My first Guided hunt

Bljc34

Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2020
Messages
59
I'm not sure that a lot of people consider this a sheep hunt but here is my story.
I have spent the majority of my life hunting whitetails and as bad as I hate to say it, it had become somewhat boring. I found myself not wanting to go because of all the hassle of finding somewhere to hunt, the drive to get there or just sitting in my stand thinking about all of the other things that I needed to be doing. I was losing my passion for hunting and knew that for my sake as well as my son's, I needed to find that spark to light it back up.

I've always been somewhat fascinated by the Big Horn sheep. After some research, It didn't take long to realize that I was too late in the game to ever try to get a chance to hunt one. The prices are way more than I would ever spend and the chances of drawing a tag are very slim. In my research, I stumbled across what is known as the poor man's sheep hunt. The Aoudad.

Originally from Northern Africa, some were introduced in New Mexico sometime in the 1950's. They have since blown up in population and migrated into West Texas. They are actually driving out some of the Big Horn sheep because they compete for the same food. So... I decided that may be doable and when I started searching for a way to make it happen, I only had a few expectations. Given that there is very little public land in Texas, I knew it would have to be guided if I wanted a real chance. The stipulations that I had were pretty simple.
1. only free range... not high fence 2. wouldn't break the bank 3. actually have a chance at a decent ram (not a record book ram but a good representative of the species) and 4. OTC tags. I talked to a few places and only one really stuck out to me. He wasn't a highly advertised outfit and guiding isn't his only job, even though it is a huge passion of his. Just by talking to this guy, you could tell that he was very competitive with himself and highly motivated. He was honest with his success rates and his average size of rams which sported on average, 28" horns. He was cheaper than a lot of the other places and even though I could have hunted a high fence operation with a guarantee for less money, it wasn't what I wanted. I done the most important thing and got it approved by the household boss (my wife ) and booked the hunt for October which is during the Aoudad rut.

Let me be the first to tell you that no matter how much you prepare for that hunt, it's not enough. You just can't prepare for walking 8 miles up and down rocky unstable ground, over hills and through draws in 90 degree heat with no humidity. I drank 2 cups of coffee and 7 bottles of water the first day and never peed 1 time. It took 2 more bottles of water after we got back to the camp and then it was brown. I was on the verge of heat stroke. Dizzy, headache and dehydrated. Everything there wants to poke, stick or bite you. In fact, I came back Friday and just noticed today that there was an inch and a half long thorn still stuck in my boot. Luckily it went through the bottom and out the side instead of through my foot! the pants that I wore the first day looked like a cat had used them as a scratching post, but so did my arms and legs.

I saw elk, mule deer, aoudad, javelina, scorpions, tarantulas and some of the most barren, rugged, beautiful country. We were able to spot some aoudad from about a mile out and put a very long stalk on them. When we topped the rock cliff above them, we were only 60 yards away. I laid down and as soon as my rifle went across my pack to be able to shoot down hill, the wind shifted and they took off. The mesquite is so thick in some spots that it makes it impossible to get a clear ethical shot on something that is running away that fast. A few hours later, we were glassing and spotted a few bedded down at 650 yards. When they got up to feed, we noticed a good ram in the bunch of 7 sheep. We watched them feed down into the draw and crossed over to the spot that they were bedded so we could get a better view into the draw they were in. I finally got my first shot at 325 yards. Right behind the front shoulder and that tank of an animal spun around and ran straight for us. They couldn't tell were the shot came from due to the high cliffs around them. He finally breaks out of the mesquite at around 200 yards and I fire another round with him running towards us. Clean miss. I rack the bolt again and fire, I hit him. They ran to within 60 yards and he stopped behind a bush with the females staring him down, we couldn't see him. We waited for about 15 minutes until the ewes finally spooked off and thought he must have fallen over. We sneak down to where he was, and he wasn't down. He was still standing and bolted as soon as he seen us. I fired 2 more shots before he got back to the mesquite but only hit him once. My guide said that we were going to give him more time this round and said that he was going back to get the side by side and try to get down into the draw that we were in. It took him almost 2 hours to get back with the machine. I stood there the whole time watching to see if he would come out of either side of that long draw and he never did.

