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Thread: ? For all sheep hunters!

  1. #1
    Member Randy907's Avatar
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    Default ? For all sheep hunters!

    I'm planning my very first sheep hunt already. A walk in hunt at that, and I recieved some extra cash for christmas. So I have a question on some gear. What would be more practical. Trek poles or an ice axe? I know trek poles would be good for relieving weight off your knees, but an ice axe i've heard is a good piece of safety equipment for climbing and incase you take that unintended fall. Any other pieces of gear that would be helpful, I got a barneys frame pack for x-mas as well, and I was looking at the barney's pinnacle for a pack(heard good things). Thanks for any opinons, im just trying to get the planning done ahead of time. And like i've heard from all of you on here, im trying to watch the excess weight for gear as well.

    Randy

    P.S. If anyone has experience with walk in hunts to the brooks or wrangells, with good areas and info about the rivers up in nabesa or chisana please pm me. I plan to do a few scout trips in may and june to safely find a travel point.

  2. #2

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    I am an experienced backpacker and climber (scramble and bouldering to class 5.6) and have hunted sheep. I've used both internal and external frame packs and prefer internal, even for packing out game. I really dont see the need for an ice ax unless you are hunting in areas that you will need to climb or traverse glaciers, then you better pack crampons too. Trek poles are OK, but IMO are just something else to worry about. They can relieve a little weight from your legs if you really lean on them but they also occupy your hands and I like my hands free, and they add weight.

    If you shoot a sheep you are probably looking at two trips to get your sheep and your gear out. A good ram's head, cape and boned meat will run close to 100 lbs and your gear will likely run 60 - 70 lbs if you are base camping.

    There are a lot of good threads on light weight gear, tents, bags, stoves, food, etc.

    Good hunting.

  3. #3

    Default Poles

    I'm a rookie sheep hunter with only one sheep hunt filming episode under my belt but I can vouch for the poles. At first I wasn't a believer for the poles but I now see where you could use the poles a lot. For me tho I needed both hands free. If you hunt w/an ice-ax I'd luv to film that oneThat's sum serious @#$%
    Last edited by tdelarm; 12-28-2008 at 14:16. Reason: added
    Alaska Outdoors Television ~ Outdoor Channel

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    Member fullkurl's Avatar
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    Hi Randy.
    I'll throw in my two cents...
    I'm a hard core walk-in sheep hunter.

    Leave the ice axe at home, take the poles. TAKE THE POLES! I use Leki brand with the anti-shock.
    Many fine rams have been taken in glacier country, but it can be serious business. My advice: stick to country off of the glaciers until you get some experience.
    Per your Nebesna, Chisana questions...fine country, some is hard public hunted, other is strong-armed (air services) to keep nonguided resident hunters out.
    Precise area info is guarded, and rightly so.
    Do your homework with the maps, scout the off-season hard and bring a grizz tag with you. There are plenty of bears in that area.

    Be prepared for the National Park Service to cavity search you--ok I'm exaggerating that part.
    They will want to know everything including your underwear color when you head in there.

    Best of luck and be safe!

    Frank

  5. #5
    Member shphtr's Avatar
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    An ice ax used to be standard equip for me on sheep hunts for years. Finally tried trekking poles and have never looked back. They are perhaps most useful when packing out and going down hill. Don't forget to check your bootlaces and tighten if needed once you start down. I have pretty much tried them all and keep coning back to external frame packs - yes I use a Barney's. For a 10 to 12 day walk in hunt most peoples' packs weight about 55 to 65 lbs. A boned out sheep will run in the 40 to 60 lb range and cape and horns around 20 lbs. It is possible to walk out with your camp and a sheep....but it will be sig'ly in excess of a 100 lbs and you will have to be hauling a VERY LIGHT camp. Good luck - it gets better every year.

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    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Wink your money...

    Do not purchase an ice ax. It might tempt you to ascend into country where it is necessary, and without substancial training and experience, that will be bad.

    Do not purchase those trekking poles. Although you might find some convienient walking sticks during your river bed approach towards sheep country.

