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Archery NM Barbary Sheep

Archery Aoudad spot and stalk New Mexico

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#1 C.C.Cody171

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Wandering the new and wide open grounds of what seamed like endless desolation with my brother, Caleb, wasn't similar to any hunting I've done. We had already been walking for days, occasionally reaching enough of a rise in the rolling topography to see a few more miles of the same color rock and sparse vegetation. Although, snaking through it, here and there, were cliffs made up from many years of water flow in washes and what the maps refer to as "rivers", even with the absence of water for a majority of each year. Along with each new vantage, earned by sore feet and legs, came the hope for a sighting of our nomadic prey. Of this foreign animal we knew very little, basically just what we came to believe through word of mouth and limited research.

We had a decent amount of information going into this hunt but like any other subject, there's plenty of info, the trick is separating accurate from false. The only consistent way we have found to achieve this is with boots on the ground and eyes behind the glass. Late nights walking back to camp or the truck, hours after dark. We were beat, how could we go so many days without even laying our eyes on a New Mexico Barbary Sheep (Aoudad) and expect Caleb to fill his rifle tag and take one home. After laying down one night in the freezing temperatures with nothing but a breathing channel exposed to the night air, I was held hostage by my hunting partners night howling that I've been pestered with since childhood. Always jealous of Caleb's ability to immediately be asleep and snoring, I remained awake. Without motion, going over this hunt with detailed consideration. It was time for a change in landscape.

We discussed our options, hours before daylight, the next morning and high tailed it for different country. The several combined units for this hunt makes up an absolutely massive chunk of real estate, scattered with private land. We had to avoid the often non fenced, non posted, private land with extreme care. In NM, it's each hunters responsibility to be capable enough with a GPS or map to stay out of court for trespassing. A serious offense, especially if you've dropped an animal. So, now we found ourselves in habitat the opposite of what we had been hunting. Most of this maze of deep canyons clustered with sheer cliffs was impassable for humans. We carefully navigated along the ridges from the top of the mountain where, fortunately, a rough road granted us access. We both glassed until our eyes were burnt from the intense wind that apparently never rests in this area. Two days later we were in awe that our efforts to provide Caleb with a shot were still without reward. No Barbary Sheep were found. What the "heck" can we do!!!Another night spent away from home and my warm bed. Once again laying in the pitch black. Too tired, thirsty and confused to sleep. Listening to the consistent inhale of my beloved brothers nasal situation. We had both, long since recognized my good fortune on opening day. Now, I recall those unbelievable and exciting events in my minds eye.

