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Safari Times Five
By Steve Mahurin
     

Well here we were on the first hunt in the new millennium. It's March 21, 2000 and my friends and I are all heading to South Texas near Bracketville,Texas.This big party of hunters consists of myself, Steve Mahurin, Richard Lozano,taxidermist and outfitter, who will not be hunting. He will though,accompany me in the blind to help in judging trophy size and quality. Then comes Kim Hansen another good friend whose plan included taking a large Black Hawaiian Sheep. Jerry Nino ,whose vehicle we were riding in, told me that if Kim and I got our animals he would try for one as well. Also along with us was a friend of Kim's, Jeff who is an auto plant worker in Detroit. He was on vacation and had come along to take pictures, and for the experience of hunting on a famous South Texas ranch. For myself, I'm hoping to take a monster Pure White, Texas Dall Sheep.

This whole thing got started with a video that Richard received from outfitter and ranch manager David Mann on Monday. David had just acquired the rights for exotic hunting on this ranch that hadn't had much hunting except for Whitetail Deer, and Turkey for nearly six years. On this videotape were two really superb,Texas Dalls, as well as ten or more that would score in the gold medal class. For Kim there was at least one huge Black Hawaiian Ram he liked the looks of.The name of this ranch is the Corazon, 10,000 acres of thick, tall, endless it seems, Blackbrush and Cedar with a few small trees. Typical South Texas.

Our hopes were high to attain our goals, have some fun, and view what, according to the video we had seen, some world class Addax Antelope, some great looking Red Sheep, and Scimitar Horned Oryx, as well as, a number of other exotic species that have free run of the 10,000 acres of this ranch.

The last hour or two of our travels through the pitch black darkness of the nearly deserted countryside, seldom seeing even the lights, of a house off the road. The sky was filled with a brilliant display of lighting that flashed across the velvet black curtain, both vertically and horizontally. Yet we heard no thunder and only a light misting of rain a couple of times.

It reminded me of film I'd seen depicting night time artillery barrages during World War II.

We finally got to Bracketville and met our host and outfitter,David Mann, whom we followed to the ranch gate about five miles out of town. We got through the gate and to the trailer house we were to stay in. we quickly hit our bunks at 1:30 A.M. and were lulled to sleep by a very high wind of 30 to 40 miles per hour rattling the windows. Trouble was, we were rudely awakened at five a.m by our outfitter and guide, to let him in the locked door to make coffee for the troops.Richard and I were in our blind about thirty five to forty minutes before the feeder motor whirred it's way to life and spewed corn around it's self about seven thirty a. m. There were already 10 to 15 Blackbuck Antelope there when it went off. There was a decent male in the bunch.Coal black, and strutting his stuff for the females, and picking up a few kernels of corn along the way. Shortly after the feeder went off there seemed to be Axis Deer everywhere within fifteen minutes. We had a total of nearly 30 Axis, including five bucks, one of, which was very respectable with main beams around 32 or 33 inches long. The other bucks were in various stages of velvet, antler growth. About an hour later, Richard spotted a band of about eight majestic,sandy colored, Aoudad Sheep Rams about 1000 yards away. They were standing in a knot about 1,000 yards away and straight across from us. They were in the middle of a pretty green swale in the bottom of a wide depression, near the edge of a gentle brushy ridge. They walked, stood, and bedded down in that area most of the morning. In between, thru our Tasco binoculars, we saw one huge Axis buck with about three or four does. They were standing in a deep ravine about five or six hundred yards away. He was by far the biggest Axis Buck we saw the whole trip. We saw not a single Texas Dall Sheep the whole morning, that I had hoped to take with my Thompson Contender, in .375 caliber and Leupold Gold Ring four power scope. Kim wanted to take the Black Hawaiian Sheep he saw on the video with his Remington, 54 caliber in-line muzzleloader. A little later we heard what sounded like Sika Deer barking in the distance. All the animals around us threw up their heads, paused a minute, and took off in alarm, melting quickly into the thick,tall brush. All the night before and all of the 14 hours of hunting time that day on the Corazon, we were buffeted by steady winds blowing out of Mexico. Starting at about 30 miles per hour and gusting up to 40 and 50 miles per hour.

After being picked up from our blinds and talking over what each of us had seen, we headed to camp for a quick breakfast. We were treated to browned meat and scrambled eggs in warm flour tortillas and washed down with our choice of coffee,milk, or orange juice.

