Find the best places to hunt Dall Sheep in Canada and discover the Dall Sheep's Physical Description, Range, Habitat, Food Source, Breeding Habits, and Status.

Provinces with Dall Sheep Hunting

Yukon Resident and Non-Resident
North West Territories Resident and Non-Rssident
British Columbia Resident and Non-Resident

Selecting a Hunting Calibre for Sheep

 Vital Shot Placement for Dall Sheep

Vital Shot Placement for Dall Sheep

Photo By: M&MAinAK (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons,

Modified: By Canada-Hunts.ca 

I read a lot of forms here and the consensus of opinion always mentions the .270 and additional references to the 7mm is sometimes repeated. The reason behind these choices cited the need for a rifle to be able to make a long shot and the need for a lightweight firearm.

Bullet choice seemed to come in at about 120 grains, really good optics, and mounting systems are always in the formula for a great sheep gun.

 Dall Sheep Tracks

Dall Sheep Tracks
 

Dall Sheep Tracks - http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=sheephunting.main

The Dall / Stone sheep is an even-toed ungulate that walks on two toes, has no dew claws. 

The Dall Sheep’s hooves are made of keratin, which encases the toe bones. Their toes are very versatile and have a hard rim around the outer edge of each hoof with a soft rough concave foot pad. These features allow their feet to adjust to the uneven surfaces in their mountain habitats where sure footing is essential and  enables the sheep to move across rocky, steep terrain.

The shape of their hooves is a boxier shape with straight sides and the tips appear more rounded but straighter than that of a deer track.

Front Track:

2.25" - 3.5" (5.7 – 8.9 cm) long

2.0" - 2.5" (5.0 – 6.35 cm) wide.

Rear Track:

2.25" - 3.25" (5.7 – 8.3 cm) long

2.0" - 2.5"" (5.0 – 6.35 cm)  wide.

Trail Width: 

Range and Habitat of Dall Sheep

Dall Sheep Range Map of Canada 

Dall Sheep Range Map of Canada
 

In general, this sheep inhabits the subarctic mountain ranges of Alaska, Yukon Territory, Mackenzie Mountains in the western Northwest Territories, and central and northern British Columbia.

The Dall Sheep makes its home on the alpine ridges, meadows, and steep slopes above the tree line of the mountains. They are generally high country animals that like to use the steep slopes, ridges, and meadows, for grazing and resting. When perceived danger is detected they can flee to the rocks and crags to elude predators that cannot travel quickly through such terrain.  

 

Population estimates for Thinhorn Sheep in North America

    
  1975 a 1991 b 1999 c
Location Stone’s Dall’s Stone’s Dall’s Stone’s Dall’s
             
Canada 13,500 –16,500 21,000 – 26,000 14,000 26,000 18,500 40,500
United States (Alaska) Nil 50,000-55,000 d Nil 73,200 Nil 50,400-64,300
North American Subspecies          
Totals 13,500 –16,500 71,000-81,000 14,500 99,750 18,500 96,900-110,800
Canadian Thinhorn             
Totals 34,500 – 42,500 41,000 39,000
North American Thinhorn            
Totals 84,500 – 97,500 114,250 109,400-123,300
a After Trefethen 1975 b Valdez and Krausman 1999 c Toweill and Geist 1999 d Heimer 1974a    
b Valdez and Krausman 1999          
c Toweill and Geist 1999            
d Heimer 1974a            

Source of Information: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/wld/documents/statusrpts/b119.pdf

 

Dall Sheep (Ovis Dalli)

Dall Sheep

Rams Ewes
Life Span 11-14 years 11-14 years
Shoulder Height  3.01-3.58 ft (92-109 cm  
Overall Length 4.26-5.84 ft (130-178 cm)  4.33-5.31 ft (132-162 cm)
Weight 159.8-181.4 lb (72.5-82.3 kg) 102.2-111.1 lb (46.4-50.4 kg)
Weight at Birth 5 to 6 pounds  (2.3 to 2.7 KG)
Horns Males are larger and heavier than females; horns of the males are longer, curlier and pointier than those of females Ewes have shorter horns with little curvature.
Hearing Acute Hearing 
Eyes Big eyes, set on the sides of their heads let them see in many directions at the same time. Able to detect moving objects at 1 Kilometer 
Dental Formula  2 (0/4 incisors, 3/3 premolars, 3/3 molars) = 32. 
Body Temperature  
Feet Two toed Ungulate
Can Travel 20 miles per hour (32 K/Hr) 
Diet Herbivore
Sexual Maturity  18 months 18 months 
Breeding Time late November to early December
Gestation N/A 170 to 180 days
Birthing N/A  
# in Litter N/A  
Weaning 4 months
Communication Through touch and chemical channels

Dall Sheep Description

 

By Denali National Park and Preserve (Dall Sheep) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 

There are two subspecies the Dall sheep or Dall's sheep and the Stone sheep (also spelled Stone's sheep) (Ovis Dalli Stonei). Dall Sheep is a native species of sheep that inhabits North Western North America and is smallest of the North American species of the genus Ovis, also known as Thinhorn sheep 

Interbreeding between Dall Sheep and Stone Sheep has been recorded and this interbreeding raises the question of a possible third subspecies known as Fannin sheep that are found in the Yukon’s Pelly and Ogilvie Mountains.

