No matter what your level of experience, Alaska Dall sheep hunting is serious business that requires thorough preparation before going into the wilderness. Dall sheep are native to northwestern North America. In Alaska, their geographic range overlaps occasionally with that of the mountain goat. Both species are typically all-white, but the sheep prefer drier habitats than those used by goats. Dall sheep, preferring the drier habitat, stay in a combination of open alpine ridges, meadows, and steep slopes with extremely rugged ground. The terrain proves a challenge to natural predators and human hunters alike. The Dall sheep use the ridges, meadows, and steep slopes for feeding and flee to rocks and crags to evade pursuers.
The Dall Sheep have well-developed social systems. Adult rams (male) live in bands, which seldom associate with ewe (female) groups except during the winter mating season. The massive curling horns of the adult ram, prized by hunters, are part of this social hierarchy. As rams mature, their horns form a circle when seen from the side. A full circle is usually formed in seven to eight years. In most cases, hunters in Alaska are restricted to taking only full-curl rams during the months of August and September.
Dall sheep consume a wide variety of plants, with their diet varying upon the season and geographic locale. Summer is a time of abundance and sheep tend to eat freely. With winter, available plant life is more limited; in this period, sheep favor the available dry, frozen grass and sedge stems, along with lichen and moss.
The meat of the Dall sheep is excellent, but small in size when you consider the effort to hunt and harvest the animal in its native environment. Among observers, both sheep and goat hunting is seen to be practiced more by those intrepid individuals looking for a rugged and extreme alpine experience and less by the casual hunter. Nonresident hunters must have a guide and be with a relative who is an Alaskan resident. In all cases, however, sheep hunting in Alaska is a major undertaking that demands careful planning and proper preparation for a safe and bountiful trip.
No matter what hunting trips you plan, you will be carrying a heavy pack and hiking long distances in alpine conditions. Being in shape is critical to a successful hunt in Alaska or Alaska caribou hunt and for your safety. Another fitness consideration is the timing of your hunt. An early season August trip likely means plenty of water and better camping, but fewer sheep at lower elevation. Later in the season, however, snow and cold temperatures become challenging.
Alaska Dall sheep hunting is not for everyone. However, if you know what you are looking for in terms of your hunting experience, then the challenges of the sheep hunt may be just what you demand. Do your research, prepare thoroughly before landing in Alaska, and your reward will be an experience like no other in your lifetime.
We’ve got pictures from our Dall sheep hunting camps and some of the fun we had. Look in the background of some of the pictures to get an idea of the terrain you’ll be working to get these solitary animals.
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