California Free Range Aoudad

By Rio Wheeler

June 30, 2015

I had the opportunity to hunt the beautiful mountains of the Central California Coast for Trophy Free Range Aoudad. The original herd was established over 100 years ago. These beautiful animals now roam the mountains in herds sometimes numbering well over 100. I was hunting them during their rut and rams were gathering large harems of ewes which made them very difficult to hunt. We were having to get past hundreds of 10X eyes, ears and incredible noses.

This proved to be one of the hardest hunts I had ever been on. We hiked between 12-15 miles a day of steep terrain. One foggy morning we were able to glass a herd with a large ram and get set up down wind on top of a large rock ridge top. We waited and glassed well over an hour for our ram to make its way out into our shooting lane.

The ram presented me with a quartering away shot at a steep angle. It ranged right a 200 yards. My crosshairs had locked on, aiming through the ram at his far shoulder. The crisp trigger of my Model 700 broke with surprise as I concentrated on the cross hairs, the .308 Win GMX bullet hit it's mark as I watched the ram's feet role straight up in the air as he rolled down the mountain. Success! My outfitter and I tried to pull the 300+ lbs. ram up the almost vertical hill side for pictures. The ram was roughly 12 yrs old, had 12 inch bases and measured just over 29 inches.

My quest was complete, now it was my friend Sam's turn to become the shooter as we had secured the only two hunts for this years Aoudad quota on the ranch, but that's another story.

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