First time sheep hunter with a TMA tag

ODgreen

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Mar 28, 2021
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Valdez
As the tittle reads I will be a first time sheep hunter in less than three weeks with a TMA tag (Tok management area) I'm an AK resident and have been a western big game hunter all my life, however this will be my first sheep hunt. My brother and I will be flying into the Robertson river drainage and wondering if anyone has experience and advice for this area? Terrain? Percentage of legal rams? brown bear activity? or any other useful information?
I have been getting in shape have lost 20lb, strengthening my legs and carry a loaded pack, probably not in "sheep shape" just yet but I still have a little time to train. I've have been researching gear, techniques, reading Tony Russ's books and watching countless hunts on You Tube. I am actually looking forward for this hunt to be over so I can stop stressing my gear and preparation, hahah. However I think I have my gear pretty dialed in with the thanks to this forum. I might be going in a little heavy at close to 60lbs with my riffle but I think at this point I just need to go and find what works for me and what I can leave at next hunt. I can post my gear list if anyone cares, but there seems to be a lot of gear list questions and I'm sure the experienced sheep hunters get tired of the same "first time" gear list.
Any way....any info from hunters that have been in this area would be greatly appreciated

And a sincere thanks to everyone on this forum, especially the senior members that have shared so much info on this site already. I don't post or comment much at all, but I read a lot of old threads, your info has been so helpful.
 

Truaxdw

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Oct 15, 2019
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Virginia
Take a listen to tundra talk it’s a podcast they always review their sheep hunting season some of the guys on there have hunted the TMA and good luck!
 

VernAK

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Dec 24, 2012
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Delta Jct, Alaska
It's been years, but yes it's a very good area. It is steep and rugged no doubt.

Sheep took a bad hit in that area two winters ago but there should be rams. You best bet is to talk to the Tok biologists.

A friend that guides in TMA says he thinks legal ram numbers are low.

Excellent area for trophy caribou.
 

kaboku68

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Jun 14, 2012
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Alaska
Set up a night to talk to Doug Cranor. He is my cousin by marriage. He lives in Valdez. He will help you.
 

JFKinYK

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Aug 28, 2013
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Going in with a 60 pound pack for a sheep hunt is not what I would consider heavy, but it all depends how many days of food that includes.
 

AK Shane

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Dec 14, 2012
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Alaska
All of my sheep hunts have been 7-9 days each. Never have I been less than 60lb pack weight at the start of a hunt. I'm typically 62-64 lbs. Maybe this will be my year to get under 60 lbs.

Honestly if I swapped my Barney's pack for something like a Stone Glacier I would cut a couple lbs and could probably hit 60. But nothing hauls a heavy load like a Barney's bag.

Good luck in the TMA. I'm jealous.
 
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ODgreen

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Mar 28, 2021
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Location
Valdez
We have 10 days to hunt but hopping we tag out sooner.

I went with the mystery ranch beartooth 80 bag it may be a tad heavier and small for a 10 day hunt but it is super comfortable, the test will be when it’s loaded. Luckily my brother is tagging along as a packer
 

VernAK

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Dec 24, 2012
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Delta Jct, Alaska
Looking back over records I find that 2013 survey had NO lambs due to a bad winter. Those would have been about ready for this year.
 

Snyd

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Feb 10, 2013
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AK
For that heavy hike out, find the first squaw wood and build a fire. Two hunters should be able to eat ten pounds of fresh sheep meat in a short time.
Been there done that a few times!!
 
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VernAK

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Dec 24, 2012
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Delta Jct, Alaska
I talked to an Alaska Range guide yesterday and he had just flown his area extensively and reported half the rams of last year.

He stated that a well known Wrangells guide cancelled his hunts for 2021 as his area is short of rams.
 
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ODgreen

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Mar 28, 2021
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Location
Valdez
Dang, well I’ve heard this kind of disappointing news from multiple sources now, best we can do is hike our a$$’s off and see what we see. Worst case scenario we have a nice backpack trip and get to see some new country.... I did find a adfg report that confirmed low counts 7-8 years ago which would be legal rams this year and the success % last year was as low as its ever been.
I still thinks my odds might be a little better than if I was to try and find a walk in area being that I have little time to scout and just don’t know sheep hunting that well in general.
 

justinspicher

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Dec 27, 2012
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Colorado
I came out of the Wrangells on Saturday. Spent the majority of the time glassing. Saw plenty of sheep, but very few rams. Made a stalk on a single ram, only to have weather and time cut the hunt short. It was still an awesome hunt, I really enjoy sheep hunting. The last four days we covered a lot of ground and gained more elevation than expected.
 
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ODgreen

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Mar 28, 2021
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Valdez
Hunt was good, no sheep. Definitely an experience different from any other hunt I’ve been on. We only saw 8 sheep total all rams well under legal the biggest we saw was maybe 7/8 curl, we did not see one Lamb/ewe in the 10 days we hunted and saw 0 sheep on the fly in. Weather was not great high winds, rain/fog almost everyday and snowed just 100’ above camp most days. 3 sleepless nights in howling wind holding the tent down and both our air mattress went flat just a few days in. Other than the air mats going flat our gear was good and we had plenty off food (found it difficult to eat)
Should have done a lot more research on the the valley we planned to hunt. we had a sketchy ice bridge connecting us to an avalanche chute up a gorge we had to climb to get above a short section of canyon, it was relatively short climb but we were dreading going down it the whole hunt knowing if we had a sheep and heavy rain or snow it could be dangerous.
Once in the valley we had no way to get out of it other than the way we came in so we were kinda stuck hunting that valley. We just kept thinking be patient and something legal might move into the valley but nothing did..... all and all a great time and experience and definitely have the bug to go again next year. If was a tough drive home after all that work and prep to not even see something legal, but I learned more in those 10 days than I had in the past several years
The pilot that flew us out said he only knew of 5 legal rams shot out of the TMA. That was on the 24th, he said by then he usually knows of at least 5 40”+, I am anxious to know how many hunters were actually successful.
 

Bambistew

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Jan 5, 2013
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Alaska
Sounds like you got your money's worth! Sucks about the sheep numbers. They have been pitiful across most of the state.

There is usually only 2-3 40" rams killed in the TMA early season, and about the same on the later hunt. There have been a few exceptional years where 7-8 were killed. I think there was 2-3 last year, and I'm not sure any this year. Good chance that TMA will close due to not meeting management objectives.
 
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