Getting a bighorn tag is rare enough, but harvesting this old bighorn monarch was the experience of a lifetime for one avid hunter. Tony Loop already holds Arizona’s state record for bow-harvested desert bighorn, but a massive ram taken late last year may very well net him the archery world record.
At this year’s Sheep Show, hosted by the Wild Sheep Foundation, Loop’s most recent desert bighorn measured an eye-popping 186 and 4/8 inches on the Pope and Young Club scoring system. The club’s current world record for that species belongs to a 179 and 3/8-inch animal taken by Brian Benyo on Mexico’s Tiburón Island three years ago.
“Tony’s ram was officially scored at 186 4/8 Pope and Young during the Wild Sheep Foundation convention over the weekend,” wrote Dieringer Outfitters, the guide service that Loop used during the 2015 hunt. “He will be the pending world record until he can be panel scored at the P&Y national convention in April 2017. Congratulations Tony!”
Loop, like any other hunter who is fortunate enough to get a sheep tag, does not take a hunt for bighorn lightly. In a story posted on huntinfool.com, Loop said he goes through a rigorous workout regime before embarking for the Arizona mountains.
“To prepare for my hunt, I began a stringent exercise and workout program to ensure I was in shape to meet the challenges of a sheep hunt. Over the spring and summer, I lost 45 pounds while engaging in a rigorous daily workout program at the local fitness center. My workout included cardiovascular, endurance, and strength training, as well as a personal trainer to help increase my flexibility. Being in good physical and mental condition is critical for the overall enjoyment and success of any hunt,” he explained.
A bighorn hunt can be a lot more arduous than it seems on paper. Loop described his previous 2014 bighorn hunt as one that took place in 110-degree weather and over the rugged cliffs and ravines that bighorns like to call home. As hard as it may be to believe, Loop said that experience is what he enjoyed most about the hunt. Having a record, whether it be a state or world record, is simply the “icing on the cake.”
Loop’s record will still have to be panel scored at the Pope and Young Club’s national convention in 2017 before it becomes official.