    Keep it simple. There are those few who use an ax and there are many who use trekking poles. On every sheep hunting expedition that I have conducted, a ram or two has tipped over dead. None of those 27 rams would have been any more dead if an ice ax or trekking poles had been purchased or used.

    Spend your money on great boots and ammo to practice with. And spend your money on gas every weekend to go hike, climb, and scramble up into sheep country with a normal sheep hunting Barneys backpack load. Do this all summer until, when your sheep hunt starts, you are supremely confident in your abilities up in the rocks.

    OK, I would relent and suggest poles only if your knees have given you really, really bad problems in the past.

    Again, keep your gear list simple, and build up your physical and mental toughness all year.

    Dennis
    Alaska True Adventure Guide Service

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    Member fullkurl's Avatar
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    With respect to Dennis' post, Randy, I wouldn't hike ten feet in sheep country without adjustable, spring-loaded trekking poles.
    Coming down the mountain with a loaded pack can be downright dangerous--bad knees or good knees. Shale and scree draws don't care about your knees or anything else for that matter. It's all about balance; the poles flat out work.
    They say a picture is worth a thousand words... here's one for you.

    If you can't afford poles, I'll lend you mine for your hunt. They have more than a few rams' DNA on them too...


    Frank
    Last edited by fullkurl; 09-04-2009 at 16:39.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    ATA: I will have to disagree with you on this one. I am a big guy and as the pack weight goes up the trekking poles become more of a necessity. It is all about keeping your balance and not getting hurt. The side of a mountain in AK is not a good place to get hurt, especially if you have already ascended and descended a couple peaks on your way to where you got injured! I use Black diamond elliptical Poles with their quick lock system and they have been a blessing. My cousin didn't have poles on our last go but after he nearly took a bad tumble from slipping on rotten vegetation he borrowed one of my poles for the rest of the trip and will have his own for next year.

    I don't intend on going places where I would need an axe because I don't carry climbing rope and I believe that if you are in ice axe territory you should have a partner who knows how to belay and should be tied off!

    To paraphrase... Save your knees and get some poles. They are also useful with a silnylon tarp for emergency shelters or even to use as a splint if you are above tree line.

    Oh the boots and pack advise are good! I have Kenetrek mountain boots and they are good though I am considering to going to something a bit stiffer like the scarpa liskamm. It depends on the person which boots will be most comfortable but something like the ones I mentioned or the Lowas or Meindle will be worth the money spent and are arguably the most important piece of gear you can take on a sheep hunt. I also like an internal frame pack for sheep depending on what I am taking. I will probably do a packraft hunt in the future and the added load of the boat will likely require an external frame.

  9. #9
    Member Randy907's Avatar
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    thanks for all the replies, I did plan on bringing a bear tag on my spring scout trip. I'm also 20 years old, and I just had surgery to get rid of a nasty bone chip in my leg that would shift around, I think i'll play it safe with the poles but my knee should be 10 times better than it was hunting at kodiak last year. Im getting into my gym schedule again and it looks like the only thing I need is a pack and pick up a stove, I have everything else.

    The only reason I contemplated an ice axe to take was to help in case of a fall, and maybe pull you up a hill, but now that you mention it, it would make me more aggressive towards hills I shouldn't be on.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by fullkurl View Post
    With respect to Dennis' post, Randy, I wouldn't hike ten feet in sheep country without adjustable, spring-loaded trekking poles.
    Coming down the mountain with a loaded pack can be downright dangerous--bad knees or good knees. Shale and scree draws don't care about your knees or anything else for that matter. It's all about balance; the poles flat out work.
    They say a picture is worth a thousand words... here's one for you.

    If you can't afford poles, I'll lend you mine for your hunt. They have more than a few rams' DNA on them too...


    Frank

    Nothing like 3 or 4 points of contact with the ground as opposed to 2 huh Frank. I have a picture at home of me coming down a shale chute with a fully loaded pack (ram in it) and I am spread out like a spider with both my trekking poles trying to stay upright. Probably would have killed myself (seriously) as I picked my route without the poles. Then theres creek bed walking with a heavy pack, bad place to slip, twist an ankle or a knee, love having the balance of the poles. I am like you Frank, I wont go sheep hunting without em!

  11. #11

    Default Another Vote...

