June of 1995, I had asked my friend and outfitter Thompson Temple to find
me a record class Ibex to hunt. To make it even more difficult for him
I told him that the weapon I wanted to use was a handgun. Having just
recently started hunting with a handgun I'd been practicing quite a bit
at my local range. At fifty yards I could keep nearly all the shots in
or near the bullseye. Out at 100 yards the pattern was about the size
of a dinner plate which should account for the kill zone on most animals,
so I figured I was ready for a hunt on the real thing, although I wasn't
completely happy with the trajectory of my weapon out at 100 yards. I
felt that the main reason for this was that my weapon had only a six-inch
barrel. I was shooting a Smith & Wesson six-inch revolver in .41 magnum
caliber, and using 200 grain, soft nosed, hand loaded ammunition. Up on
top I had a Leupold, gold ring, four-power scope.
Anyway a short while later Thompson called me to say that he had found
me an Ibex in the vicinity of Harper, Texas. Harper is one of the hubs
in the sales of exotic animals in the hill country, and is near the town
of Kerrville about sixty miles west of San Antonio.
My wife and I made the trip out I 10 west on a hot, sultry, summers weekend,
under a sky so clear and bright that you could see for miles.We were to
meet Thompson at his office that day and head out for a try for the Ibex
that evening. Well as they say, now comes the rest of the story. We arrived
at our destination about three p.m. having gotten a late start. Thompson
met us at the door and asked are y'all ready to hunt. We were, so we took
off for Harper which was about thirty or forty minutes away.
We arrived at the ranch gate and met our ranch guide, the owner's son,
who Thompson had called just before we left. He told us that he thought
we could get our animal okay but it might be difficult as the Ibex had
taken to running with a herd of about fifteen Axis Deer. Getting him separated
away from the other animals for a shot would the most difficult, even
if we could get him to stand still long enough to find him in the scope.
Shirley, my wife, climbed into the cab of the owner's son's truck along
with his friend who would be doing the driving, while Thompson, Bob and
I pulled ourselves into the open truck bed.
The ranch was covered with Cedar thickets interspersed with groves of
tall skinny trees. The ground was rough and rocky and sandy colored.
We drove around for about an hour and finally got a glimpse of our quarry
and sure enough he was imbedded in that bunch of Axis Deer. After playing
cat and mouse for awhile I thought maybe there was a chance for a shot,
but I was wrong. It was quickly growing dark so we figured to go get a
good nights rest and let the animals calm down a little. Then get an early
start the next morning.
We arrived back at the ranch shortly after daylight and pulled into the
gate to what I hoped would be a successful conclusion to our hunt, since
we would have to leave for home that evening.
This time we found our target right away and of course the Axis as well.
Every time we saw them over the next four hours or so it was the same
thing, all of them running away from us.
Finally it was decided that I would set up for an ambush. I had set down
in a small clearing at the edge of a grove of trees, and the truck drove
through the surrounding brush in the hopes that they would come by my
way for a shot. They did and came by me at a fast trot. I had just an
instant for a shot and squeezed off a round. The bullet was behind him,
a miss. This scenario repeated itself twice more and I was finding out
the main difference between shooting at the range and in the field. Most
of my chances for shots had been from seventy-five to a hundred yards
and running. To make a long story short, after many sightings and more
misses than I like to think about, I got the best shot opportunity of
the day. It wasn't a very high percentage shot, but we all figured that
it was going to be maybe the only one I was going to get. It was a running;
flat out shot at around sixty yards.The Ibex was running about twenty
yards behind the Axis herd. The .41 magnum bucked in my hands and the
animal was down in an instant. A spine shot. A really nice, gold medal
trophy, with 29 4/8 by 28 4/8 horns.
Written by Steve Mahurin on May 25, 2000.