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Thread: Sharing Sheep Hunting Tips

  1. #1
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    Default Sharing Sheep Hunting Tips

    Heading up for another sheep hunt in August and thought I'd toss out these questions for my benefit and for anyone else who may be asking the same questions.

    Questions for our sheep hunters out there:
    1) What is your approach to stream crossings? Some will wear overshoes and some will change to other shoes. Would anyone like to weigh in on this?
    2) Walking sticks: In mountainous terrain, sticks seem essential, but do some of you use a single stick or are most using two sticks?
    3) Food: Mountain House meals seem to be the norm on these trips. Would anyone like to share their go-to energy food on trips like this?
    4) Base camp on the valley floor and climbing up and down each day vs. getting to the top of the mountains and staying up there. Any thoughts on each approach?

    thanks to all who are willing to share.

  2. #2

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    1) I've hiked down streams where I crossed 50 times so I wore lightweight hippers with the sock feet with wading shoes and packed the hikers. That worked well. I've hiked up streams with hikers and gaitors and that worked alright. Last fall we wore hikers and gaitors and when we crossed the river we put on our rain pants and snugged them at the bottom. The crossing was wide enough, too much time in the river, that our boots got wet. I haven't tried the overboots, but hear they work well if you only use to cross and then take them off.

    2) I've gone to using 2 walking poles. One is the center pole for my pyramid tent so I'm left with another one to hike during the day if leaving the tent set up. Hiking with 2 poles is nice and once you have a really heavy load 2 poles can be quite a bit safer in the nasty terrain.

    3) Mt house for dinner, usually Quaker oats with raisins, powdered milk, and brwn sugar in ziplocs for breakfast along with a hot drink, typical trail mix with peanut M&M's mixed in, pepperoni slices or pepperoni stix, mozzarella sticks, hard candy, and cliff bars for snacks.

    4) I think it depends and I've done both. If you spot rams from the valley and can make a stalk on them within a few hrs then why haul camp to the top of the Mt. Glassing, stalking, and camping from the ridges certainly has it's advantages, but there are also times when you might be able to see nearly as much terrain from below as from above. Sometimes the rams are mid slope or lower. You just try and expend the minimal amount of energy to put yourself in the right spot. Humping your camp to the top of a Mt only to haul it back down to where the rams are isn't necessarily a good choice unless it provides the best vantage pt. I think you'll figure it out. It is nice to have a light camp on your back so that you can camp wherever you find rams at last light rather than hiking 5 miles back to camp in the dark only to return to the rams in the morning. I don't think there's a right answer as it depends on the terrain your hunting.

  3. #3
    Member AK Wonderer's Avatar
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    1) I cross shallower narrow creeks with my boots and gaiters. If you move fairly quickly you'll stay dry. Other times I've crossed in sandals or barefoot. Some people say to cross in your boots to maintain better stability but I'm not one to get my boots wet if I don't have to.

    2) There is a reason they sell trekking poles in pairs. They are just more efficient that way. I use trekking poles on even easy hikes. They just make so much difference in my stability and relieve so much of the stress on my low back and knees. I've talked a few of my early thirty year old buddies into trying trekking poles and now you could never get them out on a hike without them.

    3) Mtn. House is my go to for supper. Breakfast I'll do oatmeal or bars. My favorite breakfast is a tortilla with peanut butter and some dried fruit. Snickers are the original energy bar and a must on my hunts. I started eating the ProBar's and although more expensive than Cliff are pretty good tasting. Cliff bars, trail mix, and pepperoni sticks make up some more of my food choices. My overall rule for food is that if it doesn't have 100 calories per ounce then it doesn't get packed.

    4) Camp: I tend to camp where ever I feel is appropriate for that particular location. Sometimes that means down in the valley making day climbs over passes or up into bowls. Other times we might find ourselves camping out up high for a couple of days. Some people will say to stay in teh valleys and not to climb until you see a sheep to go after. Other people will climb every ridge around them just for the sake of getting up high to see.

  4. #4
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    1) I've done this many different ways. Lightweight hip waders for the stream crossings (numerous at start), leaving them and switching to hiking boots. After that, I bought a set of Wiggy's Waders. I have used that exact same set for probably 5-6 hunts. They still work, no leaks, no problems, but it's a bit of a pain if you have a lot of crossings. Putting them on and off with your gear, at the side of a creek, etc. is a pain. If you have very few crossings, this is probably the way to go though. Then last year, I switched to plastic boots and glacier socks. Crossings were a breeze, no worries on footing, easy getting in and out, my only complaint was my feet got a little hot in the boots.

