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Thread: Sheep hunting strategy

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    Member oakman's Avatar
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    Default Sheep hunting strategy

    I've read Tony Russ' book and pretty much every post on this site about sheep hunting. What I'd be interested in discussing is what strategy or techniques have worked for you when hunting sheep?

    Get above them, come up from below, wait for them to come down, morning/night, whitesuits, etc.

  2. #2

    Default Rams

    1st ram,
    I crested a ridge about 10 a.m, staying low so not to be seen or "skylined", and saw a band of rams feeding in the open about a mile away. Actually, the basin was full of sheep. I was lucky because the rams were in the head of the basin nearest me. I found a route that I thought would put me within gunshot range of the rams so off the Mt I went. There was a little finger ridge between the rams and myself which provided the last bit of cover for my stalk. I belly crawled to the crest of the ridge where I could see the rams which were slightly uphill from me now. I dug out the spotter and could see one ram that was heavily broomed on both sides (not full curl because of it) and 1 ram that was right at full curl with lambtips but I just couldn't be certain he was full curl. I really wanted the fullcurl ram with lamtips. They started to feed away from me so I decided I would take the double broomer which I knew was legal. I guessed (pre-rangefinder days for me) the range at about 300 yds, so I held behind his shoulder and a little above center and took the shot. No reaction whatsoever so I thought I missed. So I aimed a little over his back thinking I had misjudged the distance and at the same time I pulled the trigger he started to stagger and down he went. The first shot was on the mark, a double lunger. I was shooting 180 gr failsafes out of my 300 wsm and the bullet happened to sneak between the ribs on the entrance and exit which explained his lack of response to the shot. The failsafe didn't expand either, so it was a 30 cal hole in and out. I have since started handloading 180 gr Sierra Gamekings which shoot very accurately, are relatively cheap, retain about 65% of there weight, and drop everything I have shot them with. Sorry, I got side tracked! That's the long way of saying I simply spotted them from a ridgetop, found a route to get close, and made the shot. So I was above them when I spotted them, got below them to make the stalk because I had that finger ridge and other terrain for cover, and shot him when he was slightly uphill from me.

    2nd Ram,
    I spotted him and his 2 buddies and they were actually headed in my general direction to bed down on a finger ridge that had a series of benches on the ridgetop. I was above them and watched them bed down (middle of afternoon). The benches and other terrain on the ridgetop provided a slam dunk approach from above to the rams. I got to within 200 yds or less and found a good rest. I took a long time looking over the biggest ram. I determined he to was double broomed and I could also count 8 growth rings easily and knew more rings existed near his bases where I couldn't see them. I asked my girlfriend (ex) if I should shoot him, she's like, isn't that what we came here for! I was thinking about potentially bigger rams in the next basin....silly me. He's on the wall now. So, basically I spotted these rams and came in from above which was really easy with the terrain I had to work with.

    So, from my experience it just depends on where you find the rams and what kind of terrain and cover lies between you and them. As Tony stated, hunting sheep from above is ideal but clearly not the only choice. Good luck and have fun!
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    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Thumbs up go hunting...

    Hunt from above?...Yes. Hunt from below...Yes. Hunt early?...yes. Hunt late?...Yep. Whites?...Whatever. Be patient? ...Usually. Unless rage will work better at that moment.
    You read the book. You read every post you could find.

    If you are in great shape, get in greater shape. Keep in mind that it is usually impossible to get in sheep shape without going on a sheep hunt. You are going to be working your body 13 hours per day while you are ram hunting. Unless you are a professional athlete, few of us have the available time to work out 13 hours a day. If you climb a mountain and you think your experiencing a heart attack, but you are not actually experiencing a heart attack, then you are worikng out hard enough at that moment and time. So, on that day, you might be half way through your workout.

    If you are not already in great shape, then your starting late.

    Most of us can shoot good enough to nick a ram even at stupid-long range. If you shoot 'em a ram the right place it will be a good death. If you nick 'em in the wrong place the ram will probably still die, but it will be a bad death or possible a terrible death. So practice. Practice more.

    It ain't brain surgery. It's ram hunting, the greatest sport in Alaska, the greatest days of your life (except for the birthdays of your kids).
    Even a caveman can do it.

    Dennis
    AK TAGS

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    To put it simply: be patient, stay hidden. If you can do these two things (particularly be patient), the rest will take care of itself.

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    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Default

    Jpost: Those are nice looking rams. I like the Sierra Gameking as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    To put it simply: be patient, stay hidden. If you can do these two things (particularly be patient), the rest will take care of itself.
    Patience is the key. It took me several unsuccessful sheep hunts to learn this. Last year we waited three days on rams before we ever did any real climbing. We watched and waited for three days trying to figure out the pattern our rams were on. Finally they moved into a spot where we could stalk close and five hours later we had two rams down.

