I just got back from West Texas. A couple of friends and I went to a ranch on the Rio Grande between Sanderson and Marathon for a few days of sight-seeing, varmint calling, and aoudad hunting. I am not certain exactly what I was expecting, but it wasn’t what I found. The country there is incredible! It ranges from thousand foot deep canyons, to rolling, ocotillo covered hills, to greasewood-covered flats between mountain ranges. It is home to javelina, mule deer, foxes, mountain lions, and the occasional bear.
One day we headed over to a place on the Rio Grande where the canyon was particularly scenic. We really had no intentions of hunting, but took along the guns, anyway. It is a good thing we did, too. As we pulled up to the old goat-wire fence that marked the end of the jeep trail we had been following for the past hour, my buddy Todd Tate, who is new to hunting and who was riding in the elevated seat in the back of the jeep, hollered, “aoudad!”
At this our friend Christopher exclaimed, “Shoot it!” Chris and I covered our ears and Todd touched off his .30-06.
The range was long; not far, I figured, from 400 yards — I later guessed it, from the drop of the bullets to be between 325 and 350. The first shot at the ram was low, the second hit the ram, too far back, but it stopped the big sheep on the far side of the canyon. I told him to calm down, take a deep breath, and put the crosshairs on the top of the aoudad’s back, but he was too rattled and missed, again. After he missed that shot he finally calmed down a bit and the fourth shot spined the big ram and put it down.
I had a pretty good look at the ram as Todd was shooting, so I said, “I think it’ll go around 27 inches, a pretty good trophy.”
We then headed over through the dog cactus, prickly pear, and ocotillo to check it out.
As we walked up nearer to the ram I got more and more excited. Then, as I stood over it, looking down at its old, battle-scarred horns, I realized just exactly how big it was and started shaking like Todd was.
“Todd,” I said. “This is a bloody monster! A beast! He’s a lot bigger than I thought he was.” His body is so massive it made his horns look smaller.” He’ll go at least 30 inches, and his horns are massive! They’re as big around as a Rocky Mountain big horn.”
We caped the head and carried it back to the jeep, which was a marathon endeavor in itself, since all we had to work with was my pocket knife. By the time we caped the ram and carried it back around the head of the canyon, we both were in need of a gallon of cold water and a shower. When we got the head back to the ranch HQ and yelled for a tape measure, the left horn went almost 30” and the right measured 31”. The bases measured 13 ½” and the horns were massive to well beyond the last quarter.
This was a huge old warrior with horns that were polished and battered by a life of battles and of living in the rough, rocky desert of West Texas. You just can’t beat beginner’s luck.