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Thread: I want to be a better sheep hunter...

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    Default I want to be a better sheep hunter...

    Well, so far I have not had luck with sheep hunting as I am 0-2 and have yet to be on sheep hunt where a legal ram has been harvested. Hunting, is hunting and the o-for streak doesn't bother me. What bothers me is that I don't feel like I am doing my part in regards to harvesting sheep. Right now, I am working on my pack weight to try and bring it down as much as I can. I have also been taking walks and working on lengthening my stride and developing a better more natural movement as I often find myself stumbling a lot when tired. I have also thought about switching to a two boot system where I could wear very lightweight hiking boots when moving through valleys and going up hills. In the past I have concentrated on cadiovascular fitness but I am seriously thinking that some leg workouts might also be more beneficial. Its not that I am in bad shape or that I struggle out on the slopes as I would consider myself in "average" sheep condition during season. The thing is though, the average sheep hunters only have average success. So this year I am trying to dedicate myself to better understanding sheep and being more prepared. I have read most of the local "Alaska" syle sheep hunting books in print around here so I am not totally clueless. The past two years I have been in the Brooks Range, one was a walk in the other was a fly in. (Jago/Hula Hula area) To be honest, it kind of hurts to shell out the money to fly in and not shoot a sheep. I felt like I was under pressure the whole time which distracted from the hunt. I am tentatively signed up to do the same hunt this year but am having second thoughts. Anyways, I hoping to get a few tips from the guys who have had success. What are the keys to success. I realize location, location, location is the biggest factor, but besides that what things can a guy do to help swing the odds a little in his favor? Do you guys prefer a base camp style hunt where you perhaps spike a night or to or do you use the moving camp technoque where you make a big slow loop of the area you are hunting with camp on your back?

    I appreciate the help fellas.

  2. #2

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    Not really sure I even understand what you are asking. Are you 0-2 on sheep hunts because your not seeing sheep where you hunt? Or are you unable to get to the sheep you see. Hiking and carrying camp on your back is the most common method of sheep hunting with the capability of spiking it light if neccessary also. You reasons for lack of success arent real clear in your post.

  3. #3

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    To clear things up, Shape isn't a big issue as I am usually in pretty good shape. In the last two hunts I only saw one legal ram and even that was questionable. I guess I am o-2 for a variety reasons and am looking for key aspects of sheep hunting. The biggest part of my question is that I want to be a better Sheep HUNTER. Hunting sheep is a skill unto itself. Perhaps, I am going about it all wrong. Maybe I am not getting high enough, I don't know. Basically I am just looking for a few tips on how to improve my sheep hunting skills. Things like, what times are Rams prone to movement. What are preferred bedding areas. What does a large concentration of ewes and lambs mean in regards to the Rams. What about a small concentration of Ewes and lambs. Do large bands mean no Rams are likely to be around? Given the light availablity of the Brooks in August what time are sheep prone to movement? Do they have a favorite food source that is scarce? Do sheep work up/down at particular times of day? I don't know, just general hunting questions I guess. I grew up hunting Whitetail and Elk. This will be my fourth year in Alaska and I don't feel like I have put in the proper research for Sheep.

  4. #4

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    You miht want to pick up a book called "Sheep hunting Alaska" written by Tony Russ. Its not the be all end all of sheep hunting but it sounds like it may answer some of your questions. Your questions are many, and I would think that with two seasons in a row sheep hunting watching the animals would have answered some of the questions you seek answers to. Finding sheep is the hardest part and to me finding legal rams is even harder.

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    [QUOTE=futurerancher;185280]Well, In the past I have concentrated on cadiovascular fitness but I am seriously thinking that some leg workouts might also be more beneficial. Its not that I am in bad shape or that I struggle out on the slopes as I would consider myself in "average" sheep condition during season.

    I am by no means a sheep hunting expert however, I concentrated more on leg workouts prior to my sheep hunt this year and noticed a big difference in my physical abilities. I did a lot of the regular leg workouts with weights, and also focused a lot on doing uphill and downhill lunges. I also did a lot more packing with my pack frame and weight (usually dog food) on some of the local hills. I mixed it up constantly with sprints, lunges, weights, running, etc... to try and really focus on hitting alot of different areas in my legs.

    The other thing I think is equally important is mental toughness and keeping a positive outlook. A good partner helps because you can keep eachother motivated. The area we hunted in the AK Range this year had a lot of guides working it and we had to pack a long ways back in. We didn't see any legal sheep in the first three days and we covered A LOT of ground in some nasty terrain. Day four we spent almost the entire day getting up into a drainage after some sheep that turned out to be sub-legal. We were tired and frustrated at this point but tried to keep the spirits up. While resting up before moving on my sheep basically appeared out of nowhere on the other side of the drainage. It took a lot to get over to him but we got him. We went from 4 days with zero legal sheep to having one basically appear out of nowhere for us. Being persistent really paid off.

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    Default Books

    In addition to Tonys book Duncan Gilchrist also has a pretty good book "Quest For Dall Sheep".

