Thoughts on Dall Sheep Hunting

Hunting wild mountain sheep in the U.S. is the biggest tease in hunting. Rather it is Bighorn, Dall, Stone or Desert sheep, the opportunity to hunt them is rare due to limited number of animals and limited amount of tags. The only exceptions are to be a billionaire and buy auction tags sold at various organizational banquets, or move to Alaska where you can hunt Dall sheep every year. That’s one of the reason I am here and I have learned a few things along the way.

I was lucky enough to draw a Bighorn sheep tag in Oregon in the late 1990’s. My hunt took all of four hours and I was hooked on wild sheep hunting immediately. After moving to Alaska, I discovered that hunting for Bighorn sheep is not the same thing as hunting the white sheep. First off, Dall sheep are 10 times easier to see during the early season before the snow drops. You can see them from miles away unlike the brown bodies of Bighorns. That means they are easier to scout and that makes hunt planning easier as well.

The scouting of sheep in Alaska is a touchy subject to some. There are only two ways to scout; cover a lot of miles while wearing out a pair of boots or manage to get into an airplane and do some aerial prospecting. The guys with planes have better luck sheep hunting and that is no coincidence. 

One outfitter I know tries to pinpoint a few legal rams in one area and then he tries to set up base camp in the middle of them. During a typical hunt, he will let weather dictate which rams he goes after. The worse the weather, the closer they hunt to base camp, but if the weather forecast is favorable, then he takes his client out and sets up a spike camp to hunt out of.

For those who are not familiar with base and spike camps, the base camp is called home and the spike camp is just a bare-bones temporary camp that is set up to get hunters closer to the animals they hunt without having to cover several miles.

The one major fact I learned about hunting Dall sheep is that the weather dictates everything you do. I was once weathered in for seven days. It’s not fun but its life in the sheep mountains. And since weather is the king decision maker, it is often a good idea to stick close to camp and find different vantage points close by where you can glass from.

One more thing: wearing a backpack is something you have to get used to. It is like a giant 50-80 pound tumor that you cannot get rid of until you kill a sheep and make it home, of course.