by Frank Entsminger
The Alaska Game Board adopted a special use area for trophy management of Dall sheep in spring of 1974 named Tok Management Area [TMA]. TMA was initiated with a certain degree of uncertainty however with positive goals in mind the majority of the people who would be impacted supported the concept. Each year, hopeful hunters apply for a drawing permit. As hoped, the area has been a big success over the years annually producing some outstanding trophy quality rams. My wife and I’s home is nestled in the eastern Alaska Range bordering the TMA. We are able to observe a good many of the TMA rams while they cope with the day-to-day elements of survival. Observing and photographing these sheep has become a part of our lives. Late one fall, we noticed one particular ram that supported a unique set of heart shaped horns. Sheep retain their horns for life. Each season, another section of horn growth is added to their horn mass causing an annual ring allowing one to age the ram. This ram looked old, big, and beautiful when we first saw him. After watching the ram for 4 years, I finally acquired a TMA permit. The old boy had developed to trophy level. The hunt, or should I say, hunts that followed to track down and acquire this magnificent ram produced unforgettable stories in themselves. A life-threatening freak snowstorm with my wife and stepson stopped the first attempt. Finally with a good friend on a sunny day unlike the trip before, we completed my quest when I bagged this unique 14-year-old ram. The ram is the oldest I have ever taken in my [then] 27 years of sheep hunting [now 56]. Probably doubtful he would have survived another winter. His spectacular curl measured 42 inches plus. His beauty and the difficulty I had in obtaining him make him one of my most prized possessions. “TMA Ram” depicts a miniature of the old boy. Cast in 1987, a limited edition of 150.