Accustomed to hiking, glassing, spotting, stalking and killing coues deer in Arizona, we topped our first hill of the hunt with long awaited excitement. Soon realizing this wouldn't be the meticulous, picking apart, type of glassing we were used to. By 8:00 we were already aways from our trucks, surveying from our third hilltop. I spoke up about some sheep I discovered, they looked about a mile away. We studied them for a little while, this being the first either of us had ever seen in the wild, it was interesting to note their behavior. There was eleven in the group and possibly a couple were rams. We had rifle tags for either sex but we had agreed to hold out for any ram. Both females and males grow horns and from a distance it can be difficult to tell the difference, for beginners especially. Hearing from other people that these crazy looking things were extremely flighty and had incredible vision. We decided to carefully retreat from our lookout and circle around in order to advance while out of sight. After covering nearly a mile we realized Caleb's range finder still wouldn't reach half way to our destination. It's advertised as a 1600 yard tool. To say the least we were terrible at judging distance in this barren place. I've never even hunted antelope and their typical range would be the closest example of our surroundings. We navigated through several gullies and modest changes of elevation trying to remain hidden. As we reached our new goal we slowly gained vision over the horizon. We were now positioned with a deep rocky gorge between us and the sheep. It was impossible not to spot them with our naked eyes at this distance. A quick check, it came back at roughly 400 yards. A chip shot for Caleb with his 7mm mag but, still a bit outside my comfort zone with my stick flinger. Knowing we had the entire month of February to return to NM on the weekends, after our initial week long trip. I had decided to give it a chance with my bow for the first half of the days I could hunt. Everything I could find to read or watch about Aoudad hunting wasn't encouraging of this challenge. As Caleb set up to shoot, I studied my stalk options and came up with a plan. We checked the GPS one more time to confirm we were still within the fairly small section of public land. I told him not to hesitate to fill his tag with what turned out to be only one ram in this group, if I bumped them during my attempt to get within range. Although only about 400 yards away, it was necessary for me to back out of sight again and follow the landscape way around for possibly over a mile walk in total, to get all the variables in my favor. Caleb patiently waited for me to appear from over the rocks along the opposing ridge. If these Aoudad began to move off at any point he was game for putting this ram in his freezer but later he would share how excited he got when my head suddenly floated into view on the horizon above the sheep. I started creeping down hill towards the wary critters.
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At this point I was glad to see my landmarks had served me well for the blind approach. I came over, slowing exposing the hillside below me and started to see the yellowish/orangish shapes through the short shrubs and grass. Some were bedded and I couldn't see the ram so I continued forward. I had assumed this stalk wouldn't work out when I started but figured since we found the opportunity so early in the hunt, there would be more chances often. As I closed the distance I spotted my shooter once I was about 130 yards from him. Some of the ewes were bedded and the rest were lazily grazing, all in close proximity. Constantly scanning each animal, I inched closer for a long while. There was minimal breeze but it was in my face and I had elevation in my favor as well. The only problem was a complete lack of cover. I worked to get close for probably an hour and was disappointed to realize I was still over 100 yards away. Unfortunately, the sheep were also slowly working their way down hill. I had practiced more than ever for a long shot in preparation for this hunt, due to their elusive reputation and the possibility of open terrain. I ranged the ram, he was standing quartered away at 102 yards. I observed that I was having no issue with buck fever. The wind was basically dead and what remained was straight in my face. I glanced across the ravine at the statue behind his glass on a tripod. Little did I know, Caleb's heart was racing. I'd been smoking my target beyond this distance at home, with my broadheads. My live target in that moment stood his ground, completely unaware of my contemplation.

I subconsciously went through my mental checklist and felt a flutter in my stomach. I studied the ground between us and knew there was no getting closer. With 22 elite eyes doing their best to survive predators, I wondered how I even got to where I was. Delaying my next step was coming to an end. A few ewes took small steps, they were moving away. I was convinced I could make this shot but I'll be honest. I'm a skeptic for long shots, on living creatures. My prey was clueless, soaking up the sun in the wide open. Although, in my experience, being in the open exposed to this many animals, getting busted is only a matter of time. My chance was evaporating every second. The ram took a few steps away and then turned broadside, looking downhill at his ladies that were becoming distant. I thought "ok 104". Caleb about lost it when I rose from my position and drew my bow. Settling my last bit of movement, my pin sunk into his bread basket. Everything was perfect, I felt I could responsibly send the deadly arrow. My bow suddenly sprang and I was almost shocked to see my arrow way above the ground, arching onward! It traveled so far I lost it in flight but the ram stood for impact. I glimpsed fletchings bouncing along beside his body as he rapidly disappeared over the crest.

