A bighorn ram appears to lean in to hear what his fellow ram is saying. (Tony Douzenis)

If bighorn rams shared secrets, what would they be? Fight advice from seasoned veterans? Gossip about ewes? Speculation on the most impressive horns?

This image by Powell photographer Tony Douzenis poses that question. Or, perhaps, it simply captures rams interacting as they engage in the dominance rituals of mating season.

Douzenis shot the image on a Nikon camera in the Shoshone National Forest west of Cody during the 2020 rut.

“The way bighorn sheep interact during that time of year is fascinating,” he told WyoFile in an email. After watching this particular group for some time, he said, he could identify which were the younger rams and which were the veterans. 

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In this case, the young ram (on the right) “was quite persistent at challenging the veteran ram in multiple ways,” Douzenis wrote. “What intrigues me about the shot is that it shows detail of what [the] rams go through during the rutting season, just by the fraying and cracking of their horns.”

Katie Klingsporn reports on outdoor recreation, public lands, education and general news for WyoFile. She’s been a journalist and editor covering the American West for 20 years. Her freelance work has...

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