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Categorized | Articles, John E. Marriott

Wild Side — Species Profile: Dall Sheep (preview)

©John E. Marriott
Dall sheep ram on Sheep Mountain, Kluane National Park, YT
Settings: 500mm focal length, ƒ11@1/800 sec., ISO 500

Story and photography by John E. Marriott

Looking for a new wildlife photography challenge? One that will force you to travel to a remote corner of the country and test every muscle fibre in your body? Then focus your efforts on one of the continent’s most elusive ungulate species, the stunning, all-white, dall sheep.

These incredibly beautiful mountain dwellers, a close relative to the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, are one of the toughest species to photograph in Canada. The challenge is two-fold: one, unlike ungulates like moose, which are common from coast to coast, dall sheep are only found in the extreme northwest part of the country. Two, other than a few rare spots and times of the year where you might catch them near a highway, the only other way to find dall sheep is to strap on some serious boots and get up, WAY up, into the high country. 

The first time I photographed dall sheep was on a trip along the Dempster Highway in August 2002. While scanning for caribou in Tombstone Provincial Park in Yukon Territory, I spotted seven tiny white dots at the top of a peak, aptly named Sheep Mountain, and decided I was going to hump my big 500mm telephoto up said mountain with me.

I neglected to bring anything else other than bear spray, so when I finally did reach the sheep three hours later, I was exhausted, hungry and very, very thirsty. Thankfully, the small group of ewes and lambs was accommodating, despite likely rarely seeing humans before. 

In 2010, I made my first concerted effort to seriously seek out …

To read more of John’s species profile on dall sheep, and this not-to-miss issue please pick up the Fall/Winter 2018 issue today online or at your local newsstand. To never miss an issue you can subscribe here

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