Another Exotic Trophy
Gold Class Aoudad in the snow with the Mathews bow.
Winter in Northwestern Pennsylvania can be harsh, cold, and snowy. Once the Pennsylvania deer season is over, I begin looking for exotics hunts. I enjoying traveling out of state to chase exotic animals such as blackbuck antelope, sika deer, axis deer, fallow deer, rams, and hogs. All of these animals are wonderful to eat and exciting to hunt with a bow.
The first winter that I traveled out of state to hunt exotics was in 2016. A friend of mine had a hunting preserve in southern Ohio, and he invited me down to hunt fallow deer. I remember the morning was frigid, and there were at least 2 inches of snow on the ground. Finding a vantage point to see a well-traveled trail, I was able to see the fallow deer. Watching intently as the fallow buck walked my way, I prepared for a 30-yard shot. As the fallow stopped in an opening, I released the Black Eagle Spartan arrow. A well-placed shot allowed me to claim my first fallow deer.
My first chocolate fallow deer hunt was amazing.
After hunting fallow deer, I started researching other exotic species to hunt with a bow. The following winter of 2017, I traveled to Salt Creek Hunting Preserve in southern Ohio to pursue Blackbuck Antelope. My blackbuck antelope hunt was challenging. These small antelope have excellent eyesight and an incredible sense of smell. After hiking over 15 miles chasing the blackbuck, I finally harvested him with my Ruger 308.
Blackbucks are a blast to hunt. Be prepared to walk a long way.
I didn't travel anywhere in 2018 during the winter months to hunt exotics as I had plenty of venison in my freezer. Throughout the winter of 2018, I spent time on the computer learning about other exotic animals. One animal that I was interested in hunting was an aoudad. This animal is sometimes called a Barbary Sheep and is unique in how it looks. I wanted to locate a place that had aoudad to hunt.
During the winter of 2019, I looked for an outfitter that had aoudad to hunt. I could not locate a place to hunt aoudad, so I traveled to Powder Horn Outfitters in Port Allegheny, Pennsylvania, to hunt fallow deer. The hunt was memorable and exciting. After watching some sika deer feed by my elevated blind, I made a perfect 25-yard shot on a beautiful spotted fallow deer. The Black Eagle Spartan arrow buried deep behind the fallow deer's shoulder, and I watched as he only went 50 yards and crashed.
Throughout the 2020 hunting season, I contacted multiple outfits about an aoudad hunt. As the year came to an end, CJ from Wilderness Hunting Preserve in Everett, Pennsylvania, called me about a pair of aoudad billies he had. I was excited to hear from CJ and set up an archery hunt for an aoudad in February of 2021.
Excited about my aoudad hunt, I woke up early on February 6th and drove to Wilderness Hunting Preserve in Everett, Pennsylvania. CJ was waiting in the lodge and asked if I had brought my rifle. I told him, "No!" and he said, "That aoudad hunt is going to be tough with just a bow." I knew killing an aoudad with my bow would be challenging, but I was up for the challenge.
Dressed in my Rocky Berber suit, I headed out to locate an aoudad. The wind was blowing steadily, and it was cold. There were at least 6 inches of crusty snow on the ground, which made walking difficult. I located the main trail on the top of a ridge and methodically still hunted.
While still hunting along the top of the ridge, I located a small group of rams. I spent a few minutes taking a break and watching the rams knock heads. Further down the ravine, I could see a large herd of wild boars rooting through the snow. It was encouraging to see so many animals on their feet moving around. Even though the wind blew steadily, it didn't seem to affect the animals.
Knowing the property at the Wilderness was helping me stay undetected. Keeping the wind in my favor, I continued still hunting and looking for the aoudad. My goal was to reach the back of the property without spooking any animals or bringing attention to my movements.
The back part of the property has a hillside protected from the wind, and the sun shines there all day. On a prior hunt, I noticed that the fallow deer liked to use this hillside as a bedding area. Even though it took me a long time to make it to the back of the property, I was confident the aoudad would be in the area.
As I crept closer to the sunny hillside at the back of the property, I began looking for a high vantage point. I wanted to be able to glass the hillside with my binoculars and look up each logging road. Stopping for a few minutes to look around, I noticed that the sky was clear. The wind was still blowing hard, but I knew I would be protected from the wind once I made it to the back of the property.
