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World record bighorn ram bagged in southwest South Dakota

Clayton Miller poses with the world record bighorn ram he shot while hunting last October in South Dakota. Submitted photo

PIERRE, S.D. — A South Dakota bighorn ram was certified as a new archery world record on Jan. 24 by the Pope and Young Club.

Clayton Miller’s massive sheep is now the largest hunter-killed Rocky Mountain bighorn with both Pope and Young and Boone and Crockett.

The ram was shot Oct. 30, 2018, in Pennington County. The final score of 209 1/8 inches surpasses the previous world record Rocky Mountain ram shot by Todd Kirk in 1998 by almost 10 inches.

Miller's ram is also the largest bighorn sheep ever scored in South Dakota. Scott Vander Meulen held the record for the ram he shot in 2000 with a gun that scored 191 6/8 inches. The previous archery record was 162 1/8 inches by Collin Palmer in 2014. In 1984, South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks officials picked up the skull of a dead sheep that scored 196 4/8 inches.

“I went into this hunt knowing that there were some spectacular animals in the area, but it was beyond my wildest dream that I would be after the new Pope and Young Club World Record," Miller said in the release.

The ram will be on display at the Pope and Young Club Convention in Omaha, Neb., in April.

"The Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep is such an American icon," said Ed Fanchin, records chair for the Pope and Young Club, in a press release. "To have the privilege to be part of a Special Panel of Judges to authenticate its final score was a special treat."

The record-book ram wouldn't have been possible without restoration efforts that brought a robust population of bighorn sheep back to South Dakota, according to the Boone and Crockett Club.

"This is a true testament to the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and a shining beacon of what can be accomplished with efforts and funds being dedicated to wildlife," said Justin Spring, records director for the Boone and Crockett Club.

Miller said he was astonished to have the opportunity to hunt for bighorn sheep.

“I couldn’t believe it when I got the phone call that my name had been drawn for the first and only bighorn sheep unit in the Badlands of South Dakota," Miller said in the press release. "I have been dreaming of the opportunity to draw a tag like this since I started applying religiously at the age of 12."