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Brian Benyo — New World Record Desert Bighorn Holder

May 31, 2013
By Jon Parsons - OVO Pro Staff , Ohio Valley Outdoors

On January 8th, 2013, Ohio's own Brian Benyo of Berlin Center took the new world record desert bighorn with bow and arrow on Tiburon Island in the Sea of Cortez, Sonora, Mexico.

Officially scored by both the Boone and Crockett Club and the Pope and Young Club, the 12-year-old ram totaled 179 2/8 inches, beating the previously held record of 178 6/8.

In partnership with Mexican wildlife authorities, the Seri Indians and the Wild Sheep Foundation, the hunt was sold through auction. By harvesting this new world record ram, Benyo completed the quest of the North American Sheep Slam, which is the taking of the four species of sheep; dall, stone, Rocky Mountain bighorn and desert bighorn. It was a dream Denyo decided to pursue in 2005.

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Brian Benyo, of Berlin Center, OH, harvested this world record desert bighorn on Tiburon Island in the Sea of Cortez, Sonora, Mexico.

Denyo's first sheep he harvested was the stone sheep, taken on northern British Columbia's Todagin Mountain in 2008, followed by the Rocky Mountain bighorn in the Canadian Rockies south of Banff, Alberta in 2010, the dall ram in the McKenzie Mountains of the Northwest Territory in 2011 and most recently the desert bighorn.

The Rocky Mountain bighorn was the most difficult and memorable hunt of the slam according to Denyo. The hunt was booked with Guinn Outfitters LTD ( The temperatures endured in the last few days were at times 20 to 30 below zero and the frozen ground made climbing and exploring extremely difficult. "It was a dry kind of cold, so with the right gear, was tolerable. Bitter temperatures, combined with the waiting and patience needed to endure this type of hunt are what really brings together the real element of sheep hunting," added Benyo.

The ram that Benyo harvested was spotted earlier in the day with another ram as they had moved across the hillside below camp. It was heavily snowing and with a group of ewes and lambs below camp, they had a feeling that the ram would move back across to scent check all the sheep in the evening, so they set up on the hillside between him and the herd of ewes and lambs. As luck would have it, he came directly along a trail that they were on and with no tree cover to hide their ambush.

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Benyo has taken 13 of the 29 North American big game species recognized by Pope & Young Club and diligently promotes the purity of fair chase hunting and conservation of North America's big game.

Laying on his back in a small depression, he pulled the string of his Hoyt bow and then rose up enough to clear the wheels of his bow from the ground, preparing to shoot. Just as he got a view of the ram's shoulder at a mere seven yards, the ram spotted him. The very moment he pulled the trigger release, the big horn pivoted and pushed off to swing down the hill in about a second's time. The arrow struck him through the neck. Spotting him the next day and after pursuing him until late in the day, the ram went around the rim of the mountain and bedded on the opposite hillside nearly a mile away.

After an unsuccessful attempt to re-locate the ram the next day, the guide suggested they pack their gear and hunt for the ram as they headed out towards the trail head, which was 12 miles to the south. Agreeing that this was their best chance to get into the area the ram was last seen heading towards, the plan was set. They left camp as the sun was cresting the mountains to the southeast, with the temperature at minus 30, hiked south passing two drainages and approximately four miles before climbing east to glass the back side of the mountain the ram was last seen on. Reaching a bald knob they took to glassing the mountain that was miles away. Within minutes, the guide spotted a raven leaving the base of a rock cliff. Turning his attention to this area, he spotted the dead ram. With a broad smile the guide turned to the hunter and said, "I think I found your ram". The breathtaking scenery, the elements and the emotional rollercoaster of that hunt, definitely made for a memory that Benyo will not soon forget.

Hunters looking to participate in this type of hunt should look to go without the expense of a Mexican hunt and apply for western permits instead. Start with the more affordable dall sheep hunt and realize what sheep hunting is all about first. Drawing odds on most western tags for what Benyo believes are good quality and with good potential to kill a sheep, particularly with a bow, are in the single digits.

One must also develop a good cardiovascular workout routine and invest in quality gear. Benyo's recommendation of gear is "minimal gear" with emphasis on a good backpack and high quality base layers. "Mental toughness will carry you through at times in which you're lacking in physical preparedness," he adds.

Benyo has taken 13 of the 29 North American big game species recognized by Pope & Young Club and diligently promotes the purity of fair chase hunting and conservation of North America's big game.



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