Big Horn Sheep - Love on the Rocks in Estes Park

Today's Guest Blogger is Jared Gricoskie of Yellow Wood Guiding.

Here in Rocky Mountain National Park, December is the Big Horn Sheep's mating season.  Bog Horns spend most of the year in small bands of females and lambs, with the males in seperate bands of mixed ages.  Most of the time females just want to eat grass (generally on a southern facing slope).  But for as little as 48 hours a year, the ladies are in estrus and looking for the right guy.  During these extremely brief mating periods, females attract males through scent and may attract more than a handful of suitors.  Females select males on a basis of body size, horn size, and fitness.  They attract a few males and then run, much like a scene from a schoolyard where the boys chase the girls.  During the pursuit, the lead male will often turn on the males behind him and clash.  The sounds of the two rams crashing their heads together can be heard from over a mile away.  In the end, the female selects a male to mate with and will very likely not interact with him again.  So be sure to scan the rocky southern facing cliffs around Estes Park during the first two weeks of December.  For Big Horn Sheep, love really is on the rocks.