Texas Twins � The Black and White Red Sheep

By Dr. Jim Clary

The details on the origin of the black and white Red Sheep can be read in our article, "The White Red Sheep from South Texas." Ever since Mary saw the twins and managed to bag the white one, she has dreamed about trying for his brother. While the white ram wasn�t exactly easy to find, the black one was incredibly elusive. His dark color allowed him to blend in completely with his surroundings.

After five months of winter in New Mexico, it was time for a change. We packed up for yet another trip to the Double C to hunt for the Black Red Sheep. Early spring is not exactly the optimal time for hunting in south Texas. It is dry as a bone and the winds blow dust and dirt from every direction, making it difficult to track, let alone to get upwind of an animal.

This trip had to be quick, as I was scheduled to conduct compliance inspections at several research facilities and Mary had an MRI scheduled. We conned our daughter, Susannah, into staying at the house to care for the critters (dogs, cats, horses, goats). She didn�t complain, as she had just been notified of a successful draw for the once-in-a-lifetime Oryx license in New Mexico. As an added incentive for Susannah to �house-sit�, Mary stocked the refrigerator with her favorite foods and gave her money for gas. Our budget will probably take a couple of months to recover from that deal.

We could have made the two-day trip to south Texas in one, but that would have entailed driving through Texas �deer country� at night, and we didn�t want to �bag� an off-season buck. As such, we split the trip into our usual two days of travel and arrived shortly after lunch on a Tuesday. After unloading our gear, we met Jeff Myers (owner of the Double C Ranch) and Kevin Cross (our longtime guide) on the porch of the dining hall. Kevin told us that he had seen the ram near the front pond of the ranch a few days earlier. However, the hunt wouldn�t be easy, because of the high winds and lack of foliage. The ram was pretty spooky and would be able to see us coming, before we could see him. Because he was running with a couple of equally spooky ewes, it was questionable as to whether we could even get close enough for a shot. All we could do was try.

DAY ONE: We climbed into Kevin�s Ford and began to search the back roads of the ranch. Seated in the back seat of his truck, I ate enough dust to make a dozen adobe bricks. We saw lots of deer and I got some good pictures of ducks and quai, but no sheep. We searched until dark in an attempt to find signs that would indicate the ram�s location. We passed the front pond and several other watering holes numerous times. Nothing!

Over dinner, we planned our strategy for the next day. To increase our chances, Kevin suggested that we split up in the morning. He would put Mary in a blind across from the front pond. It would be a long shot if she saw the ram, upwards of 200 yards. He would locate me in a blind at the other end of the ranch with a radio. If I saw the ram, I was to call and they would move towards me. Sounded like a good plan.

DAY TWO: Right on schedule, Kevin was pounding on our door at 0500. This time, I rolled out of bed faster than normal and poured a cup of coffee from my thermos. I got my first, second and third cups without having to walk to the dining hall. In fact, I drained the thermos before I left the room to get Mary�s coffee. That�s a good thing, as I tend to stumble around until I get my morning injection of caffeine.

Unbeknownst to us, Kevin has been busy during the night, driving around the ranch searching for evidence of the black ram. He told us that he found the ewes at the front pond around midnight. No ram, but Kevin suspected that he was in the area. Off we went. Kevin dropped me at one end of the ranch and took Mary to the other end, by the front pond.

About one hour after daylight, I heard her shoot. (It's hard to miss the sound of her .300 Mag.) No second shot, a good sign. Pretty soon I heard Kevin�s truck coming my way. I could see my bride�s smile through the windshield as they pulled up. As I climbed down from my blind, I saw her trophy in the bed of the truck. The ram was coal black with a white muzzle and heavy set of horns that rubbed the skin on each side of his neck. He was a bit bigger than his twin brother, having had an additional five months of growth.

We had entered our blinds in total darkness. As daylight broke, Mary could see the ewes bedded down in the brush by the edge of the pond. She also saw the black ram further back in the brush, but she had no shot. Shortly after dawn, the ewes got up and moved to the pond for a drink and snack of dry grass. The ram stayed put. For almost an hour, she watched and waited. Then, luck was with her. The ewes decided to move a back into the brush, but away from the ram. He jumped up and trotted after them, right across an opening at the edge of the pond. At almost 200 yards out, Mary caught him broadside, behind the shoulder, and down he went.

What a pair they make! They are definitely, one-of-a-kind and promise to be the center of attention in our den for years to come. We are having our taxidermist prepare both as half-body mounts. The black and white Texas twins will again be side by side.

Marys White Red Sheep, Sept. 2008 Marys Black Red Sheep, Mar. 2009

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Copyright 2009 by Dr. Jim Clary. All rights reserved.