  7. #7

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    Thanks Ward, I have read Tonys book and will check out the Gilchrist one.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlaskaCub View Post
    Your questions are many, and I would think that with two seasons in a row sheep hunting watching the animals would have answered some of the questions you seek answers to.
    Bro, I am just trying to spark some discussion in the dead of winter. Is there really any need for this?

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    Member Daveintheburbs's Avatar
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    Finding legal rams is the hardest part. Kind of basic but working on everything else is immaterial if your not into rams. I would spend my study time working on where to go vice what to do. Transporters ae big bucks , but if they are good ones can really help your odds of gettin in the right area.

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    Honestly - i dont find Sheep hunting really that hard if you are in reasonable shape and your mind is right for the hunt. I think knowing what is legal to shoot is a heckuva alot harder than actually finding them. Research on your area would be right up there as well. It just takes time to know how the animals in a given area are acting. Being up in the high counrty has a whole lot more value to me that actually harvesting a sheep.

    Personally - I've paid for way more hunts than I have actually taken an animal on - but i don't hunt just for the kill, I hunt for reasons of self fulfiment known only to me and experiencing Nature in a way I've never seen before. Much more now than ever before. Just ask my Bear Hunting Partner - I have a specific bear in mind and I havn't found him yet within range to make a shot, but i keep trying. So you may be 0 for 2 on sheep, but I'm 0 fer 3 on Kodiak Browns - This year I may very go 0 for 4 - but i'll still shell out the cash because seeing those Bears in that environment is a better high than any drug could bring.

    i dont think 0 fer 2 is that bad considering what you are hunting.

    The Time of year you hunt has a huge impact on where you will find the sheep. Read T.Russ's Book and the one by Gilchrist and you will probably find the answers you seek - but just remember - nothing in print will be as valuable as the time you spend in the field.

  11. #11
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    Default Patience...

    Patience is crucial!
    I think that researching is also huge - whether its taxidermists, friends, fellow hunters, books, biologists, or this forum (your off to a good start) gather as much info as you can.
    I enjoy summer hikes in sheep country; not necessarily to scout specific areas, but to observe and learn something new.
    As far as conditioning goes- IMO being physically active on a daily basis works best for me. Running around the neighborhood, climbing mountains, riding mountain bikes, playing full-court basketball games- these are just a few great ways to get into or maintain muscular and cardio shape.
    Though I will say that climbing mountains with a heavy pack has always been the most beneficial for me as far as preparing for a sheep hunt, especially being able to do it on a daily basis so that it becomes "normal" for you, that way the physical aspect of sheep hunting should not stress/tire/wear you out AS much.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cutter View Post
    but just remember - nothing in print will be as valuable as the time you spend in the field.
    I'm also an 0-for on rams so don't claim to be an expert, but have been on a hunt where a ram was taken, and I did take ewe on a 14C ewe hunt (my first sheep hunt). I truly believe in what I quoted from Cutter above.

    I applied for the ewe permit more for getting experience with sheep hunting as a rookie. I read all the books, highlighted portions of them and reread them and reread them and... However, the best learning about sheep and hunting them has been time in the field. This does not just have to happen during sheep season. Don't know where you live or if you have access to sheep country, but I spend a good part of the summer hiking in Chugach Park. Those hikes serve several purposes; the best possible physical training for season is one of them. A second is that every hike I'm looking for sheep and I carry a camera. I'm constantly trying to get in good photo range of quality rams or even ewes for that matter. What better learning is there than hands on learning.
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  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carnivore View Post
    I'm also an 0-for on rams so don't claim to be an expert, but have been on a hunt where a ram was taken, and I did take ewe on a 14C ewe hunt (my first sheep hunt). I truly believe in what I quoted from Cutter above.

    I applied for the ewe permit more for getting experience with sheep hunting as a rookie. I read all the books, highlighted portions of them and reread them and reread them and... However, the best learning about sheep and hunting them has been time in the field. This does not just have to happen during sheep season. Don't know where you live or if you have access to sheep country, but I spend a good part of the summer hiking in Chugach Park. Those hikes serve several purposes; the best possible physical training for season is one of them. A second is that every hike I'm looking for sheep and I carry a camera. I'm constantly trying to get in good photo range of quality rams or even ewes for that matter. What better learning is there than hands on learning.

    An even better question is this, Is that Ram in your picture a shooter? From that view it looks to be no but I wouldn't mid hearing what other peoples opinions are on that. I'm sure you got a better look and know the correct answer. I wonder what others on here think.

    By the way I live in Valdez so I am only a hop away from Thompson Pass which makes for some great summer hikes. Thanks for the thoughts!

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    Member sheep man's Avatar
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    ward17 hit it on the head,i really believe in the mental toughness, it 80% mental 20% physical,this is something that you build on over time,learning what your capable of and taking a deeper step the following year. Or you got blessed at a early age with mental toughness,if you look around at the die hard sheep hunters and you take a look at there past you'll see that they were very competive in sports of some sort,they have that never give up never loose attitude...

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    Default Tony's book

    Russ' book has more how-to's than anything I know of- the guy has hunted a lot of sheep- and killed bigger than most guys. Not to mention your money is going to an intelligent guy that understands the importance of sustainability. A couple of the most beneficial things I have found/confirmed in the field.

