of 1991, I embarked on a quest for the Texas Slam of Sheep that would
take me the better part of a year and a half. The Texas Sheep Slam as
recognized by the Records of Exotics, Record Book consists of four animals,
just as the Grand Slam of North American Sheep does. The Texas has the
White Texas Dall and the Grand Slam the White Alaskan Dall Sheep. The
Black Hawaiian Sheep compares with the gray-black Stone Sheep. The Corsican
Sheep compares in horn configuration with the North American Bighorn.
The Mouflon Sheep is kind of like the Desert Bighorn. The biggest difference
is of course in dollars. You can probably complete a gold medal Texas
Sheep Slam for under $3000.00 dollars, while the Grand Slam of North American
Sheep, even if you can get the tags, some of which you can only have one
of in a lifetime, whether your hunt is successful or not, can cost you
from $30,000 to over a $100,000 dollars. This Texas Slam is in my opinion
the poor or regular guy on the streets sheep slam, and within the reach
of many hunters, and not only the richer members of the hunting clan.
The first stop on my quest was the Mouflon Sheep. The Mouflon is one of
the smallest of the wild sheep of the world, with the larger males being
only 110 pounds on the scales. The Mouflon is also one of the wariest
and wildest of the sheep species. In my opinion, only being surpassed
in spookiness by the Barbary or Aoudad Sheep, natives of the Dark Continent
of Africa. But that's a whole different story. The Mouflon is considered
by many to be amongst the handsomest of the wild sheep of the world. These
rams have brown sides and white bellies and black hair on their faces
and necks. They also, especially in the cooler months of the year have
a luxuriant ruff of hair from their throats to their briskets. The most
distinctive marking though is a white saddle on their backs. The horns
grow up, back, down, forward, and then back up toward their eyes. Older
rams will almost always have one horn broomed back at the tip on at least
one side, to help the ram's vision.
First up was a trip to the Texas hill country near Kerrville, Texas, about
sixty miles west of San Antonio, Texas. My wife and myself Shirley met
with our friend and guide, L. R. Castleberry, at our motel n the first
morning of February, 1991. We would be hunting this elusive Mouflon on
the Turkey Run Ranch, near Harper Texas. L. R. said that he, himself,
had stocked this ranch with pure Mouflon, a little over eight years before.
This ranch was seldom hunted and L. R. was the only guide the ranch owner
would allow to guide on this property. The first weekend was a cool one
with a drizzly rain mixed with fog coming down. As we drove through the
tunnel of light punched through the dark, wet countryside. Little did
I know that I was embarking on one of the longest, hardest, yet most satisfying
hunts for an animal that I've experienced in over thirty years of hunting
exotic, as well as native game in my home state of Texas. I would be carrying
my tried, true, and trusty Remington, Model 700, 30/06, loaded with Remington,
core - lokt, soft pointed bullets. My scope was a Weave 3 to 9 variable
one and I was using Tasco binoculars to judge the quality of the horns.
The first few hours were spent trying to glass for rams through the once
in awhile holes in the fog, from the ridge tops. The best we did was see
a number of animals running away from us at long distance. We then drove
for quite awhile and finally, at last, we saw the ghostly outline of five
rams through the eddying swirls of fog, feeding along the top of a small
hill. It was real difficult, but finally I found them in my scope, in
spite of the moisture running down my eyeglasses. My guide said, "take
the one at the rear" and I asked him how far. The reply was about 150
yards. Finally I squeezed the shot off and they all melted into the white
blanket of moisture and fog. The guide said, I'm pretty sure it went over
his back. We went to check for any sign of a hit. We found nothing, but
the guide said, I'm sorry, the rams were more like 50 yards away and the
distortion caused by the fog made them look farther away. We finally decided
to call it a day and try again tomorrow. As we left we checked with the
ranch owner on the way out he told us he had friends coming the next day
to tour the place, so we couldn't hunt the next day. We tried another
ranch the next day but had no luck. So we had to head back home and promised
to try again as soon as I could.