Then it was back to hunting. But this time, using the high rack vehicle. A high rack vehicle, for those of you that are unfamiliar with the term, and with the vast tracts of waist high, to over your head Black Brush, and Cedar thickets that cover most of South Texas, I'll explain. It is a vehicle with a metal bracket and some type of seat across the bed of an open bed of a truck. It usually has some type of bar a little higher in front of the seat to hold on to, or as a rest in the case of a quick shot, needed while peering down into the brush. On your feet in this stuff you can usually only see maybe five or ten yards unless you get lucky, and catch your quarry in one of the rare small opening's you might run across. Some of the fancier vehicles even have complete sets of controls up on top so the driver can see the same thing the hunters see.

Early on in the morning as we eased down a perimeter road we saw two large, pure white Texas Dalls standing at the bottom of a downhill part of the road right in front of us. I had first choice for a shot. But I was reluctant to take a shot since these were the first rams we had seen and we knew that although they would ordinarily, both be animals you would shoot quick if you had the chance, we knew that there were bigger one's out there.

My buddy Richard Lozano and I decided to try to make a stalk on foot for them. We eased off to our right into the brush to maybe get a closer look because we thought there might be others with them. We were right, because as we got closer to them by circling below and downwind of them, we saw five white rams in the bunch. We kept having to drop below and circle them trying to get ahead of them, in the hopes of getting the time to better evaluate them and get a shot. They were a little slicker than we were though and we lost them out ahead of us. The guys in the truck circled out ahead of us and then back toward us, hoping to flush them back towards us. This made nothing happen and we finally figured out that they had slipped through a big hole in a nearby fence into an adjoining field. We moved over to the other side of the ranch and almost immediately spotted a large bunch of sheep that had the big Black Hawaiian in it that Kim wanted. Those of you that have hunted sheep much, know that finding them is not always the hardest part. Usually the hardest thing to do is to get a clear shot at an individual animal in a big bunch of herd type animals because they always bunch up in a knot. Of course the one you are after is nearly always right in the middle or behind all the others. Then started the real work. For over five hours or more we trailed this bunch, nearly getting Kim a shot from the high rack many times, but the black either was screened by brush, or other animals in the herd, or was ass end to us trotting, walking, or just flat out running away from us through the brush. Most of the time all we could see were the tops of their backs.Lots of the time up on that high rack, I felt like I knew what it felt like to be on the back of one of our Texas bucking horses, as we bounced and swayed across the rocky terrain.

About 4:00 P.M. we were all getting real thirsty. We left Kim and Jeff in a tower blind near a waterhole, in the hopes that maybe the sheep would come to water and Kim could get a shot with his muzzleloader. We went back to camp for cool drinks and a sandwich. We were there only shortly and took back drinks and sandwiches to the guys in the blind. Shortly after we picked Kim and Jeff up we spotted the black ram off by itself. We dropped Kim and Richard off to try a stalk on foot, while we circled around the area hoping to keep the ram from giving them the slip. It didn't work though and we didn't see the animal the rest of the day, though we glassed a lot of country and a bunch of sheep.

All this time we were hoping to run across the five white rams as well. About 6:P.M. we did just that. We saw them upwind of us at about 150 yards in a small clearing in a depression, surrounded with chest to head high brush. Richard and I decided on a footstalk, with the guys in the high rack giving us directions with hand signals in case they were needed. We had the wind, that was still blowing away at 30 to 40 miles per hour, straight in our faces, so the band of about 30 animals containing at least three of the big white rams had no idea we were there. We got to within 75 yards of them and Richard glassed them from our position behind a large bush covered with wicked looking 1-3 inch thorns. He said that the biggest of the five we had seen was in the bunch. We eased a little closer and the rams started to move away to our right. The only chance I had for a shot was to get up almost on the ball's of my feet and peek over the top of the almost head high brush in front of me. With that precarious position and nothing for a rest, my scope was doing figure eight's on the animals. Finally they strung out in single file and started coming from some thicker brush past a small opening, moving from our left to our right. About five or six animals passed through the opening as I tried to hold the cross hairs of the scope steady in the gusting wind. Finally as one big ram moved into the opening Richard said, "that's him". My crosshairs were, I fervently hoped, on the rams shoulder as I squeezed the shot off and the whole herd ran off. Nobody heard the "thunk" you usually hear when a bullet hits an animal solidly, so I was pretty sure that I'd muffed the only shot that we'd all worked so hard for, most of the day. We all five searched the area thoroughly, but none of us could find either the animal, nor any blood, or any signs of a hit. We drove a couple of more circles around the area in the hopes of jumping them again but had no luck. It was quickly getting dark so we headed back to camp, to quickly pack our bags for the long drive back home. But not before planning for a three day return hunt. This time determined that all of us would be coming back with the trophies we desired.

This was a great trip, full of fun and camaraderie, and determination. Even though unsuccessful in the end, one well worth repeating. Stay tuned for part two of this saga.

Written by Steve Mahurin on March 23, 2000

     
     

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

Email: samahurin@comcast.net

Copyright 2001 - 2011


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