Dall’s Sheep are all white, while Stone’s Sheep vary in color. All Stone’s Sheep possess a short, black tail, a white muzzle and ivory white rump and belly patches. The fur varies greatly from a very light gray to medium rich brown to almost a black color on the head, neck, and back of Stone's Sheep. The winter coat is composed of dense, hollow, crinkly guard hairs and grows thicker than 5.1 cm on their backs, with a thinner layer of fine wool close to the skin. Dall’s Sheep are better insulated than the Caribou (Rangifer tarandus) or Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus).

Mature Thinhorn Sheep possess powerful, muscular front and hind quarters, sturdy necks, legs and backs, and robust, concave hooves with rough, flexible under-pads, all of which are adaptations to travel in steep, rugged, rocky terrain.

  • Males weigh 160 to 249 lbs. (73 to 113 kg)
  • Females 101 to 110 lbs. (46 to 50 kg)
  • Males are from 4.2 to 5.9 feet (130 to 180 cm) in length
  • Females are 4.3 to 5.3 feet (132 to 162 cm) in length.
  • Males stand 35.4 inches (90 cm) to the shoulder

The Sheep have scent glands on their faces and feet. The purpose of these scent glands is not known, but they are thought to be important for sexual communication. 

Life Table of Dall Sheep

Age Interval (Years) # dying age interval out of 1000 born Number Surviving at beginning of age interval out of 1000 born Mortality rate per 1000 alive at beginning of age interterval Life expectancy of mean lifetime remaining to those attaining age interval
0-0.5 54 1000 54 7.06
0.5-1 145 946 153.3 -
1-2 12 801 15.0 7.7
2-3 13 789 16.5 6.8
3-4 12 776 15.5 5.9
4-5 30 764 39.3 5.0
5-6 46 734 62.7 4.2
6-7 48 688 69.8 3.4
7-8 69 640 107.8 2.6
8-9 132 571 231.2 1.9
9-10 187 439 426.0 1.3
10-11 156 252 619.0 0.9
11-12 90 96 937.5 0.6
12-13 3 6 500.0 1.2
13-14 3 3 1000 0.7
This life table of Ovis Dalli shows the number of deaths, number of survivors, mortality rate, and life expectancy at each age interval.

Mortality Rate of Dall Sheep - https://www.boundless.com/biology/textbooks/boundless-biology-textbook/population-and-community-ecology-45/population-demography-249/the-study-of-population-dynamics-927-12183/

 

 

Dall Sheep Ram 

Dall Sheep Ram 
 By Denali National Park and Preserve (Dall Sheep) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Like the bighorn, both rams and ewes have large curled yellowish brown horns with the male sporting much larger horns when it reaches maturity (over 3 years of age) in comparison to the mature female’s horns that are more slender, shorter, and have less curvature.

Horn growth is a yearly cyclic process, where the horns grow with a triangular cross section at a faster steady rate in the spring and summer. Growth slows down in the winter and this cycle of fast and slow growth causes rings in the horns (called annuli) to form. By counting the annuli of the horns the exact age of a sheep can be ascertained. Rams of 16 years and ewes of 19 years have been recorded but 12 years of age is considered old age for this sheep.

A quick estimation of a ram’s age is as follows:

  • half circle - two or three years old
  • three-quarters of a circle - four to five years, old
  • full circle or "curl" - seven to eight years
  • Beginning second curl – over eight years.

Diet and Foraging Strategy of Dall Sheep

 Dall Sheep Ewe with Lamb

Dall Sheep Ewe and Lamb
Photo From: http://www.freestockphotos.biz/stockphoto/16825 

Dall Sheep eat a broad range of plants and their dental structure has adapted accordingly. They have lost their canine teeth but have developed large, flat cheek teeth with raised ridges. The sheep has developed strong lips and tongue that are designed to take hold of and rip foliage and other vegetation. Being a ruminant, they have four stomach chambers that allow them to digest plant material by bringing their food back up, and rechewing the cud to increase digestion. The first chamber has bacteria where the food undergoes fermentation which breaks down the plant material for absorption. After the food is fermented, the sheep regurgitates it and chews the food again. This second chewing is called rumination. After the second chewing, the food goes through the other three chambers and then to the intestines. From start to finish, it may take 4 days to completely process a meal.

