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Thread: Dall Sheep movement - home range?

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    Member mossyhorn's Avatar
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    Default Dall Sheep movement - home range?

    I've been wondering about how mature dall rams move from year to year. Do they have a small home range that they migrate back to after winter? Do they always go back to the same general drainages or do they wind up where they wind up? Meaning, do they just tend to wander?

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    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    Each year the amount of snow will have a lot to do with it. They can take the cold, but not huge amounts of deep snow. I remember years ago over in the Lake Clark area where they really got dumped on this particular year. For some years after there were hardly any sheep left in the area. The word was that they all took off up north towards Denali to find something to eat. Sheep have been known to travel very far if need be to get to good food.
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    For the most part they do have a small home range but they will of course travel for food and love... Here is one study I found on it for ya..

    http://science.nature.nps.gov/im/uni...p_20111104.pdf

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    One of my favorite sheep references is "The Wilderness of Denali" by Charles Sheldon. It is a diary of sheep activities in Denali Park from 1906 to 1908 and I find it fairly reliable on sheep activities today.

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    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Mossyhorn,
    My observations as a hiker-hunter-guide is that sheep, both rams and ewes, are very dedicated to specific areas and use traditional areas year after year, generation after generation. Now I’m sure somebody will have examples that contradict my observations, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a biologist. But here goes………………………………………

    Generally speaking, and this is a broad generality, groups of rams (all ages) and groups of ewes and lambs use different areas. If I’m seeing large numbers of lambs and ewes in any area then I really don’t expect to see rams until I find some nearby country that appears a little rougher. And areas that harbor rams seldom have many females. For example, one eight mile section of canyon that I have become very famialier with always has groups of rams. That section of canyon has produced about 20 rams for me and my occasional hunting buddy as well as another 25 rams for two other members of this forum. Yet we seldom see any ewes and lambs in there. And if we do, the females will be on a slope where we seldom or never see rams.

    A little more detailed example of how traditional and dedicated rams can be is illustrated by one guys kill statistics. Of course this guy is a really fine "true grit" ram killer (LOL). But he has killed 4 rams in four straight years while shooting from one rock to a small area of sheep beds. He killed two rams, ram #1 and ram #6, while shooting from a nice shooting-rest-rock to the same sheep bed. Five other rams were shot in a nearby little hanging glacial bowl, and three more on the same hillside up a side canyon. Fourteen hunts in a eight mile section of canyon in fourteen different years has produced fourteen kills. Actually this little area has produced six more kills for buddy-hunters. And another two dozen kills for the other two "true grit" forum members. Yes, I believe rams are extremely habituated to traditional areas. And before another expert tells me I've "shot out" the area, keep in mind that there are hundreds of square miles nearby where hunters can not and will not ever access. It's that terribly rough. Sheep can navigate up there. Humans can not.
    And in one of the highly desirable draw areas I once killed a nice ram one year, and came back the next year with a client-hunter and he shot a “carbon copy” ram only 400 yards away.

    But also keep in mind that there is some seasonal movement of rams within an area. Let’s go back to the killin mountains I spoke of earlier. I see rams in the same areas every August. But they will not be in those same specific spots in September. And my Sept kills are in areas slightly different than in Aug. These August and September areas may only be a mile apart, but they are different.

    And of course rams tend to bunch up in traditional wintering areas, and spread out throughout a much larger area during the summer and fall months. The largest number of sheep I have ever saw in one area was in one of those highly desireable draw areas. Without moving my spotting scope tripod I counted 130 rams and eight ewes. Also, Ewes in the Chugach Mountains winter in the same areas year after year, and drop their lambs in the same rocky outcroppings every May.
    So, Mossyhorn, I do believe that sheep use the same feeding areas, the same sheep beds, the same trails year after year, generation after generation………for centuries and more.

    AlaskaTrue
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    …miles and miles of mountains…wide expanses of tundra...remote wild waters…
    (Whisper words of wisdom) Let It Be

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    Thanks for the thoughts. I guess what I've been pondering is if one particular ram or a group of rams will migrate back to the area they were the year before. I definitely know what you mean about certain areas that hold lots of ewes and lambs but no rams. Yet areas where there's rams theres few to no ewes.

    Thanks again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mossyhorn View Post
    Thanks for the thoughts. I guess what I've been pondering is if one particular ram or a group of rams will migrate back to the area they were the year before. I definitely know what you mean about certain areas that hold lots of ewes and lambs but no rams. Yet areas where there's rams theres few to no ewes.

    Thanks again.
    for the most part I will say yes. I have observed as well as know many a ram to be in the same area year after year. There were several big rams taken at our camp the have taken several years to finally get but they always seemed to be in the same place just had to wait for them to make a mistake.So if you have one spotted chances are he will be back in that area... my opinion of course...

