Contributors to this thread:
I always hunt DIY but I have been hearing that in WY it is really tough, with any weapon and even for an ewe. What are your thoughts? I never thought I would hire a guide, especially for sheep. I have 19 points so there are units I can draw (most with wilderness) and many others I will be able to draw soon.
I'll contract with a guide if ever I draw. I want access to the entire population of sheep.
Well it depends on a lot of things, mostly you though. Can you handle a horse as rentals are available? Assuming you are taking a friend along, safer easier. Take a inreach, plan on using a rifle. If you can draw unit 5 pm me for particulars.
Glunker is right. It comes down to horses. If you can handle them you can hunt as long as you want instead of booking a hunt where you have one week to get it done. My cost to lease is the same whether I have them for 3 days or 3 weeks. If you want to access and own the kind of country you need to in order to use those points wisely you need transportation. If you can’t saddle, ride, and care for horses I’d say bite the bullet and book with an outfitter. I wouldn’t do a backpack hunt for sheep. I need to cover ground and have a solid camp up high.
I've got 2 areas picked out and both are DIY. With 23 resident PP I should draw my area in a year or two, maybe this year.
Plenty of NR ewe tags in other states you can draw with minimal points and hunt DIY, why use all your WY points on a ewe? If you draw a ram tag not being able to legally hunt wilderness areas would be handicapping yourself...
I used a guide this year and couldn’t imagine it any other way. We hunted wilderness which I wouldn’t have access to without a guide as well.
I would think you just pick a unit with what will work for sheep and do what you have to do. Many are illegal for all intents for diy and others are huge and rugged, you may have to do a bit of suffering, but then again it aint antelope hunting over a puddle. Kinda like a G-5 goat Don, what could go wrong? ;)
#5 works, but it aint no road hunt...
It all depends on your skill/fitness level, amount of time to hunt, and desired area you want to hunt.
I’m not a WY resident, I am still working, and I don’t know the areas like many do.
It would be crazy for me to not use the services of an outfitter when I draw. I would do it anyway just for the access to some great areas I would probably want to hunt when I am able to draw a tag.
I too would hire an outfitter. Its now a once in a lifetime hunt in WY. You get a lot with an outfitter. They know the area, they know the quality of the sheep. They can judge sheep from a distance. They have good horses and will take good care of you, at least most of them will. I have had two sheep tags, hunted on my own for days and then went with an outfitter. I live right here where my tags were and am friends with the guides and outfitters. If you are draw area 4 or 5, PM me about our local outfitters.
Don, I'm one point behind you and starting to look at this question also, I have a good friend that is a resident of Wy and therefore can get me into the wilderness without a guide. I really want to do the hunt with just him and another buddy and currently researching units, finding one that doesn't require horses to move to different drainages during the hunt seems to be the main sticking point with bears being another concern. Really wish I lived closer and could hike the areas in the summer/fall and see how possible it would be before burning a OIL tag.
I'm a resident and scouted my area a lot. Remember, if you hunt the archery season the Rams tend to be very high and quite a few miles in. I eventually hired an outfitter. It was the best decision I made.
On my hunt we road in horse & mule over 6 hours straight. We saw lots of sheep and I got it done in 6 days. Like stated, this will most likely be a once in a lifetime hunt.
My outfitter stated when the snow comes in October it usually pushes the sheep down their easier to hunt.
If you'd like his name PM me.
Here's my 2017 Area 5 Ram
Here's my 2017 Area 5 Ram
I was able to hunt sheep in the late 70's and early 80's,,,, a tag was easier than, but yep I had an outfitter,,,, my outfitter is gone now, another great one
Kind of in that same predicament. On 19 or so points. Not that interested in paying a boatload of money for an outfitter in Wyoming even though I would love to hunt in that backcountry.
Money is not the reason I do not want to use an outfitter. I am in great shape and have no problem packing in for weeks if needed.
That said I drew a premium Vermont moose tag and hunted the entire season every minute of daylight HARD. I never saw or heard a moose. I would like to harvest every species possible diy and it is unlikely I will ever get to go after Canadian moose again. Last day I met a hard core local when mentioned a guide who was $200 or $300 a day and is nearly 100% in a couple days.
I really regretted not getting a guide. I would have been happy with a cow moose. Success came from guys driving roads until they saw a moose. I refused to do this and with no outfitter had low odds of getting a decent bull. I was over confident and did not listen to guys who said it was not going to be as easy as I expected and the success rates were deceiving if you did not road hunt or go guided or be a local.
I will NOT make that mistake again.
I think your Vermont experience gives you the answer you seek.
It’s not like you won’t still be able to take advantage of the fact that you have time and are well-conditioned just because a hunt is outfitted. You will still be able to go farther, harder, and longer. I’ve not yet met a sheep guide who would hold anyone back.