    2) I have used 2 trekking poles extensively. Won't hunt in the mountains without them. One hunt, a friend was making fun of me for the first day or so. Eventually he talked me into loaning him one of mine so we each had one. When he got home, not only did he buy himself a set, he got a set for his dad.

    3) I'm pretty basic here. Mountain house for dinner, ramen noodles for lunch, oatmeal for breakfast, clif bars for snacks. I also bring nuun tablets to put in my water reservoir (the one I drink from). If I think I can afford the extra weight, I bring a small lightweight flask with scotch too. To celebrate a good hunt.

    4) I've never put my main camp on the top. I have slept at the top, under tarps, rocks, whatever if needed. I could see the advantage to it in certain cases, but I've never done it myself.

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    1. Plastics and glacier socks and never look back and if really bad crampons on my boots. Nothing is more secure the normal fitting boots.

    2. People swear by trekking poles but I don't know how they do it. Every one I tried I broke. Walking axe is the best for me. Multi purpose too. Try digging a flat spot with a trekking pole or busting brush

    3 breakfast is coffee/oatmeal. Lunch ramen dinner mountain house and snacks in between

    4. Depends but be close enough to be able to get above them in the morninh

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    My sheep hunting experience is limited, so take my opinions as such.

    1) I do not like taking a chance on soaking my hiking boots and other gear. The few streams I've had to cross were deep enough that I ended up stripping my lower half down to boxers and wading barefoot. In the future I'm tempted to pack a light pair of crocs or sandals just to protect my feet from sharp rocks.

    2) I haven't used trekking poles yet, but I've heard enough positive reviews on them that I'm interested in trying them out. Part of me like the natural (and cheap) stick method, but I'm also interested in the ones you can buy. I've read that most agree the flip-lock kind are far superior to the twist-lock variety. Out of curiosity, what are everyone's favorite brands?

    3) I love Mt. House meals, so I eat a lot of them. I enjoy either the Scrambled Eggs and Bacon or Biscuits and Gravy for breakfast, and then another variety for dinner. Sometimes that's too much for a morning meal though, and then I have a packet of instant oatmeal instead. You can pour just a bit of water right in the baggie it comes in and eliminate cleaning dishes. High calorie foods for lunch, which is more like snacking throughout the day. Full sized Snickers bars are a must, but I also like to throw in meat sticks, cheese, granola bars, and fruit leathers as well. I really don't mind loosing weight on a sheep hunt so as long as I'm eating healthy food that gives me the energy I need, I'm not too worried about matching my calorie inputs and outputs.

    4) In the past I've tried to place base camp as high as possible in the valley with good water access and then trek out from there each day. There have been numerous times I've wanted to stay high for a night or two though. This year I have a bivy sack I'll be using to camp high as needed and return to base camp every other day or so as needed to restock.

  7. #7
    Premium Member denalihunter's Avatar
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    From my vast sheep hunting experience (two trips, one successful, one not) I suggest the following:

    1) Land so high up you don't have an creeks to cross. I will never do a drop off sheep hunt at less than 5000 feet. (cause I'm old and outta shape) and sheep don't seem to like it any lower.

    2) I like one walking stick, and then use the safari sling for your rifle. Keeps your rifle in front of you and easier to protect if you slip.

    3) The mountain houses work, but I'll sneak in cans of spam and butter to add to the meal when cooking. I wouldn't do a trip with only mountain uses. Also, I like to take a dozen hard boiled eggs. I know it's extra weight, but if you land where your going to camp, then day hunt out and back to your good food.

    4) I like to stay a few hundred feet below where I expect to see sheep, then hike up and down each day. Depends on your exact terrain though.

    That's my .02..
    Claude
    Experience Real Alaska! www.alpinecreeklodge.com

  8. #8

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    1) I find myself just busting on through if it is shallow. I have been going to a super lite pair of goretex sneakers or a pair of goretex socks if it is deeper. However, I must point out that I look for the riffles in creeks that I wade across and will avoid deeper hip deep water like a cat would. I know that a lot of people look upon wading across deep water as a challenge. But you can't fix stupid.

    2) I use 2 folding trekking poles. You set them to the exact right level and you use your upper body in moving faster than without them. It especially speeds you up on mixed terrain and helps with heavier weight. Trekking poles work as extra supports on steep and mixed terrain. They are essential if you are glacier trekking because you use them as probes on ice bridges and can figure out depth of moulins. The more you use trekking poles the more essential they seem.

    3) Straight mh can be very tough on your digestive system without fiber. I guess everything is easier when you are young. Peanut butter can be a good additive to diet during sheep hunts.

