Sheep Hunting Truths

Hunting for wild sheep is one of the most thrilling and addicting hunts in North America; however, it is becoming an exclusive activity that is quickly out-pricing itself from the general public. If you have a wild sheep on your lifetime achievement list, then it’s time to plan for the most affordable and readily available sheep hunt in North America; the Alaskan Dall Sheep.

There are four species of wild sheep in North America; Bighorn sheep (Rocky Mountain Bighorn and California Bighorn), Stone’s sheep, Desert Bighorn sheep and Dall sheep. Unfortunately, Stone’s sheep only exist in Canada, but the other three species can be found mostly in the western United States. Unfortunately, obtaining tags to hunt these three flavors of sheep requires incredible luck as they are almost all on a preference or bonus point lottery system.

The Desert Bighorn sheep tag is the hardest to possess. Since these magnificent animals make up the smallest population of all the sheep and their tags are so few in numbers, it is almost impossible to plan on ever drawing one. There are hundreds of tales from people who have been applying for over 40 years and have never drawn one. If you are wealthy, you have the option of winning an auctioned tag from a participating state that can go for $50,000.00-$250,000.00, or you can purchase a high-success Desert Bighorn hunt from a Mexican outfitter for around $50,000.00. To most of us these options are only a pipe dream.

The Bighorn sheep is the most obtainable tag to get in the lower 48 states, but that is not saying much. Even these tags are considered elite and the odds of ever drawing one from any state are so low that a hunt could never be planned. There are a few opportunities that increase your odds, but they involve being the high bidder in a tag auction or you can enter a lottery draw for a small fee in at least one western state (Oregon.) There are some places in Canada where you can buy a tag and hunt, but last year those Bighorn hunts were selling for north of $30,000.00. Now considering that the cheapest Stone’s sheep hunts are selling for $25,000.00, this leaves the Dall sheep as the ‘poor-man’s’ sheep, and if you are looking for a cheapest sheep date then the Alaska Dall sheep hunts are more affordable than Canadian Dall sheep hunts.

Alaska requires all non-resident sheep hunters to enlist the services of a guide, but compared to hunts for the other three species a guided Alaskan Dall hunt is cheap. An even cheaper possibility is to just move to Alaska and wait until you reach the one-year resident requirement and go hunt sheep on your own. This might sound like a crazy idea, but I know two people who have done that very thing.  Brown bears, Mountain Goats, and Musk Ox also require guides services for non-residents, so many a hunting enthusiast has moved to Alaska to simply be able to afford hunting for these out awesome trophies.

Cheap is a relative term though, and today’s ‘cheap hunt’ means a minimum of $10,000.00. That is a lot of money to most people, but the price is rising every year and the time is now to make it happen. Here are a few tips on how to spend the least amount possible on a guided sheep hunt. Outfitters and guides are people, so negotiating is a possibility that you can pursue if you find the right guide.  If you can offer a unique product or valuable service discuss it with a guide. I have a good friend who traded some concrete work for a guided sheep hunt, so the possibilities are unlimited. If you absolutely cannot offer a trade item or service and you need to plan a hunt for the future, then talk to some guides and see if you can lock in today’s hunt price with a deposit for a hunt in the future. Remember, prices rise every year and this might be a good way to save some future money by making a reservation now.