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Thread: Sheep Hunt Timing

  1. #1
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    Default Sheep Hunt Timing

    Obviously there is a ton of excitement over the August 10th opener and it seems that the majority of all hard-core sheep hunters hit the field for the first week+ of the season. Harvest statistics also show the majority of rams being taken the first few days of the season but then again, that could be solely because more hunters are out. BUT, I've also heard benefits to waiting for September like improved hair quality, solitude, potential for snow to push animals lower, and opportunities for other species.

    Now obviously there is a lot to this conversation like the experience you're looking for, trophy v. just FC, etc. Two benefits to hitting the field on the 10th I can see would be undistrurbed sheep (but I'd assume they calm back down into their routines a couple weeks after the opening week crowd leaves) and first crack at the year's 'new' full curls. I remember reading results of a study Joe Want posted last year about legal ram survivability and if I remember correctly, there are always a good number of legal rams that don't get harvested. This would lead me to believe that season timing isn't all that important. As a rookie sheep hunter, I'm hoping to better understand the logic that goes into your preference on timing.

    What is your favorite time of season to hunt sheep? How does the timing impact harvest chances? What about competing with other hunters?

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    Member Bighorse's Avatar
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    I've never hunted an opener and never been skunked. I'll be in the sheep mountains August 22 till Sept this year. That's my experience.

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    Member Queen of Kings's Avatar
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    I always went the first part of September, the hair was much better,sheep had moved from weather, less hunters, as many were out moose hunting at that time. Worked good for me! However, weather can be a bit tougher then too!
    2003 220 Hewescraft Sea Runner 115 Yam'y, Soft Top "Schmidt Happens"

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    Member mtnclimber's Avatar
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    Personally I've hunted sheep at all times of the season. Each one has its own benefits, August, potential for more legal rams. September, sheep seem to be moving around a lot more. I end up seeing more sheep in september for that reason. With that being said i choose to go opening day in an area that i knew to be "uncrowded", and a september hunt in a crowded area. Something to keep in mind is some air taxis shut down around september 1st which can limit where you are going and bad weather days usually increase.

    Good thread topic.

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    Just found out he is doing a sheep workshop in Fairbanks tonight. Got tickets and almost mist this one ; thanks for mentioning the name.
    Wes

    Quote Originally Posted by iturner8 View Post
    Obviously there is a ton of excitement over the August 10th opener and it seems that the majority of all hard-core sheep hunters hit the field for the first week+ of the season. Harvest statistics also show the majority of rams being taken the first few days of the season but then again, that could be solely because more hunters are out. BUT, I've also heard benefits to waiting for September like improved hair quality, solitude, potential for snow to push animals lower, and opportunities for other species.

    Now obviously there is a lot to this conversation like the experience you're looking for, trophy v. just FC, etc. Two benefits to hitting the field on the 10th I can see would be undistrurbed sheep (but I'd assume they calm back down into their routines a couple weeks after the opening week crowd leaves) and first crack at the year's 'new' full curls. I remember reading results of a study Joe Want posted last year about legal ram survivability and if I remember correctly, there are always a good number of legal rams that don't get harvested. This would lead me to believe that season timing isn't all that important. As a rookie sheep hunter, I'm hoping to better understand the logic that goes into your preference on timing.

    What is your favorite time of season to hunt sheep? How does the timing impact harvest chances? What about competing with other hunters?

  6. #6

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    Not sure when the best time to go is which why I have sheep hunts starting aug 9th,20th 29th, sept 5th and 14th this year . Granted only one and maybe two will I have a tag along for.....

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    Member sheep man's Avatar
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    hope to get her done on one good sheep hunt end of aug. if your looking at satistic id say the best sheep get harvested in sept....not that good sheep don't get wacked in aug...because they do.... good luck to all....may the weather gods be with you
    I ♥ Big Sheep

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    Member Yellowknife's Avatar
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    I know some guides that really prefer the later hunts. Very little competition from residents, many of the other guides have switched to moose, and the big rams are usually still alive are the reasons given. Personally, I'm doing a later August hunt this year, but September is out for the same reason as most people. Can't miss moose camp....

    Yk

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    Last year we had some luck in the late DCUA. Got real lucky with weather initially and had to push through some much on the way out. Then we were able to pull a HT Ram out of the Talkeetnas about a week later with some more remarkable weather. I heard the early DCUA didn't have so much luck with a band of real nasty weather.

    this year it will be somewhat middle late again with a late August departure into Sept. Looking forward to what the Chugach has to offer and see what kind of weather will show up this year. The possibility of the big boys getting moved around by early season hunters and then weather might just give us an opportunity to find some nice rams. If the old rams are on their game they'll run for the high hills for the first round of hunters and the weather will push them right to us

    That's all the experience I can vouch for. I don't think hunting the opener is as critical to a successful hunt as many may think. If that's the only opportunity to hunt then go for it, but I think luck has a lot to do with it once in the field.

