Dall sheep are one of two species of all-white, hoofed large mammals found in Alaska. They are stocky, with amber horns, yellow eyes, and black noses and feet. Only in very few places in Alaska (i.e., Southcentral) does their geographic range overlap with that of the other all-white species, the mountain goat. However, sheep prefer drier habitats than those used by goats.
Sheep hunting tends to be practiced primarily by a few, hardy individuals whose interest is more in the challenge and satisfaction of mountain hunting and the alpine experience than in getting food for the freezer. Dall sheep produce excellent meat but they are relatively small in size and the effort required to retrieve meat from the rugged alpine areas they inhabit can be daunting, however they also make for beautiful trophies. Male sheep, or rams, usually weigh less than 300 lbs (136 kg), and females (ewes) weigh less than 150 lbs (68 kg). The dressed weight of a 230-lb sheep is about 140 lbs (64 kg), and a sheep that size will yield about 80 lbs (36 kg) of meat.
Sheep have well-developed social systems. Adult rams live in bands which seldom associate with ewe groups except during the mating season in late November and early December. The horn clashing for which rams are so well known does not result from fights over possession of ewes. Instead, it is a means of establishing the social order. These clashes occur throughout the year (among females, as well) on an occasional basis.
The diets of Dall sheep vary seasonally from range to range. During summer, food is abundant, and the sheep consume a wide variety of plants. Their winter diet is much more limited and consists primarily of dry, frozen grass and sedge stems available when snow is blown off the winter ranges. Some populations eat significant amounts of lichen and moss during winter. Many Dall sheep populations visit mineral licks during the spring.
Hunting Tips - The Hunt
Recreational hunting is typically limited to the taking of mature rams during August and September. Nonresident sheep hunters are required to have a guide or be accompanied by relative who is an Alaska resident. Alaska’s Dall sheep are popular with nonresident hunters.
Having the right or wrong equipment can make or break a sheep hunt - Click here for a recommend checklist. Also check with your guide/outfitter what to bring as they will also have some things included on the list.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game staff will use a new method of sealing sheep horns for sheep taken in areas with horn restrictions (Units 7, 9, 11-16, 19, 20, and 23-26).
When hunters bring a legal sheep to ADFG offices, horns will be sealed by inserting an aluminum Foundation for North American Wild Sheep (FNAWS) plug into the horn. By adopting use of the aluminum FNAWS plug in 2006, ADFG will seal sheep horns using the same method as all other agencies managing wild sheep in North America.
Hunting Tips - Shot placement
Before a hunter takes a shot, it is his or her responsibility to be sure they can make a clean and accurate shot, so use a weapon you can shoot accurately.
Heart & Double Lung Shot
Alaskan game animals will quickly die when both lungs and/or heart are hit by a bullet or arrow. The best shot placement is when the animal is broadside to the hunter or slightly facing away. A heart-lung shot from either position will likely puncture both lungs.
Hunting Tips - The Trophy
Rams are distinguished by their massive curling horns. Ewes have shorter, more slender, slightly curved horns. Rams resemble ewes in appearance until they are about 3 years old. After that, continued horn growth makes males easily recognizable. As rams mature, their horns form a circle when seen from the side. Ram horns reach half a circle in about two or three years, three-quarters of a circle in four to five years, and a full circle or "curl" in seven to eight years. In most cases, hunters are restricted to taking only full-curl or larger horns rams.
The Alaska Game Regulations define a full curl horn as "the horn of a mature Dall sheep, the tip of which has grown through 360 degrees of a circle. Click here for more information on judging a full-curl rams.
Hunting Tips - Where
Dall sheep inhabit the mountain ranges of Alaska. Dall sheep are found in relatively dry country and they frequent a special combination of open alpine ridges, meadows, and steep slopes with extremely rugged "escape terrain" in the immediate vicinity. They use the ridges, meadows, and steep slopes for feeding and resting. When danger approaches they flee to the rocks and crags to elude pursuers. They are generally high country animals but sometimes occur in rocky gorges below timberline in Alaska. They do not occur in the southeastern portion of the state.
Refer back to Alaska Hunting for the map of hunting units. Each unit will give specific information about the area, bag limits and more.
Unit 7 Seward - includes Moose Pass, Cooper landing, Hope, the Russian River
& Resurrection Bay along with Kenai Fjords national Park and Chugach
Unit 9 Alaska Peninsula - includes King Salmon, Kakhonak, Port Alsworth,
Ugashik, Cold Bay, Ivanof Bay, Chignik, Katmai & Lake Clark National
Parks & Peninsula’s National Wildlife Refuge
Unit 11 Wranglell Mountains / Chitina River
Unit 12 Upper Tanana / White River - includes Part of Tok Management area
(TMA), Tok, Tetlin, Northway, Chisana, Nabesna, Wrangell / St. Elias National
preserve &Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge.
