to train them to be wildlife conservationists. Wild Wishes grants wildlife encounters to children with a critical illness or loss of a parent or sibling.

Plans were on tap for Central Texas, Colorado, and Montana.

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Then COVID-19 came.

The Colorado trip has been at the very least postponed.

Montana is still up in the air and we will probably pull off the Texas trip. But it has been disheartening as we had some special teens lined up for some incredible opportunities that are shaky at best now.

People can say what they want about the coronavirus but at the time of this writing there were more than 60,000 people dead from it in the United States alone and economic depression looms like vultures circling a carcass.

It’s pretty ugly out there.

But I remain hopeful.

I am a follower of Jesus Christ. That means I believe in His virgin birth, death, burial, and resurrection.

And although I fail more often than I would like to admit, I try to follow his teachings and example. It’s why Lisa and I work so hard to help children going through illness and trauma.

And since I believe in a supernatural God, I believe supernatural things can happen. I believe in healings. I believe in deliverance and I believe in hope that we can have great lives despite the chaos.

I was a little boy from a lower-middle-income home who grew up in the oil industry bust of the late 70s/early 80s. We could barely afford to hunt in East Texas near our home much less pursue the great wildlife of the mountains.

My Dad and I would cut our favorite photos out of old Sports Afield, Field & Stream and Outdoor Life magazines and paste them in scrapbooks. We would dream of hunting around the country together and in our 700 square foot home in Orange, TX we were the best hunting team in the world.

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The author with one of his treasured scrapbooks. Note the three wild sheep on one page.

Dad died of natural causes on a hunting trip with me in South Texas in 2014 at age 71. He just shot the second biggest buck of life, topped only by the one he shot on the same ranch the year before. A connection I made in the industry became a friend and let me and Dad live out our deer hunting dreams on his ranch.

I am eternally grateful for that.

I hated to lose Dad but there is no better way or place he could have made his trip to Heaven.

I almost quit hunting after that.

For a couple of years there it just wasn’t the same. Dad was my hunting partner and it felt so strange to be in the field without him. I would always support hunting but two years ago, I had plans no one knew about to go bury Dad’s deer rifle on the ranch he died on and walk away from hunting.

It was just too hard emotionally.

But my friend Josh Slone who came into my life through our Wild Wishes program had been inspiring me to keep at it. Every time we got around each other the conversation was hunting and it often ended up being about our mutual dream of sheep hunting.

You see right after I got the words “Higher Calling”, I found those old scrapbooks in one of my mom’s storage bins.

Opening them up again was like opening up my childhood and being back in Dad’s lap.

And as I looked at the pages I was blown away that the majority of photos were of wild sheep and wild turkeys in that order. And those were the first two things I felt I needed to pursue on the career and conservation side of a higher calling.

The Lord had taken me back to the beginning of my life and a deep, profound love of wild sheep and wild turkeys that was rekindled like a wildfire.

In the ancient Book of Pslams, the Psalmist writes “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

I look back at 2019 and had more desires of my heart fulfilled than I have in 10 years before that from wildlife and career perspective.

And although 2020 has been scary for all of us, I have been able to photograph desert bighorns in Nevada and capture a very rare photo of an eastern turkey in East Texas as part of the Turkey Revolution project.

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This desert bighorn ram thrilled the author when it walked down the mountain to within 40 yards of him after He climbed up to get a good photo when it was  1/4 mile away.

I had a great hunting season and feel as alive in the woods bow hunting and turkey hunting as I did as a young man.

I am no one special.

But I get to do special things because I put my relationship with Christ first and work extremely hard on the vision of wildlife conservation and helping hurting children receive peace through wildlife encounters.

That is the true higher calling.

Without those two words, I felt in my spirit because I took time to pray, my life would look very different this year.

I am extremely concerned about the status of the outdoors industry that I have made a living in for 28 years. Like most Americans, I don’t know what is next. In this process, I have fears that need to be conquered as a man, provider, and conservationist.

But I am placing my trust in God and realizing I have a cause that is greater than the desire for even commerce.

I would continue using my God-given talent of communication on wildlife’s behalf even if there was no paycheck. I’m going to do everything I can, of course, to make sure the paychecks keep coming but that’s how much I believe in what I do.

This blog doesn’t pay. The podcast doesn’t either. These are things I do because I followed the Lord’s direction on “Higher Calling” and to keep the cause of conservation of mountain and forest wildlife front and center.

Lisa and I have never received a dime for our work with children. All of the money in our nonprofit goes to the cause and we are believing donors will continue to support what we do.

I can’t help but think about Jesus’ quote that His sheep hear his voice.

As His follower, I am one of those sheep and it blows my mind that because of hearing “Higher Calling” and doing something about it, He has led me to the wild sheep He created in the beginning and to childhood dreams never realized.

