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Handgun Challenge
By Steve Mahurin
     

It was still dark and cool, exceptionally so at about 65 degrees, for a hill country morning on August 12, 1997, when Thompson Temple and I arrived at the big wrought iron gate at the entrance to the property where we were to meet the landowner of the ranch where I was slated to embark on the adventure and challenge of a handgun hunt for the elusive and wary Aoudad sheep, native of Africa and popular transplant to the Texas hill country exotic hunting scene.

Thompson is not only a very good friend but also owner of Texas Wildlife Outfitting and therefore my outfitter and guide for this hunt. I was hunting for the first time with a new Thompson Contender single shot handgun in .375 Winchester caliber and Winchester 200 grain soft point bullets. Figuring that even the tough Aoudad could be taken with a bullet of that size. Shows how much I know. My choice of scope was a Leupold, gold ring in 4 power.

Our landowner showed up shortly after we arrived and swung the gate wide for the beginning of my handgun challenge. He invited us to ride in his pickup bed that had been rigged with a truck seat mounted across it. As we rode up the steep road to the top of the highest hill on the back part of the ranch that the landowner figured would be the best place to find the Aoudads. At first light, the cool breeze felt almost chilly to us and made me think of the coming fall and cooler weather which would give relief from the searing Texas sun and bring on the changing colors to the landscape as well as new adventures in hunting for deer and turkey to those of us who are addicted to the pursuit of that big one.

After scouring the area for a while we decided that the 3 rams that our host described to us weren't in the high country as he figured. He said that sometimes in the early mornings he had seen them at the edge of a meadow at a lower elevation. so off we went to check it out. As we arrived at the meadow, on the far side, we saw the rams grazing at the bottom of a steep, mesquite covered ridge. As we worked closer to them to try to judge the trophy quality of the animals, they stood there alertly eyeing us, their long sandy colored manes and chaps rippling in the early morning breeze. But as happens with most Aoudad, before we could get a real good look they were gone up the mesquite covered slope of the ridge and out of sight. so it was back around to a road and up to the top of the ridge to try to ambush them within shooting range. But to our disappointment search, as we might, no sign of any of them. Then we worked our way back down to where we had seen them last. Sure enough there they were, all three of them, standing almost in the middle of a meadow.

Finally our luck held for a while and we were able to evaluate their horns. What we figured was the best ram we guessed was around 32 inches long. It had a distinctive sprig of white hair between it's horns .It gave us a chance for a shot at about 50 yards, which I took, hitting him in the lungs, verified by Thompson saying he could see the blood from the wound thru his binoculars. But as the old saying goes, the ram was dead but he didn't know it yet He walked off about 50 yards into a tall stand of milkweed plants. All I could see was the top of his back but our landowner said, put another into him, so I did. Still he didn't go down. He moved about another 50 yards standing broadside to us. I shot again and a large cloud of dust erupted from his body as the bullet struck him. Still no real indication that he was hurting too badly. Then he was off and up the steep ridge disappearing into the cedar-choked slope. For us a mad rush to the top of the ridge, but no luck until the landowner spotted our quarry angling back down the ridge and away from us. My only choice was to sit on the edge of the drop-off, dangling my legs and taking an offhand shot nearly straight down and about 60 yards away. Luckily I connected with a spine shot and he dropped.

His final resting place was in the middle of a clear, cool, merrily running creek. Then came the much awaited, but dreaded tape measure time. Thompson did the honors and said; well we missed it by a bit. He's not 32 inches. That brought a sinking feeling to my stomach. But then he said he's 36 inches, which changed my dread to elation. After many photographs came the task of loading the huge ram into the truck for a trip to the taxidermist. Imagine my elation when he informed me after scoring it for all three record books, that after the 60 day drying out period my ram should be the new world's record for handgun in all 3. What a way to break in a new handgun.

Written by Steve Mahurin on August 25, 1997.

     
     
Handgun Challenge
     
     

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

Email: samahurin@comcast.net

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