Finding Adventure Closer to Home
10 Years of producing Beyond The Hunt has just seemed to fly by! For Season 11, Julie and I wanted to do new hunts or go to places we've never been before. International travel got put on hold since the world is in such chaos. Our new motto was to "find adventure close to home." That being said, we didn't want to take anything for granted, so we took nothing off the table.
While I was hunting whitetails in Kansas with my good friend Larry Ellis of EWA Hunting, we were talking about our new plans for Season 11. He said, "I've got a great little hidden gem in southwest Oklahoma, a ranch in the Quartz Mountains loaded with free range Aoudad sheep." "The poor man's sheep hunt", I replied. I've always wanted to do that! A quick look at our schedules and I was set for my first ever and much anticipated Aoudad sheep hunt! The Quartz Mountains lie just off the west end of the Wichita Mountain Range.
I wasn't sure what to expect, but I figured they had to be something special the way Larry talked. The rugged, boulder-covered mountains shot straight up into the sky from the valley floor. It really reminded me of my Desert Bighorn hunt in the mountains of Mexico- thriving agriculture in the valley floor and rugged mountains covered with sheep! My guide Andy Steffes said the only things that live on the mountains are Aoudad sheep and rattle snakes! A man true to his words, we saw lots of sheep and rattle snakes on the morning hunt of Day 1. Snake boots were a pre-requisite on the gear list and I soon understood why.
As the hunt progressed, we located multiple mature rams. Those we gave chase to all had given us the slip like so many old crafty rams will do. Sheep are sheep and they do the craziest things for no apparent reason. Fortunately for them, their inconsistencies are a major attribute when being pursued! My videographer Mike Stephan had gotten a glimpse of what he thought was a big ram skylined on the range to the north only to have him slip over the mountain before we could all get a good look at him. Collectively, we decided to start rock hopping our way up the mountain to get to a vantage point in hopes to get a better look at this ram.
Once in our position, I kept thinking about how much I loved the terrain and the approach we had just made closing the distance. The boulders were so challenging but they had allowed us to get in close without making much noise. After a short distance to belly crawl, the team was now within 150 yards of the band of rams. We soon found the ram Mike had seen and Andy confirmed he was a mature ram. I could feel everything get a bit more serious now. We were in a position to just be patient and wait for the big ram to give me a clean shot opportunity.
With the squeeze of the trigger, I immediately realized that I had found what I came for. A beautiful mature ram in the Quartz Mountains! An amazing animal living in some rugged wild place that I didn't have a clue existed…and not that far from home!
A big thanks to EWA Hunting. I've been fortunate to have been in this industry for over 26 years and this was a first! I can't wait to take Julie next year!