Sunday, August 8, 2010

Dall Sheep Hunting in Alaska

When it comes to hunting in Alaska there is nothing more grueling yet more rewarding than dall sheep hunts.

If you are planning on doing one of these hunts make certain you draw your application to get your tag before December preceding the spring or summer you want to go out. You can do this by going in to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. A "sheep tag" will cost a couple hundred dollars.

Most of the best hunts for Dall sheep are in the Chugach Mountains. All of the big trophy Dall sheep are found here. Because there is a permit system in place now the quality and size of these animals have gone substantially up over the last decade.

Keep in mind that a very limited amount of hunters can do this. Two friends of mine who are excellent gamesmen had to stop after a day because it was too much and theses guys have been hunting since they could talk.

Hunting this kind of animal at high altitudes is very physically demanding. While there is nothing like hunting Dall sheep or Mountain Goats in Alaska I cannot stress to you enough that you have to be in peak physical condition or you will not be able to complete it. Many people start to cramp up after several hours of walking uphill. The elevations can reach seven thousands feet and you are constantly climbing over rocks with a heavy pack attached to you.

Its best to bring a light shooting rifle or bow (if you are skilled at one) on these types of hunts. Every extra pound you pack matters in this situation.

Weather Conditions in Alaska

If you go dall sheep hunting between June and August expect temperatures anywhere from 40-70 degrees but Alaska is very rainy during these months. August is usually dry and is considered the best month to go. September can be nice for the first two weeks but afterward expect ice and possible snow.

The Actual Hunt

It barely gets dark so you will not have to worry too much about light. It may take days to find the sheep you actually want. Expect long days of climbing, glassing, and reconnaissance. You will be doing all this while carrying a twenty-five pound pack on your back with your food, binoculars, and rain gear. Bring the lightest backpack hunting gear you can find!

At minimum you will need:

waterproof duffel bag
gun cleaning kit with synthetic lubricant
sleeping gag
sunscreen lotion
insect (mosquito) repellent
chapstick (gets very dry)
hunting Boots
sun glasses
rain gear
warm cap
light jacket
hunting gloves
two wool shirts
well insulated hunting pants
four pair of wool socks and polypropylene liners
change of underwear
toiletry kit
water bottles
first aid kit
GPS compass

Be ready to spend 10-14 hours tracking down your dall sheep. The better condition you are in physically the better your chances.

This is one of the hardest yet rewarding hunts though. The meat tastes great! You can get 80 lbs of tasty and suculant meat from one kill. Its some of the most delicious wild game you will ever taste and once your try it you will be addicted.