The Dall Sheep is a Herbivore and depending on its range its' diet will consist of grasses, sedges, lichens, broad-leaved plants, dwarf willows and mosses. During the summer when food is abundant a wide variety of plants is consumed. However during the winter their diet becomes more limited they will eat frozen grass, stems, lichen, and moss where the snow is blown off

In the spring, sheep will often travel to mineral licks to eat the soil at rocky outcrops. These licks will contain high concentrations of minerals (calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, and other trace elements) that are required for bone and muscle development that will not get from foraging plant material. The mineral lick also provides some intermingling of rams and ewes and more importantly it is here that a young ram will leave its maternal herd and join a group of rams when the time is ready for him to leave his mother. These random encounters serve to produce random dispersal of the sheep’s gene pool and maintain genetic diversity.

For biologists and naturalists alike, mineral licks provide an excellent place to set up and study sheep.

Sheep appear to be very loyal to their home ranges, this is probably a case that they stick to the areas that they have learned while traveling within their herds as a youngster.

Lichen

Sedge

Moss

Lichen Sedge Moss

 

Dall Sheep Breeding and Reproduction

Dall Sheep Lamb
Dall Sheep lamb
Photo By: Mike Boylan ([1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Beyond the mating season that occurs in late November and early December, adult rams live in bands which seldom associate with ewe groups  

The pre-rut period starts with the clashing of horns that rams are so well known for. These fights are used as the decisive factor in determining the rank of a ram and that ram’s later right to breed with receptive ewes. These clashes may occur throughout the year on an occasional basis, but their frequency intensifies just before the rut when rams are moving among the ewes and meet unfamiliar rams of similar horn size. Rams become sexually mature at the age of 18 months, but normally do not breed until they reach dominance rank (at full curl age and size). 

The horns of a Ewe is shorter, blunter, and does not get the large curl that Rams have. Ewes generally have their first lamb at the age of 3 and will produce one lamb annually thereafter. In late May or early June, during the lambing period, ewes will search for the solitude and protection of the most rugged cliffs available on their spring ranges. Ewes normally give birth to a single lamb and the ewe-lamb pairs will remain a few days in the seclusion of the "lambing cliffs" until the lambs are strong enough to navigate the slopes. About one week after the lamb’s birth, it will start to forage for vegetation with its mother and by October it should be completely weaned.

Status of Dall Sheep in Canada

Stones' Sheep 
Stones Sheep
Photo By Joe n bloe (talk) Joseph N Hall [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 

The status of the Dall’s Sheep in the NWT is not classified but numbers for the Richardson Mountains shows a decline and the population to be 500 (2014) for this area. The population of Dall’s Sheep in the Mackenzie Mountains has not been properly surveyed but is estimated to be 15,000 to 26,000 individuals.

Yukon shows the Dall Sheep to be secure with a population estimate of 20,000 individuals.

British Columbia lists the Dall Sheep is on the Blue List of species and subspecies of special concern (formerly described as “vulnerable”).

In North America, the population estimate of Thinhorn Sheep has varied from approximately 84,500 in 1975 to 129,000 in 1999. For the same time period, the estimate of Dall Sheep in Canada varied from 34,500 (1975) to 59,000 (1999), and in British Columbia from 12,300 (1975) to 15,000 (1999).

A Risk Assessment the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Government of the Northwest Territories, Canada. 2005, indicated that contact between domestic sheep or goats and wild Dall’s sheep or mountain goats would likely result in significant disease in the wild species with substantial negative and long-term effects on population dynamics and sustainability. They strongly advised that domestic goats not be used as pack animals and that domestic sheep and goats not be pastured anywhere in the vicinity of Dall’s sheep or mountain goat ranges within the NWT.

The primary predators of Dall sheep are wolves, coyotes, black bears, grizzly bears for young and old alike. Golden eagles are predators of only the young lambs.

I guess that man should be included in the predator list but the legal harvest by man is minor in comparison to the harvest by nature. The reason for this is that sport hunters harvest only full curl rams and these rams are quickly replaced by the next ranking member of the herd. Over-harvesting by unregulated sustenance hunters of the first nation could be an issue but I have no data on that.

Human activities such as mining, forestry, etc. can permanently affect the Dall Sheep. 

 

References

  • http://wikivisually.com/wiki/Ovis_dalli/wiki_ph_id_43
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ovis
  • http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=dallsheep.main
  • http://www.env.gov.yk.ca/publications-maps/documents/dalls_sheep_richardson_status_report_2011.pdf
  • http://www.env.gov.yk.ca/animals-habitat/mammals/sheep.php
  • http://a100.gov.bc.ca/pub/eswp/esr.do;jsessionid=1L4gSQpFT14Qsr1VF63y3ZQ8XF4TsspGj2GyM1mpWX8s1PqnymQy!-714317157?id=18422
  • http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/wld/documents/statusrpts/b119.pdf
  • http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=sheephunting.main
  • https://www.nps.gov/noat/learn/education/classrooms/upload/sheep-fact-sheet.pdf
  • http://www.cwhc-rcsf.ca/docs/technical_reports/NWT_Dall_Mtn_goats_Domestic_sheep_goats_RiskAssessment.pdf
  • http://www.env.gov.yk.ca/publications-maps/documents/Thinhorn_Sheep_web.pd

  • http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/wld/documents/thinhorn.pdf

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