Don, Your to dangerous to hunt alone. You need someone there to make sure you don't get run over by moose, fall off a cliff or loose your mind from isolation. You better get 2 guides and a body guard. Doug
Don, add run out of food in AK when ur bush flight was late... lol
BTW, Don and I are barbary sheep hunting in NM this week. Please pray for me... Last time we hunted NM he almost killed me...lol
Thunderflight please post your results. I’ll be there Tuesday hunting Barbary.
My 2016 ram
I drew a MAX POINT tag with just 16 points.
317 guys had more points than I had and 402 more guys had the same number of points I had.
NONE of the 317 guys applied for my unit and only five with the same number of points I had applied. Actually, I looked the physical challenge as a bonus, because I knew that meant lots of guy would not apply for the unit for that very reason.
That meant there were just six of us in the draw for three NR tags.
I not only drew, I took the best ram taken in that unit all year and I shot him on Day Two.
Why didn't more people apply? Because it's a VERY physical unit and therefore success rates were a bit over 60% as a result.
The physical challenge was of no concern to me and as a result, I drew and tagged out.
That was one heck of a Ram and hunt Kyle!!!
Us greybeards do just fine when we keep in year round training.
Thanks for sharing that pic again---- Robb
Guys we have some great sheep hunting in DIY areas. Great access and big rams, no grizz either.
Its getting close to the time to apply and I am sitting on 20 points. Unless there is some gracious NR willing to hit the wilderness with me I am only looking at areas where sheep are not in the wilderness. I do not are about size - I just want a mature ram!
I am looking at every units and get very mixed reviews.
Lets here some suggestions. I do not mind waiting a few years but at 48 I am not getting any younger. I am in the best shape of my life so sooner is better.
What units do you like for a DIY NR?????
Don based on your past hunt reports here, I assume you will be strictly rifle hunting when you draw, correct? You might want to clarify that for your fellow bowsiters, as it might possibly make a difference with regard to recommendations for potential DIY-friendly areas. Good luck in the draw.
Drew my area 19 tag this year and took a nice ram DIY. I know of at least 4 areas, one open only every other year, that have great rams for DIY hunting. Not sure if they could be drawn without max PP.
Yes rifle good point. Definitely looking for unit that does not require Max points or even one or two below.
Reading all this again and still torn up over a guide. I really want to do diy - and ram size means nothing. I am not afraid to rent horses BUT I have never - ever handled horses. I have ridden them maybe 4 or 5 times in my life for a half hour. That's it. I am smart and can educate myself but maybe it's not the nest idea to start out with my sheep tag learning how......
I have no experiance with lamas but from reading here they seem a lot easier for a newbie like me.
Not bragging but I am confident in my backpacking camping skills. I can head in with 75#'s of gear for 10 days. I have great gear and I know how to use it and have no problem carving out a "bed" on a cliff edge and staying 2 weeks alone. No problem at all.
Taking horses or llamas 10 miles to a ridgetop overlooking a few basins solo sounds like a blast to me (and a good plan if I could pull it off) - but again no experience with either animal.
I am in great shape at my perfect weight and work out 5-6 days a week including some serious free weights.
I really do not want to hire a guide. I want to diy. I would rather take a 140" ram solo then 165 guided. After looking for the 5th time this year at points required and point creep it really seems like I MIGHT need to wait 5 years.
What about hunting unit 5 starting October 1st? I have had 2 elk tags in that area and hunted those dates before. Rams will be picked over but that is ok. When does weather start to move them down? Is there potential for weather to move some big rams out of hiding in the back country? When does the rut start?
Also our diy barbery hunt was a bust - they were tough to find and when we did we did not capitalize. I probably could have taken an ewe early on but it was quick and I decided not to shoot - big mistake. It was tough and I learned a lot. Things like having smarba with me increases my success 10 fold.
Usually the units that take the most points to draw for a NR are the units that have the least amount of wilderness and can therefore be hunted DIY.
The units that may be available for you to draw with 20 points may require hunting the wilderness to get to the rams and therefore require an outfitter or a non-compensated resident to accompany you. Besides being physical, the necessity to hire an outfitter is another reason that the units like the one Kyle drew takes fewer points. $12K for an outfitter is a big expense to most people.
Since you indicated money was not an issue, if I was in your position I would hire an outfitter and draw the best unit available to you at your points level. Another consideration for you is there have been several pushes in the past few years to cut the NR sheep quota in half. If this ever passes, it may take you another 20 years to draw the units you can draw now.
Good luck this year in the draws!
October 4th but the ram is in the panniers! I squeaked by.
October 4th but the ram is in the panniers! I squeaked by.
