I know I am about to ruffle a lot of feathers but here is the truth!! I just returned from the Brooks Range and there are no sheep!!!
Wednesday morning my buddy and I flew out of Fairbanks and cruised up the Sheenjek scouting for sheep once we hit the headwaters. We then cruised the Kongakut and over within 10 miles of the Canadian border. We landed refueled and then checked all the major drainages between the Kongakut and Happy valley. We might have seen 50 sheep total!!!!!!!!!
We talked to a wildlife trooper at happy valley and he told us that it was true. The sheep have had two bad late winters and the numbers are really bad.
He said ADFG is THINKING of closing it...and possibly making it a draw hunt.
The Trooper told us that even some of the outfitters up there are trying to get their booked clients to cancel their trips.
We talked to one transport outfit that also stated the numbers were incredibly bad and he would like to see this unit go to draw hunt only.
We camped at Happy valley, got up the next day and cruised the west side of the highway all the way over to Anituvik pass. We saw approximately seven sheep!!!!!!
ADFG has already put an emergency order in effect and closed all that area west of the corridor.
We landed at Gabriel Lake and talked with a couple of the aleyeska helio pilots and they both told us that the late winters and WOLVES have just wiped out the sheep.
They told us that every time they have flown the last two winters they have seen wolves on sheep kills...sometimes having two or three sheep down at the same time. These guys are averaging 30 plus hours of flying in their two weeks on!!!! That's a lot of wolves eating a lot of sheep!!!!
What upsets me is that ADFG wants to play politics for outfitters instead of protecting the resource!!!!!! This should have been shut down two years ago and the predator control should have been pushed more!!!!!
When I got home I called Fairbanks ADFG and told a lady at the office....when I started talking to her she piped back at me " let me guess...your going to tell me the sheep numbers are really low up there? Yeah we already know it...we did a count in June!"
I got off the phone disgusted....
Folks if your planning a sheep hunt in the Brooks range....don't waste your time and money!!!!!!