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May 24, 2004
New State Record Bighorn Shows Conservation Success
AUSTIN, Texas — In just six years, Texas’ desert bighorn sheep population has doubled in size to about 600 animals, surpassing historic numbers from the early 1900s. This successful conservation initiative is also paying dividends for those who’ve paid to make it happen.
Glenn Thurman, an avid hunter and conservationist from Mesquite, set a Texas record when he purchased the rights to hunt a bighorn ram for $102,000 at a Texas Bighorn Society fundraiser auction last year. On March 2, he set another state record, harvesting a ram on Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area with an official Boone and Crockett Club score of 180 0/8 points.
The new record bighorn surpasses Dan Boone’s previous high score of 176 1/8 for a ram taken in the Baylor Mountains in 1997. The highest priced permit prior to Thurman’s sold for $85,000 at a Foundation for North American Wild Sheep auction.
To anyone unfamiliar with the Texas bighorn sheep restoration program and big game hunting, the price tag for the right to hunt these magnificent animals may seem inflated. Clay Brewer, who coordinates the bighorn program for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department would agree, but is quick to point out it’s the cause that fuels the bidding.
"These guys could buy a sheep permit for less and maybe have a chance at taking a bigger ram, but they’re investing in the Texas program," said Brewer. "The Texas Bighorn Society has generated over a million dollars toward this program and we wouldn’t be where we are today without their support."
Brewer points to the impressive increase in population as well as the record-book quality of Texas’ bighorns as indicators of the success the restoration effort is having. "We issued seven hunting permits this year, more than any other year," he added.
In addition to the permits at auction, Texas offers the chance to hunt a bighorn through TPWD’s Big Time Texas Hunts Grand Slam hunting package. For a $10 fee, hunters can enter in a drawing for the opportunity to hunt all four of Texas prized big game animals: the desert bighorn, white-tailed deer, mule deer and pronghorn antelope. Permit applications are available wherever hunting licenses are sold. Permits may also be purchased using a major credit card by calling (800) 895-4248. Details and entry forms are available online (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/) or by calling (800) 792-1112.
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