Dall sheep are native to northwest Canada and Alaska. They inhabit the steepest and most rugged terrain in the alpine areas. They target the windswept cliffs and mountaintops where their predators rarely travel.
Dall Sheep hunts are the pinnacle of Alaska’s hunting adventures. Sheep live in challenging and hard to access terrain but also some of the most beautiful and breathtaking mountain ranges in the world. Hunters come to Alaska from all over the United States and the world to hunt this impressive animal.
In this article we will cover how much a guided Dall Sheep hunt costs, the cost of tags and licenses, how to get a Dall Sheep tag, guide requirements, the most affordable hunt, and will make hunt recommendations.
How Much Does An Alaska Dall Sheep Hunt Cost?
Alaska Dall sheep hunts cost $22k – $40k upfront. That does not include other related expenses like transportation and the cost of licenses and tags.
Hunters should expect to spend an additional $5k – $20k on top of the initial cost of the hunt.
The total cost could end up around $50k or higher with transportation, air charters, license and tags, guide tips, and the purchase of specialized gear.
You get what you pay for. A hunt on a shoestring budget will not have the comfort and experience of an adequately funded hunt.
How Much Is A Dall Sheep Tag In Alaska?
A Dall Sheep locking tag costs $850. In addition, to be able to purchase a tag you will need to purchase a hunting license. The current cost of a non-resident hunting license is $160.
One more note: to hunt a specific area you will need to either draw a tag, get a permit, or get a harvest ticket for a general season hunt. Talk with your outfitter to determine what tag you should pursue for the location you will be hunting.
Federal regulations are limiting the number of hunts available for sheep. Regulatory year 2023 has fewer options for hunts than years prior. We have yet to see the complete extent of legislation changes and the impact they will have on Alaska non-resident Dall Sheep hunting.
How Do I Get A Dall Sheep Tag In Alaska?
Locking tags will need to be bought and shipped to you, purchased over the counter in Alaska, or purchased from your outfitter if they are a tag vendor.
Alaska’s Dall Sheep hunts are transitioning more to draw hunts for non-residents and residents. The process of getting a tag for general season hunts has historically been pretty easy.
Alaska was one of the few states in the union where you could get a tag over the counter for sheep. These legislations are changing rapidly. Currently, we are seeing a push for draw hunts only.
An Alaska draw hunt is determined through a lottery system. You can currently submit applications more than once for the same hunt. You must apply between November 1st to December 15th for the upcoming regulatory season.
Example: apply on November 30th, 2023 for a hunt in the 2024 regulatory season.
Draw hunt applications can be submitted online. Fees are not refundable if you do not receive the tag you applied for. Some hunt applications require a guide/client contract.
This contract allows guides to apply for a tag for you. We encourage you to contact an outfitter and get recommendations from them before submitting for tags.
Most outfitters are booked out a year or two in advance. Choosing an outfitter early in the process and allowing them to help you apply for the right hunt, or get the correct permit, will save you headaches in the long run.
Do You Need A Guide To Hunt Dall Sheep In Alaska?
In Alaska, a non-resident needs a hunting guide for Dall Sheep, Grizzly/Brown Bear, and Mountain Goats. These animals are hard to judge so the state must limit hunts to ensure the regular harvest of legal game.
Non-resident aliens need a guide to hunt any big game species.
Bears are dangerous, every year there is a bear attack somewhere in Alaska. Sheep and goats live in challenging terrain. The state wants guides present to ensure a safe hunt for non-residents.
Independent of the regulations, statistically a guided hunt is over 50% more successful than a DIY hunt. DIY hunts are close to a 20% harvest rate with guided hunts regularly achieving above 75% success.
What Is The Most Affordable Sheep Hunt?
You should first ask what you mean by affordable. Do you mean cheap?
Alaska is a hard place for outfitters to operate because the expenses are so high. Not only do outfitters have higher expenses for food and supplies because of being located in Alaska, but aircraft are used to transport the high-priced supplies to the location of the lodge and hunting location.
If a low priced hunt is chosen, you will likely pay for it in the quality of the hunt.
There are many hidden costs associated with hunts as well. The hunt in and of itself may be affordable, but logistics may cost up to $20k.
You must make sure to communicate and find answers about the total estimated cost when booking a hunt with your outfitter to have the right expectations.
The most affordable Dall Sheep hunt we found is offered by Alaska Remote Guide Service. They currently offer an 11-day one on one hunt for $22,500. This price does not include air charter, tag, license, guide tips, taxidermy, expediting, or additional harvest options like a grizzly hunt or brown bear.
Other animals can be harvested on the same hunt, but an additional trophy fee is required.
Where Is The Best Dall Sheep Hunting In Alaska?
Classifying one place as better than the other is not 100% honest.
Each location is different and has an experience of its own associated with the hunting area. Statistically, hunting with a guide will put you somewhere in the 75% to 90% harvest rate regardless of location. There are micro differences between Dall Sheep from location to location.
So what does that mean to you? Generally speaking, the farther south you go in Alaska the bigger the horns get.
Farther north (like in the Brooks Range), rams will get horns with tight curls.
Southern rams in and around the Alaska Range may get horns with bigger girth and mass. Conversely services like Big Game Backcountry Guides that hunt far north harvest very mature animals.
There are some other small differences in the small mountain ranges, but horn development is the most noticeable.
In the words of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game “Dall sheep are found in the Kenai Mountains, the Tok area, the Chugach Mountains, Mentasta, Nutzotin, and northern Wrangell Mountains, and the Delta Controlled Use Area; also on the north side of the Alaska Range east of the Nenana River, west of the Delta River, and south of the Tanana River; in Tanana Hills, in the White Mountains area, and in the Central and Eastern Brooks Range.”
You will find Dall Sheep hunting guide options in all these areas.
What Should You Expect On An Alaska Dall Sheep Hunt?
Hunters are normally flown into remote mountainous areas in a Piper Super Cub, a light, two seat airplane. After being dropped off with their gear, by law they need to wait until the next day to be able to harvest a ram.
On a Dall Sheep hunt, expect to hike close to 10 miles a day in challenging terrain. You will likely be sleeping in a tent every night after the hunt starts.
Hunters should come prepared to hike with a 60lb pack all day. You should be capable of a shot out to 500 yards with a rifle.
Weather will be different locationally, but expect wind and occasional rain. On days when the weather and visibility are poor, guides and hunters will spend the day in a tent waiting for better conditions.
Hunters are more successful when hunting from above. Dall Sheep have very good eyesight and attentively look downhill expecting their predators to approach from below.
By hunting above the sheep, guides help their clients have the element of surprise. This leads to better and closer shot options and normally allows more time to get comfortable.
Dall Sheep hunts are considered by guides to be the most rewarding hunt because of the physical activity required to harvest an animal. Whatever outfitter you choose, you will undoubtedly enjoy the untamed beauty of Alaska’s wilderness and see views that can not be captured or explained. We know any Dall sheep hunt is the recipe for a great adventure.
Big Game Backcountry Guides hunts the beautiful, remote, and unpopulated Brooks Range Mountains inside the Arctic Circle.
They are regularly commended by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for the best quality Dall Sheep harvests on rams over 10 years old.
They have a history of great herd management and sustainable hunting practices and exhibit true respect for the animals they pursue. BGBG hunts three management areas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge “America’s Wildest Refuge” and have high success rates.