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Aoudad hunts are challenging. They're physically taxing, and you need to be prepared. Here's how to get ready.

Getting yourself ready for a West Texas aoudad hunt

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This article was first published in my email newsletter in March of 2024. I've added it to my website, because I think the information is useful in general, not just for the month it was published. If you'd like to keep up with the latest hunting information, including my open dates and available hunts, you can subscribe to my newsletter at the bottom of this page.


I love hunting aoudad in West Texas. To me, it’s got everything that makes hunting such a great activity. But it’s also challenging. If you’re going to do an aoudad hunt, you need to be prepared.



 Aoudad — and sheep and goats generally — live in mountainous country. That makes aoudad hunting tougher than most other hunts. There are a few reasons for that.


First of all, the terrain is rugged. This is mountainous country, so you’ve got lots of climbing to do, and the ground under your feet is rocky and uneven. Yes, we’ll ride in a buggy where we can, but this is spot and stalk hunting. We have to get out of the buggy and hike if we want to get anywhere within shooting range of a ram.


Second, aoudad are found at high elevations. We’re typically hunting at elevations of 3,500 to 6,500 feet above sea level — an average of almost a mile high. Air is a lot thinner at that elevation, so oxygen is scarcer, too. That can affect your stamina, and it can lead to shortness of breath when you do some heavy hiking. At that altitude you’ll also lose more water from your body through both respiration and perspiration, so staying hydrated is important.


Third, with all the climbing you have to do, both up and down, you’ll find yourself in different micro-climates at different points during the day. At one point, you’ll be warm, at another you’ll be cold. You need to be prepared for that.


And finally, there’s no flat country here, so you rarely get any straight shots. You’ll normally be shooting from above or below. And it’s not easy to get close, either. Aoudad have incredible eyesight and a good sense of smell. Under ordinary conditions, you need to be prepared to shoot out to 400 yards.



So how do you prepare yourself for all that?


There are two kinds of preparation you should do. There’s physical preparation: you should get your body in shape to handle a rigorous, challenging hunt. And there’s equipment preparation: you should have the right equipment, it should be broken in, and you should know how to use it.


In this newsletter, I’m going to talk a bit about physical preparation. In the next newsletter, I’ll get into the equipment side of things.

A hunter with a trophy aoudad on a rocky hillside.
A trophy aoudad in West Texas.



How should you prepare physically? Well, there’s ideal preparation and there’s realistic preparation.


Ideally, I’d meet with you every morning at 6:00 AM for four or five months before your hunt, and I’d take you on a four to five mile hike with a full backpack.


But we both know that’s not going to happen, so let’s get more realistic.


Build your stamina


Most critically, you need to build your stamina.


If you work at a desk all day, the odds are good that you’re not getting the kind of exercise that will prepare you for stalking aoudad at 5,000 feet above sea level.


So get started with some hiking. Even if it’s just a walk around the block after dinner, at first. Keep doing that every day, adding some distance and picking up your pace every week. That’s not only going to prepare you for your hunt, it’s going to be good for your health.


You should start that at least four months ahead of your hunt. Over time, in addition to picking up your pace and increasing your distance, you should start carrying your pack, too.


Increasing your stamina will help you get up and down those West Texas hillsides. It will also improve your cardiovascular efficiency, so you’ll be less affected by the elevation — you’ll still feel it, but you’ll be better prepared to handle it.

Get ready for real-world shooting 


Another part of physical preparation is tying it to your shooting.


It’s one thing to walk from your car to the shooting range, sit on a bench, and hit some targets. It’s a completely different thing to do it when you’re winded from climbing a mountain or pumped with adrenaline due to an exciting stalk.


So you should prepare yourself a bit for that. Something I’d suggest is combining your exercise routine with some trigger time. Get your heart beating, and then try some shots. This can be dry firing. You don’t need the ‘bang’ for this. You just want to see, when your heartbeat is elevated and you’ve been breathing heavy, if you can still control your rifle on the trigger break — if you can keep your crosshairs on the target.


And try it from a lot of positions, prone, sitting, kneeling and standing, too. You’re not always going to get your favorite position when you’re stalking an aoudad ram in the mountains of West Texas.



If you’ve prepared yourself physically for your hunt, you’ll benefit in several ways.


Obviously, you’ll enjoy yourself more if you can hike those mountains without having to stop every ten minutes to rest. But you’ll also put yourself into a much better position to get the trophy ram you want — you’ll have the endurance to get the best possible shot, and you’ll be steady when you take that shot.


Just as important as anything, I think, is that when you’ve prepared yourself, you’ll have a lot more confidence.


So it’s never too early. Get off the couch and start getting into shape.




A West Texas aoudad hunt is physically challenging, not just for you, but for your equipment, too. In the second part of this article, I'll talk about getting your gear ready for that hunt.

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