The Bighorn sheep rutting season or breeding season in Canada and the American Rockies is from October to January. During the bighorn rut, Rams fight for dominance by clashing heads in very physical battles. Each group of Bighorn Sheep will have a dominance order, with high ranking Rams(males) doing most of the breeding. Like Elk bulls after their rutting season, energy expended leaves bighorn rams in poor winter condition, resulting in a higher mortality rates among dominant rams.
During the bighorn rut, ram battles take place for the right to collect a harem of ewes(females). Bighorn Sheep Ram challenges can be a combination of show and bluff. When bluffing is matched, two rams will face each other, rearing up onto their hind legs, and smash their horns together with enourmous force. The battle sounds of these impacts are often compared to the reverberation of a high powered gunshot.
Dominant Bighorn Sheep Rams
Very large, dominant bighorn rams often have horns that make a full curl, continuing past they eye. It takes 7 or 8 years for Rams to reach this mature dominant stage and such animals are quite rare outside of protected areas.
Bighorn sheep ram horns can weigh up to 15 pounds on each side, meaning bighorn sheep males might have 30 pounds of horn on their head. Horns are rarely used for defense, but more for rutting season battles to establish breeding rights among the herd of ewes. Bighorn sheep ram fights are a wild animal experience not to be missed.