Concerns for Antigun area sheep numbers along the Dalton highway

Lead Drifter

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Aug 14, 2018
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anchorage, ak
Recently returned from my first foray for sheep in the Dalton / Antigun area , and my experience was such , lot's of sign and sighting's of predator's with little sign of sheep recruitment for the future , I am not discouraged enough to never go back there again ,Beautiful area , but am concerned for the sustainment of a season there if thing's don't change or get some attention , in 8 day's time , we only saw a half curl and what appeared to be a low recruitment of Lambs throughout 2 drainages and enough miles covered on the road to recognize a change from my visit there a decade ago , saw 8 grizzlies and lot's of wolf tracks throughout the hunt , never before have I seen 4 grizzlies grazing in the blueberries like cattle within 200 yards of each other and can't help but wonder if it's time to start querying the ADFG/ board of Game for some much needed help in slowing down the growth/pressure they must put on the sheep in the area along with the Wolf numbers , perhaps a few Rifle tags each year for bear in the Bow zone and some latitude in allowing snow machine's during adequate snow accumulation to access the 5 mile mark to help slow down the wolf population in the area , it's a shame to see such a capable resource mismanaged or not managed due to a lack of finances or concern due to it's remote location . Has this been the experience of those that hunt the area or am I misreading the sign's of the area ? Let me just say that this was not my first sheep hunt and have had success on multiple hunts in the past , my concerns are for those that follow in our footsteps , I understand the argument for tourism and dollars it brings to the state , but while in Coldfoot I queried the southbound patron's on the tour buses and none had seen any bears and the highlight of the Trip was the Musk Ox north of pump house 3 , so the argument bear's for tourism doesn't hold much weight ,, Oh and 6 of the Bear's were within 400 yards of the Road ,, Let's Bring Back the Sheep !
 
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Lead Drifter

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anchorage, ak
No , didn't have a tag and was hunting with a gun so had to be the 5 mile's back , but certainly would have if legal , I saw a calidascope of color phase's that ran from glacial /blueberry to Blonde as a beach girl's hair and a tricolor all within a 1/4 mile from the road , A big reason I pose the ? is while in the hunt I saw what appeared to me as an unusually low number of Lamb's with full size Ewes , out of 8 Ewes 2 set's of 2 and a group of 4 only 1 Lamb and I was within 1/2 mile of said sheep in one drainage , could easily see the difference in size from that distance , I am not on a campaign to kill all predator's here , I Love the Bear's and Wolves presence , it wouldn't be the same experience without there part in this play , but after seeing 4 grazing like cattle couldn't help but wonder if we have gone too far in there protection in the Bow zone , were allowing them to use it as a Safe zone these day's , there not even afraid of humans there anymore , we walked up to a Slammer boar within 300 yards of the road and he acted like Oh just another set of tourist's and went about his business of taking inventory on blueberries , and the Cattle were 4 miles just north of the pass on the far side of the pipeline in broad daylight , looked like a heard of Musk ox grazing , the other 2 bear's were just on the east side of the Sag up near pump house 3 , for me this was a scouting and casual trip with the wife , believe me we got our money's worth , No regret's , but couldn't help but share my experience and see if other's are experiencing similar and maybe get the wheel's turning and level the playing field between predator and prey .
 

Yellowknife

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Fairbanks, Alaska
I believe the lack of sheep on the north side of the Brooks Range is pretty well established. The cold and late spring of '13 did a number on them and they didn't catch any breaks in the following years. My understanding is that the Western Brooks got it the worst, but certainly the Atigun area was hit very hard also.

For reference, in GMU 26B (where I assume you were)

2012 64 rams killed by 192 hunters

2018 19 rams killed by 64 hunters.

As you can see, the hunters and harvest rates have dropped off significantly.
 
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Lead Drifter

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anchorage, ak
Thank's yellowknife that confirms my suspicions on sheep numbers , would still love to see some of them Bear's be in harms way with other than a stick and string scenario , it has become my belief that the No Firearm Corridor has become nothing more than a safe zone for large predators and should be reduced to a 2 mile either side of the road , that would protect the pipeline and do the same in tourism attraction and help maintain a better balance of large predators and hopefully put more sheep on the mountain , let me give you an example why , this time of year most bear's are on berries and in the Pass area most drainages have you almost above and out of the berries within that 2 mile zone , therefore your chance's of seeing or contacting a bear are much less beyond that distance ( berries were at the 2000-3000 ft area )above that another 1000 ft and your starting to run out of tundra at 5000 your into rock and scree , who ever came up with the 5 mile mark has put us into rock and scree fields in our hunting for sure and out of the predator zone , that number may have worked 40 year's ago when few ventured into the North country for a multi species hunt , when there was no safe zone to protect bear's and wolves but today the dynamics have changed and unfortunately the obsolete rules we play by haven't , We deserve better than the old arbitrary rules set 40 years ago , A couple of Bad winter's and an increase in large predator's are sure to keep sheep numbers Low for a decade or more , Guess I be hunting into my 60's still Looking for that Grey ghost of a Ram from the Dalton .
 
