Lifelong Alaskan Sheep Hunter Takes Down Enormous Ram

by Emily Morgan
Photo by: DCrane08

Longtime sheep hunter and Alaska resident recently ticked a major item off his bucket list when he tagged a massive ram. According to reports, the behemoth of a ram was 12 years old, and his unbroken right horn measured 46 5/8 inches long.

The harvest comes after the state’s harsh weather conditions over the past several years hindered hunters as a dramatic winterkill killed off several sheep populations in different areas of the state.

At this moment, many Alaskan sheep hunters are feeling stressed. In fact, some worry that the future of the sport is up in the air. However, the monster rams that hunters took this season indicate that Alaska is still producing big rams.

While the monster Lees tagged was a rare occurrence, it’s far from easy for them to grow to that size. It requires good genetics and ripe environmental circumstances for a giant Dall ram to reach his potential.

“It’s not just genetics or good feed that’s important, but good feed and growing conditions in years two through five that are critical—when a ram is really putting on length,” said Lees. He’s been hunting and observing Dall sheep for over 40 years.

According to Lees, for a ram to reach “super ram” status, a ram must have the right genetics. He also must evade predators, have good winter conditions, and avoid hunters.

After spending years going after enormous sheep, Lees developed specific self-regulation tactics when harvesting certain species of rams. He says he tries to let others reach their full potential before going after them.

“I’m only interested in killing rams that are at least ten years old and over 40 inches in length or genetically inferior,” admitted Lees.

Alaskan sheep hunter on major kill: ‘Persistence is key’

According to Lees, his reasoning is that once it has reached ten years of age, his horn growth has stopped. He’s also had plenty of time to expand his genes.

In addition, natural mortality significantly increases after the animal reaches eight years of age. Once they get to be 10-years-old, they have essentially reached the end of their life expectancy.

Beyond anything, Lees says if there’s a lesson to be learned from his hunt, it’s that persistence is vital.

“If you’re persistent and keep getting out there, eventually something really good will happen. You also must be prepared to take advantage of an opportunity like that, too,” he said. In his hunting career, Lees has harvested several rams that would other sheep hunters envious. However, he said that this is not only his longest-horned ram but the only giant that he had never seen before.

“I haven’t been that excited about a sheep in a lot of years,” Lees said.