    4)Walking down the center of the valley is like skylining your self. Best way is to sneak along the lateral morraines and to just plain sneak whereever you go. Camp in hidden areas and act like a hippy backpacker. You do not want to be overtly aggressive. Rams are often watching the ewes and lambs. Go stealth mode and you will have greater success. Stay as high as possible as much of the time that you can. You never want to get stuck in a dead cell valley but sheep tend to hide in little pockets. Quality is better than quantity which means pick your way carefully rather than just slam around. Move quickly to one area that you have looked and researched that could be productive and then go slowly and spot for a long time. Get to good positions to spot early in the morning before the sheep pop up. Don't push them in the evening. It is all a game when you find a big ram you can't rush how you get into the right position for a shot. Take your time if you find two or three four- to six year old rams, there probably is an either legal ram or close to legal ram nearby. You should get familiar with going up creeks, coulours and walking on ridges without exposing your position. You don't want to take crazy chances but you shouldn't be afraid of heights and get vertigo either. A lot of people who are not successful sheep hunting spend too much time getting their stuff dry, sleep too much and are not spotting during the early light hours when sheep are most active. The other ones don't spend enough time with their equipment in the mountains to be able to count on making a shot on them that is perfectly viable in bad conditions.

    Make sure when you hiking into a drainage or follow a ridge line that you take the same way out that you take in or you can get cliffed out or be so miserable that you doubt reality.

    The old saying of slow is smooth and smooth is fast is the mantra of sheep hunting. Never rush anything.


    Just my thoughts. They aren't in great grammatical form but its a start.
    Thomas

  9. #9
    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    I'm also one that used to just strip down and cross a creek. But after deciding to not count on gore tex rain gear anymore, now I can just synch down my impertech pants with some string or shoelaces around my boots and cross without getting wet. But I don't have plastics either. Plastics make it pretty easy. But like what has been said the crocs have been getting pretty popular as well. Just remember to ask yourself when packing your pack.....is this something I absolutely need? Remember, it is a sheep hunt and EVERYTHING adds weight.

    I never used to use trekking poles. Then one time a buddy asked if I wanted to try one so I did. I was packing some big caribou weight down some pretty steep terrain and I have to say it helped immensely. I still don't own any, but I do have some of my kid's old ski poles that seem to work pretty good. You just can't put too much weight on them....well you can do that with trekking poles either. If I ever get any I think I'd probably only want to use one as I do like to have one hand free when hiking.

    Mt. house are great, but it's hard to beat good jerky and smoked salmon up on the mountain too. I also always take gorp. Gorp is a term we always used for a big bag of "extreme" trail mix. My "gorp has just about everything in it. I can pretty much live on the stuff. Anything you like....put it in there.....from any and all kinds of nuts, to m&ms and carob, to all kinds of dried fruit. Like I said.......whatever you like.

    After finding out the hard way I will NEVER again leave base camp without some way of spiking out if I have to. Weather that means throwing on my sleeping bag and a small tarp or just a space blanket and a candle. The last thing you want to do is look over your shoulder and see that big ram just few ridges back just when it's getting late and you're about ready to head back to camp. You never know what the next day will bring, so it's always best to put a ram to bed not far from you if possible. Even in bad weather a guy could snuggle up to a rock, throw that space blanket around him, and hold a long burning emergency candle next to his core, if you get cold, and ride out a storm. Yes, it won't be comfortable and you probably won't sleep much, if at all. But it won't be for long and that big ram will be worth a short (even though it seems long) uncomfortable night.
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by kaboku68 View Post
    1) I find myself just busting on through if it is shallow. I have been going to a super lite pair of goretex sneakers or a pair of goretex socks if it is deeper. However, I must point out that I look for the riffles in creeks that I wade across and will avoid deeper hip deep water like a cat would. I know that a lot of people look upon wading across deep water as a challenge. But you can't fix stupid.

    2) I use 2 folding trekking poles. You set them to the exact right level and you use your upper body in moving faster than without them. It especially speeds you up on mixed terrain and helps with heavier weight. Trekking poles work as extra supports on steep and mixed terrain. They are essential if you are glacier trekking because you use them as probes on ice bridges and can figure out depth of moulins. The more you use trekking poles the more essential they seem.

    3) Straight mh can be very tough on your digestive system without fiber. I guess everything is easier when you are young. Peanut butter can be a good additive to diet during sheep hunts.