Ahead of me, I noticed a few rocks that would be a great vantage point to glass the sunny hillside. Carefully, I snuck my way to the rocks and began glassing the hillside. The snow made it easy to see many of the animals hidden from the wind but soaking up the sun.
On the furthest logging road, I could see a chocolate fallow deer bedded. A small group of boars was walking towards the fallow deer, and the fallow buck stood up. The chocolate fallow began to walk towards me and then stopped. The fallow buck was staring at something on the logging road that was blocking his path. I couldn't see what made the buck stop, but I had a feeling it was the aoudad.
Stepping down from the rocks, I used the trees to shield me from the fallow's watching eyes. Slowly I snuck down the hill to get a view of the logging road. The chocolate fallow was still standing on the logging road, looking at something. What could it be? Was it an aoudad or something else?
Peering through my binoculars, I was trying to see what was stopping the fallow buck. At first, I was unable to see anything in the deer's way. Then I saw him! A large aoudad was bedded on the logging road, and he was blocking the chocolate fallow from passing. My heart began to race as I looked at his long horns.
Neither animal knew I was watching them as they stared at each other. I watched through my binoculars as the fallow buck stomped his foot at the aoudad. The aoudad held his ground and stayed in his sunny bed. I knew that the standoff between these two animals wouldn't last long, and I needed to be in position if the aoudad stood up.
Grabbing a Black Eagle Spartan arrow from my Conquest quiver, I knocked the arrow on my Mathews VXR. Using the large trees to my right, I snuck into position for a shot if the aoudad stood up. I reached for my Vortex rangefinder and ranged a tree close to the bedded aoudad. The aoudad was 30 yards away, and the shot angle was too steep for an ethical shot.
Needing to close the distance and get a better angle, I moved positions again. Moving downhill a few more trees, I was able to see the aoudad's vitals. I paused to range the distance again, and this time the rangefinder read 23 yards. The shot angle was still steep, but the quartering away shot was going to be the most ethical.
Working slowly, I found my camera tripod and set it up to capture the shot. I hit record on my camera and began preparing for the shot. The wind was still blowing hard, so I waited for it to die down. Attaching my Stan's release to my d-loop, I waited for my shot. The aoudad remained bedded, focused on the chocolate fallow deer.
Patiently I waited for the wind to stop so I could draw my Mathews VXR. After watching the aoudad for almost twenty minutes, the time arrived for the moment of truth. I set my HHA King Pin at 20 yards due to the severe angle of the shot. Slowly I drew back my bow and found my anchor. Letting my HHA pin float behind the aoudad's shoulder, I squeezed off my shot.
Following the flight of my Black Eagle Spartan arrow was easy because of my red GloryNock. The 520-grain arrow penetrated deep behind the aoudad's shoulder and into his vitals. The aoudad stood up and circled in his bed. Within seconds he fell over and tumbled down the hill. The Grim Reaper broadhead caused instant death without the aoudad running anywhere. I couldn't believe what had just happened.
Quickly I gathered all of my stuff and made my way down the hill to the aoudad. I could not believe the size of his body and his horns. Taking a few minutes to gather everything in, I bowed my head for a prayer of thanks. After my prayer, I sat in the snow and relived the hunt in my mind. The bright sun warmed my face as I was still shaking with excitement.
Pulling my phone out of my pocket, I called CJ to let him know about my hunt. CJ told me he would bring the UTV and help me take pictures. As I waited for CJ, I watched wild boars root through the deep snow looking for food. In the distance, I could hear the UTV getting closer. I waved to CJ as he appeared on the main trail.
CJ couldn't believe that I shot the aoudad in his bed. I showed him the video of the shot, and he just shook his head. Together we positioned the aoudad for pictures. After pictures, we measured the aoudad's horns. Each horn was over 25 inches, and the bases were each over 11 inches. Measuring the horns at the halfway point, we got almost 8 inches. After adding up the numbers, we figured the aoudad would make the Record of Exotics minimum of 80 inches.
At lunch, CJ and I talked about other exotic species that I have hunted. I explained to him that there were a few other species I wanted to hunt with my bow. We made plans to get together in the spring and chase a hog for the freezer.
On my drive home, I called a few of my buddies and shared my success story. I promised to send them the video link once I had it edited and posted on YouTube. My day was a huge success and a great deal of fun. I love hunting exotics with my bow and can't wait for my next adventure.