Back in the
60's, I embarked on a journey to something that would bring me from then
to the new millennium. That something is the hunting of introduced or
exotic game species in my native state of Texas.As it turns out,Texas
is where the whole idea started, back in the 1920's with the release of
Nilgai Antelope, native to India, on the King Ranch.Texas is still the
leading breeder and place to hunt exotics in the country.
I had innocently enough seen an add in a local newspaper and made the
call that led to my first, but not even close to last exotic hunt, since
I'm still hunting them, as well as native game to this day.
This hunt was to take place in the Texas hill country near Bandera, Texas,
about an hour from San Antonio, Texas. My guide and outfitter was to be
Charles E. Hutchison, and we planned to hunt for Mouflon and Barbado Sheep.
I arrived at his ranch late in the evening the day before we were to hunt.
I decided to park my pickup just outside his gate, which was on a dirt
road a couple of miles off the pavement. I had a topper on the bed of
my truck and had a bedroll to sleep in. It ain't the Hilton, but it was
The next morning as we prepared to hunt, I took out my old Marlin 30/30.Charlie
said, why don't you try out a rifle of mine. Some of the shots at these
sheep can be a little longer than the 30/30 is suited for. He suggested
a Sako .243 caliber and I figured, what the heck!
For our first animal we were to head a few miles down the road to a well
known dude ranch that had a huntable population of Barbado Sheep. We drove
way back into this place, past the large hacienda type guesthouse and
pretty, stocked bass lake. We did a lot of looking over some pretty rough
and rocky countryside. After a couple of hours we spotted three rams down
toward the bottom of a shallow canyon. It took us quite awhile to get
close enough, including about a 75 yard hands and knees crawl, to get
a hundred yard shot at the best one. The guide's .243 spoke, and it was
on the money as he said it was and the ram went right down.
We finally got the ram back to the road, if you want to call it that,
and like he was sitting close by with binoculars watching us the ranch
owner was there within five minutes to congratulate me. Near dark we got
back to the guide's place and got all the skinning and stuff done and
finally turned in for some rest. For the Mouflon hunt the next morning
we were to hunt his place.
The next morning after a hearty breakfast we started trudging up and down
and up and down the rocky hills around the headquarters area.We found
a small band of sheep about a quarter of a mile from the ranch house,
but none, according to my guide, were big enough to shoot.After about
three more hours of huffing and puffing my way over and around a whole
bunch of big rocks and thickets we found another bunch of sheep. These
were even more skittish than the first bunch and we played tag with them
for over an hour, but no luck.
We finally decided to try an area on the far corner of the place. As luck
would have it, nearly immediately after getting in the vicinity of a large
shallow depression between two hills, we spotted sheep. Only a couple
of them and no shooters. We decided to sit on the edge of the brush line
and glass for awhile in the off chance that something else would drift
out of the brush to join the others grazing in the grassy depression.
We or me, needed a little rest and a drink from my canteen anyway. We
sat there for a little over an hour enjoying the cool breeze and quiet
solitude of the countryside. We had just decided to call it off and try
elsewhere when a Mouflon Ram bigger than anything we had seen so far walked
out of the brush. My guide and I looked at each other and silently agreed
that this was the one I was looking for. About the only way we could figure
to get a halfway steady shot with nothing to get a rest on was for my
guide to slide down a little below me,and for me to rest my gun barrel
on his shoulder for the shot He slid down, put his fingers in his ears,
and opened his mouth. The ram was nearly 200 yards away and downhill from
us. I whispered to my "gunrest" to get ready and he nodded his head. I
got my breathing in order and started my trigger pull. The sound of the
shot was a surprise, as the experts say it should be and the ram was on
the ground. We did a little handshaking and smiling and took my sheep
back to headquarters and hung it on the meat pole for pictures.
This Mouflon sheep was the biggest exotic sheep taken in Bandera County
that year and a picture of my ram and me appeared on the front page of
the Bandera Bulletin shortly afterward. By the way, I bought myself a
Sako .243 as soon as I could, and took quite a few animals with it over
the years afterward.
by Steve Mahurin on March 19, 2000.