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Thread: Sheep Tactics Help For A Novice

  1. #1
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    Default Sheep Tactics Help For A Novice

    I'd appreciate any input that you are willing to give me on a few questions that I have (or any other good techniques you are willing to share). I'll be flown into the Brooks in late August for a solo 9 day hunt. I've got my initial drainage picked out (with several follow on areas) but the only scouting that I will have done will be a map reconnaissance and whatever I can see on the way in. I am trying to get in touch with the area biolgist to confirm that the general area supports a healthy population of sheep (see if the density in the area is similar to other parts of the bigger area).

    Question 1. After being dropped off, should I just walk until I find sheep or should I focus on the drainages that I have picked out ahead of time?

    Question 2. How long should I keep in place before moving to a new area? I know that I must be patient, glass every inch of the area and that sheep can and do move in and out frequently, but how long should I wait to determine that the area just won't have any sheep visiting anytime soon?

    Question 3. How far should base camp be set up away from a drainage holding sheep? I plan on trying to stay at least a terrain feature away - out of sight, sound, and smell.

    Question 4. Do you prefer to setup base camp low in the valleys or higher up the mountains on a bench or saddle? I am planning focusing on finding protected areas that are near a water source.

    I sincerely appreciate the help and would like wish everyone a safe and productive season.

    John

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    Member jdcollins86's Avatar
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    i'm wondering this to.... i'm going on my first sheep hunt this year. Im a instructor at Northern Warfare Training Center, so im not really worried about the mountains. any tips also??

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    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Jon P,
    None great day in the Brooks will be a hunt-of-a-lfetime!
    You will see rams, caribou bulls, and proable a grizz or two.

    When you arrive all the near by valleys will have been hunted once already, but that would have two or three weeks eairler. Becasue sheep seem to move from summer areaas to winter areas, any canyon could hold sheep. Whe I was "new ram hunter" I just went like crazy fast until I bumbed into sheep. It was more like rapid scouting while have a gun. And I always found a ram to whack. But, to answerew your questions, I would look for ram valleys six to ten miles from the airstrip. Those rams are less likely to have already been disturbed. I have shot rams 26 miles from the point of departure, so explore new country. The Brooks is easy country to walk, in that the creek bottoms and canyon bottoms are generally free of brush, and provide the rams with the food. The upper areas of the mountains are rocky, providing them with resting areas. Rams can be in either area.

    Dont stay in an area any longer tahn you have to. If rams are not observed, move on. But try to pick campsites that are near two or three canyon entrances. Brookes Range hunters generally set up low, and glass high, then climb after targets. But beaware that legal rams can be feeding or even bedded in the canyon low areas. Stay out of the saddles between two draininges. Rams will see your skylined tent and filter out of those canyons.
    Remember that you are on a ram hunt. So I would take a caribou only after whacking a ram. Same with griz, Caribou de-boned meat will weigh 100 ponnds, and a bear pelt will weigh 80 pounds. But if you shoot a caribou or a bear you will lose one at least full day skinning and fleshing and toting the meat or pelt back towards the air strip.
    In my experience winds are not a problem, but early will be an issue.
    Camp where the sheep can not see camp. Again, if they see your stuff they will simply filter out of that ares. Camp where your sent will not blow up into your primary target canyon. Although they use their sence of smell less than other critters, they still use it and will be more alert after smelling you, and if smelled all night they will move up into thr rocks, or out completely.
    Bring five pounds of salt for the cape. Bring 3 or 4 game gabs, I prefer old pillow cases, for the meat and cape. One poster indicated he routinely got 80 pounds of meat of a mature ram. I generally get 65 or 70 of fine be-boned meat.
    Bring five more game bags for the caribou that you will shoot. And one large "bear bag". If you can afford the weight (be be left back at the airstrip, take another 49 pounds of salt repackaged in juice bottles.

    In ten days you will learn alot about yourself. It will be great, especially if you like yourself. Some dont like themselves and easily start looking for a reason to quit.

    It only take ten seconds for a hunt to turn from terribly hard and scary, to great and spetacular. Takes about ten second to spot, aim, shoot, kill ram.

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    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    a few corrections

    NINE great DAYS in the Brooks...

    ...but early SNOW will be an issue....

    ...bring thre of four game BAGS...

    take another 40 pounds of salt

  5. #5

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    Great question and great answers Dennis. Being a newbie sheep hunter myself I was beginning to wonder this myself as far as how long to stay in a given area. I have a possible solo (depending on if the other person can find a dog sitter) trip into the AK range that I am eyeing but 7 days is all I have and its going to be approx 55-60 mile trip. However being as its 20 miles each way from my truck to the actual sheep hunting area that leaves me about 4 days to cover the other 20 miles of actual sheep country I plan to hike. So roughly 5-7 miles per day seems pretty doable to take my time but thanks for breaking it down a little better. Also thanks for the info on the salt as well. I would rep ya for that info, but of course I gotta "spread the love" message.

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    Great info Dennis! Like some, I have to skip out on the opener this year, and may not even get a sheep hunt in, change in job status doesn't allow me to hunt sheep on the opener- in fact I'll probably never see a sheep on opening day until I retire and don't have a job with the school district. But I'm not complaining, we get a tremendous amount of time off other times of the year and once the year gets going I'll have more flexibility to hunt sheep later in the season.

