Author’s note: George Flournoy has made numerous hunting trips to Canada, Alaska, and Africa and is a PSE pro. He also provides information for hunters about hunting in these countries and books trips for hunters.
A Dall sheep hunt is the dream of many bow- and gun hunters. In Canada, the season opens on July 15 and in Alaska on August 1. All of these are backpack hunts in the mountains. Stone sheep hunts are August 1 in British Columbia, and in the Yukon, these hunts are also backpack hunts. If I’m booking this hunt for myself, I’ll book a September hunt.
I have taken two Dall sheep with my bow. Both of those hunts were in September in the Northwest Territories. I was there on the first hunt of the year, on July 1. I took both rams on the first day of the season with my PSE bow. I really like the longer-haired rams, which usually will show up around August 15. Your best long-hair rams are in mid-September until October 1. The later in the season you plan your hunt, the greater your odds will be for inclement weather. You have a real dilemma here, in that the later you plan your hunt, the longer the hair will be on the sheep, but also your chances of losing hunting days are much greater later in the season. Most sheep hunts are booked back to back. So, if you book a 14- or a 15-day hunt, rarely if ever will an outfitter give you additional days of hunting because of inclement weather. When you’re hunting sheep, you never know what the weather will do. When you go sheep hunting, you may have 15 days of good weather and good sheep hunting, or you may have seven or eight days of your 15-day hunt when weather prevents you from hunting. There’s really nothing an outfitter can do about bad weather. I suggest you be prepared to lose two or three days to weather, on almost any hunt.
The Dall sheep hunts in Alaska are a little bit cheaper and cost between $8,000 to $10,000. The Northwest Territories and Yukon hunts costs about $15,000 to $18,000. The more expensive hunts are usually horseback hunts where you’re flown into a base camp and all your gear is loaded on a pack stream string and taken into the mountain ranges. You usually will have a guide, a cook, a wrangler, and possibly a sub-wrangler. So, you have a pretty large crew of people trying to help you get your animal. On the Alaskan hunts, you are flown into a mountain range and dropped off with your guide and your backpack gear. You have a strictly backpack hunt.
If I’m booking a sheep hunt for myself, I probably will choose a Dall sheep hunt in the Northwest Territories. I have hunted from a town called Norman Wells, which is about 70 or 80 miles from the Arctic Circle. I also have hunted in Nahanni Butte country in the Northwest Territories, where you are flown into your base camp by helicopter and dropped off on the top of a mountain. On those hunts, you will be walking down the top of a backbone ridge, and you will be looking down the mountain for sheep. You will move all along this backbone ridge for about 10 or 12 days, during your hunt. This hunt is really good for bowhunters, because the success ratio is very high. This area has traditionally been where bowhunters seem to have the most success. One of the reasons that bowhunters have had so much success is because when you’re on top of the ridge glassing -down, you can cover much more country than if you’re at the bottom of the ridge glassing-up. Also, when you are on top of the ridge, the hunter stays more rested and doesn’t have to spend most of his day climbing. On these mountains, there are little tabletops or plateaus with pine ridges, which provide good cover for stalking sheep. The hunts in the Nahanni Range cost about $15,000, which includes the helicopter ride into the mountains. But the helicopter ride isn’t included on some of the hunts. This expense is one you need to negotiate with your outfitter or your booking agent.
I suggest you talk to two or three outfitters. Take a day or two, think over each outfitter’s deals and evaluate the costs and how successful each outfitter has been with bowhunters. Then, make the best decision. There aren’t many hidden costs in a sheep hunt. The Dall sheep can be tagged. Then the head and cape can be rolled up and put in your duffel bag, and you can carry that bag on as carry-on luggage. I have flown straight from Canada into San Francisco, California, with a Dall sheep in a duffle bag as carry-on luggage.
For more information, you can contact George at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 1-755-673-5513.
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Images courtesy John Phillips/George Flournoy