Bowman County resident gets possible state record bighorn sheep

A Bowman County resident may have set a new state record for bighorn sheep.

Shawn Burns (L) sits with Skyler Kinkade (R) behind Burns's soon-to-be-record bighorn sheep
Shawn Burns (L) sits with Skyler Kinkade (R) behind Burns’s soon-to-be-record bighorn sheep

By COLE BENZ | Record Editor
Record Editor

A Bowman County resident may have set a new state record for bighorn sheep.

Shawn Burns, 27, was hunting in McKenzie County, just west of Grassy Butte on Oct. 29 when he took down the large animal with a .338 Winchester Magnum. He was about 329 yards away from the sheep when he fired his weapon.

Burns said he contacted the North Dakota Game and Fish Department immediately, a requirement of the state once the animal is recovered. Hunters are required to contact the department so they can take samples. Last year a pneumonia disease killed more than 30 sheep, so the state didn’t hold a hunt last year and prompted sample collecting from animals this year. The samples will be sent to Washington University for examination, Burns said.

After the samples were taken, Brett Weidmann (with the ND Game and Fish Department) took the measurements for the record book.

He gave the animal a 175 7/8 green score, surpassing the current record of 173 set in 2014. Burns said it was estimated to weigh 230 lbs.

Burns said he will have to wait a mandatory 60-day waiting period before it can officially be tabbed as a state record.

Burns has been applying for a bighorn sheep permit for the past 13 years. He first applied when he was first eligible at 14 years-old.

Out of more than 10,000 permits that were submitted to the state, only eight were distributed. Seven through lottery, and one through auction.

But it’s a once-in-a-lifetime permit, meaning Burns will not be able to apply for another permit in North Dakota.