Father/Daughter Mouflon Hunt…Memorable Stalk!
The Friday afternoon arrival at the Patio Ranch for Bruce and his daughter Lauren was exceptional not only because it was a father/daughter hunt that they were sharing, but they brought some great and much needed rain showers with them. The showers abated to allow some practice time at the rifle range and a great time was had by all shooting at 100 yards and then shooting for the bragging rights at the 320 yard target across the juniper covered draw; this plate is a thick piece of steel about 16” in diameter. Bruce made the plate dance on its supports with the first shot…Bruce was steady and ready.
The hunt started with a search in the 500 acre pasture for a pure European mouflon. There were five really large rams in addition to the 40+ other young rams, ewes and lambs in the pasture. The cloud ceiling was low and the contrast was poor for sighting animals. We decided to sit on the pasture high spot and glass over a very large clear area that is surrounded by dense juniper stands. The sheep often come out of this thick cover to graze in the opening but they are able to still remain close to the safety of the thick trees.
After a 15-20 minute search, a group of rams ventured out onto the opening at a distance of 400+ yards. They were on the other side of a small rise in the pasture that would allow us to possibly walk in a crouch to get close enough to peek over the crest and get a shot. About that time, a light rain shower started and stayed with us the rest of the evening. (Although we wanted to dance to celebrate the blessed rain, restraint was practiced!) The slow crouching walk began. As we came closer, we could see 5 rams: two large rams and three mature but younger rams. The larger ram was selected and he was tremendous! Much time was spent waiting for them to move so we could possibly get a shot as they were slowly grazing with their heads down in the direction of the three hunters. Then, a group of axis bucks started to filter out of the brush as the light started to fade. We might be able to make a shot before the axis would spot us and put out an alarm. All we needed was the ram to take one more step and Bruce would be able to take a shot from his shooting sticks. Then, an axis buck that had come out of the brush behind us barked and out hearts sank; the sheep ram off slowly wondering what danger the axis had spotted. How disappointing…but it was fun.
But God still had a great plan for this hunt: as we topped the hill that the rams had run over, the three rams ran out of the contiguous brush and stopped at about 120 yards down the hill in a line where we could see all five sheep. The poor light helped to hide us as well as making the shot more difficult. “He is the second from the right” was whispered to Bruce and that is all the direction Bruce needed…ther ram disappeared from our sight into the tall grass as the shot rang out. Three wet hunters walked to the ram and only then did we realize the tremendous horns on this grand old ram. After that, the rain did not seem to bother anyone.
As you can see from the pictures, the father/daughter team took a great ram. The stalk, the rain, the darkening sky, the hunters in the midst of axis and mouflon, the difficulty of the hunt are all parts of this great experience that Bruce and Lauren will hopefully remember forever. We ask you to help them celebrate all of the great aspects of this unique experience and listen to them as they, in the future, will truly be able to “…tell a different hunting story!!”
Best wishes for your summer rains and some great grass growth!!