I thought seriously about this as I photographed a gorgeous desert bighorn in Nevada that actually walked down toward me after I climbed a treacherous mountainside. The beautiful ram essentially posed in perfect sunlight!

In this case, which sheep heard his voice?

Was it me who followed the call?

Or was it the ram?

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Chester and Lisa Moore in Colorado scouting for a location for Higher Calling Wild Wishes Expeditions in Colorado in 2019.

Perhaps the Lord brought it down to let me know He was there with me when Dad and I were cutting out pictures of rams and putting them in a scrapbook when I was six.

And He was there with me 40 years later on the mountain.

I can’t describe what that feels like.

Sometimes it’s hard to feel truly loved in this crazy, often dark world but as I knew the Lord brought me and that ram together. the Creator’s love was tangible.

I praise Him for the opportunity and for the higher calling.

His love for all of us is astounding. We just have to pray and listen.

Remember, His sheep hear His voice.

And I am living proof He still speaks to His flock.

Chester Moore

Hen Turkey Defends Nest Against Snake (Video)

The beauty of everyone having a high definition video camera in the form of their phone is we get to see wildlife interactions rarely viewed in past times.

Jackson Wheat was walking through the woods near Ardmore, OK. when he came across this Rio Grande turkey hen defending her nest against a snake.

Snakes, especially rat snakes, are one of the greatest nest predators of wild turkeys and in this clip we see momma turkey refusing to let her clutch become a statistic.

This is a great tribute to the tenacity of turkeys and the impact outdoor lovers can have by using readily-available technology to share what they see in the wild.

Chester Moore

What is America’s Most Remote Location? The Ultimate In “Social Distancing”

Have you ever wondered what is the most remote spot in the United States?

Well, if you have you will want to join Chester Moore and the founders of Project Remote on a fascinating program on remote locations.

In the age of “social-distancing”, this is a can’t miss show that asks the following question.

Have we developed America too much?

Click to listen.

COVID-19 And The State Of Wild Turkeys

COVID-19 started making a strong impact just as turkey seasons around the country were opening.

With public land, border and even hunting season closures it changed the dynamic of this season.

But it will have an even greater impact on turkey conservation as spring is the peak fundraising season at the local level for the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF).

Check out his podcast with Chester Moore and Becky Humphries, CEO of NWTF as they discuss this and why turkeys are a cornerstone species for conservation in America. Listen below.

Moore Honored For Turkey Conservation

The Wildlife Journalist® and Higher Calling blog publisher Chester Moore was awarded the National Wild Turkey Federation’s (NWTF) “Advocatus Magni Award” for being an outstanding advocate of wild turkey conservation and hunting.

Moore received the award at the NWTF Texas banquet in College Station, TX and said it a true honor to be recognized by such a prestigious organization and for something he believes in wholeheartedly.

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“As turkeys go, so do America’s forests. If we get turkey conservation right then everything from whitetail deer to gopher tortoises and wild sheep benefit,” he said.

In 2019 Moore embarked on a quest to raise awareness to turkey conservation and began by photographing the Grand Slam of turkeys around the nation in one year.

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Two Rio Grande gobblers the author photographed on his Turkey Revolution® quest in 2019.

“There’s much more to come. This award inspires me to do even more and explore things like the link between turkeys and sheep in their shared range. It’s going to be a great year,” he said.

The highlight will be taking a group of teen’s from Moore’s Wild Wishes® program into Colorado on a search for wild sheep, turkeys and elk in the mountains.

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These Higher Calling Wild Wishes Expeditions will take these young people who have a critical illness or loss of a parent or sibling on a special conservation mission trip to raise awareness to sheep, turkey and elk habitat and conservation issues.

If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to support this important program click here.

 

Sheep Show Highlights Hope

A desert bighorn ram crossed the steep, rocky opening with incredible ease.

I had struggled to quietly get within photo range without slipping and falling to my death for longer than I would like to admit. The ram, however, crossed through a much more treacherous spot with impunity-in seconds.

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A beautiful desert bighorn ram walks across a steep, rocky slope. (Photo by Chester Moore, Jr.)

Seeing their ability to survive and thrive in such habitat is one of the things that draws men to seek out wild sheep-whether with a camera, rifle or bow and arrow.

And Jan. 15-17, thousands of sheep enthusiasts gathered in Reno, NV. at the annual Sheep Show hosted by The Wild Sheep Foundation.

It was my first time attending and I came both as a fan of wild sheep and a wildlife journalist wanting to get the story on what makes this group of people tick.

The fan was satisfied as soon as I walked through the doors of the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.

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The author with a beautiful Dall sheep mount at the Wild Sheep Foundation’s Sheep Show in Reno, NV. (Photo by Chester Moore, Jr.)

