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Bighorn Slam
Part 1

By Steve Mahurin
     

Back in 1982, I was talking to my friend Thompson Temple, head of the Records of Exotics Record Book and he was telling me that he was going to initiate a brand new slam. It was going to be called the Bighorn Slam. This slam would consist of six of the most common as well as most economic of the animals to hunt. These animals were to be the following. The Catalina Goat, Black Hawaiian Sheep, Texas Dall Sheep, Mouflon Sheep, Corsican Sheep, and the Merino Sheep. He said, you have ever other slam there is, why don't you go for this one. My answer was,"Why Not." So I figured to go first for the Catalina Goat. This goat is an animal that supposedly originated in Spain and comes in many colors and patterns. The horns go up and sweep almost straight out from its head except for the large sweeping curls and twists that makes them very spectacular trophies. Big males have been known to reach up to 175 pounds. This animal is very widely distributed in the United States, mainly due to its tolerance for colder weather as well as the blistering heat of the hotter climates like Texas and other states with similar climates. Actually I was to hunt this particular goat kinda by accident. I had just finished hunting two of the three main subspecies of Sika Deer, the Formosan and the Dybowski. This would finish out one of the first of the Sika Slams to be recognized by the Records of Exotics. My wife, Shirley, and I loved to drive the backroads of the hill country around the area of Hunt, Ingram, Kerrville, Texas just to look at and enjoy the sights of and take pictures of the many species of exotic animals that abound on the many ranches in those areas. We greatly enjoyed the many surprises and photo opportunities that can pop up at any moment in this game prolific expanse of acreage.

By pure accident, we happened to drive by the gate of a ranch called the High Hatch which strangely enough is next to a ranch called the Low Hatch, and across the highway from another ranch called the House Hatch. Anyway as we passed by we saw our good friend, Thompson Temple on the place, just inside the gate.

Since I owed him some money for the Formosan Sika hunt, which strangely enough he had allowed me to guide myself on this very same ranch, The High Hatch, two days previously, we drove through the gate to pay him what I owed him. As we visited, he informed me that he remembered that I was looking for a big Catalina for my slam, and that there was a nice sized one he had seen earlier in the day. He said since you're here why don't we go drive around a bit and see if we can spot him for you. In fact if we do you can take him as my guest at no cost. No way was I going to pass up a chance like that. As I'd ' been hunting this place two days ago. I had noticed that most of the goat type animals seemed to hang out. This ranch was kind of a weird place. The front half of the ranch consisted of nice, not to rough, sandy roads winding their way through almost park like expanses of stately trees. The second half was nearly treeless with only a few patches of thick brush. The rest was rocks, rocks, and bigger rocks. I'd compare it to a pumpkin patch where the pumpkins were rocks instead. We tried the park like area first, just in case, but you had to know that they weren't there.

So it was off to the rock patch to bounce and jounce our way around for two or three hours before we finally spotted the goats. Trouble was there were about 70 or 80 of them, which meant over 140 eyes to spot us and twice as many legs to carry them away from us. That's usually the problem with herd animals like that. You might find them fairly easy, but picking the best one out and getting it separated enough from the rest for shot is the problem. We proceeded to try to do just that, many times. Finally after an hour or so I finally did get a shot at the one Thompson pointed out and it dropped in its tracks. We were able to get my truck in real close for loading him up. When we got to the animal, Thompson said,"WHOOPS". When I asked him what he meant by that, he said, and I quote,"Don't tell anyone but this is the wrong goat". We all had a good laugh about it, but he was a good one. As we were loading him up, Thompson said. 'Tell you what, I have to get back to the office. Why don't y'all look around some more and if you see a bigger goat, go ahead and take it as my guest as well. We looked around for two or three more hours more but saw nothing that stood out as much larger that what we had already taken, so we left with just my original Billy.

Well here I am back in the Texas hill country, near Kerrville again for the second step towards my slam, the Black Hawaiian Sheep. As the name implies this color phase of the Corsican Sheep originated in Hawaii and is coal black, including the curving horns. They do usually have a little white on the muzzle and sometimes have an outer layer of reddish wool.

I would be hunting again with my friend Thompson Temple. We were scheduled to be hunting a pie shaped wedge of land off highway 41 a few miles from Interstate 10 about 70 miles west of San Antonio, Texas. This land was covered in low mesquite and a knee-high type of grass.

