Sheep Show® 2024 Inspires
By Chester Moore
As a writer tasked with securing content ranging from meetings of global wildlife biologists to activities at the public expo, I noticed a positive surge in all areas. It was in the eyes of a little boy with a noticeable speech impediment walking around the Youth Wildlife Conservation Experience carrying a radio receiver. The transmitter was on the neck of a plush bighorn, and when he found it, he shouted, “I’m going to do this for a living one day.” There was no judgment or limitations that culture often puts on those with challenges. He felt he could do anything because that’s the message all the staff and volunteers gave to the 1,800 kids that attended.
There was something in the air at the 2024 Sheep Show. Conservation rose to a new level throughout the halls of the Reno-Sparks Convention Center and at the Peppermill Resort & Casino. Records were broken, and new partnerships forged on behalf of wild sheep, but there was another force at work. A feeling of unification, inspiration, and family transcended even the finest shows in recent memory. And this was reflected in some astounding ways.
It was the feeling in the room when a man battling cancer won his first-ever desert bighorn hunt, and a longtime member who has given much to others won an aoudad hunt (his first) with Craig Boddington. At the banquets, every opening invocation built on the other and honored the one who created the mountains and populated them with wild sheep, elk, bears, and other wonders of nature. Sincere petitions for protection and the wisdom to conserve these resources echoed through the room as more than a few attendees wiped tears from their eyes.
It was women empowered to hunt and put their energy into conservation and filmmakers who told stories of successful hunts, powerful bonds, and the issues facing wild sheep.
Maybe it all goes back to the WSF mission statement, “To put and keep wild sheep on the mountain.” That’s bold.
Nothing about that is easy from a financial, organizational, or biological perspective. All wildlife restoration efforts require commitment, but sheep require an intense, Herculean effort. And that intensity propels men and women to go to great lengths for the benefit of sheep, their habitat, and sheep hunters.
This force compelled a man to carry his disabled veteran friend up a mountain to harvest his first Dall's ram, along with the generosity that brought people together to donate the hunt. And it’s the grit for that military hero to push past such a great challenge and still hunt at the very highest level.
It’s the tear in the eye of the biologist who surveys lambs in the early summer, sees them coughing and wheezing due to the ravages of Movi, and knows they won’t last long. It’s the feeling of our elder brethren who see more and more of their friends on the Last Sheep Camp tribute, yet despite the challenges of age, plan hunts and mentor the young to do the same.
WSF is not just an organization, and the Sheep Show is not just an event. It is a gathering of people united by a cause greater than themselves who are willing to sacrifice time, fortune, and energy to secure the future for the most majestic creatures on the planet. After all, this is about the sheep.
These incredible animals have faced graver lingering challenges than any North American game animal, yet they persist through disease, drought, harsh winters, and increasing predation. Their beauty beckons us to pursue them and calls us to a higher place in terms of elevation and in our minds.
Many positive things came together to make Sheep Show® 2024 one for the record books and for strengthening family ties, forward momentum in conservation, and creating hope for the future.
And that hope isn’t just for the sheep. It’s also for those who sacrifice much to put and keep them on the mountain.