Mitchell native shoots rare bighorn sheepStuart Sullivan called it a once-in-a-lifetime hunt.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
Stuart Sullivan called it a once-in-a-lifetime hunt.
A Mitchell native, Sullivan, 33, shot a bighorn sheep on Thanksgiving morning in the Black Hills. He is one of three people in the state who drew a tag to be eligible to hunt bighorn sheep this year.
“I hunt everything,” Sullivan said, “and this tops the list of memorable hunts.”
Sullivan said he’s been hunting since he was 12, and he’s applied for a bighorn sheep tag for nine years. Last year, the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department issued five bighorn sheep tags statewide, but this year the number fell to three tags.
Sullivan was one of the lucky ones.
“I never really figured I’d draw one,” he said. “I put in for it just in case.”
Sullivan said the Thanksgiving morning hunt was the eighth day he chased bighorn sheep this year. The season runs from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31.
He went out at sunrise and shot the estimated 225- to 250-pound animal around 11:30 a.m. It took three shots at 177 yards with a .300 Winchester Magnum.
Sullivan said the GFP estimated his bighorn sheep at 165 points. Boone and Crockett, a nationally known club dedicated to keeping records of big game, recognizes an award-winning bighorn sheep at 175 points. The world record bighorn sheep is 208 3/8 points.
“They have several different measurements they take, all in inches, and then they add all the numbers together,” Sullivan said. “I guess mine is probably an average animal.”
Per GFP law, this is the last time Sullivan will get to hunt bighorn sheep in South Dakota. After drawing a tag, hunters are no longer eligible to hunt bighorn sheep in the state even if no animal was harvested. He can apply to hunt bighorn sheep in other states.
Sullivan said he is going to have the animal mounted, though he’s unsure whether he’ll have the entire animal mounted or just the head and shoulders.