There are times you are going to experience a lot of snow on the ground. This can happen because you’ve signed up for a winter hunt: Kudos to you if you are out there when most people are hunkering down to watch Netflix. Other times, this can happen with a freak snow event or pure bad luck. When it happens, you have two options: Option 1 is to turn tail, go home, and complain to your buddies about how lousy it was out there. Option 2 is to get after it, and use smart glassing techniques to create an adventure.
You know which option I prefer.
I enjoy hunting Dall’s Sheep as much as any species I pursue, and they are found high in the mountains of the Yukon. The Yukon is a place where snow can happen in any month of the year, so I’ve developed some techniques to make the most of my time out there.
While these sheep are white, they carry a yellow tinge when you compare them to a pure white snowfield. Rather than looking for white sheep, I have my eye tuned to this yellow tinge. This small mindset change is much more effective than you might guess, and your eyes will see them pop a bit more this way.
Sheep tend to avoid the snow when they can, so looking for open faces of grass and even rock will be high-percentage locations to search first. As you travel the mountains, be aware if south-facing slopes are opening up. Check your maps and head for vantage points that will allow you to glass the faces showing snow melt. Sheep will prefer to bed and feed where they have ready access to snow-free ground.
You may not be fortunate to have snow-free areas. In this case, you will be forced to look for animals traversing snowfields and searching for tracks. While tracks are difficult to read from afar, you may be able to identify a direction of movement with your spotting scope. In this case, follow the tracks to their end, and there’s a chance you will find a sheep there. Even if you have snow-free areas, you should move on to the snowfields and look for tracks if you’ve come up empty in the open areas.
When the snow melts, you’re going to be tempted to avoid glassing in the snowy areas. All of us are inherently lazy, and glassing snow for sheep isn’t ideal. When the snow is only partially melted, and you have sporadic open areas, it’s even more difficult, as you need to look for yellow sheep on snow and look for white sheep on rock and grass. Your brain needs to switch between these two modes of searching. You need to stay disciplined and continue to glass the snowy parts of the mountain.
These tips will help you make the most of winter and fall hunting. It’s much better to return home with a great story of hardship and suffering, possibly with a trophy, than to return home with excuses.
Optics I use: