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There are many sheep hunters, but almost no one calls himself a goat hunter. The question is, why not?

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There are many sheep hunters, but almost no one calls himself a goat hunter. The question is, why not?

In the world of hunting, there is a subculture of wild sheep and sheep hunters. Some of this is, well, elitist horse-pucky. Wild sheep are generally not as wary as most deer and many antelope. They cannot rip you to shreds like a bear or one of the great cats, nor can they trample you into a wet spot like a bovine or pachyderm. However, wild sheep are unquestionably magnificent, and they lead us into some of the most beautiful scenery on Earth. On the other hand, exactly the same can be said about the world’s wild goats. Most of us know hunters who identify themselves first and foremost as “sheep hunters.” Throughout my entire hunting lifetime I have never heard a single person identify himself or herself as a “goat hunter.”

This is confusing. Is any wild sheep truly more awesome than a really big ibex or a twist-horned markhor? The only real advantage I can think of to pursuing the wild sheep family, genus Ovis, is they smell better and taste better! The wild goats, on the other hand, are equally wary, and often live in much rougher and more difficult—but equally beautiful—terrain. Really good goat habitat often starts where wild sheep fear to tread! There is also fantastic variety, with the world’s wild goats encompassing several families of diverse sizes, horn configuration, and even color schemes. There are small wild goats like the chamois, big ones like the ibex and markhor, and true oddballs like our white Rocky Mountain goat and the tahr. There are even some goats, like the turs of the Caucasus (genus Capra, true goats) that sheep hunters like to claim for their own. There are also “bridges” between the goat and sheep family, like the aoudad and probably the blue sheep or bharal. (Yep, sheep hunters claim these as well!)

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