Exotics: Sheep Cartridges (Aoudad, Corsican, Hawaiian, Jacobs, Mouflon and others)

By Chuck Hawks

Susannah Clary with a very nice mouflon sheep taken with one shot from her .270.

Various species of wild sheep are hunted around the world. Many non-native sheep have been imported into the U.S., where they are hunted on private preserves and ranches. These exotic sheep are generally similar in size and shape to more familiar North American wild sheep such as the Alaskan Dall (white) sheep.

Reasonably common exotic sheep species include the Texas Dall, Aoudad, Corsican, Jacobs (4-horn), Painted, Mouflon, Red and Hawaiian. In the wilds sheep usually inhabit rough, mountainous terrain. I have hunted exotic sheep in Texas where, despite the generally flat country, they seem to have adapted well.

Exotic sheep will vary in average size depending on species, from perhaps 90 pounds for a Mouflon ram up to 250 pounds live weight for a large Aoudad ram. Most of the medium size exotic rams probably weigh between 130-150 pounds. While not large, they can be rather tough animals to kill cleanly.

In general, the same rifle cartridges usually recommended for hunting wild North American sheep will also serve for hunting exotic sheep. Plus, since the range is seldom long, many of the traditional deer cartridges on the order of the .30-30 will also serve nicely. As a general guide, figure on using a bullet carrying 800 ft. lbs. of energy at impact as a minimum and stay within the maximum point blank range (+/- 3") of your cartridge. Follow those guidelines, do your part, and all will be well.

Corsican sheep
Bob Fleck with Corsican ram and 7x57 rifle.

One of the real problems with recommending hunting cartridges is that the vitality and state of mind of the individual animal has a lot to do with how hard it is to bring down. Most hunters have noticed how relatively easy it is to kill a relaxed animal and how difficult it can be to stop an animal high on adrenaline that is running for its life.

The best way to insure a quick kill on exotic sheep is accurate bullet placement with a bullet of proper design for the purpose. Conventional soft point bullets such as the Hornady InterLock, Remington Core-Lokt, Sierra Pro Hunter and Winchester Power Point will usually kill faster than the tougher premium bullets.

Mary Clary took this Texas Dall with one shot from her .243.

It would be too cumbersome to list every possible exotic sheep cartridge, and I would inadvertently leave out someone's favorite in any case. The cartridges mentioned below are just examples of typical sheep cartridges. If a cartridge is not listed it does not mean that it is inappropriate. Look for a cartridge with similar ballistics and if you find one the cartridge in question is also probably satisfactory.

Here are some examples of recommended exotic sheep cartridges:

.25-06, .257 Weatherby, .260 Remington, 6.5x55 SE, 6.5mm Rem. Magnum, 6.5x68S, .264 Win. Magnum, .270 Winchester, 7mm-08, 7x57, 7x64 Brenneke, .280 Remington, .30-30, .300 Savage, .308 Marlin, .308 Winchester, .30-06, .303 British, .32 Winchester Special, 8x57JS, .35 Remington and similar cartridges.

Dr. Jim Clary with aoudad and his .300 Magnum rifle.

This is a diverse range of cartridges, so I must re-emphasize that it is important to stay within the maximum point blank range (MPBR) of the cartridge selected and to remember the 800 ft. lbs. of energy on target guideline. The .35 Remington, for example, is fine short range (100 yard) cartridge, but sheds energy and killing power fast as the range increases. The .270 Winchester, on the other hand, is a long range cartridge with sufficient killing power at 300 yards. Both are entirely adequate exotic sheep cartridges with proper bullet placement and when used within their MPBR and killing power limitations. Good luck and good hunting!

4-horn sheep
The author used a 7x57 rifle to take this Jacobs (4-horn) sheep.

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Copyright 2006 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.