Hunting Feral Ram in New Zealand

Arapawa sheep are some of the finest animals to hunt, offering superb trophies for hunters in New Zealand. The two species of wild feral rams include the Merino or Arapawa ram. Both species are covered in a thick woollen fleece, and have elegant horns that form 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 curls on each side. The Merino sheep can range in color from black to brown or white with cream colored horns, while the Arapawa ram has a brown or black coat and grey horns.

They are bigger in size than a typical domestic sheep, and both male and female sheep may have horns. Female Arapawa or Merino sheep have slender, erect horns that curve backwards, while the rams' horns curve back into an outward spiral with up to 2 1/2 turns. Some sheep may not have horns, but rather scurs that are hidden in the wool.

Grazers by nature, feral sheep will feed throughout the day in rough pasture, seeking shelter in forest or broken scrub. The rams will form small flocks during non-breeding season, while females will stay with their young.

Unlike domestic sheep that run into the open when disturbed, feral sheep will run for cover. They can be extremely wary. In fact, feral sheep are not simply large sheep. They are light-boned and lean, with clear narrow heads and faces, bright eyes, slender ears and a long neck. Cocktail Arapawas are most strikingly colored, in that they have white spots all over the body.

There are no seasonal restrictions on feral ram hunting in New Zealand, which means you can hunt throughout the year. However, restrictions may apply for other reasons.

New Zealand offers two species of wild feral rams to hunt; Arapawa and Merino.


Merino Fact Sheet

Scientific Name: Ovis aries
Use: Wool
Horn Lenght: Up to 1m


Hunting Considerations

Take your time when hunting feral rams for trophy horns. Instead of shooting the first one you see, watch a few rams in the groups in order to identify the one with the best trophy.

Since feral sheep are typically found in flocks, be sure to take the time to ensure that there are no other sheep behind your target ram that you may accidentally wound.

Fast cartridges ranging from .270 Winchester upwards and fast .30s for difficult shots work well for sheep. Anything above .30 is unjustified, as sheep are not as tough as goats. Accuracy is key, so choose a bullet that works best in your specific rifle. Game Kings, Sierra Pro Hunters, Nosler Ballistic Tips, SSTs and Hornady Interlocks are all good choices.

Shot Placement

Just like goats, feral rams frequently butt heads, and their skulls are hard. The between-the-eyes shot is therefore not as effective as one might imagine for a feral ram. A better shot would be placed behind the head and at an angle toward the lower jaw.

The double-shoulder shot (entering one shoulder and exiting from the other) is most effective in putting the goat down instantly. A heart or lung position will be a good choice for a follow-up shot.


Feral Ram Shot Placement


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