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    I don't have anything spotted but was wondering if we were likely to see more of the same as last year or if there's the chance that maybe some big rams may move in from other areas. I took a great ram last year, one that I will have a hard time topping for myself, but I feel like we lucked out. We saw lots of rams but were all pretty young.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mossyhorn View Post
    I don't have anything spotted but was wondering if we were likely to see more of the same as last year or if there's the chance that maybe some big rams may move in from other areas. I took a great ram last year, one that I will have a hard time topping for myself, but I feel like we lucked out. We saw lots of rams but were all pretty young.
    as with anything there are no exacts,but that is a tough one.. most likely nothing new will move in BUT that dont mean squat.. I say that because it always seems there are more sheep in there then you realize so there may be a few you just dont know about.. I once hunted a ram that ended up going mid 170's and he was in an area that was hunted quite a bit then he just showed up so it is more then possible that he migrated there or that he just hung out solo in one of the more inaccessable areas and was never spotted. I have learned with sheep hunting always expect the unexpected...

    this ram was killed in a band of ewes and lamps a few hundred feet above the river where no big ram would ever be.. he was found by dumb luck...

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    Incredible ram Bear! Thanks for sharing that.

    I don't mean to say that we saw every sheep there was, I know there were many we probably didn't see. I've seen some monsters that were killed this year and it left me thinking, if our current spot could hold a ram like this or if it's a matter of going elsewhere in search of one. I'd like to think we're in a good area and that it's just a matter of covering lots of ground, out walking the competition and spending time behind the glass. Oh and throw in some luck too!

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    Quote Originally Posted by mossyhorn View Post
    Incredible ram Bear! Thanks for sharing that.

    I don't mean to say that we saw every sheep there was, I know there were many we probably didn't see. I've seen some monsters that were killed this year and it left me thinking, if our current spot could hold a ram like this or if it's a matter of going elsewhere in search of one. I'd like to think we're in a good area and that it's just a matter of covering lots of ground, out walking the competition and spending time behind the glass. Oh and throw in some luck too!
    I hear ya and hope I didnt come across wrong, I was taught by someone who I consider to be the best around and he always told me to think outside the box at all times so I try to do that every time. Sounds like you have a great area,if you feel it doesnt get a lot of pressure its never a bad idea to let it grow and to branch out and check out some new areas. Sounds like you are willing to cover some ground and thats what it takes,the best sheep hunters are the ones willing to hunt the hardest... oh and I will take luck any day..

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    I chat up other sheep hunters at every opportunity and have gotten different impressions on sheep from different regions. I have hunted (usuccessfully) in the Brooks, Talkeetna's and Chugach... I have scouted the Chugach and Talkeetnas a good bit and generally see Rams in the same bowls every year. I have seen lambs and ewes on the same slopes in the spring as well. I watched one band of rams this past season from August 20th all the way to Oct and they never moved away from the original slope we saw them on. Interesting thing was that all of the ewe's were out of the area by the first week of sept and there were probably 100 or more there in late Aug. I do believe that the brooks may be a little different though after one trip up there and talking to several guides that speacilize in that area. I gather that yes, rams will be in the same general region year after year but that they are not as consistent and are more likely to move a significant distance on a whim.

    Anyone else have thoughts on variances between ranges?

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlaskaTrueAdventure View Post
    Mossyhorn,
    My observations as a hiker-hunter-guide is that sheep, both rams and ewes, are very dedicated to specific areas and use traditional areas year after year, generation after generation.

    AlaskaTrue
    I think this is one, if not the primarily, reason that guides have so much higher success rates than the average resident. Looking for ram bands can be a terrible needle in a haystack problem if you don't know where to start. If a hunter/guide has significant experience in an area, they can go straight to the valleys/mountains that have held rams in the past and have a much higher chance of success than a new hunter in the area that has to weed out miles of non-productive ground.

    Case it point. I was eyeballing a group of five mature rams this last year in a very remote area (that was new to me). I lined up on them from a small saddle on a ridge above. They ultimately didn't give me a shot I liked from that location, so I backed off... but not before I found a very old 30-06 shell in the rocks just to the right of my position. Yep.. I think rams often return to the same spot.

    Although my experience is far less than ATA's, I have also observed the same seasonal movements.

    Yk

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    I had a similar experience with my daughter this year. One location we waited at had shells and another had and old skull with horns sawed off. It was a productive unit and I'm glad they made it a draw.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bighorse View Post
    It was a productive unit and I'm glad they made it a draw.
    That unit has gotten pretty good since it went to draw. That said, I would love to actually be able to hunt it in my lifetime and am backing a proposal in this years BOG cycle to let residents back in on a harvest ticket. That's off the subject however.

    Yk

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yellowknife View Post
    That unit has gotten pretty good since it went to draw. That said, I would love to actually be able to hunt it in my lifetime and am backing a proposal in this years BOG cycle to let residents back in on a harvest ticket. That's off the subject however.

