a day with such a brilliant blue Texas sky that if you could get on a
high enough hill you could see all the way from my home near Galveston,
Texas to our destination near Kerrville, Texas. My wife, Shirley, and
I were about to embark on a hunt for a very tough and very spooky animal
the Barbary Sheep. Most people know this animal as the Aoudad Sheep.
The Aoudad is an animal that weighs in at around 250 pounds for an adult
male. Coming originally from the desert regions of Africa's Ennui Mountains
and sports a tan hide decorated with long hair on the bottom of it's neck
and on the front of the legs making it look like they are wearing chaps.
Our destination was a place called Honey Creek Ranch just outside a town
called Hunt, Texas. Don't you just love the sound of that for a hunting
destination? Honey Creek is a wonderful and relaxing place to hunt. The
lodge is situated alongside the banks of a crystal clear, achingly cold
creek, lined with stately, tall Cypress Trees.
The owner and guide was to be a tall, gangly, over six foot, Redman Tobacco
chewing, 75 years young gentleman named Luther Graham. We had hunted with
Luther a couple of times already.
On our first scouting trip he had told us that he earned his money as
an oilfield roughneck in the Texas oil patch when he was younger. When
I inquired as to the prices of his animals he said he had a simple pricing
system. He told us, I'm not great with figures so the smaller animals
are two hundred dollars and the big ones are seven hundred and fifty.
We arrived at the lodge late afternoon on September 10, 1989. It was a
little late in the day to hunt, according to Luther, so he told us to
drive ourselves around for awhile and he would pick us up at the lodge
at 7:30 the next morning. We stowed our gear inside and headed our truck
toward the hunting area.
We traveled up the winding, rocky road to the top of a plateau. As we
arrived at the top of the ridge we immediately began seeing animals. There
were two or three types of exotic sheep, Blackbuck Antelope, Axis deer,
Fallow Deer, and about half a dozen other species.
We decided to drive a road that dipped down into a canyon, then back around
it in a winding circle, crisscrossing a couple of other canyons. Seems
like almost every low spot on the place has a cool spring bubbling up
in it. When we got to the top of the highest point on the place we came
to a left-hand fork in the road. As I made the turn we both immediately
spotted a herd of about twenty, tawny coated animals. Yes, we had lucked
out and found the spooky Aoudads. I cut the engine and we got out our
binoculars and cameras. They were placidly feeding, in a sun dappled,
green spot smack dab in the middle of the narrow rocky road, crossing
the top of the hill. We spent about thirty minutes of glassing and picture
taking, before the herd started getting antsy and streamed off into the
thick Cedar thickets along the road. We jubilantly made our way back to
the lodge through the lengthening shadows to our bunks.
After a restless night of anticipation we were ready to go when Luther
pulled up to the door the next morning. We quickly told him of our luck
the night before as we made our way back up the hill.
I had heard that the Aoudad was not only spooky, but also a real tough
animal to put down. I figured that my tried and true combination of my
Remington Model 700, in 30/06 caliber, and stuffed with Remington 180
grain soft nosed bullets would do the trick. My glassware was a 3-9 Weaver
scope and Tasco 10 x 50 binoculars.
We started out checking the edges of fields hoping to catch them grazing
in the cooler morning hours. Not much luck there! We tried the place Shirley
and I had seen them the evening before with the same results as checking
the fields. We circled the canyons in a counterclockwise motion; it must
have been ten times. We saw the Aoudads a number of times, but always
running away or standing in a bunch in heavy Cedar thickets with no chance
for a shot. We tried crisscrossing the small game trails atop the hills
and on the lower roads part way down into the canyons. Finally after seeing
the rams a number of times on the same hill I had a thought. I told Luther
to drop me off at the top middle portion of the hill and while he drove
our usual route I would find a good spot and try to set up an ambush.
A big downed log offered me cover and a rest, so I hunkered down behind
it and started scanning the downslope in hopes that the herd would follow
their usual routine, and circle around the opposite side of the hill from
the vehicle. After waiting for about 30 minutes my plan worked. There
they were the whole bunch coming at a quick walk straight up the slope
toward me. My gun was up and ready but they were knotted together, with
the two biggest rams at the rear. I stayed as still as possible, but the
approximately twenty pairs were too good. Although they all were standing
still within forty yards of me, there just wasn't any way that I could
separate the rams from the herd for a shot. We stayed in our staring contest
for at least fifteen minutes before they decided that something just wasn't
right and moved away crossways from me and disappeared from view. Well
back to the drawing board, huh!
Luther was getting tired and said we've been at this for nearly eight
hours and I need to take a break and cool off. It was decided we would
get a little rest and cool down. Our hunt would pick back up about four
Four p.m. came and Luther picked us up and we resumed our quest. Luther
started to head the same counterclockwise direction that we had hunted
all day. I said, maybe we should go the opposite direction and see if
maybe we could surprise them. Okay he said and we were on our way. I don't
know if it was skill, hunters instinct, or blind luck, but about ten minutes
into our evening hunt, as we came to the right, around the edge of a hill
above a small depression, there were our two Aoudad rams, standing all
by themselves. I flung the door open as Luther applied the brakes. The
bigger of the two animals was behind the slightly smaller one. As I brought
my gun to bear and frantically looked for them in my scope, they both
looked surprised and started to move away. By the time I got my crosshairs
on them they were running. The big one was already in the brush, with
the other one getting real close to it. I swung with him and my gun barked.
The ram went down like a sack of potatoes. I had taken my first Barbary
Sheep. He taped out at 28 3/8 x 28 2/8. I felt like I had really earned
Steve Mahurin on June 7, 2000.