AK Sheep, Population Observations

D.W.T

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Joined
Dec 15, 2017
Messages
9
Location
Fairbanks Alaska
There's been two come out of DCUA and checked at Delta.
I was out playing on Saturday and crossed paths with one of those rams being packed out. I congratulated the hunters, but have to admit I was pretty jealous. I'm sitting at 17 and 0 on the draw for that hunt.
 

Clarktar

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Aug 30, 2013
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3,628
Location
AK
I observed sheep the last week so numbers look good to me.

Sent from my SM-G973U using Tapatalk
 

LivinGood

Junior Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2017
Messages
29
Location
Fairbanks, AK
I was out playing on Saturday and crossed paths with one of those rams being packed out. I congratulated the hunters, but have to admit I was pretty jealous. I'm sitting at 17 and 0 on the draw for that hunt.
Hunted the DCUA last week for my cousins tag and it is slim pickings for older rams. Saw 15 rams and 2 of those were solid maybes. Sheep seem to be real spread out as well. Hunted the same area 5 years ago on my tag and saw 30 rams with 10 being clearly legal. couple more years with good winters and hunting should be good though.
 
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ColeyG

ColeyG

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Oct 25, 2017
Messages
184
Well, that is a wrap for sheep season for me. It has been three full seasons since I last laid eyes on a legal ram. I'd like to think I haven't gotten worse as a sheep hunter as more time has gone by, but I am certainly beginning to wonder. As much as I would like to believe that maybe I am the problem and suck at sheep hunting, sadly, I think the problem is much larger at the moment.

The sheep numbers overall, and beyond that, numbers of mature rams in Alaska is absolutely dismal. Definitely a continuation of the downward trend over the last handful of years and this will be the case for years to come if, and that is a big IF, winter conditions are conducive to high survival rates. In the last 4 years I've spent time on multiple trip in the Wrangells, AK Range, and Chugach, and in most places, it just seems like the age class of legal rams is just plain missing.

I spent time in three distinctly different areas on two 7-9 day trips this year and didn't see any rams bigger than 3/4 curl, and a fraction of the sheep that these areas traditionally hold. As usual, we covered a lot of ground and looked over a lot of ridges and into a ton of valleys logging about 145 miles on foot. In many places, sheep were just absent. No fresh sign, grass and weeds growing in ridgetop best. In others places, a smattering of ewes, a few lambs, and occasionally a single 4-5 year old ram might be found.

For the last few years I've been seeing something that strikes me a highly unusual, lone immature rams, and single 3-4 year old rams hanging out with ewes and lambs. Finally late in my second trip this year I saw a group of 3 small rams, but by and large most of the rams we've been seeing were singles, which, based on my experience, is highly unusual for young rams.

We documented approximately 12 winter killed sheep in 2 valleys in the Wrangells this year as well. Obviously we only saw a small percentage of the terrain in these valley's close enough to make such observations, which really makes me wonder how many actually died there.

I continue to hear of similar experiences from hunters and guides that have been in the game for a while and know what "normal" is, and this ain't normal.

Of course plenty of hunters have enjoyed success, and of course some old and very nice rams have been harvested. It will be very interesting to see how this years harvest and participation rates compare to last year's, the lowest on record for rams sealed. It will also be interesting, and I am sure depressing, to see how many sub-legal rams were taken. It was approaching 10% of the known take halfway through the season according to some bios I talked to.

Tough times for sheep and sheep hunters here in AK.
 
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ColeyG

ColeyG

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Oct 25, 2017
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184
Hunted the DCUA last week for my cousins tag and it is slim pickings for older rams. Saw 15 rams and 2 of those were solid maybes. Sheep seem to be real spread out as well. Hunted the same area 5 years ago on my tag and saw 30 rams with 10 being clearly legal. couple more years with good winters and hunting should be good though.

Man I wish I could share your optimism, but based on what I have been seeing, there aren't many young rams working on getting older, and not many ewes on the hill to rebuild the population. Ewe/lamb ratios were as bad as I have ever seen this summer. I am trying hard to find the potential light at the end of the tunnel and it seems like a long way off if things go well for sheep in the near future, which is a giant maybe at best.
 

CHL

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Joined
Aug 5, 2019
Messages
103
Just depends on where you’re at I guess. I was in the Alaskan Range and killed a nice Ram. Saw 11-12 total Rams with one more legal one, and three more that were dang close. Killed on the second day so certainly didn’t get to look at all the country we had planned on either.
 

Atigun

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Feb 25, 2021
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2
We saw over 50 rams on the first hunt this season and many were in bands of 4-6. No full curls, but 3 were aged at 8 years old. 3 half curl rams solo. 60-70 ewes with very few lambs and a few young rams running with them. 3 winter kill rams with two being half curl and 1 full curl. Golden eagles galore. Heading back out in a couple days to close out the season.
 

Homer

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Joined
Mar 2, 2020
Messages
17
Just depends on where you’re at I guess. I was in the Alaskan Range and killed a nice Ram. Saw 11-12 total Rams with one more legal one, and three more that were dang close. Killed on the second day so certainly didn’t get to look at all the country we had planned on either.
Have you hunted in that area before and if so how did the numbers compare this year to in the past? It just seems like it’s all so relative. This year I saw what I considered to be a large number of sheep but talking to the pilots who have flown in for years and years the numbers were 1/3 of what they historically have been.
 

Snyd

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Feb 10, 2013
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AK
We saw over 50 rams on the first hunt this season and many were in bands of 4-6. No full curls, but 3 were aged at 8 years old. 3 half curl rams solo. 60-70 ewes with very few lambs and a few young rams running with them. 3 winter kill rams with two being half curl and 1 full curl. Golden eagles galore. Heading back out in a couple days to close out the season.
What mountain range?
 

Atigun

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Feb 25, 2021
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2
What mountain range?
Talkeetnas. I should add that with the exception of pre season scouting this was my first time in this particular area so I have no previous years observations to compare with.
 

CHL

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Aug 5, 2019
Messages
103
Yes my first time as well in there. But pilot said he has seen what he said were “good” numbers of Rams last two years as well in there.
 
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ColeyG

ColeyG

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Oct 25, 2017
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184
We saw over 50 rams on the first hunt this season and many were in bands of 4-6. No full curls, but 3 were aged at 8 years old. 3 half curl rams solo. 60-70 ewes with very few lambs and a few young rams running with them. 3 winter kill rams with two being half curl and 1 full curl. Golden eagles galore. Heading back out in a couple days to close out the season.

Those seem like good numbers for the Talkeetna's and glad to hear there are decent numbers of younger rams on the way up there.
 

william schmaltz

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Nov 3, 2017
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NOTICE OF PUBLIC MEETING OF THE ALASKA BOARD OF GAME

Notice is given that the Alaska Board of Game (Board) will hold a non-regulatory, informative meeting via web-conference at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 19, 2022. The main purpose of the board meeting is to receive a report from the Department of Fish and Game on recent survey and harvest data of Dall sheep, and future management considerations.

The meeting is open to the public via live audio stream at www.boardofgame.adfg.alaska.gov. No oral testimony will be taken.

The Board will accept written public comment, due no later than Thursday, October 13, 2022. Written comments may be submitted on the Board’s website at www.boardofgame.adfg.alaska.gov; faxed to (907) 465-6094; or mailed to Boards Support Section, P.O. Box 115526, Juneau, AK 99811-5526.

The meeting agenda, reports, and other meeting materials will available online at https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=gameboard.meetinginfo&date=10-19-2022&meeting=webconference. For more information about the meeting, contact the Department of Fish and Game, Boards Support Section at (907) 465-6098.
 
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