With 100,000+ exclusive, private acres of prime habitat, here’s the perfect new opportunity to find a big, wild, free-ranging B&C class Desert Bighorn ram in the lower 48! Rams must be 10+ years old to be legal & no draw or lottery required!
|| 7+ professionally 1×2 guided hunting days
||Easy – Medium
||Season open from September to March
||Wild, Free-ranging & Indigenous
Here it is! An excellent brand-new hunting opportunity brought to you by the Texas Park & Wildlife. Wild, free-ranging, non-draw Desert Bighorn Sheep in the Chihuahuan desert of Southwest Texas. Trophy sheep hunts are now available for purchase in the lower 48, aside from a Governor’s tag, with no draws, applications, raffles or lotteries.
Just enacted in 2018, enhanced management practices were implemented to generate conservation dollars for the states desert bighorn population. Permits can now be instantly issued to select license holders for any desert bighorn ram in specific areas, provided the ram is confirmed to be 10 years old or older. Rather than succumbing in the wild, this provides an incredible opportunity for conservation-minded hunters to pursue wild, Boone & Crocket class free-ranging desert bighorns in the great state of Texas, without ever having to leave the continental US.
These sheep hunts are perfect for those hunters wishing to drive from home, or unable/unwilling to travel to Mexico. For US hunters, past hurdles such as draw odds, border crossings, firearm or CITES permits, trophy shipping, and brokering are things of the past. Just a simple inspection of the ram by Texas Parks & Wildlife is required at the end of the hunt. Now hunters can focus on what is most important. The overall experience and giving back to the resource they pursue and cherish.
Since 2018, these desert sheep hunts have seen both 100% opportunity and success rates, with typical rams scoring 165-175 B&C points. Hunts are 7+ days, or until the hunter is successful, but most often the target ram is down halfway through the hunt. With exclusive permission on 100,000+ private acres of prime habitat bordering National parks, sheep populations are healthy and heavily pre-scouted. Typically, two guides accompany each hunter and a custom Gunwerks rifle is also available to every hunter upon request. With long seasons spanning from September till March, there is no need to overlap hunters or run hunts back to back. Combo options for species such as Desert Mule Deer in December-January or Aoudad in February-March can also be made possible. Private hacienda-style lodge & authentic Tex-Mex mesquite coal cuisine!
These are some of the least explored regions of Texas, with Big Bend country being a beautiful and ecologically diverse region, rich in wildlife and local history. An enjoyable free-range Desert sheep hunt, that’s not overly physically demanding, and for 10+-year-old trophy caliber rams in the lower 48!
Typical Day & Tactics
Rendezvous the outfitter at a prominent general store or intersection in your personal or rental vehicle roughly 30 minutes from the specific hunting area simplifying final directions to the remote hacienda ranch house. Upon arrival, unpack and prep the hunting gear. Enjoy a light dinner then settle in for the night.
Mornings come early, and after a quick breakfast, pack a personalized bagged lunch hitting the trailhead before the sun crests the horizon. Many of the small isolated mountains and much of their lower elevations are accessible by 4×4 side by side. The rest of the terrain requires some light hiking to reach various key overlooks. This is a classic spot & stalk style hunt, which is generally relaxed. Glass from the vehicle or take a short climb to strategic vantage points with the outfitter in an effort to relocate the specific ram or two that’s being targeted.
Unless hunting immediately near camp, packed lunches keep hunters out in the field glassing and hunting hard all day long. The sheep are famous for suddenly vanishing at first, but the outfitters and his experienced guides know to stay focused and patient, falling back on extensive pre-scouting. Dissect the various cracks and crevices along the side of the mountains with binoculars and spotting scopes. While looking for Bighorn, remain vigilant to Aoudad, Mule deer, and Javelina. Once desert sheep are located, however, things become exciting as the guides judge to confirm the target ram. If they say the word, it’s game on! Making a good judgment call on a trophy ram and closing the distance when needed, is the mark of a savvy sheep outfitter.
At this point, the energy changes and a tactical stalk is devised on how best to get inside of shooting range. Careful maneuvering through the rocks and Yuccas is heart pounding as hunters creep the final yards before getting into a shooting position with the ram unaware. This is big country, and so long-range shooting confidence only helps hunters boost their odds. Fear not, the outfitter is a very capable long-range shooter and rifle coach, extremely proficient with his Gunwerks rifles.