A little while after we started hunting we eased up on a small band of rams that, sadly, didn't have any Hawaiian's in it but did have a single, medium sized Armenian Red Sheep in it. This species was a pretty rare one even back then. Thompson told me that if I would rather, I could take it rather than the Hawaiian. I was sorely tempted but decided to pass this time. We wound our way through the cedar and grass for quite awhile. After looking over a number of rams, we finally found the one that we were looking for. I rested the Remington 30/06 on my knee and sent the Remington 180 grain core-lokt bullet on its way for about a 120 yard shot. The ram dropped in its tracks.

But this is where the mystery starts. When we got to the ram we could find only one hole in it. Now you're saying, what's the big deal about that? It happens all the time. Yes, that's true, but the hole we found, and the only hole we found, even after skinning him and looking even harder, was on the opposite side of the animal that I had shot at. an exit hole. You tell me how that happened. ALL three of us saw the same thing. The ram scored a gold medal, 100 3/8. He still to this day remains my, MYSTERY RAM.

Well here it was nearly nine months later and I was headed to Hunt, Texas, and the Honey Creek Ranch, owned by Luther Graham, to try for another step towards my Big Horn Slam. This time we were after the White, Texas Dall Sheep. These animals are either all white or a sandy brown with a white face like a hereford cow. Both color phases have beautiful, curving, honey colored horns. This much sought after color phase originated in Texas.

It was July 4th and my wife, Shirley, and I were celebrating the holiday by going hunting. Luther's, helper, Augustine, told me that there were four good sized white rams hanging out around one of the small back canyons. He said there was a real tight curled one in the bunch that he thought was the best one. We scoured the area high and low with out a trace. We decided to try the next canyon over which was about a 1/4 to 1/2 half a mile long, and probably 80 to 90 feet deep. It was 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'd be walking lopsided for quite awhile. After lots, of luck, all bad, we went back 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 luck. I've always said that when it comes to hunting " I'd rather be lucky than to be skillful any time" Guess what the luck came thru. Within a couple of hours there was the tight led ram along with a couple of other white rams. They were on the far side of the canyon from us. The tight curled one was behind a big downed tree with only his head above it, a small portion his shoulder in sight where there was a small fork in the tree trunk. My old Remington, 30/06 spoke once and the ram was down. I was elated as we worked our way down one steep canyon wall and backup to the other side. When I got to the ram, I was quickly brought down. He didn't look like to me that he would even make the record book, much less score gold medal as I wanted. We got it to the top of the canyon and then back to camp for processing. I was so disappointed that I didn't even put a tape on it.

Later in the day my wife, Shirley, and I along with our adopted daughter, Marian were riding around the ranch and saw two big widespread white rams. Shirley looked at me and said, I think that one on the right is bigger than the one you shot. I agreed with her. She wanted to know if maybe we could go ahead and kill him as well. Now,guys ! what would you do if your wife wanted you to kill another trophy animal? Right !! We hustled back to the bunkhouse to call Luther. He said to go ahead and get him. We hotfooted back to where we had seen the rams. Of course they weren't there, but we found them in about 30 minutes, standing under the shade of a big Cedar bush. They were only about 50 yards away and the shot from my Remington, 30/06, knocked him backwards. But in spite of that they all ran off towards a nearby canyon, which was only about 30 yards away.

I took Marian with me to track the ram since she had never been on a hunt before, much less trying to track an animal that was wounded. We dropped down into the ¼ to ½ mile long canyon to look for blood sign or the ram itself. We looked the full length of the canyon, but no luck. We finally decided to go back and start over from where had started.

Of all the things to happen, as we made our way through the brush we came upon the dead Dall Sheep, within 10 yards of where I'd shot at him. He had evidently went toward the canyon then circled back to the area where we had found him.

By the way the tight curled ram scored over 107 points the highest scoring sheep I'd ever killed. The wide flaring, horned ram scored 101 2/8.

I was now halfway to my Big Horn Slam.

Written by Steve Mahurin on March 15, 2000.

     
     
Big Horn Slam
     
     

Steve Mahurin
25 North Heights
La Marque, Texas 77568
409-935-9673

Email: samahurin@comcast.net

Copyright 2001 - 2011


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