Bye Bye "Eight"?
Given the inconsistency the aging of sheep by enforcement and department personnel it may well be time to have a open discussion about eliminating eight years of age as a qualifier for being a legal sheep.
Horn length? Say 32"?
Of course that comes with it's own issues--in some ranges rams tend to grow horns faster than others and of course there's the issue of judging.
In other ranges such as the Chugach and Wrangells, many 3/4 curl 6 year olds are easily over 32"
I would like ADF&G to develop an absolute standard, based on fixed points on the ram's face for determining where the "straight line across the base of the horns" is measured from.
I would also like full curl to mean reaching the bridge of the nose. In many sub-populations the tips never curl back towards the bases, and in the field it's far easier to judge. Of course there are those rams with tight, high curls that never arc low enough to cross the nose bridge, but they are the exception.
As far as the 8 years old standard goes, it is biological in nature, and makes sense from a management perspective. What we need for rams with questionable legality is a regulation change requiring the horns to be anonymously scored by 3 biologists trained in aging sheep horns. If at least two bios say the ram is under 8 years old then the citation is issued. LEOs can certainly keep aging horns and they can seize any that appear to be illegal but since the have a vested interest in writing citations I would push for the expert panel before dropping the hammer on people.
Certainly with the advent of the sealing program for sheep it may well be possible to develop length or curl requirements for specific areas. Full curl needs to be defined as passing through some plane - where two points of reference can be established - base of the horns or eye sockets or perhaps some other points of reference.
Originally Posted by Erik in AK
Though the current standards were workable when initially implemented the attitudes of some hunters have probably changed enough to warrant some changes to the current regulations.
Appreciated your post. Thank you
The FC/8 ring/broomed rule is fairly tricky. Having the ability to properly judge in the field is key. Even with a decent spotting scope it is nearly impossible to determine rings at 100 yards...and to tell you the truth many hunters and biologists have trouble agreeing upon ring counts and FC measurements when held in the hand at a field office! There is so much at stake if an illegal ram is harvested that it may be worth passing up borderline rams while in the field. As we all know, this is easier said than done when a rifle is in the hands!
One thing that may be considered is a group of photos and video of legal as well as illegal rams? It seems like almost all of the ram photos I viewed on the departmental pages are of legal rams. It would be great if photos of all illegal rams from the previous year were posted along with an explanation on why they didn't make it? I think education is a key component in aiding hunters..and may prevent sub-legal rams from being harvested? I also wonder if the number of sub-legal rams that show up in the office are a fraction of the sub-legal rams that are shot and left to rot in the field after they are found to be too small? We had this same problem in Colorado with deer pt restrictions where forked horn bucks were left to rot in 3 point or better units many years ago!
When folks became throphy hunters insted of meat hunters the ballance was thrown off. In all cases I know of when meat was not the number one reason for takeing of game the animal suffered.Market hunting of game for meat for those unwilling to take the time to get their own was relised and rules changed. Maybe if meat was the only thing that could be removed from the field for the next ten years things might just look up for building the large game we used to have.
It will never happen...this state makes too much money off those Non-res hunters that drop the thousands of dollars to hunt here two fold. And they are not here to just meat hunt, I've been given sheep meat from outfitters that I know ( along with transfer forms) many times.
Originally Posted by Amigo Will
Personally I don't have an issue with the standard as it is now.
If you cannot judge accurately whether a ram is definitely a legal full curl or 8 yrs old, don't pull the trigger. I have passed on rams and likely will in the future if I am fortunate enough to hunt them again.
The same goes for 50" moose. I passed on 7 bulls 1 season that I, nor my partner, could get more than 48" out of. Yes, there may have actually been 1 or 2 that would have gone 50"+ but we did the responsible thing and let them walk and enjoyed the moment, the season, and came home empty handed.
Common sense cannot be legislated but lack of certainly can be punished, just as immoral and/or unethical behavior is and should be.
When in doubt take it for what it is and enjoy the day, what nature provides for the soul, and the experience of being there.