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    Member bigmtn's Avatar
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    Default from above

    Every scenario seems to be different but if you can get above and hunt down it seems your odds increase, another great advantage of being above is they are not expecting trouble from above. It has allowed us to spend much more time studying sheep and how they act when they dont sense trouble in the valley. SInce most of our rams have been shot by my girls its allowed us to get closer for them to make a got shot. "Best way to become a sheep hunter is to hunt sheep. " Way more is learned from watching them then just killin the first one you see. That said, if you think its a one time deal better kill the first one thats legal, "if you want to become a sheep hunter spend some time with them." Not sure how to attach a picture but there are some rams on my album, all were taken from above. Works for us. Sheep hunting is cheap entertainment if you break it down to all the hours you spend dreaming and getting ready. If I broke down my sheep expenses by the hours of entertainment and satisfaction it brings me year a round how can you not enjoy it. If your so fortunate to spend a week in sheep country with a good partner, physically able to perform at the level needed to be succesful and bring home some groceries you have arrived. Good luck

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Default Question for Jpost

    i see a dog in the seonc photo? ever have an issue with pup along on a big game hunt? wind? running? etc
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

    meet on face book here

  8. #8

    Default

    Not sure if this applies to Alaska Dall Sheep, but Bighorns are creatures of habbit. Getting to konw their hangouts and habbits is the ticket. However, this takes time and may require miles of mountian travel. Our Bighorns have seasonal ranges that they migrate to and fro. They hangout in exactley the same areas according to season. Scouting is the key and if you can afford the time and resources to scout out your area just prior to hunting season it should pay dividends. Or else chalk up your first one or two hunting trips to scouting and hope.

    Good Hunting,

    -MR

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Which Book?

    Quote Originally Posted by oakman View Post
    I've read Tony Russ' book and pretty much every post on this site about sheep hunting. What I'd be interested in discussing is what strategy or techniques have worked for you when hunting sheep?

    Get above them, come up from below, wait for them to come down, morning/night, whitesuits, etc.
    Oak,

    You said you read Tony's book on sheep hunting. Which one? "Sheep Hunting in Alaska" or "Sheep Stalking in Alaska"?

    You might also be interested in Duncan Gilcrist's "Quest for Dall Rams", Jack Wilson's "The Quest for Dall Sheep" (it contains the story of the Chadwick Ram, considered by many to be North America's finest big-game trophy ever taken), and "Dall Sheep Trails" by Ace Somerfeld. You might also have a look at the bookstore on our site here. We have some good sheep DVDS too. Note that there are two pages of books and videos that contain info pertaining to Dall sheep.

    If any of you sheep fanatics have suggestions for other books and videos we should be carrying, please let me know and we'll check it out.

    Best regards,

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  10. #10
    Member mmusashi2k's Avatar
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    Default Beautiful rams jpost.

    The only question is why would you pass a double broomer for a full curl?

  11. #11
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Dall sheep habits

    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaRifleman View Post
    Not sure if this applies to Alaska Dall Sheep, but Bighorns are creatures of habbit. Getting to konw their hangouts and habbits is the ticket. However, this takes time and may require miles of mountian travel. Our Bighorns have seasonal ranges that they migrate to and fro. They hangout in exactley the same areas according to season. Scouting is the key and if you can afford the time and resources to scout out your area just prior to hunting season it should pay dividends. Or else chalk up your first one or two hunting trips to scouting and hope.

    Good Hunting,

    -MR
    MR,

    You make a good point. Dall sheep are migratory as well, though the length of their migration varies from one area to another. Another significant issue has to do with mineral licks. Sheep love 'em, but there is some speculation that rams don't use them as much as ewes and lambs do. One area I hunt has a significant lick and I have seen many dozens of ewes and lambs there, but never a ram. Not even one. I look every time I go by there, though.

    Another Dall sheep habit I have noticed that has helped me in guiding sheep hunters is this: Rams are usually feeding on the lower slopes in the morning hours, or they are on their way down to feed. Then in the mid-morning they start working their way back up into the crags, where they spend the day bedded and ruminating. They'll get up and feed once or twice more during the day, but usually only for a short while before bedding again. This is often when they will move to another area, if they are going to relocate. If they stay put though, they can almost always be counted on to descend to the same feeding area where they were found in the morning. I have patterned rams many times this way and have had good success moving into position either as they were ascending (and looking away) in the morning, or as they descended in the evening. Repositioning yourself in the morning usually means a long afternoon of waiting and watching. It's a good time to catch a nap, but you must find a spot where you can remain hidden and still be able to observe the rams. Making the move in the afternoon is much more exciting, but the time window is often short and you're playing the game of racing the darkness to get into position in time to take a ram before the light is gone. I don't prefer the evenings for this reason, but I have packed out many a sheep in the dark anyway. Sometimes you just have to take 'em where (and when) you find 'em.