So on March the 1st we were back on the Turkey Run ranch, trying for that
elusive Mouflon Ram. But unlike the last time the sheep were not as spooky
and we were able to glass three small herds of sheep without their running
away. But we passed on them, as there wasn't anything big enough in them
to try to take. On a third stalk L. R. spotted some good rams feeding
in a big open area. So down on hands and knees we went for about a hundred
yards, But for some reason we couldn't seem to get on the same page, and
I never did spot the ram he wanted me to shoot and they all ambled off
out of sight and down into a small canyon. So it was back on all fours
for about 300 yards this time and punishing my poor knees, through the
cactus and knee bruising rocks. Finally we got to the edge of the canyon
and about a 100 yards straight down, there were our rams bedded down.
After deciding which was the best one I had another problem. If I tried
shooting prone, I couldn't see the rams without spooking them. Sitting
up and using my knees as a rest, I had only a little green bush about
6 to 8 inches high and 4 inches wide to hide me from the sharp eyes of
the rams. I finally was able to get the chest on shot off and the 180
grain core - lokt bullet did its job and the ram lurched to its feet for
a final death run of about 50 yards. It was quickly getting dark, so we
dragged the ram to the top of the canyon for pictures. His horns measured
32 inches long and had 10-inch bases. When I look at that mount on my
wall, I flash back to sore knees, the rocky road to success, and the feeling
that I really earned that trophy. It's a great feeling isn't it!
Well here I am again heading back to the hill country of Texas near Kerrville
again for the second step towards my sheep slam, the Black Hawaiian Sheep.
As the name implies this is a sheep that is a hybrid sheep that originated
in the state of Hawaii, and was imported to Texas as many species have
been. This animal is black in color and sometimes has an outer layer of
reddish wool. The horns sweep downward, forward, up, and then out. A large
male can weigh up to 140 pounds.
The date was October 27, 1991 and I would be hunting with good friend
and outfitter, Thompson Temple of Texas Wildlife, and owner and originator
of the Records of Exotics Record Book. We were to be hunting off highway
41 a few miles off Interstate 10 about 70 miles west of San Antonio, Texas,
on a pie shaped wedge of land covered mesquite or a knee high type of
grass. Awhile after we got on the property we found and eased up on a
small band of sheep that had no Hawaiians in it. In this small band of
sheep there was one animal of interest. It contained a medium sized Armenian
Red Sheep. These sheep are a pretty rare species of sheep and Thompson
said, if you like, you can take the Armenian Red instead of the Hawaiian.
I told him I was very tempted but would pass. We wound our way thru the
cedar and grass for quite awhile and after looking over a number of rams
we finally found the one that was the size I was looking for. I rested
the Remington 30/06 on my knee and sent the Remington 180 grain core lokt
on its way from about 120 yards away. The ram dropped in its tracks. But
this is here the mystery starts. When we got to the ram we could find
only one hole in it .Now I know what you're thinking. So whats the big
deal, that's not so unusual. The problem was that the hole we found in
him was on the opposite side if the animal that I had shot at him from.
We dressed and skinned him out and still only found the one hole and it
looked to us like it was an exit hole as well. You tell me how that happened,
because none of the three of us could figure it out. The ram scored in
the gold medal class at 100 3/8 points. He still remains a mystery ram
to me to this day.
On October 30th of 1991 I was back again in the Texas, hill country near
Hunt, Texas, great name huh! looking to complete the third rung in the
ladder of my Texas Sheep Slam. This trip was for the Corsican Sheep, a
native of, reputably, West Indies. This sheep is a brownish colored one
with a black or white belly. Often, especially in the colder months of
the year, they have long black chest ruffs growing from under the chin
to the brisket area. Only the males have horns, which grow up, back, down,
forward, back up, and out away from the eyes. These sheep are probably
the most hunted of all the exotics in the United States as well as in
Texas. Large males can weigh in the neighborhood of up to 140 pounds.
This hunt was to take place on the Honey Creek Ranch, owned by Luther
Graham. Luther is a crusty, over six-foot tall, tobacco chewing, ex oilfield
roughneck, who doesn't mince his words. But for all of this, when you
get to know him is one of the nicest and most lovable people you could
ever want to know. The first time we met him and toured his ranch and
asked him the price ranges of his animals, he gave me the following quote.
"I ain't too good with figures, so all the big animals are $700 dollars
and the rest are $200 dollars. Makes it easier to keep up with that way."Short
and to the point, huh!