    4)Walking down the center of the valley is like skylining your self. Best way is to sneak along the lateral morraines and to just plain sneak whereever you go. Camp in hidden areas and act like a hippy backpacker. You do not want to be overtly aggressive. Rams are often watching the ewes and lambs. Go stealth mode and you will have greater success. Stay as high as possible as much of the time that you can. You never want to get stuck in a dead cell valley but sheep tend to hide in little pockets. Quality is better than quantity which means pick your way carefully rather than just slam around. Move quickly to one area that you have looked and researched that could be productive and then go slowly and spot for a long time. Get to good positions to spot early in the morning before the sheep pop up. Don't push them in the evening. It is all a game when you find a big ram you can't rush how you get into the right position for a shot. Take your time if you find two or three four- to six year old rams, there probably is an either legal ram or close to legal ram nearby. You should get familiar with going up creeks, coulours and walking on ridges without exposing your position. You don't want to take crazy chances but you shouldn't be afraid of heights and get vertigo either. A lot of people who are not successful sheep hunting spend too much time getting their stuff dry, sleep too much and are not spotting during the early light hours when sheep are most active. The other ones don't spend enough time with their equipment in the mountains to be able to count on making a shot on them that is perfectly viable in bad conditions.

    Make sure when you hiking into a drainage or follow a ridge line that you take the same way out that you take in or you can get cliffed out or be so miserable that you doubt reality.

    The old saying of slow is smooth and smooth is fast is the mantra of sheep hunting. Never rush anything.


    Just my thoughts. They aren't in great grammatical form but its a start.
    Thomas

    That is some of the most incredible sheep hunting advice I have ever read anywhere.
    Many thanks,

    Bryan

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    Quote Originally Posted by FALCON View Post
    That is some of the most incredible sheep hunting advice I have ever read anywhere.
    Many thanks,

    Bryan
    Thomas puts more thought and consideration into one post than most people do into entire threads.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kaboku68 View Post
    Make sure when you hiking into a drainage or follow a ridge line that you take the same way out that you take in or you can get cliffed out or be so miserable that you doubt reality.
    If there is but one takeaway from Thomas' post. Never forget this........

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    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    I don't know...there have been a few times where I have gone up one way and told my self there ain't no way in hell I'm goin' back down that way......lol
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bear View Post
    1. Plastics and glacier socks and never look back and if really bad crampons on my boots. Nothing is more secure the normal fitting boots.

    2. People swear by trekking poles but I don't know how they do it. Every one I tried I broke. Walking axe is the best for me. Multi purpose too. Try digging a flat spot with a trekking pole or busting brush

    3 breakfast is coffee/oatmeal. Lunch ramen dinner mountain house and snacks in between

    4. Depends but be close enough to be able to get above them in the morninh
    I was going to say the same thing but you are my hunting mentor.

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    Great feedback. We always hope that there is one "best way" that will assure our success, but alas, there never is. But learning what others do helps us have more in our "little bag of tricks" when decisions need to be made. Your willingness to share your experiences and knowledge is what makes this forum so valuable to those that share your similar passion for hunting and the outdoors.

    Thank you for your willingness to contribute.

    Keep the responses coming!

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4merguide View Post
    I don't know...there have been a few times where I have gone up one way and told my self there ain't no way in hell I'm goin' back down that way......lol
    Hahaha I've said that but it usually involved alders. We got into a spot a few years ago and decided to take a "more direct" route off the mountain.........

  17. #17

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    A forum like this can give you help but it is better finding a sheep hunter who will explain how they learned to sheep hunt. Proving Trail Adventures video series is a great start but down in SE there are some phenomenal goat guides. SE goat guides can give you a ton of hints. The other thing is to get an issue of Alaska Professional Hunter's Association magazine. Not for the articles but for the contacts of the different guides on the back. Guides live hunting and a lot of guides who are bear guides were sheep guides in their 20s. You will get more information from them reliving their experiences and telling you how they would hunt than we on this forum can try to get to you.
    Develop a filing cabinet of beta information on different areas of the state. Research will not equal hunting success you have to cover a lot of different things, but you can find heavy cast iron skillets, old cans of dinty moore beef stew and 15 lb 4 man Kmart tents up in the mountains about 1 - 3 miles from any trail head. A lot of the nonresident low success rate is because people don't get out there and build up the resource information base on how to do it.

  18. #18
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    Thanks for the reply Koboku;

    Here is SE, goats are our holy grail. It took me 5 trips before I got one myself and the haul down was the toughest I've ever had. Our goat trips can be single day or overnights but they are always brutal.

    This will be our third trip for sheep and asking about the details, like i have, will help us to improve our chances of success this year. I appreciate you and everyone else's willingness to spread some of your wisdom around.

    Best luck to all of you this hunting season,

    lunquie

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