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floating for sheep

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  • floating for sheep

    I know this may vary depending on what area I hunt. As many have noticed I am planning a sheep/griz hunt in AK with my sis as my guide for fall 2007.

    I am learning how spread out sheep can be and how few and far between a legal ram might be. Not being able to scout and also wanting to have a crack at other game like moose and bou has made me realize I cannot simply be flown in too a good location (correct me if I am wrong).

    It appears that I need to be mobile and cover ground so I can find sheep, and then a legal ram. I do not want to be near roads since I believe it will make hunting tougher since many legal rams will be shot out.

    Based on the above it seems to me the only option left is to float hunt. Initially I was strongly against a float hunt. Time spent floating and breaking camp over and over is time not spent hunting.

    However floating can allow me to cover a lot of ground. Obviously sheep are going to be a 2-3 hour hike above me.

    First is this a good approach? Second can I expect to be able to glass ridges (and other high likely sheep cover) from the river or close to the river? My thoughts were pull over, glass all around, no sheep then float down 1/4 mile and repeat. During that time I might spot a legal moose or a bou or something else worthwhile.

    Please give me any input towards this plan that you can come up with. Good idea? Bad?


  • #2
    Float hunting for sheep


    There are several places where you could get an inflatable boat involved in your sheep hunt. Here are some suggestions.

    1. Hunting from "the bottom up". Your idea of glassing from the river bottom will work well in some areas, but not so well in others. It all depends on how steep the terrain is above you; you may not be able to see what's going on up there. Each area is different and you will have to adjust your tactics based on that.

    2. Hunt the side drainages. Don't be afraid to pack up your boat and hike in for a few days away from the river. This will get you farther from other hunters and increase your odds of success. Look your maps over carefully before the hunt and plan these side drainage hunts carefully.

    3. Think of the river as a road. On a road hunt, you're not usually gonna find an animal standing on the shoulder of the road waiting to be shot. Most of the game is had by hiking away from the road or, in this case, the river.

    4. Choose your boat carefully. Your choice of boat should be influenced mostly by the type of river you're on. Water levels are typically shallow in the fall months (of course that can change overnight), so generally speaking more floatation is better than less. Use enough boat, and go lightly-loaded.

    5. Focus. You mentioned sheep as a primary animal, but you also suggested moose or caribou or "whatever". Focus your efforts on one animal and you'll have more fun, plus your chances of success will increase. If you're even remotely considering moose, you better have a big enough boat to do the job!

    Hope this helps!

    Michael Strahan
    Site Owner
    Alaska Hunt Consultant
    1 (406) 662-1791


    • #3
      Sheep is by far my focus, but griz is very high up there. I will allocate 3 weeks hunting time, so I think if I hunt hard taking a sheep and a griz seems very doable, and after that much time in the bush I should run into a bou, moose and black bear too. It is a rifle hunt and I am used to bowhunting, so that helps too. Sheep is the focus, but, say I get my sheep, then I canfloat into moosie looking area - at least I am not stuck on a fly in hunt 10 miles from the closest area likely to hold moose.

      My biggest concern is not being near enough to sheep habitat to effectivly hunt, and not being able to glass from so low.

      Good info, never thought about it being to steep, I amused to glassing from above, steep is good most times, otherwise trees tend to block views. I might nowhave thought about steep being bad in this scenario!

      Good idea about hiking up from the river. Maybe pick out a point where I can climb and glass into 2 side drainages, and across the river too. Anything to increase visibility to help my find a legal ram.


      • #4

        Originally you mentioned not wanting to pay the high bucks to hunt sheep with a guide. If you shoot a sheep, a moose, and a grizz your costs are probably going to be higher than just a sheep with a guide, just a thought. Does your sister pack game meat? A moose is HUGE, and butchering AND packing one alone would be a tremendous chore if it was a long pack.


        • #5
          3 weeks

          a 3 week hunt, dam, your a better man than I, your sister is up for this?


          • #6
            My sister never has a steady job and travels a lot, so 3 weeks is nothing for her. She often takes 3 weeks to come home and visit and 3 weeks to return. I wokr my but off and she travels everywhere! I am jealous!

            I have explained to her how long it will be and she is ok, she wants to see other parts of AK so she will go.

            Trouble is job and my wife, wife is not happy, job will not be but I am not giving them a choice if this pans out. This is my only shot at a griz and dall sheep hunt in my lifetime, so I am going to make it count! I figure a solid 10 day hunt is typically enough for a rifle hunt, so 21 days should be enough for both.


            • #7
              As for a moose, the huge quantity of meat/work is a reason I will not hunt moose unless there is nothing else, once I get one down I figure 2 days of nothing but dealing with the meat,more if it is far away.

              I have packed elk, half the size of a moose, but I know what an 80 lbs pack feels like going uphill, not in a marsh though.

