You’ve always wanted to know, now you can find out where to go aoudad hunting domestically.
If you want to go aoudad hunting, Texas is the place to be.
Introduced from Northern Africa in the late-1950s, Aoudad or Barbary Sheep quickly adapted to the Texas environment and assumed ownership. Now it appears as though they’ve always been there, so adapted to the cliffs and canyons of Texas’ mountain country have they become.
Aoudad are imposing physical specimens, seemingly part goat and part sheep. They stand around two-and-a-half to three feet at the shoulder, with mature males weighing around 200 to over 300 pounds. Females are generally half that size.
They are deep chested critters that display a tan to sandy-brown coat, which blends in beautifully with their rough and rocky habitat. Their undercarriage is lighter, cream colored. One of the characteristics of this sheep are the long shaggy tufts of hair that grow from their chest to their forelegs, referred to as “chaps.”
Occasionally you will see head and shoulder taxidermy mounts that include the front legs, standing on rocks or a portion of earth, just to highlight this unique feature.
Both males and females have horns, but it is the headgear of the males that is sought after. The horns are considerably larger in mature rams than in ewes, and far more grand in their sweep. They practically meet on the skull, with large, thick bases that flare widely out and backwards towards the body. They are mostly smooth, with some knobbiness at the bases. Trophy sized horns start at around 28 inches in length, with horns in the 32+ inch category considered monstrous. Horns over 36 inches are not unheard of.
Aoudad use their horns to establish dominance during the rut, by pushing one another to the ground, but not rearing back and butting heads like bighorn sheep.
These sheep live in small family groups with animals of both sexes and all ages. They are extremely well adapted to rocky, mountainous terrain, with sparse vegetation and limited water. They are as sure footed as can be, and are very agile over steep inclines and rocky terrain. Even newborn kids can traverse the rocky inclines with relative ease almost immediately after being born. The can also leap over a two meter high obstacle from a standing position.
Because the terrain aoudad live in is generally so void of vegetative cover, they will often simply stand still when sensing a predator, hoping that their camouflage will help them to ‘get lost’ in the rocky cliffs. If that doesn’t work they will usually escape to higher ground, quickly scaling the steepest of inclines.
Aoudad eat as they move, grazing on what vegetation their rugged environment has to offer. They eat a variety of vegetation, including grasses, lichens, and bushes, and they get much of their water from these same sources, although if a water hole is nearby they will take advantage of it.
The sheep also like to wallow, making use of elk-like depressions and covering themselves with a layer of dirt that can seem like a suit of armor. It is thought that not only does this dirt layer help to keep them cool in their harsh environment, but also aids in camouflaging them.
You’ll need to be aware of some things and you’ll want to be sure to have certain pieces of equipment on hand when hunting aoudad via the spot and stalk method. First, this is not a hunt to undertake if you are out of shape. You’ll be hunting in some rough country, at elevation, so get yourself in ‘sheep shape’, with both lifting and cardio. You will also be hauling butt at times, to ambush aoudad you’ve spotted by glassing. Aoudad are busy animals, they cover a lot of ground when they’re moving and eating. Plan your stalk accordingly and be in good shape so that you can carry it out.
Dress in layers. It will probably be cold in the mornings and hot during midday. Be ready to peel layers off as things warm up or you’re moving with a pack and weapon, and add layers when things cool down or you’re sitting and glassing.
Boots, binos and a range finder. Buy the best of each of these that you can afford. Boots that are comfortable, durable and broken in, with good ankle support, are a must. Your feet are incredibly important when aoudad hunting. Don’t skimp or be unprepared in the footwear department.
Buy the best binoculars or spotting scope you can, You’ll be glassing a lot. Same goes for the range finder. You may be shooting uphill, so get one that figures elevation and incline as well.
Trust your guide. Two people are better than one when planning a stalk. Four eyes are better than two when glassing. Your Ox Ranch guide will put you onto aoudad; listen to him. And be prepared for one of the most rewarding hunts you’re likely to experience.