Spring is in the air. For me this year, that meant pursuing free-range Aoudad in the rugged hills of West Texas.
Native to North Africa, Aoudad were introduced to the Texas landscape somewhere around the late fifties/early sixties. Since their original taste of sweet freedom, the species has taken a strong foothold in the region. Genetically located between a sheep and a goat, Aoudad are extremely beautiful and represent a challenging hunting opportunity.
The first order of business when we got to camp was putting out the American flag. I thought that was pretty dang cool. I’m sure this flag has seen its share of hunters come and go. Much like the country we were in, the flag was a bit rough, but held a lot of character.
Aoudad are inherently tough to spot. Once you get to a good vantage point, it’s time to get to work with your glass. Our 15x56 Kaibab’s on a tripod are ideal for tearing apart the landscape in search of these elusive and naturally camouflaged critters.
Everybody says it once they visit Texas, but everything really is covered with thorns and wants to stick you.
We were lucky to catch many of the cacti in bloom and appreciate their beauty.
This plant is called a Spanish Dagger – and for good reason - it is not pleasant to bump into. On several occasions, we witnessed Aoudad stand on their hind legs in order to reach the flowers. I watched one group of three eat off the same bloom at once. They must taste really good as they appeared to be highly sought after.
Javelina were prevalent in the area and fun to watch.
On the third day of the hunt I was able to connect on this nice Aoudad. The shot was just less than 300 yards. I had the time, so I dialed the turret on my Viper HS LR 6-24x50 and held dead on. The ram dropped in his tracks. I think I’m going to like my new 6.5 Creedmoor.
Man these animals are neat looking.
Before we knew it, the sun was setting on our last day. The hunt was in the books and we would be heading back to reality. It went so fast it was almost as blurry as this image.
“The eye in the sky” This blimp was suspended in the air and visible throughout the hunt. I’m assuming its job was some sort of border surveillance. On our way home, it was grounded and I was able to snap this shot from the vehicle. I wondered if they were able to see us while we hunted.
I recommend anyone looking for a unique hunt; consider chasing free-range Aoudad in west Texas. The hunt is incredibly optics-intensive; making a top-quality 15x binocular, as well as a top-quality spotting scope essential. Longer shots are a definite possibility. Knowing your rifle and being able to dial elevation can prove to be valuable when the moment of truth arrives. Good luck out there.