A massive ram harvested in western Nebraska's rocky Wildcat Hills over the weekend is expected to set a new state record for bighorn sheep hunters in this state.
Archery hunter Jason Bruce of Lockeford, California, took the ram Saturday on private property near Gering.
Estimated to be 10 years old, the ram had a gross score of 195⅛ and netted 193⅝ on the Boone and Crockett scale, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. The record will become official if the score still surpasses the existing record after a 60-day drying period.
That record — a score of 190⅝ — was set by Lincoln rifle hunter Terry Bogle in December 2015.
Bruce won his permit by auction, one of just two such permits awarded this season, which runs Nov. 28 through Dec. 22. Proceeds help fund the state's bighorn sheep management and reintroduction efforts.
This year's hunt is the 22nd bighorn sheep season since the first one in 1998.
A different subspecies of bighorn roamed the Nebraska Panhandle until the early 1900s and became extinct in 1925. In 1981, the state began introducing Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep from Custer State Park in South Dakota. Now about 300 sheep reside in parts of the Pine Ridge between Harrison and Chadron, and the Wildcat Hills south of Gering and east to McGrew.