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Thread: Wrangells

  1. #1

    Default Wrangells

    I just posted in the "Best hunting locals" that the Chitina R. is a great place to hunt both sheep and goats. Specifically mentioned McCall Ridge which in years past has been a great place to hunt for both in Sept.
    Just heard the other day that the guide that operates out there only took 4 sheep out of 16 or 17 hunters they guided this year. Also, this outfits harvest numbers have been dropping for some years now.
    My question is: does anyone know of a large die off of sheep in this area? Or could the low harvest rate be due to over hunting of sheep by this particular guide. Seems like 16-17 hunters per year could be concidered over hunting? Anyones thoughts or insite please.

  2. #2
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    Default Over hunting

    Sounds like overhunting as is the case in alot of area's. A guide finds a honey hole and hunts it until the game is wiped out. Check out the archieves, you will see this happens alot.

    Terry

  3. #3

    Default Upswing?

    Terry, fyi, this particular area is a preserve area and said guide has exclusive rights to it. The number of sheep alowed to be taken annually is set by the park service as it is within the Wrangell St. Ellias National Park. So, with respect for the feds (which I have very little of) are they the ones who are screwing up here by allowing this guide to be taking so many sheep a year? If you tell a guide he can harvest 20 sheep out of his hunt area ea. year, don't you suppose he is going to try and book 20 sheep hunters. He may be clueless as to how many sheep is to many. Guides aren't biologist but are in the field and I agree that they should most definetly do their best not to over hunt an area. Easier said than done for some who's only concern is making a buck but that has been hashed out already and is in the archives to read.
    As a side note, I spoke with an assistant guide from out there who said they did see a very large number of sheep and many rams in the 3/4-7/8 curl class this year. It might be that this area is actually on an upswing which would be a nice change and I only base that assumption on what the guide told me as far as numbers of rams seen during the regular hunting season. May be a good place to go for sheep next year.

  4. #4

    Default Maccoll Ridge

    The sheep in this area are starting to come back. However, they were down for a long while.

    There are three ucc minor code drainages in this area. There are also some really smart sheep that use escape terrain much like those sheep in the Tanana White Mts. Area. They have caves and brush and use it well.

    It is a very good place for goats. There are good numbers of Billies and they have had a stable population for a couple of years.

    Two years ago some valdez hunters shot two good upper 30's rams when two jumbo 42+ inch rams ran past them after they were busy processing the sheep. You need to spend an additional week 14-21 days if you want to hunt this area right.

    One of the problems that guides have is that they will ship people out if they get impatient.

    Good Luck,

    Sincerely,

    Thomas

  5. #5
    New member akhunter02's Avatar
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    Default McColl Ridge

    Numbers are down, but still a good area, the problem is that unless you have your own plane no charter will fly you in during sheep season. They will be happy to fly you in on Sept 21st

  6. #6
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by akhunter02 View Post
    Numbers are down, but still a good area, the problem is that unless you have your own plane no charter will fly you in during sheep season.
    Are there decent strips for private pilots? I'm just working on getting my tailwheel endorsement, but I will have access to a Super Cub once I'm finished. I don't plan on going off-strip anytime soon, but after I have a few years of experience I hope to expand my sheep options exponentially. I've figured out a few areas in the Western AK Range to try, but I'd love to check out the Wrangells as well. Are the landing areas reasonable for a skilled private pilot?

  7. #7

    Default

    That guide has been killing LOTS of sheep in that area for a long time and I think a set quota for him to harvest is a good idea. It's to bad the air services won't take hunters in there, just goes to show you how much pull the guides have in this state. Personally I don't think it's right but there isn't to much we can do about it.

  8. #8
    New member akhunter02's Avatar
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    Default Got that right!

    AKhunter45, 100% right, nothing you can do about it, charters can refuse service to whom ever they like for what ever reason they like. Sounds a bit like discrimination to me.

