Contributors to this thread:
Which sheep species first?
While the rest of us are waiting for sheep reports to start rolling in, or putting the final touches on elk/deer gear, I thought this might be an interesting discussion.
Assuming you are going for the sheep grand slam, which species would you pursue first?
Dalls for sure. My favorite and the cheapest.
Get the hard ones out of the way first then add on the rest
If money wasn’t an object I would go for the Stone first just because of their beauty .
if money is not an issue Stones first as it is already 40 grand plus and goes up 10 percent ever every year
Bighorn ewe (and possibly even Desert ewes in Nevada) is a way to have high odds of drawing within a short number of years and you can hunt them DIY at minimal cost. Would be a good way to start an archery sheep hunting career. The ewes are wild and wary as hell in most of Colorado. Don't know if ewe is allowed for an official Grand Slam but it's still a wild sheep, and a nice bowhunting accomplishment to take one.
The hardest to kill or the most expensive.
Whichever one you can get!!!!
They are all easy to get with certain criteria being Met
Desert or stone the others are readily available and "cheaper" . Not that any sheep hunt is cheap , the price paid in sweat alone may kill you.
I'd save the Dall or Desert for last as they are a bit easier in my experience than Stones or Rockies...but just pick one and get going. Took me 37 yrs to complete my archery sheep grand slam! Hunted Bighorns first..5 CO tags to get one DIY, then drew NV NR tag and got one DIY after 8 days. Went on an Alaska Dall hunt and got Shankstered by the outfitter, then drew Bighorn in CO and connected DIY on the 11th day. Moved to BC and hunted Stones on 8 backpack hunts spanning 6 seasons before connecting DIY. Hunted Dalls in the NWT and got one on day 7.
I booked a Stone as my first, but ended up doing a Desert first on a last minute cancellation. In order of kill, I went Desert, Dall, Bighorn, and Stone. Had to hunt them each twice, except the Desert.
The tags I can draw but if I was just starting out I would do the Thin Horns first and then do the Rocky & Desert.
Good luck, Robb
Marco Polo and work my way down and home from there.
I went Dall, Rocky, Desert and stone this coming week. For most you have to take the opportunities when you can get them. Dall being the most reasonable seems a logical starting point for many.
Non of them are hard to hunt just hard on the wallet.
Slate have you taken an archery slam of sheep?
I've only done 7 sheep bowhunts so far, but didn't find any of them to be easy.....just varying degrees of hard ;-)
But that's what makes archery sheep hunting so gratifying.
My dad did his Dall in his 30s, Rocky in his 40s, Stone in his 50s, and Desert in his 60s. Kind of a nice way to space it out.
I have a Dall in my 30s, Rocky in my 30s, and still in my 30s. Stone will definitely be next for me and I’m ahead of my personal schedule. I may consider paying-off my house first before going for a Stone, unless I find a screaming deal. I’ll keep trying to draw a Desert and if this doesn’t happen in the next 25 years, I’ll probably spend the money and go to Mexico. Being halfway there, I’m kind of committed now.
I’ve been lucky enough to have had three bighorn sheep tags in Colorado. Hunted my tail off with over 40 days on the mountains and no ram to show for it.
It’s been 15 years since my last tag and I’m beginning to wonder how long till I get another one!
I apply across the board for sheep tags and buy lots of raffle tickets in hopes of getting lucky and getting another chance.
I got extremely lucky a few years back on a combination mountain caribou/Dall sheep hunt and was finally able to close the deal.
Although I absolutely love sheep hunting, can’t say any of them are easy. Tougher with a compound. Seriously tough with a longbow...
Sticksender has it right! Slate comes across as a troll based on how sheep hunting with bow and arrow has gone for most of us! Even on a guided Dall hunt in a great area it was a heck of a lot of work and no "slam" dunk for me. And the 5 and 6 seasons of sheep hunting DIY to collect a Rocky and a Stone were anything but easy despite being cheap.
Yea nothing easy about sheep hunting. I’ve only hunted sheep once. Drew a Colorado tag. The Rocky sheep I was hunting were some of the spookiest critters I’ve ever hunted. Combine how wild they were with the terrain and it made for some tough hunting.
I could never afford to hunt them all! But maybe I’ll get to hunt another sheep at some point.
Nope, nothing easy about sheep hunting. From getting tags to the actual hunt.
For some, when it rains it pours. Have a good friend that is hunting sheep now in Colorado on a great tag.
He will be hunting Nevada later in the fall with a desert sheep tag that he drew with half the points that I have there.
Although the state draws are low probability of ever getting a tag, they are the most reasonably priced hunts. You gotta pay the price, stay the course and keep applying year after year after year and hope that someday you will draw. Heck, I am at over 20 points in a number of states for sheep and still may never draw.