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oenanthe

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Fbks, AK
2018 19 rams killed by 64 hunters.
My partner and I accounted for one of those 2018 rams; about 12 miles from the road. We did not see a lot of sheep on that trip. And the really weird thing was that we saw no lambs; every ewe we saw was unaccompanied by a lamb. We didn't see any wolves or bears, and very little sign of them, so I'd suspect the weather as the cause of the population problems.
 
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Lead Drifter

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anchorage, ak
You know with those shallow Drainages up there , there really isn't much a wolf or bear can't get to , I suspect a lot of Lambs are taken out by wolves mostly , shortly after birth and Congrats on a Hard earned Ram 12 miles is a hump (y)
 

wantj43

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I believe the lack of sheep on the north side of the Brooks Range is pretty well established. The cold and late spring of '13 did a number on them and they didn't catch any breaks in the following years. My understanding is that the Western Brooks got it the worst, but certainly the Atigun area was hit very hard also.

For reference, in GMU 26B (where I assume you were)

2012 64 rams killed by 192 hunters

2018 19 rams killed by 64 hunters.

As you can see, the hunters and harvest rates have dropped off significantly.
Looks like the success rate is about 30%. Not certain about the breakout between guided and unguided. In general the quality of sheep, as measured by degrees of curl and age has been pretty impressive over the past four seasons from 26B and that portion of the Brooks accessible from the Haul Road.
 

Yellowknife

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Fairbanks, Alaska
Looks like the success rate is about 30%. Not certain about the breakout between guided and unguided. In general the quality of sheep, as measured by degrees of curl and age has been pretty impressive over the past four seasons from 26B and that portion of the Brooks accessible from the Haul Road.
All this from the F&G site. Un-verified by me.

2012 rams were taken by 48 residents / 16 NR

2017 the harvest was by 8 residents / 4 NR out of 57 hunters. That was a bad year indeed.
2018 it was by 8 residents / 11 NR

Resident success rate dropped from ~30% in 2012 to ~15% in 2018. NR guided parties seem to be doing ok with 2017 being an exception.

The overall success rates have stayed somewhat similar at +/- 30% primarily because the number of guided hunts are now a larger share of the total take.
 

wantj43

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All this from the F&G site. Un-verified by me.

2012 rams were taken by 48 residents / 16 NR

2017 the harvest was by 8 residents / 4 NR out of 57 hunters. That was a bad year indeed.
2018 it was by 8 residents / 11 NR

Resident success rate dropped from ~30% in 2012 to ~15% in 2018. NR guided parties seem to be doing ok with 2017 being an exception.

The overall success rates have stayed somewhat similar at +/- 30% primarily because the number of guided hunts are now a larger share of the total take.
Thanks "Yellowknife".
I haven't looked at the breakdown between residents and non-residents. Overall the sheep I've seen from the general area have been pretty impressive.
Joe
 
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Lead Drifter

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anchorage, ak
Great picture and remember battle scar's are seldom won easily , just think of how many time's you'l tell that tale over the year's and smile :), and thank's for the education on the state of the sheep throughout much of the state , would never had imagined eagles / wolverines as top dogs in predation amongst wolves and bear's and surprised that coyotes don't play a bigger role in Chugach Ewe / Lamb demise there are lots around with the double whammy of Black bears to add to the casualty list , Also looks like we need to import Rabbit's to keep the predators Fat and sassy unit the sheep numbers come back to full potential , Yellowknife and Bambistew thank's for the numbers they help bring thing's into perspective and curtail future expectations in the area , will have to go a little farther and Hunt Harder next time , Looking forward to it .
 

Stid2677

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Sep 13, 2012
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All this from the F&G site. Un-verified by me.

2012 rams were taken by 48 residents / 16 NR

2017 the harvest was by 8 residents / 4 NR out of 57 hunters. That was a bad year indeed.
2018 it was by 8 residents / 11 NR

Resident success rate dropped from ~30% in 2012 to ~15% in 2018. NR guided parties seem to be doing ok with 2017 being an exception.

The overall success rates have stayed somewhat similar at +/- 30% primarily because the number of guided hunts are now a larger share of the total take.

My partner and I took a couple nice rams in 2017,, not many know, but there are folks that rifle hunt within the corridor. I watched a couple native hunters kill two within sight of the road in the pass.

 
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Lead Drifter

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anchorage, ak
Sweet Stid and yea that would chap my Ass if I had to watch that , but they probably qualify under some subsistence law to do so ?? just wish they would start knocking around some of them Excess Bear's feeding like Cattle out there .
 
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Lead Drifter

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anchorage, ak
Thank's Nick , I'm not done , I'l be back there next year unless a tag comes in the mail ? No picture's from the bow hunt yet ?? just saw your handiwork on the Meatpole , Well Done N Congrats
 
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mshortdog

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Jan 14, 2016
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I did this hunt and had similar experience. Sheep sightings where down compared to previous trips. Predator wise I saw a wolverine the size of a small grizzly! A black bear and a wolf. I got within bow range twice on a legal ram. Between hunters and tourist I think the sheep go into hiding. It’s beautiful country I sure would like to make it back.
 
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