I must confess, I have never shot a sheep. But I have been where they live and close enough to shoot them. All I lacked, depending on where I was at the time, was either a hard - to - draw permit or a big enough bank account. I will keep striving for both and fully expect to hunt them soon.
When I do, you can bet I’ll give serious thought to my rifle selection. Because I have been in sheep country, the number one thing I will look at will be weight. It is steep and rocky where most sheep live. It’s steep and rocky where I live too; the difference is I am at 800 feet above sea level, while most sheep can add at least another zero to the elevation of their residence. The air up there is stingy with its oxygen, and the lighter the rifle I’ll have to carry, the happier my legs and lungs will be.
The rifle must also be accurate; that’s a given. If it won’t shoot all its bullets into less than one M.O.A., it will not be considered.
Now for the cartridge. The list starts with the .270 Win., mostly for reasons of tradition. When hunters of my generation (40 - something) speak of sheep hunting, we inevitably think of Jack O’Connor and his beloved .270 Win. Any list of sheep hunting guns that omits it would border on sacrilege. Any other cartridge from the .280 through the .300 Mag. would be appropriate, providing it’s in a rifle light enough to lug.
While there are, of course, many factory rifles that will meet a sheep hunter’s needs, most hunters who can afford sheep hunting have the resources to consider a custom rifle. If you were even inclined to buying a custom or semi - custom rifle, sheep hunting may be the catalyst you need. It’s here that you can find the lightweight, powerful cartridges and supreme accuracy that this demanding hunting will require.
I am currently waiting delivery on a rifle from Mark Bansner that will make the ideal sheep gun. It’s based on a Remington Model Seven action with a new barrel chambered for a short - action .300 cartridge that matches the ballistics of the .300 Win. Stocked with one of Mark’s custom synthetic handles, it will weigh about six pounds. It will wear a Leupold 2.5 - 8 Vari - X III scope in David Gentry Feather - Light Rings & Bases.
All I’ll lack then is the sheep tag.
I have never shot a goat either. The only one I have seen while hunting was in a place I would rather not go to without a helicopter. It seems that goats live in even more rugged country than sheep do, and I’ve heard they’re tough customers. I would stay with the criteria for selecting a sheep gun, only looking for the lightest, most powerful rifle I could find. That and a very rugged guide who could carry me up the mountains on his back!
Of course, I’ll tip him well.