  9. #9

    Default strips

    There are a couple good strips. One is at Huberts landing at the head of the Chitina R. above the Barnard glacier and the strip is huge as you could land a beaver there. Also, there are some good cub strips at the toe of the Hawkins and Barnard Glaciers. I know Kelly Green of McCarthy Air will drop you on the ice up the Barnard but won't drop on the Hawkins. He usually books up early and will waite 4 days before dropping someone else in there to give you a chance to work into your hunt area.. He does his best not to stack em up. Also, I know he will drop at a small strip at the toe of the Barnard glacier. I think his not flying into the Hawkins has more to do with the difficulty of landing there but he does claim the reason he won't drop anyone in there is out of respect for the guide that works that area. Seems like if that was the case he wouldn't drop people off up at the head of Dan creek which has some good sheep and goats and I know that guide hunts that area as well. But that's his business and he is a good pilot trying hard to make a living out there.
    Also, you could get dropped at Huberts landing and either pound in from there or float the river down to the toe of the Hawkins and go in from there. It is a bit thick for a few miles till you get to the glacier so always nice to have a machete. Heck lots of options, you could even float down to McCall Ridge and hunt as you go glassing the slopes for sheep, goats and black bear. You could either float all the way out to Chitina which is an awsome trip if you have the time or get picked up at Jacks Bar which is just down river from the confluence of the Tana R. confluence. Jacks is on the R. Big strip there to. If you do the float option make sure to stop in for coffee at that lodge just across from Bear Island. Good God fearing folk from what I hear and very hospitable.
    The Hawkins and Barnard are tough area's and maybe it's not a good idea for those new to sheep hunting to bite into something like that but McCall Ridge is a cake walk. Hazards would be mishaps on the river which is probably only a class 1 and also just the remoteness of such a trip but that to me has always been a side bonus for going out there.
    Good luck if you actually go for it and be careful.

  10. #10

    Default quota

    AkHunter45, I concur that a set harvest number for that guide is a good idea. My only thought was that that quota was perhaps a little high. I've complained a few times to the park service but I'm only one voice in the wilderness. Give them a call and complain. Their number is 822-5234 and 822-2205.

  11. #11
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mtnman View Post
    The Hawkins and Barnard are tough area's and maybe it's not a good idea for those new to sheep hunting to bite into something like that but McCall Ridge is a cake walk.
    I'm not new to sheep hunting or climbing - just to flying myself in for such a hunt. Again, I won't attempt such a hunt until I have a number of years of cub experience under my belt, but I'd like to give it a shot at some point. Thanks for the info.

  12. #12

    Default

    I've got a pard that flies a 172 and lands on gravel or dirt strips all the time but won't do the off strip landings like gravel bars or ridgetops. Is that one at Huberts landing similar to the type of strip he lands on or is it rougher than that?

  13. #13

    Default Huberts

    The strip at Huberts should be no problem. I've been in there a number of times. A couple times in a Beaver, once in Kelly Greens 180, and also in a cub. The park service always sticks a ranger in there who spends the hunting season in a tent. He will bumble over and ask you a bunch of questions and check your license. Not sure what they are trying to accomplish by this other than pissin on a scent post but it seems to make them happy if you act intimidated. The last ranger I talked to was some tubby dude they flew up from Idaho and this was his "vacation".
    As far as the strip it's a gravel strip that is flat and relatively smooth. From there you can either float or hike up in country. If you choose to go in from the strip obviously fly the route you want to take in carefully as it's a little tricky getting up but anyone with some backcountry experience and in good shape will do just fine. The biggest thing is to scout your route.
    I personally think later is better but that's up to you.
    There is also a private strip on the E. side of the Hawkins a couple miles up but that would be a cub strip and I don't know if it is legal to get a drop off up there or not. I'm positive you can't leave your plane there but if you could get dropped that would be ideal. Good hunting up there but some tough country. Glacier isn't as big as the Barnard and you can cross it in an hour or two if you want to chase sheep on the other side. Also, some good game trails on the the benches paralleling the glacier. Last guy I talked to said he didn't see much for sheep up there but I find that hard to believe. I think he was feeding me some disinformation to discourage me from going back in there. I've always seen good sheep in there. Seems like the bigger rams hang further up on the E. side but I know a book head came out of the lower west side a few years back..

  14. #14

    Default

    Thanks for the info mtnman, we may have to look into hunting that area if we don't draw this winter.

  15. #15
    Member n0g0d's Avatar
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    Default Gary

    It's actually Gary Green, not Kelly If you are speaking of McCarthy Air.

  16. #16

    Default Your right

    Sorry, your right it's Gary Green. It's Kelly that owns Wrangell Mtn Air and I mixed up the first names. I've forgotten Kelly's last name if you know it. Don't know if Wrangell Mtn. does drop offs up the Chitina R. or not but I know as of last year that Gary Green was. Sorry for the mistake.