When the guide finally got back, we went down the hill looking for blood. When we got to the bush he was hiding behind there was only 2 spots of blood about the size of baseballs and that was it. He told me to stay there and be ready because he was going into the thick stuff and the way he ran to look for more blood. He comes back, nothing, no blood at all. I have never shot a deer with a 300 win mag that has even taken a single step and this animal has been hit 3 times with the first being right in the kill zone and was running like he wasn't hurt. When you are in the mesquite thicket, everything looks like a 5-6 ft high wall. You can't see very far at all. He looked at me and said "I know you are probably tired of walking but we need to get up to the top of that cliff and look down to see if we can find him". I never hesitated and said let's go. I dreaded the thought of walking another mile around that draw to get on top of that hill but I knew I had to make every effort to find that wounded animal. We finally make it to the top and don't see him. We move another 150 yards across the ridge and finally find him backed into the shade of a mesquite tree where he took his final breathe. He actually made it about 200 yards from the last place that we seen him. The lack of blood was a complete shock to both of us. 2 of the 3 hits would have been lethal in any animal. I just can't wrap my head around how fast he clotted up and there was absolutely no blood on any of the entrance holes.

When we got down to him, we realized that he was a great ram. He's not a world record but he did roughly green score high enough to be a gold medal ram. 33" horns and weighed well north of 300 lbs. He is the 3rd largest ram ever killed on that 24 square mile ranch. In fact, he broke a set of 300 lb scales when we tried to weigh him. He far exceeded my expectations and as grueling as this hunt was, it's exactly what I wanted. A true sheep hunt experience. A spark for hunting has been reignited in me but I'm still not sure that whitetail will be able to scratch this itch that I now have. I guess they will have to do as a filler because I know I won't be going on guided hunts yearly.

FYI- I blurred my face in these pics because I don't like having my face on the internet. But I will gladly send the originals to anyone that needs proof that it's me. LOL
 

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schmalzy

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Oct 1, 2014
Messages
807
Awesome Ram! Who did you hunt with?


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Bljc34

Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2020
Messages
59
Thank you! It was Burton Hunting Service out of Fort Stockton, TX.
 

kevlar88

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Nov 19, 2018
Messages
160
Location
Hawaii/Texas/Germany
Great hunt and great story, thank you for sharing. I'm glad you connected with your trophy but more importantly I hope you were able to reignite your passion. I have been lucky in the fact that I've been able to take my fair share of Aoudad, if you shoot them in the crease you shot them too far back and they will go a long, long way. They need to be shot square in the shoulder to break them down, and even then they will still try to make a run for it.
 

JLMUELZ

Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2020
Messages
60
Location
Hawaii
Awesome write up. I am headed to the Davis Mountains next week for Aoudad. This was a good read to fuel the fire.
 

keller

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Oct 30, 2017
Messages
479
Location
wi
Congrats sounds like a great experience. I'm in the same boat with whitetail as you are.
 

wyosteve

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jul 1, 2014
Messages
1,399
Good job. I hunted them in Feb. in West Texas and can attest to their toughness.
 

Mt Al

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Dec 16, 2017
Messages
1,000
Location
Montana
Thanks for sharing and, hate to say it, I hear you on the "I found myself not wanting to go because of all the hassle of finding somewhere to hunt, the drive to get there or just sitting in my stand thinking about all of the other things that I needed to be doing." It comes and goes, but it's real so I've been changing things up, too.

Congratulations! Great ram.
 

PRC_GUY

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Dec 24, 2020
Messages
557
Location
Memphis TN
Thanks for sharing and, hate to say it, I hear you on the "I found myself not wanting to go because of all the hassle of finding somewhere to hunt, the drive to get there or just sitting in my stand thinking about all of the other things that I needed to be doing." It comes and goes, but it's real so I've been changing things up, too.

Congratulations! Great ram.
If you go for Aoudad hunt, you will see it group and choose which one is a shooter.
 
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