Honey Creek Ranch is a beautiful place to hunt. From its cypress tree
lined, crystal clear, ice cold streams, and springs. It's large and small
canyons edged with cedar thickets, each with it's own bubbling springs
that haven't gone dry in over 70 years. We drove up a winding rocky road
to the top of a plateau like area. This area was a little more open and
we saw a number of plains type species, including Oryx, Buffalo ( American
Bison), Nilgai Antelope and Blackbuck Antelope, along with three or four
types of sheep. Sadly though no Corsican rams were in sight. We did our
best, but no luck that day.
The next morning we were up and out early and back in the field hunting
that Corsican. Today was a little better and a couple of hours later,
in a little hunted pocket towards the back of the ranch we spotted a large
Corsican ram and got a shot after a short stalk. My trusty old Remington,
Model, 700 barked and the ram dropped in its tracks at about 150 yards
away. Three down and only one more to go.
Nearly nine months had passed and I was finally able to go back to Honey
Creek Ranch, to try and get the last animal for my Texas Sheep Slam. The
pure white Texas Dall is another sheep is that is a hybrid color variation
of the Corsican Sheep and is either all white with golden, honey colored
horns or a reddish brown with underlying white with a white face. The
horn configuration is the same as the Corsican and Hawaiian. Males can
weigh up to 140 pounds. This much sought after ram originated in Texas.
It was July the 4th 1992 and my wife, Shirley, and I were celebrating
the holiday by going hunting. Luther's ranch hand, Augustine, told me
that there were four good white rams hanging out around one of the small
back canyons. He said that he thought there was a real tight curled ram
in the bunch ,that would be what I was looking for. Off we went and scoured
the area high on the ridge and down into the canyon with not a trace.
We decided to try the next canyon over which was about ¼ to ½ mile long
and probably 80 or 90 foot deep and full of rock ledges, nooks, crannies,
tree stumps and downed logs. After a couple of hours of that side hill
walking I felt like I would be walking lopsided for quite awhile afterward.
After lots of luck,"all bad", We went back to camp for a hot meal and
some well deserved sleep.
The next day we decided to go back to the small canyon and start all over,
and hope for some better luck for this day. I've always said that when
it comes to hunting, " I'd rather be lucky than skillful any time". Guess
what, the luck came through. Within a couple of hours, there was the tight
curled ram along wish a couple if others, that looked pretty good themselves,
on the far side of the canyon. He was behind a big downed tree with only
his head above it, and a small part of his shoulder in sight, where there
was a fork in the tree trunk. My old Remington 30/06 spoke once and the
ram went down. I was elated that I had made the difficult shot as we worked
our way down one steep canyon wall and back up the other side. When I
got to the ram I was quickly brought down from my high. He didn't look
like he would even make the record book. Much less score gold medal as
I had wanted. We field dressed the ram and dragged it to the canyon top
and loaded it into the truck to take it back to the freezer at the bunkhouse
area. I was so disappointed, I didn't even put a tape measure on it.
Later in the day my wife, Shirley and I, as well as our adopted daughter,
Marian, were riding around the ranch and saw two big wide spread Texas
Dalls. Shirley looked at me and said," I think that one on the right is
bigger than the one you killed. I agreed with her. She wanted to know
if maybe we could go ahead and kill him as well. Now tell me guys! What
would you do if your wife wanted you to kill another trophy animal? Right!!.
We hustled back to the bunkhouse and called Luther . He said, yes, go
We hotfooted it back to where we had seen the rams. Of course they weren't
there, but we found them in about 30 minutes, standing underneath shade
of a big Cedar bush. They were only about 50 yards away and my Remington
30/06 knocked him backwards.
But would you believe it they both Ran off toward the nearby deep canyon,
which was only about 30 yards away. I took Marian with me to tack the
ram, since she had never been on a hunt before, much less trying to track
down a wounded animal. We dropped down into the canyon that was from ¼
to ½ mile long and started looking for blood sign or hopefully the ram
itself. We scoured the length of that canyon both high and low with no
luck. We finally decided to go back and start over from scratch, where
we began in the first place. As we arrived back at our starting place
.Lo and behold within 10 yards of where I'd fired at him, there he lay
dead as could be. Evidently he had started toward the canyon and circled
around on me My Gold Medal Remington Texas Slam was complete. By the way
that tight curled Texas Dall scored 107 1/8 for the record book. He is
the highest scoring ram that I've killed before or since. The "bigger"
wide spread ram scored 101 2/8.
Steve Mahurin on March 21, 2000.