These regulations make it a trophy hunt and not insomuch a meat hunt. If we had the opportunity to hunt sheep for meat only, believe me, I would be one of the first up the mountain every time I had the chance.
Sheep are too few, hunters are too many, they are trophy class game with few exceptions.
Liberalizing the definition or standard will result in more rams being killed and further diminish the huntable populations within reach for most of us, particularly those with limited resources.
People will make mistakes, most learn from them. That will never change.
Leave it alone, not everyone that hunts sheep goes by the 8 year rule, me being one of them but there are those that do and are darn good at it.
F&G and the Troopers need to get their act together, they are the one's that don't know how to correctly count annuli on sheep, if they did, there wouldn't be 4 different answers when a sheep is being sealed. Each office should have 1 individual to make that call or let them keep the horns until a qualified biologist can seal it. I would have no problem letting them keep my horns until he/she looked at them. This is only for those sheep that do not meet the full curl rule.
So we would be allowed to shoot 3/4 curls and ewes as long as we took the meat out?? Have a hard time picturing how this would improve sheep populations?
Originally Posted by Amigo Will
Yes MOST people that hunt sheep are not doing simply for the meat. There is a myriad of reason why people hunt. From getting away, spending time in the mountains with yourself or another good friend, test ones limits, meat, trophy or some combination of all or some of these and more reasons. If people really wanted to focus on meat then they'd be better off chase 'bou and moose as you get way more meat per animal than a sheep. Personally I hunt for some or all the reasons stated above.
Would I still hunt sheep if I had to leave the horns on the mountain side? Absolutely!!! But I don't see how that would help the sheep population as hunters would then be allowed to be much less subjective in which animals they took if the only requirement is that they hauled out all the meat.
8 to me is more a safety net and wouldn't be the prefered method I would use to judge legality of a sheep. I have also read a lot about the driving force behind the full curl regulation. There was lots of research completed and it was found that there was a significant reduction in lamb recruitment when sub full curl rams were legal for harvest.
I really don't see a problem with the regulations the way they are. The 8 year rule is the one area of the regs that I see a grey area, if the bioligists can't 100% be sure of age, how can hunters. So I don't see anything wrong with full curl or broken horns on both sides being the regulation. If the hunter is required to take the horns in and they are not full curl on 1 side or broken on both, it seems simple to me, the ram is sub legal. I am curious how many moose would be determined sub legal if they too had to be sealed
Wantj43, what inconsistencies are we talking about? Is there a situation that happened?
If its not a biological reason why change it?
I've followed these threads silently, but have no problem with the regulations as they stand.
I would be more inclinded to require a hunter orientation. ADFG does it for bison hunting and I sure as hell can identify a bull bison WAY easier than I can a full curl or 8 year old sheep. For that matter, I can figure out the bear baiting regulations without going to a class. It seems that everyone is honestly trying to stay on the plus side of the law, but the bottom line is there would not be this level of discussion if it was that easy. And I would require anyone doing sheep sealing to attend the orientation as well.
I think that they should only have experts be bio judges.
There are a lot of biologists who really don't know their stuff. I believe that their are two in Fairbanks Office that I would trust even if their are about 12 wildlife biologists working there. One in Glennallen. One in Anchorage. I don't know about Valdez, Palmer, Delta or Tok. I think that those who have judgement that I trust would be the only ones that I would have seal my next sheep.
I passed on a sheep last year that is in that same buffer zone that I have noticed a lot of hunters have taken this year to the effect that they are playing with the "third" rail. It probably would have been legal but I decided not to chance it. I have taken several different sheep and am not worried. However, It is easy to see that many of the bios don't have the experience with sheep to make the right determination.
I don't have a problem with the way the regs are now either, I don't see any other solution to the problem. Maybe stiffer penalties, anyone remember the officer from Eielson AFB,that shot that tudra swan in Delta, go check it out at the visitors center upstairs and read the article...They hammered him !!!
