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Thread: From the "AIRCHAIR"

  1. #1

    Default From the "ARMCHAIR"

    The whole concept of hunting sheep by climbing and hunting from the ridge lines, (which certainly is not "wrong") increases the chances of some general concerns from the standpoint of most effectively hunting sheep ,
    1.) greatly increases the chance of having to make a "snap" judgment about the legality of a particular animal;
    2.) increases the difficulty of evaluating ALL animals in the group; many of which may be out of view because of the terrain,
    3.) because of the closeness when initially "discovered" options regarding the ability to achieve the best position for shooting are often greatly reduced,
    4.) greatly increases the amount of disturbance to the animals encountered, (two or three groups of sheep hunters hunting the ridges, in a general area, can't help but keep the sheep moving).
    These are but a few of the reasons the effectiveness of sheep hunting is generally reduced when done from ridge lines. Thought certainly not true "100%" in all situations, certain very few exceptions.
    "Glassing" sheep habitat from terrain where sheep are not generally found pretty much eliminates the four concerns listed, and, increases EVERYONE'S chances for success.
    Joe (Ak)

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    Thumbs up "View From the Armchair"

    That title sounds like a regular 1 minute spot at the end of a hunting show by a really famous hunter. Hey..... you oughta think about that...

    Thanks for the advice. Do I have to wait 7 days until next week's show?

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    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    Is it not true that sheep are looking for danger from below, and generally oblivious to hunters approaching from above?

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    Member fullkurl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CGSwimmer25 View Post
    Is it not true that sheep are looking for danger from below, and generally oblivious to hunters approaching from above?
    Yes, Swimmer.

    We climb high into the rugged country and hunt from above.
    We camp in a very high hidden box canyon and we seldom ever spook sheep, have optimal chance at aging them due to our careful unseen, "from above" approach, and we usually see few people.

    Where we hunt the rams are never where they can be definitively glassed from low, open country...
    Proud to be an American!

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    It seems to me that the whole situation would be highly subjective and depend almost entirely on the conditioning of the sheep being hunted. If they are in a high pressure area where they see any human as a direct threat then they may just evacuate the whole drainage after seeing a man from a long ways off. If in the brooks in an area of lower pressure then they may be more tolerant of encroachment. A sheep that usually only needs to worry about wolves wouldn't need to flee because a wolf was in their drainage unless the wolf made it's way up the mountain in their direction. Then there would be plenty of time to make it up into escape country. Us people though can kill them from a long way off so their comfort zone has to be much larger. I have frequently heard that goats will take to the crags when approached and have read tons of reports of people getting "busted" trying to stalk them. On my Kodiak trip we were able to walk to within rifle range of nearly every one that we tried. I don't doubt other peoples experience I just expect that the goats we were chasing were not that pressured. It also helped when the pilot said he had never dropped anyone at the location we chose.

    I am no expert on hunting but it seems any animal adapts to it's situation and learns from the threats it experiences. So to expect that the same tactics will work in all situations be it hunting high, low, tree stand, calling etc is pretty short sighted. I just read an article on "walking up on elk" the other day. I do it on moose all the time! Most wouldn't even attempt it but I get shockingly close repeatedly and sometimes in near plane sight. It works in my area, not saying you can do it in yours anymore than I would suggest that the sheep on the hill won't leave the country when they see you skulking up the valley floor.

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    As to our mantra that we should ALWAYS get above sheep, this could be a case of wrong advice getting repeated often enough that it becomes a "rule". Sorta like these oft-repeated myths:

    1. Sheep have a poor sense of smell.
    2. Bears have poor eyesight.
    3. Moose are dumb.
    4. Goats always jump off a cliff if not anchored with the first shot.

    Sometimes we make rules out of observations made in limited circumstances, not realizing that what happens in one area may not transfer to another situation.

    The OP did mention exceptions to his general observations, so I think he is aware that there are exceptions. He's basing his observations on over 40 years of guiding experience, involving perhaps hundreds of successful Dall sheep stalks. I think this lends a little weight to his conclusions, in my mind anyway.

