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Alaska Sheep unit survey information
Primarily a question for local Alaskans.....Looking for recent data on sheep populations for the Alaska range unit 20A. All I can find on site is 5+ years old. Outfitter says there are no sheep and wants to cancel or just hunt moose.... I am not looking for a debate on the outfitter or this situation (I will handle that myself), just trying to confirm recent population data if its available. Appreciate any info anyone can provide. You can PM is you'd rather Thanks, Kip
Don't over-think this... just call the Area Biologist in the Fairbanks Office. Tony Hollis 907-459-7256
^^^ They would know best. There have been a couple bad winters, and increased pressure from Canada being closed last year.
By Far the best place to bow hunt Dall's sheep is NWT......
Yes. Bad bad winters. I went last year and it was brutal. I know Tok area was hurt pretty bad.
I would say your outfitter is doing you a favor.... He could say lets go hunt sheep, knowing you have no chance at getting one but still take your money.
There were two years back-to-back with nearly 100% lamb mortality 7-8 years ago in much of the Brooks. That, plus everyone killing all the 7 year olds has caused an expected few years where a few of these areas are not going to have many mature rams. The biologist I talked to 3 years ago told me it was coming. There are still rams, but all the low-lying fruit areas don't have any.
You have an outfitter who is telling you he doesn't want to take your money. I can't think of a more honest action he could take. He could have had you hunt and then just say it was bad luck that you never found a legal ram.
Your desire to hunt sheep should not cause you to push for a sheep hunt for animals that aren't there.
Listen to him.
Sheep hunts are long days hiking and glassing - not too tough. Moose hunts are less glassing and walking but when one is down everyone takes a beating getting them out. If I were a guide, I'd be pushing for going sheep hunting over moose hunting.
Oh, and I went sheep hunting last year in the Alaska range and it was tough finding legal sheep but did kill on day 6 of a 8 day hunt (rifle)
"Sheep hunts are long days hiking and glassing - not too tough." LOL! You must be a lucky one that happened to have a fairly easy sheep hunt. The reality is, sheep hunting can be downright brutal at times. wkochevar I'm curious, who is your outfitter? I killed a ram in 20A last fall and yes, mature rams were very hard to find.
Full curl rams are always difficult to find in 20A. That subunit is Fairbanks' "back yard" and a ton of resident hunters sheep hunt there. On top of there, it is covered up by guides.
All of that said, if you are willing to walk a good long way back into the glacier country (read: further than others are willing to walk...!) there are legal rams.
A few years ago, I guided a client to a 13 year old ram in 20A. That old ram had effectively eluded a ton of sheep hunters for a long time.
Your guide will know what the situation is in his Guide Use Area. The ADFG biologist will share info on surveys and composition data.
I'm not questioning the outfitters honesty or intent, just trying to do a little due diligence of my own. Thanks for the input!
I hunted south west of delta junction in 2020 Hayes Mountain area. Only saw one legal ram saw about 30 smaller rams. The Legal ram I took was 6yrs old and the guide told me he was moving areas when I flew out and not bringing in the other hunter because of lack of legal rams. He took the other hunter to another place and filled his tag. He told me the winters have been hard the last couple years. I like your guides ethics!!!
If they do their sheep population assessments anything like Colorado does, the resulting data is virtually useless. I've been involved in 2 CPW annual sheep counts in one of the most popular units in Colorado. Both times, the weather sucked and visibility was horrible. We counted only a small percentage of the sheep that I knew where up there from doing my own scouting. I have no idea how they used that data to determine tag allocations for the following year's seasons.
Hopefully, Alaska has a better system.
1. Alaska sheep are white, and thus easier to see on rock background!
2. Alaska composition surveys are normally very accurate.
Colorado sheep allocations have remained conservative for decades barring any die-offs. Transplants out of units has diminished tag allocation significantly as well.
I know the guy that does the 20A surveys, he knows what he's doing and it's pretty accurate, although; they only survey certain portions as their budget will not allow a complete survey of the entire unit. And.... I can tell you with great certainty, they do not survey the area your guide hunts.
I hunted 20A this year and was unable to locate a legal ram. In the area I hunted there were 9 hunters and only 2 legal sheep taken. Weather was a factor but seeing over 40 rams and none legal was disappointing.