Moving to Alaska will allow you annual hunts for Dalls as a resident. If you can swing moving to Canada and gaining residency in a province with sheep, you can also hunt them on an annual basis. BC has the most to offer a sheep hunter in that regard.
Of course, the option of paying for guided hunts in Canada and Mexico is there but they are expensive. The mental aspect of those expensive hunts is extreme. Between the travel logistics, weather issues, reliance on horses, equipment issues, the behavior of the quarry, and knowing that if you draw blood you are done - the pressure can be overwhelming. You have to be prepared to go on multiple hunts to be successful with a bow, even in the best of areas. The temptation to kill one with a rifle is one that you will have to tamp down, even if it means coming home empty handed.
For the average Joe the fall would probably be the most obtainable unless you live in a state that has sheep. Certain areas are more conducive to bowhunting sheep. The Brooks range would probably be much easier than the Chugach unless you drew something like 14C. As with many species hunting sheep with a bow is really about getting an animal in the right situation. This said I would thin that after Dall the Rocky then then either stone or desert would be an either or on which one be the most affordable. This is just my opinion but unless you opt to move like Treeline suggest then I think that this would be be a normal route for most.
The trouble with living in a place with sheep like B.C. (I do) is you figure you got lots of time to hunt them. So you end up putting it off. Then you get old.
We have, Rocky’s, ( and California) Stone and Dall. I’m going to hunt Rocky’s this year but failed again to draw a Dall area. Lots of OTC for Stone.
So much to hunt and so little time!!
I would go on several spot and stalk mule deer hunts first to get used to ranging. sneaking, stalking and shooting up and down hill. Then in order of expense (if having to use a guide or outfitter) dall, bighorn, with stone and desert close depending on the where and the hows. Bighorns have been the cheapest, $50 plus tax for the tag. In order of success, probably a guided desert, with bighorn and dall close, but for some the dalls are easier. Stones are tough but you will plan on spending a bunch of time and energy there.
Throw all of this out if you are looking for something old and big or just trying to get a ram or even a mature representative animal.
Good luck and hunt while you can, the mountains do not get any easier.
Makes no difference at all. Whichever one trips your trigger.
You can have all the money you want but there’s nothing easy about a sheep hunt! Respect to all the archery hunters getting it done!
I'll give you all a free tip here. If you want to talk about sheep hunting, killing sheep with a bow and arrow...Listen up when "tthomas" makes a post. I think he's at sixteen bow killed sheep and three bowslams. PS: Tommy, it was good seeing you at he sheep show.
You definitely know you are in a GREAT SHEEP CAMP when you see the name”Foss” on the wall!
If you have never hunted sheep before and you are committed to only use a bow, I would book my first hunt in the nwt for a dall. This is the “easiest “ sheep to get and the least expensive. It will give you experience and confidence to go after the other three which are generally tougher and more expensive. I would not attempt to build confidence on the toughest and most expensive hunts unless time and money are no object. My two cents.
I started with dall in NWT specifically for the reasons Mad Trapper mentions. After arrowing my dall on the 4th day, I was going to go stone second until I ran into a good opportunity for deserts this coming January/February. If I am successful on that hunt, I will likely move my focus back to stones and have to decide what outfitter I want to hunt with.
...............or you could just use Jake's method of get it all done in less than a year and move on process. In my opinion still one of, if not THE, most spectacular achievement that has been shared on this site ever. The slam in less than 12 months with a bow.
I still think i would go stones after all the advice given above. Try to draw the others. Getting the toughest and now most expensive completed first if possible. It was the toughest for me anyway. lol
Thanks for all the responses, bowsite doesn't disappoint, as usual. I had always planned on doing Dall first, as I really like the looks of them, but I wanted to ask the experts.
A follow up, why are stone sheep hunts so difficult? Is it tough to find sheep? Difficult to find a legal ram? Tough terrain to get close enough?
I could deal with not coming home with ram, but it would be awfully tough to spend the time/$/effort to not even see any sheep.
"A follow up, why are stone sheep hunts so difficult?"
I've never done one, but I'd say it's a combination of all three of the factors you've listed, add in rising cost as well...
I would definitely start with the Stone sheep. Getting pricier every year and that is not likely to change. Sheep hunting interest has gone through the roof the past few years and demand is high. I need a Rocky to complete my slam but can't draw a damn tag for the life of me. Alberta is looking like my only hope but hard to do when I live in Montana. Come on sheep tag draw gods, shine on my hiney soon! :)
If you've never hunted sheep, I'd say start with a Dall. Make sure you have what it takes to get it done, endure some weather and hardships before cashing in all your chips on Stone hunt.
I really like tthomas idea of hunting high country mule deer a lot first.
The overall levels of hard can vary on a sheep hunt but easy is not part of the equation.