    1. Be in good sheep country; if there aren't any rams, all the rest is pointless-patience was mentioned, especially in areas that are being hunted by others- the sheep will be moving if they're run out of their 'area'.

    2. See them before they see you- not that it always matters, but it sure makes it easier- and I firmly believe they can see you 2+ miles away- even if you're not skylining yourself.

    3. Don't skimp on optics- this often saves yourself the trouble of working to find sub-legal rams.

    4. As someone else mentioned, have a great hunting partner- for humor, for safety, for a second set of eyes, for a 2nd packer, etc...

    I think a lot of the rest is a combo of on-the-go improv. and getting lucky...so good luck

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    I want to be a better sheep hunter too.

    Book knowledge and knowledge from others is great but there is nothing like personal experience. Think back on your previous hunts. Were you seeing sheep? Were you seeing rams? Ask yourself- What did you do right? What did you do wrong? I always figured that if I am hunting and seeing game (rams, bulls or bucks) I'm doing something right. It's one thing to be in an area where there are no rams or only sub legal rams, it's another thing to screw up a stalk, not be able to hump it up the mountain or not be able to tell if he's legal because you don't have a good spotting scope.

    I'm no expert either and have not been hunting sheep all my life so I figure I need to maximize the things I CAN so something about to make up for lost time . Obviously we need to hunt where sheep are, hopefully anyway but in addition to that...

    1. Be in top physical condition, and prepare mentally. In the summer I cycle like a madman for cardio and a good quad pump, do a weight routine that include squats and lunges and other stuff but I still think the best is hiking with my pack in my sheep hunting boots up AND down working up to 85lbs or more with a few 100lb plus training hikes. And, do some of training hikes in the rain when you are tired and don't feel like it. This helps with mental training I think, makes you push yourself. Try and do some hikes in tricky terrain to work on balance with a heavy pack. I start in the spring with no weight and by the time Aug rolls around I'm up to the heavy weight, 85lbs plus. Then when I go hunting depending on how much food and water I am carrying my pack with rifle comes in around 55lbs. It feels light compared to my training weight I've been used too. But, if I get a ram down I know I can handle the heavy weight in rough terrain.

    2. Eat and drink a lot and get plenty of sleep on the hunt so when the times comes you have the energy to hump it up, down, around and back up above that ram and then do it all again with a heavy load AND be prepared to bivy in the wind and rain or snow if need be.

    3. Buy the best gear and optics you can afford even if you can't afford it Seriously though, you can't afford NOT to have good gear. Your life may depend on it. Lots of good info here on gear.

    4. Give yourself plenty of time on the hunt so you can rest if needed. 2 years ago we drew DCUA walk in. It took us 2 and half days of heavy humping to get 15+ miles in to sheep country and pitch the tent on a ridge. The morning we awoke in sheep country to hunt we realized we were toast from the last few days so we rested the entire day and just ate and guzzled water and gatorade all day and did some glassing. I think it gave us the edge we needed, we started hunting on full instead of empty if you know what I mean. We ended up getting a couple rams on the hunt and it was pretty grueling physically and mentally.


    Just a few thoughts on things that I feel can make or break my (or your) hunt when you do finally see that fullcurl ram on that far ridge 2 drainages away. If your prepared you can say "lets go get him!!"
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    Thats a shooter! .....I see a few age rings on the the top 1/4 before the horn turns down...the pics a little blurry but could probably see better with some scope power....lets here it ,is he?

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    Default Shooter?

    Quote Originally Posted by futurerancher View Post
    An even better question is this, Is that Ram in your picture a shooter? From that view it looks to be no but I wouldn't mid hearing what other peoples opinions are on that. I'm sure you got a better look and know the correct answer. I wonder what others on here think.

    By the way I live in Valdez so I am only a hop away from Thompson Pass which makes for some great summer hikes. Thanks for the thoughts!
    The ram is one of a group of about seven and there were two bigger - obvious shooters - in the bunch, so I did not pay as much attention to him. I was really trying to get a pic of the bigger rams but got busted and he was plan B. If I'd been hunting at the time I wouldn't have taken "the shot" on this ram if he were alone either though. The angle we see in the pic is somewhat oval and not circular. With the right angle he appeared to come right to the grey area of full or not full. Back then I was not confident with trying to age a sheep so I did not even try, but looking at the pic now... hard to tell with the lack of clarity, but I think I agree with Kahahawai that he would have had the rings to make it.
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    to determine if that Ram is a shooter largely depends on who's behind the trigger, I believe that you are asking if he is Legal to Shoot - big difference if you ask me, and I cannot determine from that pic if legal although he is for sure close.

    The picture however is a treat in itself.

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    I would say he's 9 and just barely full curl on this side. Looks like you can just see his other tip also, might be a little longer... turn ur head, turn ur head!!

    The view is slightly uphill so that will make his lamb tip look lower. But, I think he makes the age. A clear pic and a head turn or two would tell us huh!!

    Ya nice pics.
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