    JP, I've hunted the brooks the last 4 years for sheep. Last year we hiked in the last week in August and the weather was much different then it had been in years when we were there on the opener. Bottom line, expect snow/sleet/freezing rain at elevation. We went prepared and had a great trip, but it was much more wet and cold than previous trips. However, we never had trouble finding water...

    Good advice on salt, I always take an empty 20 oz Auqafina (or similar) bottle and fill it up with salt- durable and packable.

    Hunting that late, there is a great chance any decent ram you find will have either been hunted or has seen hunters- keep this in mind as many of us have seen sheep seemingly 'stare' at us and leave from incredible distances- 2+ miles.

    I will be interested to hear how your trip goes, I am planning on my first solo sheep hunt next year- around the first part of september, so I'll appreciate any advice you have when you return. Good luck and be safe

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Pirog View Post

    John
    I certainly can not speak to the experience of others, however, the sheep I've hunted have;
    1.) had an excellent sense of smell - (the importance of being able to smell well is important not just for detecting predators). Sheep hunting is probably as about understanding what the wind is doing in mountainous terrain as anything else,
    2.) had good eye sight - though certainly not "super" (no other animal I've hunted has been so "forgiving" when we "freeze" or move very slowly),
    3.) been very faithful to daily movement patterns,
    4.) are generally traveling, especially in the central and eastern Brooks Range.

    Assuming sheep habitat can be glassed from your drop off point, that is where the glassing should begin. Who or how many have been there before you is of no consequence for a variety of reasons.
    Coordinate your travel and hunting with daily wind patterns and daily movements of sheep which are pretty consistent.
    Stay out of the little short side canyons - stop and glass frequently - and choose foot gear that will allow YOU and not YOUR boots to decide your travel routes.
    Be prepared for snow (might not get any)(those cheap painter white overalls good) - however - if it does snow there are some real pluses, so don't get discouraged.
    If you get a bear - with head skinned out, skinned reasonably close, toes turned - should weight about 30 - 35lbs. It is a big male in the central or eastern Brooks Range that goes over 300lbs.
    Best of luck on your hunt.
    Joe (Ak)

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    Quote Originally Posted by wantj43 View Post
    2.) had good eye sight - though certainly not "super" (no other animal I've hunted has been so "forgiving" when we "freeze" or move very slowly),

    Joe (Ak)
    Joe-

    I agree with just about everything in your post- especially the bit about the wind. Understanding what the wind will do depending on weather and terrain is absolutely critical in the mountains when hunting sheep. I have to say from my experiences in the brooks, which admittedly aren't nearly what yours have been, is that sheep are not forgiving once they've spotted you, unless they are in excellent escape terrain. Going in later in the season puts you at a further disadvantage once seen, as many of the sheep will have been spotted/stalked/spooked/shot-at in previous days. I have consistently had goats be WAY more forgiving if they spot me. Just a difference of experience, I'd certainly listen to Joe before me though, just offering a different take.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sockeye1 View Post
    Joe-
    When I used "forgiving", I should have indicated there is usually a difference in the sheep's reaction depending on the type of terrain (whether or not they are in good escape
    habitat) and very pronounced difference depending on whether the potential threat is above or below the animal(s).
    In a number of situations where we knew we had previously worked a particular group they were maybe quicker to leave the immediate area but never "quit" the country.
    Hard to "talk" about hunting in snippets - however, thanks for making those points in your post.
    Joe (Ak)

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    Member shphtr's Avatar
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    You should plan on rain for up to 1/2 the days but can be highly variable west vs mid vs east Brooks also north side vs south side. The passes north/south are frequently fogged up first 1/2 of the day but often clear in the afternoons. The best advice is that the time to shoot your ram is when you see him. "Putting them to bed" as the sun is setting sounds romantic in the books .... but they will frequently be gone when you check on them the following morning. "Late Aug" = very high prob'ly of snow to valley floors. Good luck.
    "Actions speak louder than words - 'nough said"

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    In the early mornings and late evenings, look up in the high grassy areas, as rams will come out from their lair to feed and water. During afternoon, look in the nasty, craggy areas where they will be bedded. Try and hike up a drainage a glass up into it going real slow. Don't head up the actual mountainside until you have located a ram you wish to persue. Hunt in the passes and draws, keep a low, quiet profile and just keep a good attitude. They will at times just appear out of nowhere. Like Joe want said, their eyesight is good, but not great, and Brooks range sheep are pretty forgiving for the most part.
    "Ya can't stop a bad guy with a middle finger and a bag of quarters!!!!"- Ted Nugent.

  12. #12

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    A few other points
    1.) very seldom is it necessary to start shooting at distances much greater than 100 yards
    2.) don't shoot while the animal is running
    3.) initial shooting position should be in back, not ahead of the animal's direction of travel whenever possible
    4.) if spooked from below and they go over the ridge - wait to certain an animal isn't going to Check if they are being followed
    5.) if there is enough time to get to the ridge, there is a good chance for "a second bite" at the apple - but - comes with the general problems encountered when taking sheep from above.
    Not enough time? Then wait until the next day. Just make note of the horn curl of each individual in the group and direction of travel for the group. We've had very good success relocating a specific group of rams.
    Best of luck with your hunt.
    Joe (Ak)

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