The mental aspect can take a much larger toll than the physical and many people cant handle that part. It's hard to train for the metal stresses of a sheep hunt. Once you train yourself to say no matter what is going badly there are 100s if not 1000s of people that wish they were in your boots things get easier. It's hard to prepare for endless days of rain and fog no rams sighted in a week, second guessing packing up camp and hiking 10-12 miles to a new area hoping rams will be there. Its all a mental game.
Make sure you watch the KUIU video "Don't wait."
Which one first? The first one I draw. I’m a sucker for WSF sheep raffles that states sell.
I'm a 1/4 slammer and thinking I just might die a 1/4 slammer
Like a lot of guys I did Dalls first, but I’m also interested and pursuing some international Ovis and Capra Species as well. Since bowhunting isn’t legal or established everywhere I’ve been doing a mixed bag of hunting methods for mountain game. After all, these are all personal goals based on desire, money, time, and availability. Much I still want to do.
Dall, fannin, then wait for your long-lost father to buy you bighorn and desert hunts...
Lucky for me, the paternity test came back “negative” Zack...
Sandbrew perfectly summed up the sheep hunting dilema...mind over matter!! the hardest part is to convince yourself you are NOT going to quit!
Cory, the ones I saw came back positive and Dad, I need to book a stone and a Bighorn hunt... And I'm not nearly as good of bowhunter as Zack, so there will likely be a repeat in there!
“You are not the father” in my best Murray voice...Now you have to do the dance Kota!
Demo/Scott...Talk to Watkins. You look more like him anyway...AND, he has slightly more experience with Stone sheep than I do... :)
Thanks for all the input on this thread. I didn't intend it to motivate booking a sheep hunt, but it's too late for that now! I'm booked for a Dall sheep hunt in AK in 2022. Need to start training now!
The mental aspect will be the toughest. I looked and you are in Iowa.
Plan as much vacation time as you can over here in the mountains. Not sure if you’re coming west for elk or mule deer but it would be great experience under your belt.
As tthomas said above, high country mule deer above treeline will be the closest thing to sheep.
Summer bow shoots combined with some backpacking and climbing.
Even winter trips for skiing or maybe some predator hunting and get in a few nights camping in the cold.
The more experience you have in diverse mountain conditions and the more you know about how you will do in those conditions, the better prepared you will be when you finally get the opportunity!
Depends on money, who uh our guide is. Maybe you can learn enough after 3 guided hunts to go unguided for your bighorn? Seems rhetorical.
first ram a long time ago
first ram a long time ago
This thread is about which species first, don't care just go!!! If you know someone that has gone pick their brain. If you know someone with a tag beg to go along. I am now 62 with a knee that will not allow me anymore sheep hunts. I can't tell you how much I miss it. I now have all the free time in the world and don't have the legs to climb anymore. After 18 sheep hunts I still cant stop dreaming about more. Most have been with other people holding the tag but 5 have been mine. They are all special and all worth the sweat and effort. Now if the sheep Gods would send me a desert tag I would crawl up the mountain and sleep under a rock for the opportunity!
I shot (rifle) a dall a few years back, in the NWT. Was a terrific hunt. Believe it was $14,500, plus license, etc, etc. I’m guessing it was $18,000 all in. Today, I believe the cost all in would push the mid $20 grand range. Can I afford to spend the mega bucks on the other sheep, actually I could. I just can’t see spending that kind of money when I could go on three or more high end elk hunts, or at least three (4-6 animal African trips) for similar money. Absolutely nothing wrong with getting a sheep slam but I am not interested. Best of luck to you that pursue wild sheep!
Find a way to make it happen.
Jim in PA's Link
Yeah, yeah, rub it in Nick...
In case anyone still checks this thread, I Totally agree with tthomas on this one, first get some mule deer spot and stalk under your belt but also get some hiking, hunting in the mountains to test your fear of cliffs, loose rock, sleeping in a tent with a possible grizzly bear around, being out in the pouring rain, lightning storms etc. I've guided guys on Dall sheep hunts who soon quit because they were so scared of everything. They had no idea of what they were getting into, it was pointless for them to have even booked the hunt! As for buying a sheep hunt an NWT helicopter Dall sheep hunt is a great place to start. No local hunter competition, relatively inexpensive, high success for a skilled bowhunter. I would definitely do that first. As far as I know an Alaskan Dall sheep may be cheaper, but it is way more difficult and much lower success especially with a bow. It always surprises me when hunters never mention the huge benefit to the helicopter use in the NWT.
Mike, I waited until last to hunt a NWT Dall to complete my archery grand slam...mainly because it was expensive and the rest were DIY over a 34 year period! That said I agree with all of your points (and TThomas) if you are planning to start sheep hunting. That said I think Tom Hoffman started out bowhunting sheep before other species which most of us couldn’t afford!
OP here, thanks for the additional thoughts. I'm headed to AK for Dall's in 2022. Probably taking the rifle for the first trip. NWT with the bow will be the 2nd trip, if I can swing the time/$.