    In my experience in the Western Alaska Range, the Talkeetnas, and the Chugach Mountains, I have noted the following:

    1. It's very hard to glass the mountain you are on. So we glass from the bottom or (if we have to) the opposite slope.

    2. Sheep generally like to water / feed twice a day; once in the morning and once in the afternoon. If you can pattern them you increase your odds. We have killed many sheep on the meadows at the flank of the mountain this way. One client killed a 42" bruiser ram right in the bottom of the valley simply by waiting for him to come down to feed in the late afternoon. This is why I usually disagree with the notion that "there is no other option". There is always another option; waiting is perhaps the best one.

    3. In stalking a sheep (or in getting in a better position to evaluate it) scent management is much more important than whether I am above or below the animal. I've killed sheep that were below me, above me, and at the same elevation. The key was ensuring that they did not know I was there. Problem is, in most of the areas I've hunted, the breeze blows uphill in the morning (when I could be stalking a sheep) and flows downhill in the evening (when I might already be up in the rocks trying to put the sneak on an animal below me). Of course if the weather is bad the wind can be squirrelly and all bets are off...

    4. Keep hidden. Movement seems to be the number one thing that spooks sheep. Color / glare is next.

    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.
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    Ive only started hunting dalls last fall, so i may have just been real lucky, I hunted dalls like bighorns. I spoted sheep from far off about 4.5 miles, walk right up the creek bed up to the canyon the sheep were in last. started up a run off drainage to sneak up the mountain out of sight. myself and my partner move up to take a look from the dip we were in to find we were within 200 yds. there were about 10 sheep grouped together, there were 3 rams, with only one legal ram. we moved in closer across the rock slide directly to the group within the rocks, and another 8 sheep move out from a dip behind the first. still only one shooter, at about 100 yrds the sheep began to move up and the shooter stoped turn broadside at 86 yrds, i already knew he was leagal so I took the shot and downed him, the whole hunt lasted 8 hrs, from camp. i only lost sight of the group when moveing up the creek bed and up the run we went up, was I lucky or what?

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mr.Montana View Post
    i only lost sight of the group when moveing up the creek bed and up the run we went up, was I lucky or what?
    Perhaps a little, but that's the way hunting goes. Sometimes you find a legal animal quickly and have a straight-forward stalk, sometimes you look for a week and have stalk after stalk blown by swirling winds, prying eyes, or any number of other circumstances. With the sheep I've killed, I don't feel as though skill is what made the difference. Luck helped, but more than anything, I think patience has made the difference for me. My first sheep I stalked for almost five hours before pulling the trigger. Over those five hours I moved a total of 200 yards. I was moving literally a couple of inches at a time over completely exposed terrain. I was wearing gray-ish colors that blended in with the rocks, and I was barely moving, so my presence wasn't detected. The same was true of two other rams I was in on - patience made the difference. Like Mike, I've taken rams from above and from below. The terrain and position of the sheep dictate where I approached from, not a general rule of thumb. As for whether sheep pay attention to danger from above, I would say that they do way more so than goats. Sheep live in mountains that are generally accessible to wolves, so they can't afford to only look down. I've been busted from above and below when being too loud, skylining myself, or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    The one thing I do like about hunting from a ridgeline is that I can see two sides of the same mountain. On opening day I was hunting a bowl that accessed three different valleys over the top of the ridge. I ran that ridge for a couple of miles, peering over the edge into new terrain when the clouds lifted enough to allow it. I knew I was running a risk of jumping a ram at close range (which certainly isn't ideal), but I also knew that the dead-end bowl I was in held no rams. Again, the circumstances of that particular terrain dictated my approach.

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    Member fullkurl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    It seems to me that the whole situation would be highly subjective and depend almost entirely on the conditioning of the sheep being hunted.
    The situation not only depends on the sheep themselves, but also in the area that one is hunting.
    If a valley is full of "glassing hunters" I want to be the one hidden in the crags in the clouds.

    The original posting might be a guideline for somebody out there, but not for all of us.
    Proud to be an American!

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default An open mind is a good thing

    I don't know, but when folks completely discount wearing waders on sheep hunts, it seems too many don't have open minds on other ways of doing things.