5 can change very quickly as any tree line can in the fall. If you are lucky you can have a great Oct hunt if not you will be crampons/ice axes stuff. (you know like G-5!) I don't think anything short of dying counts for a tag refund in WY so if you roll the dice and get snake eyes it would hurt. Fairly decent trail system in the unit but not sure it counts for much under 3' of white. I was in contact with a g-5 hunter who waited and made out huge with our latest fall in history this year, I played the same role in WY 5 this year for an Oct 1st guy who went on a polar expedition (but he got his ram).
Thanks guys! Good point about not rolling the dice at likley my last, or second to last, sheep tag. I know it but may forget time to time...............
I really want to do this diy
I am also DIY guy. I drew a sheep CO tag this year and considered a outfitter but preferred to do it myself and that it would feel less earned if a outfitter was holding my hand and making decisions for me. Sounds like you are of a similar mind set. If so go DIY give it your all and at the end you will have had a great hunt, tag punched or not.
"Not bragging but I am confident in my backpacking camping skills. I can head in with 75#'s of gear for 10 days. I have great gear and I know how to use it and have no problem carving out a "bed" on a cliff edge and staying 2 weeks alone. No problem at all."
I can vouch for this. Don has all the right gear as well as the physical and hard headedness ,,,, errrrr I mean mental toughness to pull it off alone......lol
Don, it looks like 5 would be the unit for you to do it DIY and if applicant numbers/preference point tags stay the same it appears you would have a approximately a 15% chance to draw it in 2020 with your 20 points...
“I would rather take a 140" ram solo then 165 guided.”
The question you should be asking yourself is would you rather hunt your tail off DIY knowing you gave it your all and eat your tag, or hire an outfitter and shoot a mature ram?
I remember on the subject of sheep tags Craig Boddington once saying something to the effect that 1) Don’t screw around-hire a great outfitter and 2) You don’t bring your friends.
Solid advice I think, unless you care more about the trip than the destination.
Bottom line, your tag. No going back once the season ends.
Dogman VERY good point. I would definitely not rather eat my tag vs. hiring an outfitter.
That said I research a lot. I am in great shape and prepared to give it 3 weeks if needed, and come back if possible. If I choose my unit correctly and rifle hunt I should be able to tag out. Sheep are not the most difficult animals to hunt. I have hunted 17 or 18 different species of big game diy. I now what my limitations are and where I can fail. That said if I draw a good tag and give 110% I know I can punch my tag. Even an outfitter does guarantee punching a tag. What if by bad luck the area he is licensed to guide in has a lot of hunters, a fire or some other problem that means there are no sheep where he can hunt - but there are sheep in my unit where he cannot go?
7D is well into the tripple digits with sheep hunters. with 99% success. They had their first guy ever not kill a ram this year due to some pretty crazy circumstances. It is as sure of a bet as you can make. Nowhere in the gambling world do you have those odds. 10.5k
I have been in your shoes before with a primo tag and a good buddy put it this way. “How do you make your money?...you have to work. Sure, you can spend 2-3 weeks out there and fill your tag but you won’t make any money. Pay the outfitter, get it done in a week or so and get back to work so you can do it again!” Not as much pressure on you, no scouting, just enjoy the experience. Your biggest decision is lifesized or shoulder.
Outfitters are providing you with a service and everyone's ideas, wants and needs are different. If you are set on doing it DIY but are having second thoughts due to wilderness issues, or horses or things like that, why not call one of the outfitters and talk to them. You may be able to negotiate with them and have them provide you with a wrangler and whatever else you need and other than that you go and hunt and do what you want when you want. You would be paying for it so I would think someone out there would be willing to help out in that way. Worst case is they say no and then you are in the same position that you are in now. My two cents- if you do draw a tag, I wouldn't hesitate and I would get a guide and go and kill your ram. For most a sheep tag is a once in a life time event so make the most of it. There is no shame in using a guide. I drew a Colorado tag in 2012 and used a guide and didn't get a ram and eating that tag knowing that I may never draw another one still haunts me. Good luck in whatever decision you make.
njbuck I have thought about that but I wonder how these guys would take that............
Dogman good points.
Also I "appear" to be close to unit 5 but there is a catch. by bad luck I graduated college and started applying when they stopped making NR front tag costs and dropped app fees to $7. There are 350 guys in my point pool. Once apps ahead clear out I will be alongside a lot of other guys. Likely it is 10 years before I draw.........
I have been looking at this as serious as anyone as im in the 19 pt pool
If I was willing to hunt with a firearm it would be a no brainer, I would be talking to several outfitters about hunting in the units with the highest chance of drawing a permit. By my math even with 20 pts there are 486 possible applicants chassing roughly 40 permits a year. It is possible that you are the last guy in that pool to draw 12 years from now.
I would rather have the chance to hunt sheep while I could controll as many variables as possible rather than wait for someday to come OR have G&F restructure the system.