I'll be the first to admit, I'm a trophy hunter!!! and I love the challenge of getting a sheep, but I love Sheep meat too, and so does my family, when its all said and done for, my sheep meat comes to about 16-20 dollars per pound. and that doesn't include my time or efforts, or taxidermy. Its by far my favorite to pursue, and yes I'm concerned about the future of sheep hunting. I do have other issues about sheep hunting, mainly with outfitters and how they are handled on federal vs. state land, and have been asked to speak at the Board of Game meeting in Dec. but I will bring that up later, the subject of sheep right now is a very touchy subject from what I can see, but there is alot to be discussed ove rthe future of sheep hunting period!
I don't think they need to be changed either. Some rams will always be hard to judge and if you can't tell without a doubt its a legal ram don't shoot! Pretty simple I think. I have come home without a ram, more than once, so I know how it feels. Just because we invest so much time in research, training, daydreaming and money it doesn't entitle us to shoot a ram. It seems as though a lot of folks think they "deserve" to shoot a ram even if they aren't 100% sure its legal, when it comes time to pull the trigger they feel that ram they are looking at SHOULD be legal. Anyway I guess what I'm really getting at is there will never be a perfect way to identify legal sheep so its up to us as hunters to be sure or accept the full penalty for shooting a sub legal.
Just one sheep hunters opinion!
I say leave the regs the way they are. Get better glass or dont squeeze the trigger!
I agree with some of what was stated. I am about to go on my very first sheep hunt this year and although I have a any sheep tag, I still do a lot of research before I go into the field. I did a lot of reading on how to determine the age of sheep and how to correctly judge a full curl. I looked at a lot of pictures online and I have spoken with numerous people at fish and game. In my opinion, some of the sheep I looked at didnít meet the Fish & Game criteria listed in the regulations but are full curl. Everyone can sit and say ďWell if youíre not 100% then donít shoot it.Ē However, every once in awhile someone might have been a 100% sure that the sheep is legal until there is a red tag put on the horns and the troopers are called. I found that when looking at the horns one way you can say its past full curl but if you look at it another way you could say itís a no go. I have talked to a couple people that thought the sheep had a full curl but were told by Fish & Game it did not. Five different people from Fish & Game said that the annual rings on the horns of the sheep range from 6 to 9 years old. Other people were told that what they thought were annual growth rings were actually false growth rings. Wow, that is a lot of room for conflict. Is there anyone in the state of Alaska that is a specialist on just sheep? There will never be a way to make everyone happy but because there is such a large difference in opinion, I think they should allow for a slight margin of error. People are under a lot of pressure when they hunt any animal in this state. The amount of money it costs to get to the hunting spot, the amount of time taken off of work and so on only add to these pressures. I come from Wisconsin and did a lot of deer hunting. Making a mistake while hunting in this state scares the crap out of me. As much as I love Alaska and hunting, I have gone 4 years now and have yet to harvest an animal. I have seen some moose that were probably 3 brow times, but passed because I was not 100% sure. There is just too much to lose!! Good luck to all the people that have taken an animal that they thought was legal only to find out they have a court date because they broke the law.
http://fullcurl.net/fullcurl.htm this is one of the things I am talking about
cmp---yes that website scares me too...
as far as the original question asked goes, I think Mr. Want has a very valid point. If aging a sheep is so subjective(and hard to do in the field), even with the ram in hand, doesn't it just invite people with good intentions to shoot rams that are sub legal? We have ample evidence from this forum, and anecdotal evidence from people we know that the aging process at F & G is all over the place at times.
I'm not sure what the answer is....maybe raise the age limit to 10? That way people are less likely to take a risk on a sub full ram. Also leaves it open for those old rams that will never reach full curl to be taken legally.
I like Eric in Ak's suggestions as well
I donít think rings are something someone should try and judge in the field... if they do and they are right, good job. I think rings are something that should help someone out that made a TRUE mistake in judgment. But there has to be some kind of consistency in the annual ring counting department.
I know fish and game is doing their best but everyone needs to be on the same page.