    Yk
    Keep us posted on this one! I will support it any way I can! I know several people who hunted up there every year and once they learned it they always saw multiple legal rams. The number of 9+ yo rams taken annually prior to the draw implementation still showed that only about 1/2 the total harvest was of 8yo rams. I hope to chat with Tom Lohuis and get his take on this subject.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    Keep us posted on this one! I will support it any way I can! I know several people who hunted up there every year and once they learned it they always saw multiple legal rams. The number of 9+ yo rams taken annually prior to the draw implementation still showed that only about 1/2 the total harvest was of 8yo rams. I hope to chat with Tom Lohuis and get his take on this subject.
    Might you get him to contribute about sheep?
    What a valuavlew source of sheep info.
    wes

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    Quote Originally Posted by wesleyM1990 View Post
    Might you get him to contribute about sheep?
    What a valuavlew source of sheep info.
    wes
    If you are interested in sheep hunting then you should be contacting people in the industry and at ADF&G to learn what you can. I have read everything I can get my hands on for years now and tugged any ear I could bend on the subject. I have poured through everything from Federal park service and federal wildlife services reports, ADF&G surveys, harvest reports, naturalist blogs, adventure tour group reports, photographers trip reports, and biologist reports from a myriad of studies covering thin horn sheep throughout AK, the Yukon and BC. Heck I even sourced the old Eastman video's then ordered them all and actually wrote to Gordon's son Guy to ask some questions (I actually got a very pleasant response direct from Guy which was a little surprising). Short of Robert Hansen there aren't many successful sheep hunters I won't try and talk hunting with...

    I encourage you to get out there and learn what you can but to be honest no one is going to come on the forum and spell out years of hard earned knowledge to be pilfered by anyone with access to google. Pick up that new video that Fullcurl and his buddy put out. It is solid and will spell out exactly what I am saying now. I read EVERYTHING then formulate questions based on that info and when I have a really well thought out question I research who can most likely answer it and ask it to them.

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    Thankyou for replying. I have gone to a couple of workshops on sheep and bear hunting and do lots of reading. I thought he worked for dnr an might share info from his job.
    Great advice. thankyou again.
    wes

    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    If you are interested in sheep hunting then you should be contacting people in the industry and at ADF&G to learn what you can. I have read everything I can get my hands on for years now and tugged any ear I could bend on the subject. I have poured through everything from Federal park service and federal wildlife services reports, ADF&G surveys, harvest reports, naturalist blogs, adventure tour group reports, photographers trip reports, and biologist reports from a myriad of studies covering thin horn sheep throughout AK, the Yukon and BC. Heck I even sourced the old Eastman video's then ordered them all and actually wrote to Gordon's son Guy to ask some questions (I actually got a very pleasant response direct from Guy which was a little surprising). Short of Robert Hansen there aren't many successful sheep hunters I won't try and talk hunting with...

    I encourage you to get out there and learn what you can but to be honest no one is going to come on the forum and spell out years of hard earned knowledge to be pilfered by anyone with access to google. Pick up that new video that Fullcurl and his buddy put out. It is solid and will spell out exactly what I am saying now. I read EVERYTHING then formulate questions based on that info and when I have a really well thought out question I research who can most likely answer it and ask it to them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    If you are interested in sheep hunting then you should be contacting people in the industry and at ADF&G to learn what you can. I have read everything I can get my hands on for years now and tugged any ear I could bend on the subject. I have poured through everything from Federal park service and federal wildlife services reports, ADF&G surveys, harvest reports, naturalist blogs, adventure tour group reports, photographers trip reports, and biologist reports from a myriad of studies covering thin horn sheep throughout AK, the Yukon and BC. Heck I even sourced the old Eastman video's then ordered them all and actually wrote to Gordon's son Guy to ask some questions (I actually got a very pleasant response direct from Guy which was a little surprising). Short of Robert Hansen there aren't many successful sheep hunters I won't try and talk hunting with...

    I encourage you to get out there and learn what you can but to be honest no one is going to come on the forum and spell out years of hard earned knowledge to be pilfered by anyone with access to google. Pick up that new video that Fullcurl and his buddy put out. It is solid and will spell out exactly what I am saying now. I read EVERYTHING then formulate questions based on that info and when I have a really well thought out question I research who can most likely answer it and ask it to them.
    Dang Lujon thats a darn good post!! I truely hope you get to pull the trigger on a great ram this year..

    Wes here is my favorite secret spot that I will share with you..
    61 09' 33.98" 149 53' 16.79"

    back to the subject....Lujon you brought up an interesting point bout the brooks and I am curious if the hunting pressure and/or a more forgiving terrain causes them to move around more so up there.( I have very little sheep experience in the brooks)

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