Unit 13 C Nelchina / Upper Susitna - includes part of Tok Management area
(TMA), Paxson, Mentasta, Glennallen, Eureka, Copper Center, Tonsina
Unit 13 B Nelchina / Upper Susitna - includes part of Delta Controlled Use Area
(DCUA), Paxson, Mentasta, Glennallen, Eureka, Copper Center, Tonsina
Unit 14 Matanuska / Susitna Valley includes Anchorage, Wasilla, Palmer, Moose
Creek, the Knik Arm, Willow, Montana, Talkeetna and Goose Bay State
Unit 15 Keni Peninsula area - includes Kenai, Homer, Anchor Poiunt, Soldotna,
Kasilof, Port Graham, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and the Kenai Fjords
Unit 16 Lower Susitna area - Skwentna, Alexander, Tyonek, Petersville and
Unit 19 McGrath area - includes Kalskag, Lime Village, Aniak, Stony River and
Unit 20 D Fairbanks / Central Tanana - includes part of Tok Management Area
(TMA), North Pole, Denali National Park, Chicken, Rampart, Fort
Wainwright and Eielson AFB
Unit 20 A Fairbanks / Central Tanana - includes part of Delta Controlled Use
Area (DCUA), North Pole, Denali National Park, Chicken, Rampart, Fort
Wainwright and Eielson AFB
Unit 23 Kotzebue Sound - includes Kotzebue, Noatak, Point Hope and Kobuk
Valley National Park
Unit 24 Koyukuk - includes Koyukuk & Kanuti National Wildlife Refuges, Hughes
Unit 25 Upper Yukon - includes Stevens & Arctic Villages, Fort Yukon, Circle Hot
Springs, White Mountains, Arctic & Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuges
Unit 26 Artic Slope - includes Barrow, Point Lay, Wainwright, Anaktuvuk Pass,
Deadhorse & Kaktovik
Tok Management Area (TMA) - only 100 to 120 TMA permits are awarded per year. The Tok Management Area (TMA) was created in 1974 with the goal of providing Dall sheep hunters the opportunity to harvest large-horned, trophy rams in an uncrowded setting. TMA rams exhibit the second greatest horn length and the fourth greatest horn mass qualities of rams inhabiting seven mountain ranges in Alaska. Rams harvested in the TMA average 36 to 37.5 inches. Between 3 and 9 rams per year are harvested with horns greater than 40 inches, representing 8-17 percent of the harvest. The TMA is the only sheep hunting area specifically established for trophy ram management in Alaska.
TMA is accessible by foot, 4-wheel drive truck/ATV, or airplane. Drainages accessible from the Alaska and Glenn Highways lead to excellent sheep country and can be successfully used as trails. Click here for more information on hunting TMA The Delta Controlled Use Area (DCUA) - is bounded by the drainages of the Tanana River south of the Alaska Highway from the west bank of the Johnson River to and including the drainages of the Delta River north of Miller Creek. It includes the Castner and Black Rapids Glaciers. Click here for more information on hunting the DCUA
This is not a substitute for the Alaska Hunting Regulations. For more complete infomation read the regulations and the permit hunt supplements. They are available at Alaska Department of Fish & Game offices and establishments that sell hunting licenses and tags. Always Check the Alaska Hunting & Trapping Emergency Orders before planning to hunt an area or species as restrictions may apply. Click Here - For more information on hunting the Dall Sheep Click Here - For information on permits for Drawing hunts, Regrestration hunts, or General Season hunts
* Bows, Firearms, Cartridge, and Ammunition for Hunting Alaska:
The rifle you bring hunting should be one with which you are comfortable. many hunters have been convinced that a .300, .338, .375, or .416 magnum is needed for personal protection and to take large Alaska game. This is simply not true.
1.Rifle/handgun: State regulations require that rifles and handguns must fire a 200-grain or larger bullet, which retains at least 2000 foot-pounds of energy at 100 yards. A .30-06 with a 220-grain bullet is about the minimal weapon that meets this specification. Please do not bring your favorite firearm and expect to use it if it does not meet the above criteria.
2.Muzzleloader: Muzzle-loading rifles must be .54 caliber or larger, or at least .45 caliber with a 250-grain or larger elongated slug. Further, for safety reasons, those hunting with muzzleloaders must also have within easy reach a smokeless powder rifle meeting the centerfire rifle requirements listed above.
3.Bow: Longbows, recurve bows, or compound bows are permitted, but they must have a peak draw weight of 50 pounds or more. Arrows must be at least 20 inches in overall length, and tipped with unbarbed, fixed or replaceable-blade type broadheads. Arrow and broadhead together must weigh at least 300 grains total weight. As with hunters using muzzleloaders, ADF&G strongly recommends that bowhunters have a rifle close at hand.
* If you are planning on packing out moose meat, caribou meat, or a brown bear hide weighing hundreds of pounds, you can carry a 9- to 11-pound rifle including scope. A rifle of this weight in .300 or .338 magnum can be mastered with a lot of practice.
SUMMERY: You can’t go wrong with a stainless steel bolt-action rifle chambered for a standard cartridge that you are comfortable with and can shoot accurately, loaded with a high quality bullet.