In my case it is not a decision based on outfitter or not or wilderness or not it is that I need an area that is bowhunter friendly and A LOT of luck because that math gets ugly in my pool. Im still over 20 years away from that " Guarnteed " pool
Nothing stays the same and you can count on change of some kind
Capra I feel your pain with 19. I got in when I did by bad luck (graduating) I really wish I got in just 1 year earlier. That said 1 year later like you makes a world of difference.
I agree about WY restructuring. They have a history of doing whatever makes the most money, and taking surveys to figure out what that was/is! IMO they will keep max points tag but could drop down to 50% or less. I would still draw eventually. Bailing altogether. Yikes that would crunch me and turn a sure thing into highly unlikely - unless they square points (then just very unlikey).
I did break down and call an outfitter and I plan to call more. I am checking to see how far out they are booked and what the recommend. I am slowly leaning that way.
Area 5 will have bear issues, our friends had to deal with them, so that in itself may make an outfitter pretty valuable.
Are bear issues getting worse? I hunted elk there a couple times 8 or 9 years ago and was not aware of problems.
I encountered a lot of bears in 2018. At night I heard something outside the tent and the next morning there were fresh bear tracks. I saw 4+ lone bears. Walking down a trail in snow that had fallen while I was on the trail I had tracks from a sow and cubs walking down the trail ahead of me. There was a lot of bear sign.
Yes there's a lot of bears. If you go early during archery season most will be up in the moth beds. Once the first hard frost hits they'll be wondering around. This past season I saw 6 bears in 3hrs while scouting.
When you say bears do you mean grizzly or black or both?
I've seen griz on every trip, worst was 5 in 5 days
Look into Bugling Winds outfitters, they do areas 4 and 19. Guy on another forum did an elk hunt and really liked their setup and the folks involved. Might be worth the call.
I did my once in a lifetime sheep hunt DIY with no regrets. Also just saw a 4 yr old ram a local guy took on an outfitted sheep hunt, guide pressed him to shoot it . Guided does not mean a guarantee by any means. You have the time and skills to DIY if wanted. Good luck. Our friends were 2 for 2 on decent rams in 5 but did have grizz issues. They hunted by foot , not horses.
Don, Hire an outfitter to get you in one of the most difficult areas to hunt which will have the best odds of drawing and will still be physically challenging, hunt the biggest ram in the unit and tell them you want a hunting partner, not a nurse maid.
Thanks guys. I'm still really torn. And I want to believe that a guided hunt is not a guarantee but.......
Most if not all of the sheep guides with a better reputations have over a 99% success rate. The last one I just talked to is 166 sheep for 167 Hunters. Very Old Gentleman went recently and passed add several Rams and was not able to get to the better ones he wanted. I would have to say in my opinion that's a guaranteed hunt.
Personally, it's a no-brainer for me. I'd rather eat tag soup than kill a ram that someone else scouted, patterned, determined how to hunt, then held my hand to it. At that point, you really aren't a hunter, but rather just a shooter.
I guess it comes down to what satisfies you more, Don, filling a tag, or giving a hunt all you got regardless of outcome?
Don, I think that in this case you can have it both ways. Research and find the unit that you want to hunt on your own. Also research quality outfitters for that area. Then do a DIY hunt early. You can even start your scouting in August. If after a few weeks you decide to give an outfitter a try you can get on the phone and find someone who can fit you in. It may not be your first choice but you should be able to find a good guide if you can be flexible.
Be careful that the outfitter is not going to wait until the sheep are driven down by the road at the end of the season. A number of outfitters have a near 100% success record because they have their hunters shoot less than mature rams at low elevations at the end of the season. In 2018 there was a well know outfitter that was 5 for 8 on the first 8 10 day hunts. He had at least 4 more hunts booked. I am not sure how he ended the season but I heard that he filled all but 1 tag for the hunters that returned later in the season and 2 did not return. I suspect that he did not include the 2 hunters that did not return in his success ratio because they quit him. His website for 2018 rams did not include all of the rams and there was at least one < 6 1/2 yr old ram there. Some of the rams may have been pretty small. I had talked to an older gentlemen who shot a 3 1/2 or so ram with him in 2017 by the road. The guy was elated because he had been on several unsuccessful hunts and needed a RMB to finish his slam and after not scoring on a horse back hunt he thought that his quest for the slam was over. He was in too rough of shape to do another sheep hunt. I was happy for him.
If you hunt with an outfitter after the first 2 or 3 weeks it is pretty certain that you will not be hunting a previously scouted ram. By that time most of the areas will already have been hunted and they will have to go out an find a ram for you with you getting to experience it all. They will pick the areas and get you in and out. They will probably glass up a ram before you do. However you will get to experience a true , horse back sheep hunt. If they are agreeable you can make the hunt as challenging as you want by setting the age of the ram you want to kill. If you decide to not shoot a ram younger than 8 1/2 years old IMO it will not be a slam dunk.