Bighorn Sheep Hunting
In 1981, Game and Parks began a project to return bighorn sheep to some of its native ranges in Nebraska.
Before 1900, Audubon’s bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis auduboni) inhabited parts of western Nebraska, including the Wildcat Hills, the Pine Ridge, along the North Platte River to eastern Lincoln County, and along the Niobrara River. Sources say the species became instinct in the early 1900s, with its last stronghold in the South Dakota badlands.
In 1981, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission began a project to return bighorn sheep to some of its native ranges in Nebraska. Fort Robinson State Park was the site of the initial release of a dozen individuals, and subsequent releases of bighorns in 1988, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2012 have established bighorns in the Wildcat Hills and Pine Ridge of Nebraska’s panhandle. The program has been widely supported among hunters and outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy watching the majestic animals in a natural setting.
Bighorn sheep hunting
Limited hunting opportunities have been available since 1998 through the issuance of auction and lottery permits. Proceeds from these permits and donated funds from conservation organizations, including the Wild Sheep Foundation, Nebraska Chapter of Safari Club International, Iowa Chapter of Foundation for North American Wild Sheep, Midwest Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation, and the Nebraska Big Game Society, have allowed Nebraska to re-establish bighorns in five areas of the Panhandle. The exact hunting location within Banner, Box Butte, Dawes, Morrill, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan and Sioux counties is determined by the Commission, depending on ram availability.
Proceeds from lottery entries and auctions have raised more than $1 million for the Bighorn Sheep Program. These proceeds are a critical revenue source for the program.
Permits and season dates
Typically, one auction and one lottery permit is authorized per year. See the Bighorn Sheep Lottery page and the Big Game Guide for the latest information on permits and season dates.
Permit holders will receive guide service from Nebraska Game and Parks staff and up to four days and nights of meals and lodging at the historic Fort Robinson State Park.
Purchase hunting, big game and turkey permits, as well as supertags and combo lotteries.
With a broad diversity of species and seasons, hunters in Nebraska can have a busy year. Find our comprehensive list of season dates by species.
Rules, orders & regulations
Find the current orders, rules and regulations for Nebraska's fish, game and park spaces.