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    Wow, that is quite the line-up you have going for this fall! How in the world do you get so much time off?! (I'm trying to control the jealousy! )

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaska_Lanche View Post
    Not sure when the best time to go is which why I have sheep hunts starting aug 9th,20th 29th, sept 5th and 14th this year . Granted only one and maybe two will I have a tag along for.....
    Great insight guys, very interesting to hear that there are residents who forego the opener! It'll be Labor Day week for me this year as I try to conserve some A/L for a couple other hunts. Pray for some good weather!

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    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    There are advantages to both, as mentioned in the posts above.

    Going early/opening day you're going to contend with more guide and resident pressure, but have longer days to work with, rams that haven't been pressured in 10+ months, a crack at legal-this-year rams, and odds for better weather (although that's certainly no guarantee).

    Going later you have the benefits of less pressure, the potential for rams that were otherwise "out of reach" to move down, and better hair, but you're also dealing with shorter days, higher potential for bad weather (which can also affect transporter capabilities), and possibly some of the legal rams in that area having already been harvested.

    This will be my first year hunting the opening week. Going into a new area with no other expectations other than to have a good time.

    My $0.02: if there are sheep in the area, there's always the potential for legal rams in the area. Hunt whenever you can and as often as possible.

    Cheers,
    Rich
    Pursue happiness with diligence.

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    Member tlingitwarrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyo2AK View Post
    This will be my first year hunting the opening week. Going into a new area with no other expectations other than to have a good time.

    My $0.02: if there are sheep in the area, there's always the potential for legal rams in the area. Hunt whenever you can and as often as possible.

    Cheers,
    Rich

    Best advice on this thread. I've always hunted sheep in August, but that's strictly due to September 3-18 being moose season for me and mine. I'll be hunting Dall's in late September this year. Looking forward to seeing how different this experience is.

    If you've never been skunked, you haven't been hunting enough.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlingitwarrior View Post

    If you've never been skunked, you haven't been hunting enough.
    Or you're just lucky...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyo2AK View Post
    There are advantages to both, as mentioned in the posts above.

    Going early/opening day you're going to contend with more guide and resident pressure, but have longer days to work with, rams that haven't been pressured in 10+ months, a crack at legal-this-year rams, and odds for better weather (although that's certainly no guarantee).

    Going later you have the benefits of less pressure, the potential for rams that were otherwise "out of reach" to move down, and better hair, but you're also dealing with shorter days, higher potential for bad weather (which can also affect transporter capabilities), and possibly some of the legal rams in that area having already been harvested.

    This will be my first year hunting the opening week. Going into a new area with no other expectations other than to have a good time.

    My $0.02: if there are sheep in the area, there's always the potential for legal rams in the area. Hunt whenever you can and as often as possible.

    Cheers,
    Rich
    Rich you pretty much summed it all up. Sometimes the only chance you will have at those "out of reach" big boys is when the weather forces them down....same with goats...downside is as pointed out hunters will have to deal with that weather as well but if you are willing to play the payoffs can be tremendous..

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    Member Bighorse's Avatar
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    I'm never hunting enough!

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    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CtP View Post
    If the old rams are on their game they'll run for the high hills for the first round of hunters and the weather will push them right to us
    Actually I've seen it both ways. I believe that when rams get pushed, especially from above, they will indeed also move down low as well. Me and a friend killed two nice rams on the 13th day of the season where I was told there were 8 tents up "on top" of the mountain on opening day. We ended up killing the rams not far above treeline.

    Personally I feel that smart rams know where the pressure is coming from, high or low and will move accordingly. What's good about hunting pressure in the beginning of the season, is that rams will find a place where they feel save and "hang" there for awhile. So if you are lucky enough to spot them in their "safe haven", there is a good chance they will still be there when you get up to them.

    Once after all the shooting started on opening day, I watched too young rams run down the mountain almost to treeline, find a large boulder, and huddle up tight below it nose to butt and not move for hours and hours.

    Also once while flying, I spotted a lone ram perched on a rock WELL below treeline, kind of on a high bench......
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    I prefer late August and into September for reasons already mentioned such as cooler weather, less bugs, typically less rain, better capes, fewer people, and potentially easier meat care (cooler weather). Ah heck, just go on the opener so I have the Mts to myself!Good luck whenever you go.

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    Member mtnclimber's Avatar
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    Anyone have any specific changes in tactics when hunting the opener vs. hunting early september?

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