I had been
wanting to get a bigger Aoudad Sheep for my trophy room. I was looking
for one with horns at least 32 inches long. I'd been communicating with
an outfitter named David Groce who was head of an organization called
Southern Safaris near Mt. Home, Texas. David told me he knew of a ranch
that had a large population of these spooky and elusive natives of Africa.
He told me that he could just about guaranty a 32 incher for me. I wondered
then if that statement was bragging, factual, or wishful thinking, but
figured we'd wait and see.
My wife, Shirley, and I arrived at the lodge as per our instructions and
were very satisfied with our lodging. The lodge sat in a nice grove of
trees and had high ceilings adorned with trophy heads of a number of species.
It had a large complete kitchen, comfortable beds and much more. From
the kitchen window you could watch a number of species of birds that were
coming to a feeder hanging in a big tree. On the big front porch, the
Chimney Swifts were building nests and perching on a big chandelier made
of Axis, Sika, and Elk horns.
The first two days of hunting was on a huge ranch called the Green Longhorn,
and it stretched out over 100,000 acres, into parts of two counties.We
drove parts of the ranch and saw more Axis than you could believe, but
no Aoudad. We hunted out of ground blinds most of the time. To our detriment
the ranch was undergoing major brush clearing,road construction, and who
knows what. One evening we saw one animal, an Aoudad, but real small.
The only other thing we saw were a couple of Fallow and Blackbuck, The
only other thing we saw, right at almost dead, dark was a herd of 10 or
12 Elk. It was even too dark to take a photo.
Our next try was on a big pie shaped wedge of land that was known to have
a single, supposedly, large Aoudad on it. We sat in a blind most of one
day and saw many Fallow,Axis, and Blackbuck but no Aoudad. So the next
day we decided to try a drive. Shirley and I sat in the back of a pickup
at a choke point while two others walked towards us from the back of the
property making some noise. It worked just fine as we had hoped. After
about 30 minutes here came that Aoudad traveling with a big Catalina Goat/Trouble
was they both were just a blur as they streaked in and out of the thick,
green, leafy brush all around us. Definitely no chance for a shot.We tried
again and about 30 or 40 minutes later our drivers came back to the vehicle
and told us they had gotten a good look at him from 20 to 30 yards and
he just wasn't what I was looking for.
That evening around a campfire, with firefly like embers winking their
way into the night time skies, we did a little brainstorming to try to
figure out what to do. David said that we should try our luck on the Priour
Ranch for a day or two.
The wind the next day was a raw one with temperatures ranging in the 40's
and 50's. David had a truck seat bolted across the width of his pickup
sort of like a low, high rack, and we talked through the rear-sliding
window of the cab. Believe me it wasn't too comfortable with the combination
of temperature, wind, and truck movement. We saw nothing that evening
except dozen's, maybe hundreds of Sika and Axis and a pretty good number
of Rocky Mountain Elk.
The next morning we were back in the backseat and even colder than the
evening before. We rode to the far backside of the ranch to try finding
some rams. Well we did see a herd of about 30 Aoudad rams with a couple
of promising heads in it. We played cat and mouse with them for over three
hours , but never a chance for a shot. The next time we saw the herd it
was standing at the far end of an opening, near one corner of a fence
line, about 400 yards away from us. We just sat there each trying to out
stare each other, and not move a muscle until finally they got antsy,
and started moving into a grove of trees and brush to our right. After
they had all disappeared into the undergrowth we moved ourselves in a
diagonal direction to the right, hoping to be at the right spot where
they would be crossing a small opening. Luckily we guessed correctly and
all of a sudden, there they were streaming across the open area, their
sandy colored coats shining in the sun and the long hair of their chest
ruff and leg chaps flapping in the breeze, at a dead run.
Trying to pick out the biggest or a specific ram out of a large bunch
is not for the faint of heart, because there is usually things like a
goodly amount of money, a reputation, or even the few inches between a
record book animal, or not, and in very special circumstances, the difference
between a World Record animal and a just great trophy.
Finally there was one ram David pointed out to me and said "that's the
one you want". It was really difficult twisting way to the right from
my position so quickly, but I did and let loose a shot at the ram. He
was hit but a little farther back than I wanted, but went down after a
100 yards or so. I had my second Aoudad after a very long and difficult
He turned out to not be the 32 inches I'd been promised, but he was bigger
than my previous one.
Steve Mahurin on March 23, 2000.