Just returned from the panhandle after chasing aoudad for a few days. We got it done but let me tell you what, everything I read about this hunt being difficult is a flat out lie. It’s more than difficult in my opinion unless you hunt smart and luck out like a forum member on here. Jokes aside, this was the hardest hunt I’ve ever been on. I’m 99% sure we won’t apply again but I’m glad we gave it a shot.
The lodge/accommodations were great, good group of guys and beautiful yet brutal country.
The units were redrawn this year, so you have 3 units, 2 groups of 2 in each (12 total hunters for the mathematically challenged). We drew unit 3 which is the Far East side.
Day 1, we met at 8 am and were turned lose around 10. Our plan was to descend down a bit to get a better view of the Mesa on the north side of the river in preparation of a day 2 hike up and over. Not 15 min in, we saw a young ram at 28 yards, but didn’t pull the trigger. Fast forward another 15 min and I fell down the side of a hill about 15 yards leaving me with a nice bruised thigh, a beat up gun and crushed gear. Sore as heck but didn’t let that stop me. Because we saw a ram so high, we spent the end of the day scouting little flats in the southern part of 3 with no luck.
Day 2, I loaded up on Advil and we hit the trail early. Went down through unit 2, followed the river east into 3, then made the hike up and over the north Mesa. Fortunately we found a heard of appx 25 sheep with several nice rams at 600 yards. We made a quick move and closed the gap where my buddy connected with one at 357 yards.. I go to grab my gun for a follow up and hear an odd noise. My scope moved! Probably from the fall but didn’t notice until that moment. I had been carrying a 12 lbs paper weight all day.. so I grab my buddies rifle and shoot at one right at 350. These sheep don’t really scatter much for a few after being shot at.. we could have probably shot a third before they were completely out of site, but held off.
Now the hard part. We hike down the second canyon wall to cape cape these things out. The hike back up and over the north Mesa, then across the valley back up the south Mesa to camp was hell. There were a lot of oh S&@$ moments. We were never lost but there were times we just didn’t know if we had the best path down or back up these canyon walls. Our decent led us through a cave that fortunately came out where we needed it to.
Day 3, we packed up and headed for home as we could barley pull ourselves into the truck. There were only 2 groups out of the 6 that checked in the last morning on day 3 so I didn’t feel too bad.
In total for 2 days, I believe 10 Aoudad were killed and 0 pigs. The two nicer rams came out of unit 3. As mentioned earlier, the better ram taken came on the south side of unit 3 but it sounded as though the rest were all killed on the north side of each unit.
It may have been easier to camp to put you closer to where the sheep should be, but it was really nice to come back to a hot shower and comfortable bed each night.
If anyone has questions, send me a pm. I had a lot of help from other hunters and happy to pass on the knowledge. Just know this hunt is a young mans game and you’d better hit the peleton hard before attempting this one.
View from camp
First ram spotted at 28 yards
The pack out
The cave to “who knew where”
Truly an adventure of a lifetime. We both feel accomplished but will leave this hunt open for the younger crowd going forward!