    ...for bringing the poles. When I was a young and dumb sheep hunter (still am), I didn't use the poles. Now, won't leave home without em. Although I am apparently a little more frugal than most. I prefer an ole broken hockey stick. Or, if I know I am gonna be in an area with "natural" walking sticks, find a good one, and there ya go.
    J
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  12. #12

    Default Poles

    I agree with most here and say BRING the poles! Steep hills, loose shale, creek crossings, wet grassy slopes, will all be safer with 3 or 4 points of contact.

    Don't get caught up thinking think that you have to spend $100+ dollars on trekking poles. For my first fly out solo sheep hunt I went to Value Village (Goodwill) and bought a pair of aluminum ski poles for $5. They work just as good.

    Enjoy the sheep bug!

  13. #13
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Cool Trekking poles

    I'm still not going to purchase and use 'em. So I'll agree to disagree with many of the forum posters on this one.

    Ya all, and there appears to be a lot of trekking pole users out there, can use 'em. But when I'm coming downhill all loaded up, overloaded like all sheep killers, I simply go slower. Now I'll admit to using my rifle occasionally as a walking stick. That has not hurt "the old hammer" yet, except for another hundred rock and alder dings. But, IMHO, your trekking poles would not have helped kill nothing faster or deader. And I'm still (physically) fine, so I don't put them on my gear list. Now if a hunting partner showed up with them, or if a client-hunter brought them along, that would be fine. It's just not the type of hunting or hiking aid I would suggest. And what do you do with them when your scrambling, climbing (or decending) with one or both hands? And where is your gun when your hands are wrapped around trekking pole handles? (My gun either hangs in front of me- ready to use- on a safari sling, which few people employ, or it is in one hand.)

    Now, clearly if one has prior athletic leg injuries, or if one experiences joint pain while walking 10 or 12 miles, or more, I would agree that your poles could and would help you. But they don't help me, yet.

    So, to our original forum poster, if you have leg concerns of any type (and you do) I'll agree that you should try trekking poles. According to many others on the forum, they will make you a safer and more efficient hiker-hunter.

    I went snowshoeing for 2 1/2 hours today in Chugach State Park. I did use trekking poles, ski poles! So, I can agree that if I ever go sheep hunting in three feet of soft snow I'll recommend, I mean I'll insist on, trekking poles.

    Now, if we could obtain an ice ax head on a longer-than-normal-handle,a handle/trekking pole long enough for a person of average height, that would be a combination tool that we could use.

    Go hiking. Go sheep hunting. Man, would't it be great to be a 20 year old sheep hunter!

    (And I do use ice axes on mountain goat hunts, but not trekking poles.)

    .......IMHO.......

    Dennis
    AK TAGS

  14. #14
    Member Daveintheburbs's Avatar
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    I will not go packing of any sort without my poles. I prefer the ones without the anti shock feaure. They also make great shooting sticks, flip the straps over each other and cross them.

  15. #15
    Member lawdog's Avatar
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    Default a friend of mine uses one of these...

    combo deals. I just use one shock absorbing pole. I hate the idea of not having my uphill hand free. here's a link to the thing. The pole twists out to whatever length you want. I would be afraid of falling on it and getting hurt. http://www.mountaingear.com/pages/pr...&prodline=2310

  16. #16
    Member fullkurl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlaskaTrueAdventure View Post
    I'm still not going to purchase and use 'em. So I'll agree to disagree with many of the forum posters on this one.

    Ya all, and there appears to be a lot of trekking pole users out there, can use 'em. But when I'm coming downhill all loaded up, overloaded like all sheep killers, I simply go slower. Now I'll admit to using my rifle occasionally as a walking stick. That has not hurt "the old hammer" yet, except for another hundred rock and alder dings. But, IMHO, your trekking poles would not have helped kill nothing faster or deader. And I'm still (physically) fine, so I don't put them on my gear list. Now if a hunting partner showed up with them, or if a client-hunter brought them along, that would be fine. It's just not the type of hunting or hiking aid I would suggest. And what do you do with them when your scrambling, climbing (or decending) with one or both hands? And where is your gun when your hands are wrapped around trekking pole handles? (My gun either hangs in front of me- ready to use- on a safari sling, which few people employ, or it is in one hand.)

