June 24, 2014
Of all of the potential world record specimens of big game that exist for a hunter to tag across North America, achieving such a benchmark for the desert bighorn sheep might be the most difficult hunting task of all.
For starters, there aren't many desert bighorns out there; hunters will find them only in the desert southwest of the United States and in portions of Mexico.
Add on the fact that few sheep tags exist on the northern side of the U.S./Mexico border and the task becomes even more difficult.
In fact, so limited are these tags that they are next to impossible to obtain, requiring either a huge helping of luck to beat long lottery-like odds in limited entry draws or a substantial outlaying of cold hard cash.
The latter – which comes through various tag auctions, landowner tag purchases in a few spots like Texas, or through the setting up an outfitted hunt in Mexico – make taking a desert bighorn of any size a difficult proposition.
Change the subject to the taking of a world record desert bighorn, especially with archery gear, and the task becomes daunting to say the least.
Nevertheless, that appears to be exactly what Ohio bowhunter Brian Benyo did early last year.
According to the Pope & Young Club, Benyo made a 25-yard shot in January 2013 on a desert bighorn ram that appears to be a new P&Y world record for the species pending panel scoring measurements next year.
Benyo's success came on the second day of his bowhunt in Sonora, Mexico, when he put a successful spot-and-stalk on the big ram. When the shot flew true, the Ohio bowhunter was soon putting his tag on a 179 2/8-inch ram.
Should that initial entry score hold up next year when the P&Y Club holds a panel scoring session prior to its April 2015 national convention in Phoenix, Ariz., then the Benyo ram would eclipse the current world record mark.
That current benchmark is a 178 6/8-inch desert bighorn ram taken in Hidalgo County, N.M., in 2007 by bowhunter Jim Hens.
If panel scoring does find the Benyo desert bighorn's score to be true next spring, then the sheep's horns would ascend to the top of the species records kept by P&Y since the bowhunting and conservation organization began back in 1961.
Officials with P&Y note in a Club news release that there are a number of reasons that the Benyo ram could fall short of the world record mark when it is panel measured in 2015.
That could occur most notably due to shrinkage of the horns over the next several months or through the panel's discovery of any potential mis-measurement(s) recorded on the current entry score sheet.
Regardless, P&Y officials say that the Benyo ram is an outstanding desert bighorn specimen and that the hunter should be congratulated on his tremendous accomplishment.
"I am always amazed that in each recording period, we have several animals entered that exceed the present world's records", said Glenn Hisey, director of records for the Pope & Young Club, in the Club's news release.
"This is a testimony to the effectiveness of the 'North American Wildlife Conservation Model' and proof that the good old days of bowhunting are now."