The White Red Sheep from South Texas
A few years ago there was a small herd of free-range red sheep on a ranch in south Texas. They were part of a program to establish them on other ranches. Much to the chagrin of the ranch manager, a large Texas Dall ram and equally large black Hawaiian ram showed up. These traveling men took an immediate liking to one of the red sheep ewes. However, the owners figured that the red sheep rams would dominate and keep the intruders away until they could capture them.
After considerable effort, the aliens were removed and everything returned to normal, or so they thought. The following spring, surprise, surprise, one of the red sheep ewes dropped two rather unusual kids. One was coal black and the other was snow white. They were definitely not pure-blooded red sheep, so they wound up on the Double C Ranch to grow up and entertain the guests.
Fast forward to 2008, both sheep are now grown and have developed into magnificent rams. There was one problem; they had the typical massive horns of Red or Mouflon sheep, but with the body color of their daddies. As beautiful as they were, they were neither "fish nor fowl." Guest hunters on the ranch thought they were beautiful, but not being pure, showed no interest in harvesting them.
The vast majority of hunters are not looking for trophies to get into the Boone & Crockett or Safari Club record books. They are hunting for the pleasure of the sport, to put some meat in the freezer and, if fortunate enough, to harvest a beautiful specimen for mounting. For example, I have an aoudad that doesn’t qualify for even a SCI bronze medal, but he is absolutely beautiful. His horns are perfectly symmetrical and there isn’t a scar on his body. As such, he is my trophy aoudad and I don’t need any medals or certificates to be proud of him.
No one should take offense to my statement, as I am not trying to belittle hunters that search for silver or gold medal animals. There are times when I wish that I could afford to do so, or at least be lucky enough to get one on my regular hunts. My point is: Your animal does not have to make the record books to be a trophy.
The preceding is exactly how my wife felt when she saw the White Red sheep on the Double C. Even as an adult, his coat was white as snow. His horns were massive, showing the scars of some pretty nasty battles with other rams. After seeing him the first time as he ran through the brush with his black brother, Mary decided that she wanted him on the wall. Not for the record books, but to appreciate his uniqueness and beauty. After all, he and his brother are one-of-a-kind and there will probably never be another two like them, given the unpredictable nature of genetics.
With that in mind, we set out to find the White Red Sheep that roamed the Double C Ranch. I thought the gold medal Texas Dall that Mary bagged was a difficult hunt. This hunt was even was harder. I swear that ram knew we were after him. Every time we spotted him in the brush, he moved deeper and farther back into areas that were inaccessible. When he moved, it was always in a direction that we had not predicted. After two twelve hour days of hard hunting, it looked like Mary would never get a clear shot. On the third morning, Kevin put us in a high blind to hunt for pigs, as we had almost given up on finding the White Red Sheep ram.
We entered the blind in total darkness. Even with Mary sitting right beside me, I could not make out her face. By 7:30 AM, the sun had risen enough to provide us with a fair picture of the brush around us. Our blind was situated at the junction of two dirt roads (more like fire breaks). One directly in front of us and the other to my left. Lots of whitetails and young axis deer roaming around, but no pigs, let alone sheep.
Just as I was ready to tell Mary that we should head back to the ranch house for breakfast, I spotted a white something moving to my left. It was definitely a ram, but was it ours, or a Texas Dall? He was trailing a group of ewes and as he passed a small clear spot in the brush, I recognized him, the White Red Sheep. No shot for Mary from her position, but if he crossed the road in front of us, she’d have a chance if he wasn’t moving too fast. Mary got ready, positioned her rifle on the window, squinted through her scope, slid the safety off and waited for him to cross. The ewes dashed across the road and . . . nothing. The ram was hanging back from the edge of the road, not moving. He stood there like a statue, but with all brush, there was no clear shot.
Mary waited and waited, still no movement from the ram. She mumbled a few words that I can’t repeat. Nurses have an incredible vocabulary. Probably got it from the doctors they hang around with. Then, he literally leaped from his position to cross the road. Mary caught him right behind the shoulder as he hit the brush on the other side. He reared back and dropped like he had been hit with a sledge. My rangefinder put the distance at 115 yards. It was a clean kill with her new Ruger M77 in .270 Win. I load all of our hunting ammunition and Mary was shooting the old-style 140 grain Winchester Silvertips. I really like those bullets. They get the job done just as well as any of the fancy new bullets on the market.
When we returned to the ranch to dress and cape out her ram, every hunter on the place showed up to take pictures. Never before had they seen such a beautiful specimen. A couple of them started to congratulate me and I stopped them, saying, “Not me, my bride is the one who nailed him, one shot at a full gallop.” At that point, one of the guides spoke up and simply said, “Mary is one hell of a shot. She shoots F-Class at 1,000 yards, so a 100+ yard shot for her is like point-blank range.” After the guys closed their open mouths, they all started congratulating my bride and patting her on the back. Hunting is truly a sport for all people, regardless of age or gender.
We are now thinking about returning next year to see if we can find this ram’s half brother. The coal black one with the same mouflon/red sheep horns. That might be even more of a challenge, as we only saw him once in our four-day hunt and then he was gone. It would be nice to have them both on the wall, side by side. We might even be able to convince the folks who make Black & White Scotch to use them in an advertisement!
We will return to south Texas and the Double C Ranch in the near future. Not only to hunt, but to visit old friends and enjoy the hospitality.
Copyright 2008 by Dr. Jim Clary. All rights reserved.