From the time I learned what an Aoudad was, it was immediately on my bucket list. I’m not sure what the initial appeal was, to be honest. I just really wanted to hunt one. I felt it was important to learn a bit more about the animals before booking a hunt. I learned a lot!
Aoudad, also known as Barbary Sheep, reside in rugged desert-like regions of Texas and South West United States. They originate in Northern Africa and were introduced to South Western United States where they began to thrive. They favor very rugged topography and have a very keen sense of alertness, making them difficult to hunt.
Since 1963 the aoudad population in Texas alone has increased 1800%!
These numbers have made aoudad hunting in Texas a lucrative endeavor and a favorite for many hunters.
Aoudad hunting should be on everyone’s bucket list!
Let me count the reasons why:
- Let’s face it, aoudad are fascinating.
They are difficult to find and fun to watch. The large rams have beautiful chaps that basically shimmy when they walk. They are found in extremely rugged regions and often in and around cliffy canyon lands. I literally almost fainted from cuteness overload when I got to watch the babies. The entire experience of just getting to see and watch these elusive animals was worth the whole hunt itself.
- The terrain isn’t easy.
Aoudad are found in free range areas across Texas. As mentioned above, the terrain is steep and rocky. Footing is terrible. Additionally, they are notably found in desert-like regions, which means it could be cold or Africa-Hot. I probably don’t need to mention the fact that every plant and tree in these regions have impaling objects on the ready to stab, maim and dismember.
Okay, maybe not dismember but you get the idea. Once you actually spot an aoudad, the trick lies in closing the distance and getting into shooting position without bleeding to death of careening from a rock face. All of these factors actually enhance the experience and make the aoudad hunt a must-do.
- They are constantly on alert.
They have a very keen sense of sight. They can see a hunter beyond 500 yards and they aren’t inclined to sit tight. They are on alert at all times and at the slightest inclination they will beat a hasty retreat. Often, bachelor groups will utilize a sentry to move ahead in front of the group to alert the rest of any potential danger. The challenge to get into position on these animals is intense and sweetens the experience when you actually harvest a gorgeous ram.
- The scenery is beautiful.
We had the opportunity to hunt some gorgeous free-range canyonlands in the Texas Hill Country with Justin Grosse from Hunting Adventures International. There were stunning rock outcroppings, steep canyons, cactus and beautiful rolling hills on the outskirts. All of this combined with the Texas sunrises and sunsets make this hunt a photographer’s dream.
- The shots are a challenge.
I believe I have fairly well outlined the difficulty of the terrain. This clearly makes taking a shot on an aoudad an unique but fun challenge. The shots will be 200-350 yards on the average and will be taken at tight angles. The technical shooting aspect of this hunt is another bonus. These animals are tough. Remember, they are technically African animals. Shot placement needs to be forward on the shoulder as their vitals are found further forward in the chest cavity. Even if they sustain a solid hit, they are tough and don’t want to go down easily.For a firearm, I go with a rifle and prefer the Mossberg Patriot Scoped Combo Walnut in a .300 Win Mag.
- They are beautiful on the wall.
They just simply are. Their beautiful horns, their coloration and their manes and chaps are unlike any other animal.
Whether you plan to hunt DIY or with an outfitter, you will not be the least bit disappointed by the hunting experience. I highly recommend taking the time to research a reputable outfitter who has solid references and good animals if you plan on a guided hunt. Again, I would personally recommend Hunting Adventures International as they cover tens of thousands of acres of free-range land in their hunting operation. The aoudad are plentiful and their animals are some of the largest trophy rams I have seen.
So get on out there and hunt!