Documenting the ram rut.
Hollow-sounding collisions echo off the cliffs. The result is battle scars. He who has the greatest set of horns and body strength is most often the victor in gaining a willing ewe.
Before the clash, a variety of displays take place. Hoof-pawing, interlocking horns, body nudging, and head pressure are all part of the competition.
In a show of courtship to the ewe in estrus, an audacious ram lowers his head and neck. The scent of the ready female reaches his vomeronasal organ, triggering the flehmen response—the curling of the upper lip with head thrown upward.
From here, the chase begins. It may be one ram chasing one ewe, or several rams in hot pursuit of a very tired ewe. The latter is an awesome scene to witness as deft legs reach cliff tops and rocky ledges—an impressive leaping escape may follow.
Late November and into December are the prime times to see these displays of lust and dominance in an “up close and personal” manner. Just remember that it takes a long lens and a safe distance to get good shots of these frenzied bighorns.