  17. #17
    Sponsor Becky99588's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mtnman View Post
    Terry, fyi, this particular area is a preserve area and said guide has exclusive rights to it. The number of sheep alowed to be taken annually is set by the park service as it is within the Wrangell St. Ellias National Park. So, with respect for the feds (which I have very little of) are they the ones who are screwing up here by allowing this guide to be taking so many sheep a year? If you tell a guide he can harvest 20 sheep out of his hunt area ea. year, don't you suppose he is going to try and book 20 sheep hunters. He may be clueless as to how many sheep is to many. Guides aren't biologist but are in the field and I agree that they should most definetly do their best not to over hunt an area.
    Mntman is right this area is preserve, so the guide has exculsive right to guide there - but I don't think there are annual species quotas. I think individual guides in the preserve are allowed to take X number of animals, and they can split that X number between different species. I also don't think this number changes very often. I'm betting the exclusivity on MacColl worked well for years, but more and more residents are figuring out how to take rams there, and it has made for an unpredictable situation for the guide. Just something to think about.

    On a side note, the same family that owns the lodge at Bear Island at the base of MacColl is the same family that guides MacColl, Hawkins, and Bernard. They've guided these areas a long time and have a much better idea of how many sheep are there then anybody else, bios included. Oh ya, the bar downriver where a cub can land is Jakes bar.
    Hunt with your kids, not for your kids

  18. #18

    Default

    Don't claim to be an expert on how the feds manage that area regarding # of sheep they allow that outfitter to take annually. I was always of the the understanding that the number was actually higher than what that guide attempted to take ea. year. That's good on them! Don't want to overhunt the area.
    I say attempted because out of 16 or 17 hunters they guided for sheep this year I have it from one of the guides that they only harvested 4 rams. Is that because the numbers are way down in general for that area? I don't know. Could it be due to new assistant guides that don't know the area that well? I did hear they had a tough time getting enough guides to go around. This seems to be a trend in outfitters that run higher numbers of hunters. Always seemed to me to be a risk the client took concerning who he was going to be lucky enough to get as his guide on the ground. Not saying this is the case out there with the low harvest of rams just taking a guess. As I stated earlier in this thread,the guy I know that works for this outfitter said he saw a high number of 3/4-7/8 curl rams this last fall. Higher than normal which leads me to believe the sheep out there are on a rebound.
    PoliticalBio may be right that McColl ridge has seen an increase in resident pressure but might I add that the guide for that area has taken in the last few years most of his sheep off of the ridge that runs behind his lodge. Just to educate some of you, most of the other area's this guide can operate in has some of the toughest terrain to hunt white sheep in Ak. That guide had a high turn over of guides 4-5 years back and his success rate dropped accordingly. Don't have the numbers at my fingertips but I'm sure you can look it up. Fact is a new guide is not going to walk a hunter into the Hawkins or Barnard Glacier and kill sheep. Especially if that new guide himself is new to sheep hunting. Just because a guide doesn't kill as many sheep as he used to doesn't necessarily mean the numbers are way down. It just means he didn't kill as many sheep that year for whatever reason.. If I was guiding that area I would want you all to think that the numbers are way down. Might make you rethink your plans for hunting sheep there. That's a no brainer.
    Lots of speculation being thrown around but again we see no bio. data to back up jackdidly. PoliticalBio, do you know what the park service based their alloted numbers for said guide off of? I am fairly certain they have given that guide X # of sheep he's allowed annually and again I think they attempt less than their allowed. You may know more than I so pipe in if you want with any info you may have.
    PoliticalBio, it sounds like you link the reason to a drop in ram population on McColl Ridge to resident hunters having learned how to hunt that area. I disagree with that and would suggest that it is due to overhunting on the guides part and not because resident hunters are going in there and cleaning house.. This guide has taken a high number of sheep off of that ridge in the last 4-5 years. More so than years past when a high percentage where taken off of the Hawkins and Barnard Glaciers as well as Rex Ck. and Dan Ck. Of those area's McColl Ridge is much easier to hunt and since it is literally in this guys back yard all the easier for him to drop his hunters in there when they are having a tough time of it in the difficult area's. Of course I could just be full of it and not know what I am talking about. That's always possible I guess.
    Long winded but fyi I've personally seen a Beaver land at Jake's bar with no problem so would not classify it as a cub strip. Also, the bar is closed so you can no longer get a cold brew there. Just bring your own.

  19. #19
    Member n0g0d's Avatar
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    Default Bay

    Kelly's last name is Bay.

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    Default Wrangells

    Brian M

    These photo's are at Huberts landing to give you an idea of what the terrain looks like. Awesome place...







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