MOORE COLUMN: Exotic sheep hunting affordable, fun
Exotic hunting is a big industry in Texas.
From a handful of species available to hunt in the 1960s, we now have more than 40 from around the world available on Texas ranches.
This week I would like to talk about some affordable species that you can hunt without breaking the bank, namely the exotic sheep.
Corsican-This is the classic exotic sheep with horns that curl outward and often in a full double position. Their coats can range from burn orange to nearly deer color and some specimens sport an impressive mane of fur that makes them as attractive as any North American game.
Texas Dall-While most hunters will never be able to hunt Alaska’s Dall sheep, the Texas Dall is an affordable alternative that is essentially a white Corsican. The horn configuration is the same although the horns of this ram tend to be a light color. Some Texas Dalls are pure white while others have a mixed reddish/orange in their coat.
Hawaiian Black-There’s something majestic about a large, black ram walking up a hillside and that is what makes this one of the most popular of the exotic sheep. They are often noted for sporting a heavy coat of wool although some have a thin coat and will occasionally have a chocolate brown-color mixed in the coat.
Mouflon-A truly wild sheep, they are small but have large heart-shaped horns that almost never spiral outward like the Corsican. True mouflons are fairly rare on Texas ranches but they do exist. Besides the horn configuration, the classic trait is a large white saddle patch on the back and a short tail.
Merino-A huge, wooly domestic breed from the Pacific, merinos often called “Rambo Rams” are the largest horned by far. Forty plus inch horns are not uncommon on these animals that can weigh upwards of 250 pounds on the hoof. Merinos seem to come in two varieties. They are either almost entirely tame or super wary. And while the wool may turn off some hunters, the horns are undeniably impressive.
Four Horn-Also called “Jacob’s Sheep”, these unique animals are mentioned in the Bible and date back to the earliest period of the Old Testament. They have goat-like horns on the top of their heads that typically rise straight up with a slight bowing and then regular ram horns on the side. Colors range from white to red although most are a mix of colors.
Many fourhorns have sort of mutated looking horns with one growing tight to the head or not at all. If you take one of these with all four horns large and well defined you have taken a noteworthy trophy.
Aoudad- Aoudad (Barbary sheep) were officially released into the Palo Duro Canyon in the Panhandle decades ago and have been stocked on hundreds of exotic ranches in the Hill Country and beyond. Aoudad will tear up deer feeders and could potentially out-compete native desert bighorn for food but they certainly do more damage than domestic sheep and goats and they are highly embraced by the hunting community.
Texas hunters looking for off-season action can find plenty on Texas ranches. Most of these animals are available to hunt for a fairly affordable fee and provide great action especially for young hunters or those using crossbows or archery equipment.
The “Grand Slam” is the collection of all four species of North American wild sheep. The “Texas Slam” is the taking of a Corsican, Texas Dall, Hawaiian black and mouflon. While it might not be as glamorous as shooting Stone’s sheep in Canada, hunting Texas rams can be every bit as fun and it is far more affordable.
As the deer hunting season ends you might want to look at some of these exotic hunting alternatives as in many cases they are affordable and available year-round.
And believe it or not, the meat of these sheep tastes great if cooked properly. The late great bowhunting legend Fred Bear once said the freshly cooked ribs of wild sheep was his favorite of all wild game.
(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at email@example.com. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI and online at www.klvi.com.)