head shot of a bighorn ram in the North Dakota Badlands.

In the spring, a young ram does not have much of a set of horns, yet.

Ha!  Thanks for asking.

A lot of people wonder where are the bighorn sheep. 

Even ranchers in McKenzie County go years without seeing them. 




Big horn sheep pause on a hillside.

Ram population is down a little this year, so they are harder to spot. Leave it to the ND Game and Fish Department to have the long camera lens to get a shot like this.

If you drive south of Watford City and cross the Little Missouri River, you drive through their neighborhood. They are generally south of the Little Missouri, across from the North Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  The state says there are about 300 in the region, but that doesn’t ensure a sighting because they’re very hard to see.

Two bighorn sheep pause on a hill in the North Dakota Badlands.

We were fortunate one spring to catch a small herd on a hillside east of Highway 85. They paused just long enough for us to hurriedly grab a couple of unexpected shots.


This time of year, they’re migrating to their winter neighborhood and are rutting. So, they will be moving around, which makes it a good time to try to see them. Bring your binoculars.

A flock of bighorn sheep includes this lamb.

The spring we got to photography a small herd, a lamb was in the bunch. They are susceptible to coyotes, mountain lions, and when they are smaller to eagles. So they stick close to their mothers.



Ranchers east of Highway 85 have told us they see them all the time, but they had to learn how to spot them.  They typically can be found on either side of Highway 85, along the Long X Road to the east or to the west about 2 or 3 miles.  They’re in the steep, sheer faces of the hills and blend in perfectly with the surroundings.

They like to feed on grass and live among the junipers. So, watch in grassy areas next to juniper stands. The rams have been battling pneumonia for several years, and several have succumbed to the infection.  So, there may be an off-hand chance you may hear a ram coughing before you see one.