    Hope it helps!

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  12. #12
    Member oakman's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    Oak,

    You said you read Tony's book on sheep hunting. Which one? "Sheep Hunting in Alaska" or "Sheep Stalking in Alaska"?


    Best regards,

    -Mike
    Thanks for the reply Mike! I've read both of those books. The first book about 4 times now and the second one twice.

    I guess what I am interested in what people here have had success with in hunting sheep.

    I have been on two sheep hunts in the last two years (neither one successful). On the my first hunt in the Wrangells, we saw quite a few rams, but none of them were quite there although one was realllllllyyyyyy close. Last year we saw quite a few sheep in the Brooks Range, but none of them were even close. The biggest ram we saw was somewhere between 3/4 and 7/8. On that group of rams, I was able to use a small hill that was between us to get to within 300 yards without a problem.

    Just looking for how others have succeeded in the past.

    Richard

  13. #13

    Default Rams

    Vince:
    No, I have a very well behaved lab. She heals by voice or hand signals, she doesn't "stray", chase things, or bark. When I see an animal I need to stalk, I can drop my frame pack, tell her to lie down beside it, and go hunt for a few hours and she will be right there. I did that exact thing this fall with my moose, with the 2nd sheep pic, and a 2006 grizz. If animals can smell her than they can smell me! Actually, when her food get's low, or when we day hike from camp, I load her saddlebags up with "my" gear so she is a benefit to have along. The look she gives me when loading her pack with my gear isn't pretty! She goes where dad goes.

    mmusashi2k:
    I guess to me a full curl ram with both lamb tips sweeping back is natures picture perfect ram. I guess I view it similar to deciding wether or not to shoot a bull elk with broken points from fighting or a bull with all his points in tact - I would shoot the non-broken bull. I now have 2 double broomers and hope to get a nice full curl with lamb tips.

    Question for you or others: Why would you choose a ram with broken horns over a ram with complete head gear? Is it because the broomed ram might signify an older, dominant ram? I don't know, seems weird to me to choose a ram with busted horns over one with complete horns. Ah, I think I just figured it out, often we want what we don't have!!
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    wow, what a dog!

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    Member mmusashi2k's Avatar
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    Default Yeah, I like that dog too.

    My black lab hunts with me all the time too
    Personally, if I saw a full curl and a broomer together I would go for the broomer since I feel they just look sort of majestic and mature. If I saw the full curl and knew the broomer was nearby I'd happily take the full curl as thus far I am sheepless but I don't intend for that to last much longer. Nice Griz. Nice sheep. Nice yote.

  16. #16

    Default Night stalk?

    Just curious if anyone has tried putting rams to bed in the evening and tried a stalk in the super early morning darkness? It may depend upon moon phase but may be doable in areas where it may be nearly impossible to get within range during daylight hours? I would think the same thing would be possible if the clouds roll in.

  17. #17
    Member oakman's Avatar
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    Default

    The first sheep hunt I was on we found some sheep that were almost legal. I was really tempted to shoot one of them, but I couldn't be SURE that he was legal, so I didn't take it. Anyway, we noticed as Mike pointed out above that the sheep ate breakfast and dinner in the same place. During the day there were in a place that we couldn't approach from any direction. We also couldn't get to their dinner place because we would be seen from above. We decided that if we were going to get them we would need to get into place during the night and be waiting at their breakfast place when they came down in the morning. As it turns out, we decided that even the biggest one wasn't legal before doing this. The other guy he was with had one horn broomed off about 1/2 way, but the other side was only about 3/4 or so.

  18. #18
    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    Default

    i've put sheep to bed and stalked them in the dark to put a shot in first light in the morning...works great.

    Just remember sheep aren't brilliant, they aren't the smartest cudchewer on the earth, they aren't impervieus(sp) they aren't unstalkable and they are a prey animal and they act like one.
    Hunt them like a predator, outa sight, down wind, use the terrian and react to what the prey does...don't get to overwhelmed with all the info on sheep hunting. bottom line is you need to instinctivly hunt them, let yourself give in to the predator in you and you'll find your self hunting better than if your hunting outa a book...your there to kill...act like it. their just an animal.
    Www.blackriverhunting.com
    Master guide 212

  19. #19
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    brwnbr....."your there to kill....act like it." Great approach. Let the predator within you dictate the hunting technique. Keep it simple. Great!

    dennis

  20. #20
    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BRWNBR View Post
    ...your there to kill...act like it.
    Great advice! I nominate this for the ODD quote hall of fame. Man up!

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