Time for Aoudad by Larry Weishuhn
Time for Aoudad
By Larry Weishuhn
Jackie Murphy pointed toward the upper edges of the rocky drawn, held up a full compliment of fingers and thumbs, then flashed three more fingers. With his right hand he made a sweeping motion indicating rams. Moving index finger closer to thumb he mouthed, “Too small!”
I slid behind him for a better look at the aoudads. Their manes and chaps swayed in the wind. “Twenty-six, tops?” I whispered questioning horn length. Jackie nodded then motioned retreat.
In route to the vehicle Jackie said, “Pale brownish-khaki color usually indicates immature rams or ewes. I wanted to get a closer look. Good start!” It was.
But now, after three days of hunting the rugged mountains of western Texas for aoudad, we still had not taken one.
Natives of Africa’s Barbary Coast introduced into Texas during the early 1930’s this unique species, neither true goat or sheep, has tremendously increased throughout western Texas. Aoudad share the region’s arid terrain with desert mule deer, elk, whitetails, and on some mountain ranges, desert bighorn sheep.
Mature aoudad rams can be large of body, beyond 300 pounds, and grow massive backswept horns surpassing 30-inches in length. “We discourage our Wildlife Systems (www.wildlifesystems.com) clients from shooting rams less than 30-inches.” Explained Greg Simons, outfitter and long-time friend, when we first talked about my hunting aoudad with Wildlife Systems who hunts the finest ranches in western Texas for desert mule deer and pronghorn antelope, as well as turkey, nilgai, oryx, other exotics and a limited number of monstrous whitetail deer in southern Texas. “Hunting aoudad is a whole lot like going after desert bighorns, other than you see a whole lot more. We’ve seen herds of aoudad way north of 300.” He added, “Your hunt will take place while the rams are still in bachelor herds.”
Guide, Jackie Murphy on rugged aoudad terrain
“Your guide will be “Mister Aoudad”, Jackie Murphy. Jackie loves hunting aoudad and knows more about them than anyone. You’ll enjoy hunting with him!” Greg was right, hunting with Jackie proved to be pure pleasure.
Jackie hunts how I like to hunt! We glassed hillsides. We crawled to the very top of peaks. We covered many miles and saw many, many aoudads. The first three days we glassed over a hundred aoudad rams. And that did not include the herd of forty plus rams we followed high into the peaks.
“Not big enough!” was Jackie’s standard statement.
For my hunt I had chosen a .300 H&H Mag, Ruger No. 1 topped with a 2.5-12.5x42 Trijicon AccuPoint scope, shooting Hornady’s 180-grain Interbond ammo. Back home I had practiced with this finely accurate combination out to 400 yards.
Sadly, we were running out of time. Three hours remaining we spotted a long-horned ram. He was 250 yards distant, partially hidden behind a juniper. Through my AccuPoint I could see the ram’s horns were worn nearly smooth, indicative of an old ram. Crosshairs settled on the aoudad’s shoulder. I gently pulled the trigger. At the shot the ram started running up hill. Before I could shoot a second time he went down.
Moments later Jackie and I knelt at the ram’s side. He was huge of body and horns, over 32-inches, massive; is mane and chaps long. A handsomer aoudad I had never seen. Admiring the ram, I accepted Jackie’s congratulations then whispered a prayer of thanks.
You can watch my aoudad and other “DSC’s Trailing the Hunter’s Moon” hunts by going to www.trailingthehuntersmoon.com and clicking on our YouTube channel.