Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep are known for their massive horns, agile and deliberate movement through rocky terrain, and their unique, hard hitting head butting ritual. Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep are one of four wild, native sheep species found in North America. They occupy mostly the rugged, steep Rocky Mountains of the United States and Canada. Bighorn sheep head butt, and strike horns to determine dominance. Bighorn sheep live in a band. Often times the largest of the bighorn sheep, the males, called rams, spend time together with other males. During the mating season bighorn rams can be seen butting heads and wondering though the bands of females. Bighorn sheep mating season, called the rut, begins in October and ends in late November to early December in the Northern Rockies.

Below are a selection of bighorn sheep photographs.

  Mature bighorn sheep ram lip curling. Wild rocky mountain big horn sheep © tony bynum

Mature bighorn sheep ram lip curling. Wild rocky mountain big horn sheep © tony bynum

  Bighorn ram with quote. © tony bynum

Bighorn ram with quote. © tony bynum

  Two rocky mountain, bighorn sheep, males, rams fighting for dominance. © tony bynum

Two rocky mountain, bighorn sheep, males, rams fighting for dominance. © tony bynum

  Rocky mountain bighorn rams fighting, head butting. © tony bynum

Rocky mountain bighorn rams fighting, head butting. © tony bynum

  Rocky Mountain bighorn rams following a ewe in falling snow. ©tony bynum

Rocky Mountain bighorn rams following a ewe in falling snow. ©tony bynum

Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep can be difficult to photograph well. It's one thing to get a photograph of a bighorn sheep, but it's entirely another to photograph them well. Bighorn sheep often like to be sheep. They tend to be lazy. They also tend to dislike being photographed. I think this is a product of their evolution. When photographing big horn sheep often times they will turn or put their heads down, in the grass and ignore your presence. I believe they feel intimidated, particularly when they see the large "eye" ball which is the end of a large lens. I think they believe it's an eye ball and like most wildlife, they don't like eye contact. Therefore, in order to get great photographs of bighorn sheep, time, patience and location are critical. Bighorn sheep are best photographed during the rut when they are occupied by the drive to mate. Other times of the year you can find bighorn sheep grazing, resting, bedded or hiding from predators among the rocky outcroppings, steep mountains and hills they call home.

  Two bighorn rams standing in the snow with mountain backdrop. © tony bynum

Two bighorn rams standing in the snow with mountain backdrop. © tony bynum

  Mature, bighorn ram. This is an excellent example of a large, mature big horn ram in prime condition. © tony bynum

Mature, bighorn ram. This is an excellent example of a large, mature big horn ram in prime condition. © tony bynum

  Two bighorn rams head butting to determine dominance in the band. Other rams watch and even participate in the battles. © tony bynum

Two bighorn rams head butting to determine dominance in the band. Other rams watch and even participate in the battles. © tony bynum

  Bighorn sheep close up of a big horn ram. © tony bynum

Bighorn sheep close up of a big horn ram. © tony bynum

  A small band of bighorn sheep, females - ewe's - and males - rams - walking on a ridge top with large mountains in the background. © tony bynum

A small band of bighorn sheep, females - ewe's - and males - rams - walking on a ridge top with large mountains in the background. © tony bynum

  Two wild rocky mountain bighorn sheep bedded on the side of a mountain. © tony bynum

Two wild rocky mountain bighorn sheep bedded on the side of a mountain. © tony bynum

Tony Bynum has more than 25,000 bighorn sheep photographs from around north america. Please email tony if you need assistance with finding the right bighorn sheep photograph for your needs.