I was suddenly aware of my pounding heart and felt nervously sick. I stood still and put in another arrow. The rest of the sheep hadn't run, they jumped around a bit and stared in all directions trying to figure out what happened. They moved uphill, toward me and came to within 70 yards! I watched for the ram but counted only 10 heads over and over. Caleb was doing the same thing, the ram had darted into the draw out of view but it happened so fast. We weren't sure if he had returned to the others. They finally spotted me and wasted no more time. Those animals move amazingly through anything. They were across a cliff that skirted the deep, narrow canyon and out of sight within seconds. I took a deep breath after once again counting 10 animals, as they disappeared. Caleb and I each examined up and down the gorge that separated us, carefully from each of our positions for about 30 minutes. No movement. He gathered his gear and snuck my way. I slowly crept toward the point of impact, reaching it provided zero satisfaction. I moved in the direction of the rams exit, no tracks, no blood, no sheep, no good. I was disappointed in myself but there was still a chance. We both saw the arrow in his side but were unsure of its exact location. Caleb was coming across the very bottom of the deep rocky cut as I went to meet him. Now at only a short distance, we traded enough info to learn we were both unsure of my shot results. He excitedly exclaimed about being able to see my arrow through his binos coming toward the sheep from the opposite side. He said it looked like I smoked him but it was hard to tell because the ram immediately ran down, out of sight. Caleb had barely been peeking over his ridge, in fear of spooking them. Hope was dwindling as I cautiously worked down through the rocks for the last bit, to reach the bottom. Both our mental states of mind did a 180 and a couple back flips when I noticed the dead ram in some bear grass a short ways ahead! I erupted and Caleb almost hurt himself getting through the terrain to reach me. After some big hugs and coming back to earth I yelled "Dude, I just killed a Barbary Sheep with my bow!" We soaked in the moment, exchanging details of the whole ordeal. I've been fortunate to harvest a number of big game animals with my bow over the last few years. All in the same spot and stalk fashion but usually it has happened while solo. It was so very special for me to share this experience with my brother and not only that, he actually got to watch the whole thing. We decided to carry the sheep, out of the canyon, to get pictures showing the land we were hunting in. Major chore, they're heavier than they look. Then we worked quickly carving meat and packing up. We were both exhausted once we reached the trucks several miles away. With some relief, we figured, surely we could find Caleb a sheep right away and head home. There was no camp, we had simply parked on the shoulder of a county road at 10:00 the night before and gone to bed. It was our first time in the unit because, regrettably, our work schedules and prior commitments made scouting impossible this time. We just knew there was a section of public land in one direction, that hopefully held some of these mysterious Barbary Sheep!
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I woke up later that month still shaking my head with disbelief and realized I was quite cold. Caleb was getting ready for another day of trying to grind out success. I rolled out of my sleeping bag to prepared our oatmeal. We hunted the rest of the days we planned but never fired a shot. One time, Caleb spotted two running sheep about five miles away for just a few seconds. That's the only other sighting we had. Besides the impressive herd of mature rams we got to observe right in the middle of our hunting area, on the other side of an eight foot fence! At only a couple hundred yards they paid little mind, we could have blundered within bow range of these pets. All this took place back in February of this year. Seven months later I was sitting around with my kids telling stories and they insisted to hear about the cool looking euro mount once again. Grabbing it off the wall brought back all those memories and I couldn't help but write something up, after all. I'm not necessarily for long range shooting at animals, that's what has kept me from feeling as good about that hunt all this time. I'm glad it worked out for that amazing animal to not have suffered but it's a lot of arrow flight time for one step to cause a bad hit. As it was, the double lung dropped him within 80 yards!
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As always, I was able to enjoy this hunt to the fullest knowing I had the support of my amazing wife and would like to thank her for everything. Her whitetail hunt in AZ is next, wish us luck! Thanks for reading and if anyone is planning an Aoudad hunt, I wish you the best of luck!

#2 Heat

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That is quite a challenge!  Congratulations on your success!


Genesis 27:3

John 15:13

Romans 8:38-39


#3 Big Browns

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WOW, great story! Huge congrats!!!!!

#4 PRDATR

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Felt like I was there right along with you. Big Congrats. Neither of my brothers hunt so it was very special when my brother from NY came out for a few days and went camping and turkey hunting with me in 27.

Be was the one who heard a gobble that I set up on and called him in and took him with my brother beside me. It was great.


All over Az in the big red truck

#5 Will K

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Impressive. Congrat's.



#6 cramerhunts

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After hunting these awesome critters multiple times I know exactly what an amazing accomplishment you did by filling your tag with archery equipment spot and stalk. As usual great write up as I felt every up and down. Congratulations!


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#7 C.C.Cody171

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Thanks guys. I encourage anyone looking to hunt something new to give it a try. They're really cool animals! Although, if we get drawn again, I plan to put in some serious scouting.

#8 CraigK

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You are an incredible bow hunter. I can only dream about some of the hunts you've written about. My hats off to you! Thanks for sharing all of your stories.

#9 Norteno

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Wow great shooting! What is your bow/arrow setup?

#10 C.C.Cody171

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Thanks, I appreciate that!
Well, I've sense changed my arrow setup but at that time I was shooting Easton Axis. An innerloc shapeshifter broadhead. Hoyt defiant bow with a 5 pin slider. I've gone to black eagle arrows for now, 402 grains plus 100 grain broadhead at 280 fps. Lots of energy and great in wind!

#11 Zeke-BE

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Congrats. I'm watching the kids right now so I'll come back tonight read a story looks awesome





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