What does it take to hunt Dall sheep in Alaska? Money. Many people think that all you have to do is move to Alaska to enjoy the many spoils of nature that are not found in the lower 48, but they are missing the big picture. Unless you have a great job in a remote location, which is not common, you will have to live in a large city like Anchorage or Fairbanks to have employment opportunities. For those of us who live in Anchorage, we have to drive two hours before we can get to good remote fishing and only some hunting.
For the good hunting, you need to fly some place. There are road hunting opportunities in Alaska but there aren’t many roads. For me to sheep hunt, I need to be flown in to a remote location at a cost that starts at $1000.00.
Next, you will need good gear. Weather in Alaska can be deadly so you will need quality shelter and a quality sleeping bag. The tent I am using this year cost around $450.00 and my synthetic sleeping bag that can keep me warm when wet, costs around $230.00.
When you are humping gear up mountains, weight is a factor, so you need lightweight gear that is durable and tested. My backpack is a Frontier Gear pack and frame that is actually called a ‘Barney’s Pack’ because it is sold at Barney’s Sports Chalet in Anchorage (www.barneyssports.com). It is somewhat light but it costs around $650.00.
Next, sheep hunting requires accurate and precise aging skills which require a hunter to not only judge what a full curl is, as defined by Alaska Department of Fish & Wildlife, but also age rings on the horns (annuli). This takes superior optics. I am lucky enough to have an ‘any ram’ tag so I will just be using my Swarovski binoculars for this upcoming hunt, but they cost around $1600.00. A quality spotting scope would be another expense. I also have a range finder for being sure of my shot that put me back around $500.00.
My rifle is the most important item on my list. You can use any rifle on a sheep hunt but they start to get heavy after a few days and that’s why I purchased a titanium rifle by Browning. With my Leupold scope and sling, it weighs less than seven pounds. However, the tandem combined cost around $2000.00. I haven’t even gotten to the clothes, boots and miscellaneous gear yet.
My trekking poles cost around $200.00 but they save me untold amounts of energy that would normally be spent trying to stay balanced and upright on steep, rocky slopes. My hunting clothes, including base layers (underwear) and outerwear cost me around $400.00. I have to have something that keeps me warm if I get wet. I also have a quality pair of light weight rain gear that cost around $200.00. My Hanwag mountain boots with a full rand for rock protection cost me around $300.00. My water filter, emergency gear, knives, sleeping pad, tent footprint, 550 cord, and food will have around $200.00 attached to them.
All told, I have around $8000.00 invested in my sheep hunting gear. The unfortunate part of that fact is that many people I know have way more than that invested in theirs. Is it even worth it having all this stuff to hunt sheep? I will let you know in about three weeks.