Upon success, immortalize this meaningful harvest with photos and memories. It’s not often in a hunter’s career that they take a big, wild, free-range Desert Bighorn ram. Many of our sheep net above the required 167 points qualifying them for the Boone & Crocket book. Now either hit the road early or choose to more seriously pursue Aoudad or Javelina.
Once the ram is processed and inspected by a Texas Parks and Wildlife official, the bighorn can be hand-delivered to a capable local taxidermist if desired, unless the hunters wish to return home with their ram themselves. With the hunt concluded, hunters are escorted back to the main road either en route to the airport or directly back home. An exciting and very limited South Texas adventure, in the memory bank!
Landscape & Climate
The Chihuahuan desert of Southwest Texas is a harsh and rugged landscape. An obscure corner of the continental US that many don’t get the privilege to explore enough. Reminiscent to Sonora Mexico, these sheep inhabit a series of isolated low elevation mountains strewn across the vast lowland desert flats. In addition to Desert Mule deer and non-native, Aoudad, other indigenous wildlife includes Pumas, Mexican Black Bears, Grey Foxes, Javelina, Golden Eagles, Kangaroo Rats, Montezuma Quail, and Road Runners.
These mountains are less challenging than other sheep hunts. Often less than 2500 vertical feet and with some degree of off-highway vehicle (OHV) accessibility. Vegetation is sparse with the dominant plants being various species of Yuccas. Prickly Pear, Ocotillo, and some Cholla cactus. A few ephemeral rivers or desert washes provide for ribbons of Mesquite thickets, but the low country is otherwise flat and bleak, dominated by Creosote bushes.
A dry desert environment, temperatures here can range throughout the year, but winters are often mild and rarely dip below freezing. Mornings are crisp but the sun warms the landscape quickly as temperatures rise throughout the day. Hunters tend to start the day in a sweater and end it in a T-shirt. If hunting in the fall, temperatures will be hotter and drier, with importance on staying cool and hydrated.
Meals & Accommodations
To complement this sheep hunting experience, stay in one of several traditional stone hacienda style ranch houses depending on the specific hunting area. These ranch houses are usually quite remote, nestled directly in the hunting area, usually with a nice view of the ranch offering both seclusion and privacy. Some ranch houses allow for glassing right from the front porch, while others require a short drive by side by side to overlook a piece of sheep country. Lodges have running water, flushing toilets, a shower, and electricity (sometimes provided by generator) allowing for light, cooking, and wifi. Most haciendas are full of interesting local artifacts collected by the owner over generations of living on the ranch.
Breakfasts are quick and simple to get hunters in the field bright and early. Toast, eggs, fruit, cereal, and coffee is typical. Prepare a packed lunch to stay out and hunt all day, but a lunch break and siesta in camp are always nice. Water, Gatorade, fruit, sandwiches, jerky, cookies, and candy are classic lunch fare. Once back at the lodge for the night, most dinners are prepared over an open fire with aromatic mesquite coals under the stars. Bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers, grilled chicken, pork chops, or Texas steaks often find their way onto the grill, with potatoes, rice, or veggies on the side. Paired perfectly with a cold Cerveza.
Key Equipment Suggestions
Plan for big, open terrain and short but meaningful climbs. Not very equipment heavy, but specialized items could prove very useful. Comfortable, broken-in ankle-high hiking boots and optics are the two most essential items. Consider 10-15x binoculars and rangefinder. A quality spotting scope and tripod are not necessary but allows hunters to participate in locating and judging, enhancing the experience. A day pack (perhaps with a camelback bladder), trekking poles if desired, camp slippers, polarized sunglasses, Chapstick, a digital camera, durable pants and a lightweight sweater for those cool mornings rounds off recommended items. Hunter orange is not required in Texas. Bring your own mountain rifle, otherwise, complementary Gunwerks Rifles are available upon request.
Hunters are asked to arrive at either the Midland or El Paso Airports in SW Texas. Unless driving from home, it is encouraged to rent a vehicle at the airport and drive the approximate 3.5 hours south to the hunting area the day before the hunt commences.
Unless choosing to drive from home, Midland or El Paso are both easily reached by various North American airlines. Either direct flights, or with connections typically in either Denver or Dallas.
Airport pick-up & drop-off services are not included in the package. Hunters are asked to drive to the lodge or rent a vehicle enabling the outfitters to continue pre-scouting and making preparations prior to hunter arrival.
Passport required for all international travel.