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Thread: Judging Dall Rams

  1. #1

    Default Judging Dall Rams

    I've been trying to figure out a few strategies for spotting/judging dall rams and am trying to narrow down potential ridges/areas to spot from without spooking rams. If given favorable light conditions and a 20-60x Swarovsik scope how far do you think it is possible to distinguish between full curl vs 7/8 vs 1/2 curl rams....2 miles, 1 mile, 1/2, etc? Obviously there is an advantage to spotting rams before they spot you so it would be interesting to know exactly how close a guy has to be to start differentiating legal rams.

  2. #2

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    Hard to say. Too many variables. Regardless of how great your scope is (which your is no doubt a top-o-line scope) heat waves and wind can make it VERY difficult to judge rams at any distance at times no matter how good your scope and tripod are. That said my buddy and I foolishy looked into Denali National Park and saw two HOG (I'd swear its the first 40" ram I have ever and may ever see) sheep safe and sound at 3500 ft well inside the park. I believe all animals know where the invisible boundaries are better than the hunters with GPSs btw. We were according to google earth 3.6 miles in a straight line and using a ziess diascope 65 mm at 45X under ideal conditions. However I've also been 3/4 of a mile away with heat waves so bad I could hardly tell a 3/4 from a 7/8s ram. Just my experiencen in my limited time as a sheep hunter.

  3. #3
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Default full curl spotting...

    Jimss,
    This full-curl-spotting is an inexact science.
    First of all I very seldom get up near 60 power. Even with great glass, wind vibration and heat shimmer, mirage, limit the effectiveness of our spotting scopes.

    Most of my glassing starts at 20X, and ends aroud 40X or 45X. As you increase scope power, the scope definition begins to degrade. It would take a cold morning with no wind to really use your scope at 60X.

    Sometimes the wind is so hard and steady that I wedge my potting scope in the rocks to get it stable. Those small tripods that are easy to carry often don't support the weight of a large spotting scope very well. In Aug the sun alone will cause that mirage effect, especially if there is any ridges, or flat ground between the scope and the target.

    One time the wind was so strong that I could not determine full curl at only 1/2 mile. Another time I could zoom in really good and I called two rams legal at about 3+ (or 4??)miles. Actually, I could not see the horn tips, but I could see that the rams heads appeared cut off from the bodys. In other words, the thickness of the brownish horns seperated the white head from the white body, so their horns had to be thick and significant. In addition, these two rams had a belly that hung lower than the other 4 rams. The next morning my hunting buddy and I climbed the ridge in the early morning and killed the two legal rams.

    Note that 6 and 7 year old rams are not completely bulked out and look skinny compared to an 8 year old ram, whose belly has began to extend and sag.

    Also note that from the rear, seeing only thick bases, rams always look bigger than they really are.

    This thread topic will get a bunch of great answeres and advise.

    Dennis
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  4. #4

    Default Heat waves, wind, rain!

    I know exactly what you mean in regard to heat wave, rain, wind, and other factors that make field judging next to impossible. In fact, I have gotten so frustrated w/the wind on a couple hunts that I actually piled a couple rocks on top of my scope to try stabilizing it! Fortunately I have a rubber motorcycle innertube that I use to protect my scope from the elements!

    I have a feeling viewing thin horned ram tips are a lot tougher than more massive bighorn sheep ram tips at long range. I've watched a few poor quality videos taken of dall rams from a long ways away and it seems like the tips seem to disappear....even agains the white of their body/heads.

    Comparing body size is a great suggestion for distingishing between mature and immature rams. I've done the same w/bighorn rams. I have a feeling that when there is a group of dall rams they generally follow a lead mature ram? It seems like with bighorns the largest horned dominate ram usally is the leader of the band.

