Free-Ranging Aoudad

Just so you’ll know that my last blog wasn’t a backdoor slam at hunting exotic animals, let me tell you about some excellent hunting that we have out here in the Big Bend country of West Texas. Of course, I’m talking about aoudad, though some call them Barbary sheep. This trophy animal is a native of the rocky, desert mountains of northern Africa and has been introduced all over the world, even in West Texas.

Ranchers tell me that the sheep were introduced out here in the 1950s. A rancher/character named Cap Yates is supposed to have brought in the first animals and released them on his ranch in the Glass Mountains, near Marathon. The animals also showed up in the Chinati Mountains, below Marfa, and the Davis Mountains, around Fort Davis. But it’s not clear if Cap Yates was responsible for these releases. Regardless, these aoudad are completely free ranging, extremely wary, and as challenging a trophy as any of the native sheep on this continent.

Regardless, the sheep thrived in the Big Bend country. I guess one set of rocky, desert mountains looks about like any other set of rocky, desert mountains, at least to an aoudad. A big ram will have horns that measure 30 inches and above, with a 38-inch being the largest trophy that I am personally aware of.

Aoudad are like whitetail deer in that, when they see you, they’ll run. It is not at all uncommon to sneak up and peek over a ridge, to see a band of aoudad out at 300-400 yards. And they are all looking right straight at you. Just before they take off, that is.

Most aoudad outfitters recommend that a hunter use one of the medium magnum calibers for the game. The 7mm Magnum and the .300 Winchester Magnum being the most common. However, I have taken aoudad with the 7×57 Mauser and the .270 Winchester. You just better know where your rifle hits way on out there.

For a challenging, exciting hunt after West Texas aoudad I recommend that you contact Wayne Wiemers (Alamito Hunting & Guide Services, 432-556-6133) or Steve Jones at backcountryhunts.com.

When you’re hunting West Texas aoudad, you won’t find any high fences or pen-raised game. But you’d better bone up on your long-range shooting and bring your hiking shoes.

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