April 13, 2016

AZGFD to display world-record desert bighorn sheep

“Scrivens” ram on loan from Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society


PHOENIX — The most magnificent desert bighorn sheep in the world now stands regal among the wildlife mounts on display at Arizona Game and Fish Department headquarters in Phoenix.

On loan from the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, the massive ram joins the bull elk, pronghorn, black bear, mountain lion and more, including small game and several sportfish, in the customer service area for all to see.

“This is the ideal place for this ram,” said Pete Cimellaro, whose organization delivered and assembled the mount in advance of this weekend’s meeting of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. “It’s home. It’s just the epitome of what a desert bighorn sheep looks like – and a really, really big one.” The backstory behind the “Scrivens” ram is almost as extraordinary as his immense horns that scored at 205-1/8 points when they were first measured unofficially in 1946 by the Boone and Crockett Club – a world record that hasn’t been challenged for 70 years.

While on a hunting trip in 1942 on a remote ranch on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, Carl Scrivens and his brothers were taking a stroll around the ranch when they spotted the skull and horns in the back of a dilapidated wagon. According to vaqueros at the ranch, the ram had been killed a year or so earlier by a Native American who was hunting for meat and left the head.

The brothers, knowledgeable about the size of desert bighorn rams, were not about to leave without the head and acquired it for a mere eight pesos -- and a wool sweater Scrivens was wearing at the time that caught the eye of a vaquero.

“That goes down with things like the Louisiana Purchase,” Cimellaro said, laughing. The ram was bequeathed in 1992 to ADBSS, of which Scrivens had been a lifelong member. In fact, he and his wife, Anna, often would come from their home in Afton, Wyo., to help with water catchment projects.

“They loved the desert,” Cimellaro said. “They shared many campfires with members of the sheep society. That affinity is what gave Carl the idea to allow us to be custodians of the ram. He said, ‘This is the perfect place because the sheep society is always going to care about sheep.’ ”

After obtaining a suitable cape for the ram from Game and Fish, the restored mount was put on display in 1992 at the Boone and Crockett Club’s National Collection of Heads and Horns at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyo. In recent years, the mount had found its way to the headquarters of Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Mo. It was Cimellaro who recently made the trip back to Missouri, crated the world-record ram and brought it back to Arizona. Cimellaro still marvels at the size of its thick, heavy horns.

“Nothing really has approached it,” Cimellaro said. “That might change someday, who knows? At this time, it’s one of the longest-standing records out there.”

Game and Fish headquarters is located at 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, 85086. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, except for holidays. For more information, visit www.azgfd.gov, or call 602-942-3000.