  5. #5
    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    Default

    don't bank on the big guy being the leader, i've seen bands where the little ones have done the walkin' up front and vise versa...there is no rule when it comes to sheep.
    i have a swaro spotter and in perfect light with a skylined sheep i'm good for about 3 miles but anything past that is pushing it...like everyone says...direction of sunlight on the horns, heat waves and all the previously mentioned will shorten that up...ALOT.
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  6. #6
    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Default

    I've been 100 yards away and couldn't be certain. Some rams are easy to judge, others are not. One thing is certain: A big ram is pretty obvious.

  7. #7

    Default Argali?

    Just curious if there is any difference from a side view of argalis style horns compared to deep curl full curl rams? It seems like the argali style is a lot tighter and may not hit the bridge of the nose with a full curl? Does anyone have any photos of both styles from a side view?

  8. #8
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Default DCUA Argali

    jimss,

    Most of the mature sheep withing the DCUA, where your hunting in August, do have that
    "tip-out argali" shape. Last year I saw only two really good sheep, prior to my client-hunter shooting a fine 37 inch ram. The bigger sheep I'll call 39 inch rams. One was a very attractive argali shaped ram and the other was a surprising "parallel shape", which I would expect more in the Chugach Mountains. Oh, I saw one other very mature strange ram laying near the ram with 39 inch parallel horns. The strange guy had horns about 5 inches long. And its head and face looked like that of a pit bull dog. He had evidently been hit in the head way too many times.

    Where your going, the rams typically have relitively small bases. Bases of 13 1/4 would be large for even an 11 years old sheep. But, historically speaking, many really long horned rams, 41 to 43 inches, have come out of there in the past. but the DCUA has few secrets now, and I believe it is getting much harder to get a real monster now. I really do believe that is true, or, perhaps I'm just not as tough as I think (and remember). (That can't be.)

    The more-parallel hornes are quite easy to determine full, or not. A front view, or especially a side view will seal the deal for you (and for the ram also).

    But the tip-out argali shaped horns are more difficult. A frontal view, which is the most attractive view of these argali shaped guys, will reveal the tip-out shape and usually will be enough to start feeling good about being legal or not. Of course if the tips stick way out and start to drop towards the ground....BANG.

    A side view is also necessary usually to determine "full curl". And the argali guys in there will form a circle from the side view. Usually, the horn tips do come up enough to form the full curl circle you are looking for.

    But the really hard view is a 3/4ths angle toward you. In this case the close horn tips out toward you, and the far horn tips out away from you, and the ram appears as a 3/4 curl horn. but you will still lay there behind your spotting scope saying "man I can't believe that blocky shaped guy is a 3/4 curl". Sooner or later he will stand, present a new angle, and you will grab all your gear and complete the stalk.

    Generally speaking, and this is just my opinion, 36 inch rams might be legal, or not, in DCUA, and they will not tip out (much). Rams that go 37 inch will begin to tip out and look like fine 4/4s curl. Above that they will tip out beautifully and you will not have any dought about them being legal.

    Others here on the forum will suggest that I am under estimating DCUA rams and thier horn size. I have saw the pictures of the DCUA 44 inchers from the '90s, but I have not saw them in the DCUA mountains, so far.

    But you have showed me some pictures of you and some hugh elk and such. You got the stamina and the heart...the committment. And you got the tag. Go get that 44 inch ram!

    (REM time)

    Dennis
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  9. #9
    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jimss View Post
    may not hit the bridge of the nose with a full curl?
    The bridge of the nose has nothing to do with it. You need to look at the legal definition of full curl and the bridge of the nose isn't mentioned anywhere in that definition.

  10. #10
    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    Default

    bridge of the nose and the eye are not factors in full curl regulation....
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  11. #11
    Member Oak's Avatar
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    Default Good info

    Jim, here is the link to a thread I found interesting.

    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ead.php?t=8502

  12. #12

    Default Great Post!

    Thanks Oak for the headsup w/ the post! Lots of great ram photos there with some numbers.

  13. #13

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    At a long distance, the very best indication of the size of Ram, is whether or not the horn curl drops below the lower jaw. It is then worth the long walk.
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