Hunting a wide-ranging creature like the Dall is an exercise in endurance, especially in the rugged Alaskan terrain. You’ll be walking for miles, climbing one hill after another, stopping atop each peak to scan for your white-furred target, nearly invisible among the snow.
You rise at dawn, somehow rested and ready—though still weary from the previous day’s labors. You shake off the morning cobwebs and start to prepare for the day. You need to move with purpose if you're going to track down your prize. High performance hunting clothing donned and gear in hand, you break camp and head off with your team.
Each peak presents a new, distinctive challenge. You have no way to know what kind of terrain awaits you on the other side until you reach the top. In just a few yards, grass can change to shale, water-logged prairies can erupt into jagged peaks. You’ll throw your body across trees that fell a century ago and duck under overhanging boulders that slid into place last week. You’ll drag yourself up long, steep slopes, only to be faced with the unenviable, surprisingly difficult task of descending down the other side. No rest for the weary.
You’ll do this because you must succeed. You didn’t fly all this way, spend all this money, and put yourself through hell to fail. You’ll do this because the Dall do it—and to capture a Dall, you must do what the Dall does better than the Dall. You better come prepared. These formidable beasts have weathered conditions you can hardly imagine, until you’re facing them yourself.
Alaska is obviously cold, but this characterization is dangerously simple. Coping with the land’s harsh weather is not a single challenge: it is a gauntlet. Alaska is not only a cold land; it is also a wet land. Over the course of only a few hours, you may be forced to endure a variety of different precipitation types—each representing a different and distinct challenge. When hunting in Alaska, you’ll want to ensure you’ve brought along the performance hunting clothes that can help you outperform the Dall.
Fog is the first sign of trouble—an ominous breath emerging from the jagged jawline of the Alaskan mountains. A thick blanket of moisture pours over the landscape, soaking vegetation, clothing and gear. This fog is a warning to creatures on both four legs and two that the rains are coming. Fail to heed Mother Nature’s warning, and you’ll regret it. But you must take these challenges in stride. You must keep going. You tug a bit on your hunting jacket’s zipper and press on.
These rains are as deadly as they are cold. Allow your body to get wet in even 60 degree temperatures, and you could be looking at the last landscape you’ll ever see. But for all the misery the rains bring, things only get worse as the cold arctic air turns the liquid to sleet. A short while later, you feel a tiny bit of relief as the precipitation begins to turn to snow. But this relief is short-lived, and you soon realize that you’ll have to trudge through a foot or more of icy powder, even as more comes down on your head while you stalk your quarry.
Because you take your sport seriously, you equip yourself with the finest hunting wear available. You wear professional-caliber gear, made from the finest materials available. You aren’t backpacking through a temperate forest; you’re trekking through one of the most extreme habitats on the planet—the Taiga. Top quality hunting clothing certainly doesn’t make it easy to withstand the brutal conditions you’ll encounter, but it does make it possible.
But even with top-notch gear, you are still responsible for supplying the necessary dedication, perseverance and skill to accomplish your goal. In fact, you’ll need to harness every drop of strength and passion in your reserves to merely see your quarry.
If you grow tired after lugging a shotgun for five miles worth of quail hunting, Alaskan Dall sheep are not the quarry for you.
Despite the fatigue gripping your body, you persevere. Peak after peak, you lift your spotting scope, scouring the hillside for the faintest sign of a Dall. Each time you taste the disappointment of an empty field—a barren terrain, a sprawling nothingness that only seems to mock your emptyhandedness. No Dall here, the Alaskan terrain laughs at you. You begin to fear you’ll never see your quarry. You take that fear and hold onto it, channel it, convert it into passion fueling your endurance. You will not fail.
Eventually, you’ll be forced to stop for the day. But that does not mean you’re luck can’t improve tomorrow. You’ll make camp with your fellow hunters and begin preparations for the next day’s hunt. After all, tomorrow could be the day you claim the prize you’ve traveled so many miles to secure. But for now, you must rest.
Whereas spirits are often high and stories shared around most hunting campfires, nights during a Dall sheep hunt are quiet and reflective. Greenhorns don’t hunt Dall. They’d have slim chance of tracking down the most elusive game in all of North America. Dall hunting is a pursuit of experienced hunters who have already heard a litany of campfire stories, tall tales and jokes. These hunters travel to Alaska with a purpose, and they are serious about success.
So the nights are characteristically monotonous, but not mundane. You perform the nightly camp rituals with a sense of purpose. You must fuel your body so that you’re equipped to trek the next day’s miles and stand against its challenges. Once fed, you must rest—much like your prey somewhere out there in the darkness, maybe just beyond the next peak. You’ll wake up tomorrow and do it all over again. You’ll push yourself harder and farther, relentlessly pursuing your prey, wherever he may choose to roam.
For like him, you are a Nomad.
Tomorrow, you tell yourself, tomorrow you’ll sight your first Dall sheep.
Browse the NOMAD Alaska Dall Sheep Hunting Gear Listto ensure you're prepared for your next hunting trip.