    And it's like we fool ourselves into believing every myth and reality as if it's 100 percent true all the time. On my first sheep hunt, after we'd taken rams, back in camp at treeline enjoying the sizzle of sheep backstrap frying in sheep fat, a group of rams came down to feed near the creek we were on. I was thinking to myself at the time, since some of the rams were bigger than the ones we'd got, that if we'd been more patient, maybe we could have just sat down low and avoided all that scree-slope calf and thigh burning climbing we'd done to get our sheep to begin with <grin>.

    More than one way to skin a cat. First time I saw a guy case skin a marten from the nose-end I thought it was pretty silly. The guy showing me wasn't a guy I really liked or had a good opinion of. But it didn't stop me from realizing there was truth and benefits to his method of doing things.

    I do like to keep an open mind.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    Perhaps a little, but that's the way hunting goes. Sometimes you find a legal animal quickly and have a straight-forward stalk, sometimes you look for a week and have stalk after stalk blown by swirling winds, prying eyes, or any number of other circumstances. With the sheep I've killed, I don't feel as though skill is what made the difference. Luck helped, but more than anything, I think patience has made the difference for me. My first sheep I stalked for almost five hours before pulling the trigger. Over those five hours I moved a total of 200 yards. I was moving literally a couple of inches at a time over completely exposed terrain. I was wearing gray-ish colors that blended in with the rocks, and I was barely moving, so my presence wasn't detected. The same was true of two other rams I was in on - patience made the difference. Like Mike, I've taken rams from above and from below. The terrain and position of the sheep dictate where I approached from, not a general rule of thumb. As for whether sheep pay attention to danger from above, I would say that they do way more so than goats. Sheep live in mountains that are generally accessible to wolves, so they can't afford to only look down. I've been busted from above and below when being too loud, skylining myself, or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    The one thing I do like about hunting from a ridgeline is that I can see two sides of the same mountain. On opening day I was hunting a bowl that accessed three different valleys over the top of the ridge. I ran that ridge for a couple of miles, peering over the edge into new terrain when the clouds lifted enough to allow it. I knew I was running a risk of jumping a ram at close range (which certainly isn't ideal), but I also knew that the dead-end bowl I was in held no rams. Again, the circumstances of that particular terrain dictated my approach.
    I guess a couple of things. The original post is directed at specific aspects of hunting methods, certainly "stalking" procedures deal with a whole different set of issues in that there is a major difference in options if one knows where the animals are located and the composition of the group is known. It is certainly true that from a ridge line, one can see two sides of a mountain - however - the mountain sides that present the greatest percentage of "viewable" surfaces are those facing the ridge from where the glassing is being done.
    Certainly agree with what can be done over areas of complete exposures if "one" is just patient.
    Appreciate your post.
    Joe (Ak)

    (Bushrat - once, and ONLY once! skinned a land otter through the mouth (flensing) - took me four hours - casing "looked" a lot better to me after that!)

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    Member akrstabout's Avatar
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    Good stuff, I think I learned something. My sheep hunt will be starting soon. Just happy it is any sheep, but by bow and arrow!

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Sheep + Mountain = good reason to hunt with 50 cal, no climbing required.
    "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

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    Member jnalaska's Avatar
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    being a newbie to sheep and getting ready for next years first attempt it was great to read through. Very good insight.

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    Member akrstabout's Avatar
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    I talked to a guy today who is well accopmlished sheep hunter. He was so excited because he shot his biggest ram. He mentioned alot of the same things the OP did here. Plus knows my area and gave me specific pointers. Then proceeded to show me a pic of his ram. OH MY GOD, you guys would crap your pants!! 14"+ bases, 38"+ on both sides. Both sides were broomed and still a bit over full curl!! 14 years old and the horns swooped below the jaw and was really thick where it was broomed, guesstimated to be missing quite a few inches of horn!

  16. #16

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    "Airchair" being the operative word. Always know exactly where the rams are. Never go up the same side as the rams. Always come out above them. "Everyone" generally has "success". Everybody has their own way of hunting sheep. None of them are wrong, as my experience has been that sheep are the easiest animal to stalk, that I have hunted. Some are more productive though. Go with the style that fits your needs.
    "96% of all Internet Quotes are suspect and the remaining 4% are fiction."
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