the middle of 1995, June, 6 th to be exact and my wife,Shirley, and I
were with good friend and outfitter Thompson Temple, heading out to a
place called the 479 ranch. We were to hunt for a type of sheep that had
just been recognized in a separate category in the, Records Of Exotics,
record book. My buddy Thompson was the founder, of as well as all the
other titles in this organization which was the first of its kind to recognize
only the introduced species or exotics as most call them in a record book
just for them.
This new sheep was a color variation of the Corsican Sheep, which had
been discovered, bred, and registered in the town of Fredricksburg, Texas.
This picturesque little town was about 45 miles west of San Antonio, Texas,
the home of the world famous symbol of bravery in Texas legend, The Alamo.
This sheep is colored much like a Paint Horse, with underlying black color
and white and brown marking. Big males can weigh up to 140 pounds or so.
Horn configurations similar to the Corsican Sheep as well.
This was an almost totally new experience for me. After over 30 years
of hunting with my old, reliable, scarred, 1960's version of the Remington
Model 700, 30/06, I was toting a Smith and Wesson revolver with a six-inch
barrel in 41 Magnum caliber. It was topped with a Tasco 2-power scope
with a projected red dot reticule. I'd been burning up a lot of ammo and
at 50 yards doing pretty good. But at 100 yards with the red dot turned
down to its smallest circumference, the dot still covered more than the
bullseye. For that reason I could never seem to get as tight a pattern
as I wanted. I was shooting a heavy 200-grain soft nose hand load.
The ranch was a pretty nice one with scenic, gently rolling hills, covered
with gently waving knee high brownish colored grass. Interspersed in this
terrain were nice groves of medium sized trees, which made for good cover
for the animals.
This was my first hunt with this gun combo and I must admit I was a little
nervous about how I would perform outside of the confines of a pistol
range. I had inadvertently left our motel with just enough ammunition,
( 6 ) to fill the chambers of the 41 Magnum wheel gun.
I've always tried to tell it like it is, good or bad, when writing about
my hunting adventures, but I sure do hate to talk about this hunt. I missed
five easy shots at that ram at varying distances. I shot under it, around
it, and over it. Believe me I was mighty disappointed and probably more
embarrassed than I have ever been in many years of hunting. Thompson tried
to help me by saying,"everybody misses a few". My loving, and always supportive
wife got a little tired of bouncing over the rough ground in the pickup,
so she said, let me out and I'll rest in the shade of that big tree on
the top of the hill till you either run out of ammo or you kill it. So
off we went to try one last stalk. I had one last round left in the revolver
and boy was I not only nervous and disgusted with my self. I was finally
able to belly crawl thru the tall, stinging grass to within 20 or 30 yards
of the ram. I said "LORD" look over my shoulder and guide my aim with
this last bullet. Then I eased back on the trigger. The gun bucked in
my hand and the ram went down for keeps. Thank Goodness !!!!
The second part of this story came with lots of changes in between. In
the ensuing months between the Painted Desert Sheep hunt and the second
half of this narrative, a great number of trials, tribulations, and changes
in my life happened.
I retired from my job of 37 years plus and lost a special and loving wife
of nearly 38 years and best ever hunting partner, to the big C of cancer.This
lady had supported my hunting fever throughout our time together, as well
as always being right there with me on all of my hunting trips to the
With this trip having already been booked I was having a very hard time
deciding if I would be able to even go hunting without her. A good friend
of both my wife and I, an angel named Cindy, convinced me to go saying,
Shirley would want you to go, and after all your truck does have a reverse
gear and you know how to turn it around.
So with a lot of trepidation and tears on the way I finally arrived at
the end of a most difficult trip and my destination of Ingrain, Texas.
My buddy Thompson Temple was to guide me again back to the 479 ranch.
This hunt was to be for a pretty rare species of sheep, the Armenian Mouflon
Sheep. The Armenian sheep is one of the smaller of the sheep species of
the world, with a good-sized male tipping the scales at maybe a hundred
pounds. This animal originated in the troubled country of Iran and most
of the huntable populations of this species are in the United States,
with the majority of them in the greatly diversified land scape of the
great state of Texas. These animals are a reddish brown with a lighter
colored or white area on the male's flanks. The most unique and unusual
characteristic of this sheep is that its horns grow up, out. And then
curve back toward the back of its neck.
So on November 27th, 1995 I was back on the gently rolling terrain of
the 479 ranch. I was armed with a gift from one of my adopted kids, who
knowing about my handgun hunting, had presented me with a Thompson Contender,
with a twelve inch barrel in 30/30 caliber. My scope was a four power
Leupold Gold Ring. My ammunition was a 125-grain Ballistic Tip.
We drove across the hilly terrain for a couple of hours looking for our
quarry, seeing a number of species of exotics, like Fallow and Axis Deer
and about 3 or 4 other sheep species. After a couple of hours of scouring
the area we finally spotted the ram in question standing in a thick mott
of trees at about 50 yards. I went for the shot, although it would be
a tight one with only a few inches of the kill zone showing around and
between the trees. I think the ram thought he was invisible because he
didn't move a muscle. Guess what !! I missed! We both figured that maybe
I'd hit a tree instead. Off he went and stopped out in the wide-open spaces,
broadside at 120 yards. I took an offhand, two handed stance and squeezed
of a shot. The ram ran about 40 yards and went down in a heap. Needless
to say I felt somewhat better about my marksmanship this time.
The Painted Desert ram was the first ever taken with a handgun and was
the #1 in the record book, while the Armenian Mouflon was also #1 in the
R. O. E. record book as well as # 2 in the Safari Club record book.
Written by Steve Mahurin on March 15, 2000.