    Now, clearly if one has prior athletic leg injuries, or if one experiences joint pain while walking 10 or 12 miles, or more, I would agree that your poles could and would help you. But they don't help me, yet.

    So, to our original forum poster, if you have leg concerns of any type (and you do) I'll agree that you should try trekking poles. According to many others on the forum, they will make you a safer and more efficient hiker-hunter.

    I went snowshoeing for 2 1/2 hours today in Chugach State Park. I did use trekking poles, ski poles! So, I can agree that if I ever go sheep hunting in three feet of soft snow I'll recommend, I mean I'll insist on, trekking poles.

    Now, if we could obtain an ice ax head on a longer-than-normal-handle,a handle/trekking pole long enough for a person of average height, that would be a combination tool that we could use.

    Go hiking. Go sheep hunting. Man, would't it be great to be a 20 year old sheep hunter!

    (And I do use ice axes on mountain goat hunts, but not trekking poles.)

    .......IMHO.......

    Dennis
    AK TAGS
    Dennis, I would NEVER use my rifle as a walking stick--ever!
    (Well, perhaps in a life & death scenario that went way beyond a hunt situation). I'm not hiking thirty miles for a 250 yard shot at an elusive ram with a rifle that was used as a trekking pole. No way, no how! My rifle gets handled as carefully as possible in sheep country. It will see abuse, but never intentionally.

    I guess we disagree on more than the trekking poles...<grin>

    Happy New Year!

  17. #17

    Default Rifle Holder

    Poles are a must! The ones that colapse can be easily tucked away.

    What I see more of are guys having there guns "Strapped" into there packs or hanging around there neck, OUCH! Barney's sells a velcro rifle holder that you can mount to your pack frame. You can just reach up rip the velcro free & the rifle is ready to go. I can think of two high country hunts with two different guys. Both times bears charged & both times the other two guys were busy messing around trying to get there rifles. I like mine, because my hands are free, I can get to it quick, & it has yet to fail me in over 10 years.

    Go with @ least 1 pole, rifle holder, go lite, & pray you are first to your prescouted spot. Chances are if you found the place & can get to it someone else all ready has. The other thing is anyone who says they pack out an entire ram & there base camp has left something behind, or there mode of transportation is very close. Two trips if you are solo. Good Luck

  18. #18
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Thumbs up ol' hammer

    Fullkurl,
    First of all, I have never walked 30 miles in (one way) on a sheep hunt. My max has been 26 miles in, 26 out, two years in a row. After those I do feel like I need two days rafting the Kenai for rainbows to recuperate the legs and back.

    Second of all, I always use my old Ruger as a walking stick. My "ol' hammer" has never changed point of impact! Not yet!! (knock on wood- my head?). The corners of that hard rubber Ruger recoil pad are rounded off pretty good (bad).

    I have threatened to replace "ol' hammer", or "Mr Ugly" for a dozen years, Then I take it out and shoot it. It still groups well. And after 1000 dings the appearance can't be messed-up any further. Every year that I don't replace it, I figure I saved a thousand dollars.

    And every time I see any thread related to sheep, I know that you, I, and all of us experts are going to respond. And each of our differing opinions are absolutely correct!!!

    Isn't sheep hunting, sheep scouting, sheep dreaming, sheep anything...great?...especially during these long winters?

    And one more point of difference...I do not prefer to bring a griz tag. Griz are a dime a dozen. Rams are not. So while ram hunting I'm passing on the bears and fucusing on killing a ram, while attempting to keep myself alive.

    And happy holidays to all...

    Dennis
    AK TAGS

  19. #19
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    Default poles

    They have already said it all but I will say it also. I have been hunting sheep in AK since '66 and my son took his first with me when he was 12 in '78. On our last three hunts in recent years, we have used poles and both of us have said that we can't understand why it took us so long to start using them. The first time I brought some old telescoping military ski poles and they worked. Since then we have used some light titanium poles. On the last hunt we traversed up and then down a very steep slope for almost 2000 feet; we could not have made it without them. We will not ever go without them again!

  20. #20

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    Last summers sheep hunt.


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