Aoudad and Four-Horn Sheep…Two Great Trophies!!
Holland had been to the ranch a few years ago when a friend of his had taken a great aoudad. On the same trip, Holland had seen one of the large 4-Horn (or Jacob’s Sheep). Since that time, he has anticipated an aoudad of his own and a chance at a great 4-Horn sheep. The goals for this trip were obvious and Holland’s determination for a successful hunt were fueled by years of longing for these great trophies.
The Jacob’s Sheep were in a very rough, rocky pasture with a year-round spring-fed creek and some rough draws and cliffs; this was one place that walking would test any hunter’s resolve and stamina. It quickly became evident that the sheep were not going to tolerate the hunters to approach them on foot…as careful as the hunters were, the loose rocks sliding and rolling under their feet alerted the herd and the sheep soon sensed that there was danger lurking about. After some hours of hunting, Mitchell and Holland were finally able to spot the sheep across a small valley and decided to use the ridge of the hill to mask their approach and muffle the sounds of rolling rocks. But, as they peered over the edge of the rise to get a bearing on the ram, the herd disappeared into the brush. As they were about to move positions, the sheep were spotted heading toward an open spot within range. Holland set for shot as the sheep approached the opening. The ram kept on course; the moment to shoot was now or lose sight of the herd! The shot rang out and Holland’s hunt had started with a successful stalk. His patience and persistence to wait for a large sheep paid dividends!
The next stalk was in the almost section-sized pasture for aoudad. A group of aoudad rams was spotted and Holland was able to use the cover of large stand of juniper to get closer. As evening approached, we were able to set up in a block of juniper cover that was in the path of the grazing bachelor group and afforded a great view of where we hoped the aoudad would enter. The rams slowly approached and ,unknown to them, came so near that we feared the rams would hear the sound of the hunting party’s heartbeats! With 8-10 rams from 10 to 60 yards, the right ram was still not in a good place for a clean shot. As we silently watched the herd of rams fade into the gathering darkness, we knew that tomorrow would bring another opportunity.
Fast forward to the evening of the next day after another great day of stalks and hunting. A group of aoudad rams was seen on the other side of a far hill moving away from us about ¼ mile to the south. Using the cover of juniper stands and hills, a breath-taking 45 minute stalk ensued, half walking, half running. The last 10 minutes was intense. First, a gray fox at 20 feet spotted the hunters and luckily melted into the juniper thicket without sending out an alert. Then, two grazing addax antelope bulls were bypassed at 30 yards; it seemed possible that our breathing would be loud enough to give us away, but the caution exercised by all allowed safe passage. Finally some hulking brown shapes were seen through the brush about 50 yards away in the opening beyond the juniper trees. Blessed to be in the middle of a juniper stand for cover, Holland was able to crawl/creep a little closer to the grazing rams using the sun at his back and the sound of the wind to mask any sounds he made. When no more movement could be risked, Holland set up to hopefully let the aoudad come into a clearing. The group of 5 grand old rams were constantly changing positions and moving as they grazed with their heads down and obviously unaware of the danger that lurked near them. The rams moved at an agonizingly slow pace closing the distance to the point where a decision needed to be made. Holland picked what seemed to be the largest and oldest ram that was 30 yards away and waited for a clean shot. The hard work and opportunity were not squandered…the magnificent old ram ran a short distance and then folded his legs under him and was still.
Please join me in congratulating Holland on such great hunting skills, patience and persistence. These challenging hunts were an experience that I know Holland will always reflect on and relate to his family and friends. And he should share this wonderful experience as these were difficult stalks performed well. Holland now will be able to truly “…tell a different hunting story!!”
Well done, Holland!