Devils River SNA EXO Auodad permit drawn

LopeHunter

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Here is a recap of what I learned on the public land, free range aoudad hunt in case someone draws this permit in the future and is looking for a primer.

Roy the biologist at Devils River noted it takes about 1 1/2 days to get up to speed on this hunt. The hunt takes place from Noon on Day 1 until Noon on Day 4 so is 3 days of hunting.

Bring orange vest and orange hat. The nearest store is 3 hour roundtrip.

Bring water and food. See above.

Make reservations to inside the park. You have to pay in advance and if you want to stay in a hotel you are 3 hours round trip each day.

There are 5 rooms in a bunkhouse that have have 2 single beds per room, 10 total. Reservations are by the bed. You will have hot showers, flsuhing toilets and electricity.

Other option is to camp in a tent near the bunkhouses. You can not camp inside the hunting compartments. Some of the tents blew flat in the winds. Reservations are needed for tent sites, too.

Bring tire plugs or tire patch spray. Flats are likely due to sharp rocks on the 22 mile gravel round you drive to get to camp and from the cacti and agave.

You attend a briefing on Day 1 at 11am. You then draw numbers that determine selection order. You then select your compartment of land from the ones that are open. You are given topo maps and you can ask questions as you are making your selection.

Let's get up to speed on the critters.

Aoudad are the main animal you will be hunting. You will see Corsicans, rattlesnakes on warm days, Catalinas, whitetail and lizards plus hawks. You might see Axis but no one did on our hunt.

When the winds get howling then the aoudad drop into the canyons just below the tops where the wind does not hit them. I assume the sheep want to hear a cougar cutting through the brush.

When the day is hot the aoudad will usually be tight against a shaded ledge of rock outcropping that is sheer and 30' or more tall and spans along the wall of the canyon for more than 100'.

The auodad will bed up on the table tops between canyons and the beds are dug out 6" or so and are 6' in diameter.

The aoudad droppings are roundish and are the largest droppings you will encounter as are waling around there.

Aoudad will spook if they see movement but I sat and glassed a herd at 250 yards as I faced the wind for an hour and they would look at me but then go back to feeding.

If the aoudad are not spooked then they may be in the same part of the same canyon 2 days in a row.

I had the best success keeping the wind in my face and easing up on the canyon walls a few steps at a time and glassing the far sides looking for ledges that were shaded or out of the wind. Was high 80s and cloudless skies during my hunt.

The canyons are old so they are not sheer but intead are rounded. This means is difficult to peer down from above so is best to glass from the opposite side. Some canyons were 800 yards wide but most were under 400 yards. I used good binos as a way to keep my day pack weight under 30 pounds since you need to carry plenty of water.

The compartments are about 2 miles x 4 miles so I could hike all the canyons 2x a day by walking the rims. If you head to the bottom of the canyons, take care as some sides are very steep. I averaged 20 minutes to get from top to bottom of canyons and 45 minutes to get from bottom to top. Obviously, walking the rims was a faster way to look for sheep.

When cutting through table tops mesas to get to the next canyon I would bump Corsicans but the brush was thick so was point and shoot. Did not see any rams until found a herd in bottom of canyon and was just 1 adult ram.

Gear suggestions:

Snake guards worn around the shins lower the amount of cacti issues. Almost every plant, bush and tree will cause you to bleed if not careful.

Wear long sleeve shirts and gloves to reduce the sunburn risk.

Get a strong walking stick that is adjustable and has a "v" on top to use as shooting stick. 300 yards when wind is blowing is plenty of challenge without trying to freehand a shot.

Bring plenty of water. Bring food. There is water but is not potable.

Bring sunscreen. Wear long sleeves and gloves if you sunburn easily.

I have Verizon cell service and got no service even on the high places.

Good luck.
 

TN Wild Man

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Sep 19, 2015
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Houston, TX
Lope Hunter,

Thanks for this nice write up. I'm fairly new to Texas and hunting, but I'll definitely be using this post as a reference if I am ever lucky enough to draw one of these tags. You did answer one question I've had after reading the Outdoor Annual about compartment hunts. I feel kind of silly now because I thought "compartment" was referring to hunting from a blind (ha!). So on your hunt was it one hunter per compartment? Also, I am curious about how you picked your compartment. Did you already have some knowledge about what sort of areas Auodad like to hang out in, or did you have to figure it all out during the hunt?

Were you successful?
 

jabber

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Jul 6, 2007
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Texas
Good write up. Maybe one day I will get drawn for these hunts.

Yea, were you successful?
 

LopeHunter

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MO-->CA-->NW-->AZ&NW
On hunter per compartment unless you applied as a party. Some compartments each day did not have a hunter on the hunt I was on.

I did connect on an aoudad ram. Was with another ram of similar size sneaking through the bottom of a small ravine that led up to a mesa. I popped up over the top at the right time and they froze. Shot the closer one offhand.

Devils River aoudad ram.jpg
 
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