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When you spend your day climbing up and down mountains, it’s important that you’ve got the right gear in your backpack -- and that the gear is ready.

Getting your gear ready for a West Texas aoudad hunt

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This article was first published in my email newsletter in April 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.

 

As I’ve said before, I love hunting aoudad, but it’s challenging, and you need to prepare for it. In a prior post, I talked about how you can prepare yourself physically. This month, I’m going to talk about how to prepare your gear.

 

You’ll remember what I told you last time about what makes West Texas aoudad hunts challenging:

 

  • Rough terrain and plenty of stalking

  • High elevation

  • Lots of micro-climates at different elevations and different times of day

  • Shots are tough — they’re long and they’re not flat

 

Those things affect your physical preparation, and they also affect your gear.


SELECTING THE RIGHT GEAR

 

When you spend your day climbing up and down mountains, carrying a backpack, it’s important that you’ve got the right gear in that pack. You don’t want to overpack (you’re going to have to carry it, whether you use it or not), but you don’t want to omit something that you’re going to need.

 

I can help you with that. For all my hunts, I’ve prepared packing lists to get you off on the right foot. Check out the packing list on my aoudad hunt page, and adjust it based on your own experience and preferences.

 

I’ve also got a page with some specific gear recommendations — the equipment I use, everything from backpacks to insect repellent — and you can take a look at that, too.

 

When you hunt West Texas a lot, like I do, you’ll have a standard packing list in your head, and putting together your pack at the start of a hunt is pretty much automatic. But if you do it less regularly, I’d suggest that you make up a list of everything you plan to pack, and that you organize that list. Then, when the time comes to head for West Texas, you’ll be sure that you haven’t forgotten anything.


Three packs on the ground, leaning against a tree.

Preparing your backpack

 

You need a good backpack, and you need to break it in.

I suggested in my last newsletter that you ought to build your stamina by hiking with your pack. That’s also good advice for breaking in (or checking out) your pack. If it’s new, you want to make sure that it’s comfortable, that the straps feel right, that you don’t have any uncomfortable ‘hot spots’. If it’s an older pack, you want to make sure that it’s still in good shape and doesn’t need any repair or replacement.

 

It’s also not a bad idea to pack it and unpack it, to figure out the best way to organize it.

 

Preparing your boots

 

I can’t emphasize this enough. West Texas terrain is hard on your boots. I go through a pair of boots every two years. At the end of that time, all I can do is throw them away. And remember, I don’t do all my hunts in West Texas, so I don’t wear them year-round.

 

The first thing is to make sure you’ve got good boots (for my West Texas hunts, I wear the Scarpa R-Evolution trek GTX boots).

 

But the second thing, which is just as important, is to break them in before your hunt. You should not be wearing new boots on your hunt. You need to walk in them, break them in, and see if they’re causing you any problems. Do this far enough in advance so that — if necessary — you can replace any boots or insoles that aren’t right for you.


Preparing your rifle

 

I know you’re going to be excited about your aoudad hunt, and you may even want to buy a new rifle for it. That’s great. But don’t expect to learn your rifle during the hunt. Get to know it beforehand.

 

As I recommended in my last newsletter, you should practice with it under conditions that most closely resemble the real world — when you’ve been doing some exercise and you’ve got your heart-rate up.

 

And be sure to get it zeroed at 200 yards.

 

I sometimes get questions about wind adjustments and the drop of the bullet over the distances at which we’ll be shooting.

 

If you’re hunting aoudad or any sheep, you’re going to be using something like a 7mm (.284) or larger. With those calibre rifles, if you’ve zeroed it at 200 yards, and you’re shooting at a distance of 300 or 400 yards, you’re going to get a drop of 14 to 17 inches. Aoudad rams have a 26 or 28 inch chest, so if you aim at the top of the back, you’re going to put the shot right in the middle of the chest.

 

As for wind, I don’t find that to be a big factor. If the wind is really strong — strong enough to have a big effect on your shot — it’s also going to have an effect on how sound and scent travels. The result is that we can get a lot closer, so you’ll have a shorter shot and there will be less wind effect.

 

It’s worth mentioning that I strongly recommend a bipod for your rifle, not a tripod. Tripods are heavier and they take time to set up. You’re a lot less likely to get your shot when you have to spend time messing with your equipment.


SOME GENERALIZATIONS

 

Please check out the packing list on the aoudad page of my website, and also take a look at specific equipment recommendations on my gear page. But in general, my key advice is this:

 

Don’t bring new gear on your aoudad hunt. Make sure you know how to use it. Make sure it’s broken in. Make sure it works the way it needs to work.

 

But then get ready for the hunt of your life.

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