Anyone into wild sheep would be impressed with incredible wild sheep taxidermy displays and hundreds of booths ranging from outfitters specializing in argali hunts in Tajikistan to Colorado’s grass-roots Rocky Mountain Bighorn Society.

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An incredible argali display created by Wildlife Revolutions-Taxidermy Studio. (Photo by Chester Moore, Jr.)

A melanistic desert bighorn taken in Mexico was of particular interest as well as a mountain-style display of wild sheep and goats from Asia.

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A melanistic desert bighorn taken in the 2019 season in Baja Mexico on a hunt arranged by Bo Morgan of Go With Bo, a well known outfitting company. (Photo by Chester Moore, Jr.)

Sheep hunting is not for the out of shape was evidenced by conversations with outfitters who start some of their hunts at upwards of 12,000 feet.

And it’s not for the out of work either.

While lottery-style draw permits gives the working-class man access to sheep hunting, much of it is a wealthy man’s game.

But that has come as a benefit to wild sheep.

Whereas whitetail deer can pay for themselves through standard hunting licenses fees due to their huge distribution and strong populations, sheep can’t survive through that model.

Auctioning off a portion of tags to wealthy hunters at banquets like those held at the Sheep Show funds a huge part of wild sheep conservation efforts. And whereas whitetail need studying and observation, sheep need an entirely different level of management.

Moving sheep from areas with high population densities to low and making sure they do not co-mingle with domestic sheep that can pass on deadly pneumonia is incredibly expensive.

Without groups like The Wild Sheep Foundation which according to president Gray Thornton spent more than $6 million on conservation efforts in 2019 along with regional groups like the Texas Bighorn Society and Alaska Wild Sheep Foundation, sheep would be in real trouble.

Tags at these auctions regularly go more than $100,000 and some coveted tags like those for Montana’s giant rams have fetched more than $400,000.

The hunters with that kind of coin could easily hunt big rams with outfitters who have tags and spend less. But these hunters believe in conservation and don’t mind spending to make it happen.

The most impressive part of the event came at the beer reception for the Less Than One Club. Its a subgroup of The Wild Sheep Foundation for members who have never taken a wild sheep.

More than 2,000 people attended this year’s event, shattering the previous record and showing an incredible diversity of people.

I’m a member and despite having traveled and written all over North America have never taken a sheep.

Neither had the lifelong sheep biologist who I sat with or the 28-year-old girl I met who dreamed of sheep hunting. Virtually very income level, background, ethnicity and state in the union was represented and everyone was truly excited.

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Pete Muennich of the Rocky Mountain Goat Alliance announces the winner of the annual “Billy Goat Club” drawing for a mountain goat hunt.  The Rocky Mountain Goat Alliance partners with The Wild Sheep Foundation on this event. (Photo by Chester Moore, Jr.)

And although I don’t have official demographics, I estimate a third of that room was 35 years and younger and half under 45. In the hunting world those are impressive numbers and they show hope for the future of wild sheep.

Enthusiasm for these great animals is not limited by age, income bracket or location. It’s universal to those who have somehow found a fascination with wild sheep.

Three Dall sheep hunts were given away that night in draws that had everyone on their edge of their seats. Asian ibex hunts were given away for the international component of this unique club that everyone in the room inherently wants to be disqualified from.

The day after the show, I drove seven-hour span from Reno to Las Vegas to attend the SHOT Show on behalf of Texas Fish & Game magazine. It was an incredible drive through stunning country with frequent “Bighorn Crossing” signs.

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Bighorn crossing signs are a common sight in many areas of Nevada, highlighting the state’s high level management of these ungulates. (Photo by Chester Moore, Jr.)

I had learned about a tract of public land with a good sheep population and hoped I would be able to photograph my first sheep in Nevada and by God’s grace and good information there was the sheep at the beginning of this story.

I could not help but think back to the Sheep Show and wonder if this beautiful, young ram would even be here without the love of those in the sheep-hunting community.

Just as I decided to head back down as not to spook the ram, he made his way down toward me.

He stopped about 75 yards away, highlighted perfectly by the brilliant desert sun and essentially posed while looking right at me. I could now make out a tag in his ear with a very easily identifiable number.

This ram had at some point been captured, documented and maybe even moved from another area to here.

That kind of management doesn’t come cheap and it does not come without people who believe in wild sheep management like the Nevada Department of Wildlife and The Wild Sheep Foundation.

The beautiful creature turned and headed back up the slope, this time journeying to the peak and over.

I left Nevada with great hope for the future of sheep and sheep hunting thanks to the Sheep Show and a deeper curiosity about Nevada and it’s three varieties of wild sheep.

More on that to come soon.

Chester Moore, Jr.