by Craig Ellwanger, AAE founder
It was coming together almost as if it were scripted. A golden brown figure stands stoic in the early morning sunlight, high atop a massive, white boulder protruding from the hillside, some 250 yards away from my position across the canyon. Moments later I would have my chance at realizing one of the longest-standing hunting dreams of my life…a shot at a magnificent aoudad ram. What I was witnessing in that instant was, in hindsight, an almost “to a T” scenario that had been scripted in my mind for many years.
It began on a ranch in the Hill Country some 12 years ago, as I guided for the first time on a game ranch near Brady, Texas. Trying to do my best to lead “my” hunter (the CEO of a fiber optics company in Virginia) to a trophy whitetail, we spent long hours on stand & trekked many miles to attempt to rattle a big buck into range. On the 3rd evening of the hunt, as we sat overlooking a food plot, we both spotted an animal I had never before seen on the hoof. After a few puzzling moments, I verified to my hunter that what he was looking at was one of the few wild aoudad rams this ranch had.
He came in all alone and was walking straight at us, large banana-shaped horns & flowing “chaps” glimmering in the fading sunlight. I’ll admit, at the time, I had no idea how to field judge a trophy ram from the next guy, but from hearing the stories at camp of how elusive & rare they were (and from holding a euro mount from a previously taken ram), I knew this was a rare opportunity on this ranch. My hunter did not exactly share my excitement and almost had to relinquish his rifle to me, upon deciding to finally take a shot. What we soon found on the ground was a mature, 27″ aoudad (the largest ever taken on that ranch up to that time)! From the moment I put my hands on him I knew (more…)