              I am you and in great shape and will be in near perfect shape for the hunt - so getting a moose 1 mile or less will be doable, I doubt I would have my sis help much, not sure if she could do it. Will have dad there probably between him and sis if they can carry 25 lbs each after a few trips it would help. Bonless of course.


              • #8

                As you continue to do research and locate the area you will be hunting you may find boneless is not an option. Just a thought, some areas meat has to be left on the bone. a 1 mile pack on a moose alone? Bet after doing that once it won't happen again


                • #9

                  Don, I'm beginning to wonder if you're for real.

                  3 weeks is a long time in the field to keep meat and hides. And now you mention the possibility of also taking a moose. All this off the road system somewhere.

                  Originally posted by DonV
                  My sister never has a steady job and travels a lot, so 3 weeks is nothing for her. She often takes 3 weeks to come home and visit and 3 weeks to return.
                  Didn't several guys in the other thread warn you about residency status of someone who travels a lot? Sounds like you might want to forego the next-of-kin non-resident hunt on the cheap and giving out all this info to ABWE troopers who peruse these sites. You're already aware your sis has to be physically with you, yet you just said she is only capable of maybe hauling 25 lbs of moose meat. All this begs the question: How is she gonna keep up with YOU?

                  Not sure if you are for real or toying with folks here. What bothers me is many read this site for info on Alaska hunting. I don't like the perception that a 3-week hunt is even doable, in terms of keeping meat and hides from spoiling. It was in the high 70s last August and sheep hunters had a hard time keeping meat for one week, let alone three. And I certainly don't like it when another species (moose) comes into the picture. Based on your posts, I'd say you'll be doing an illegal hunt with a non-resident sister, and even if she is a resident you'll end up having to leave her while you slyly go tromping off by yourself to do an end-around our state laws. Be may end up paying more in fines than you'd spend on a guided sheep hunt.

                  Mark Richards


                  • #10
                    only chance

                    You said your sister is here full time, so why would this be your only chance to hunt grizz & sheep? unless she is not planning on being in alaska long.

                    I agree, 3 weeks is way too long, you will loose meat for sure, so besides the residency issue you now have wantn waste. You should reconsider, Do a sheep hunt, and if you happen across a Grizz great! If not come back the next year and try for a Grizz


                    • #11
                      In your other post it sound's like your sister is not planning on staying here more than a year, that in itself could get you into trouble.


                      • #12
                        Meat Spoilage

                        I'll post more about res/nonres status in the other thread, but going back to the subject of this one:

                        DonV, 3 weeks in the field is too long to keep meat from going bad. You strike me as the sort of guy who wouldn't want that to happen. So if you're really going to do this, you need a way to call for a meat flight (which means prior arrangement with a flight operator and a place for the pilot to put down), or otherwise get that game animal to a freezer.

                        That means roundtrip air charter expense, or the time it takes to get out of the field, get the meat cooled, and get back to hunting. Or it means planning more than one trip. I recommend the latter.

                        It's good to see that you're thinking this all out in advance. Be absolutely sure you don't find yourself several days from anywhere with no way to care for meat that's been hanging for several days already...


                        • #13

                          In theory the idea of taking more than one species per hunt sounds good, but in reality sometimes it just makes it harder with too many variables & you screw yourself, by not putting in 100% effort for one or the other.
                          Now float hunts imo are great, & very rewarding & would make your trip a memorable one. However now you must consider the cost of renting a raft per day, not cheap for 20 days +.
                          I don't know what your budget is but here is one thing I would consider.
                          Forget the moose & replace it with caribou. Get your aircharter to drop you off in the brooks range. Hunt for sheep for 7- 10 days, then focus on caribou the remaining time. If you tag a sheep early have a sat. phone & call the charter for a meat pick up or make some kind of prior arrangements.
                          If you float there are a couple rivers up there that this type of trip would work for.
                          If you are not floating this plan would still work. Have your air charter move you after your sheep hunt. There are quite a few bou up there & the charter woulnd't have to move you far. This still may be cheaper than a raft rental.
                          Also while you are hunting both sheep & bou you will have a good chance of coming across some grizz up there.
                          One final note, if this is a once in lifetime trip up here don't measure sucess by the # of animals taken. You will be in some beautiful country & if you do it right the experience & memories will be just as rewarding as the meat & hides taken.


                          • #14
                            Hey marmot, good advice. The rest of you..........whatever happened to being helpful? Oh, kudo's to Mike S for his advice.
                            There is a guy who advertises his video on here about a 700 mile trip, alone where he took a sheep, a bou, and I think a moose. How come no one ever gives him a hard time about his meat salvage? He's even planning a new trip, east to west, of the Brooks.
                            DonV..........nothing wrong with setting your goals high, but finding a place where you have a chance at 5 different species? You might want to follow Buck Nelson on his traverse of the Brooks range. Otherwise you should consider something more reasonable.
                            I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
                            I have less friends now!!


                            • #15
                              How are we not being helpful? Giving advice that might keep him out of the pokey is being helpful. I haven't seen you post any helpful advice yet.


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