I recently had a pretty difficult hunt with a free range nubian ibex on my familys place so i thought i would share my mistakes and strategies. It's not technically a sheep, but there isn't much difference in the hunt. These usually aren't hunted on free range, but many exotics in Texas escape fences one way or another and set up shop where it suits them. Axis deer and black buck antelope are becoming fairly common in many areas now.
I have been trying to hunt this ibex in a 3000 acre pasture that is
all mountains. I have tried getting him to come into a feeder, but he
only climbs down once every 2 weeks it seems. So i decided it was time
to do some mountain climbing and laced up my boots tight and grabbed
my back pack. But there is only one ibex in a 3000 acre pasture. There
are three ridge lines in pasture and he travels with a small group of
Spanish goats. There are two Angora/Spanish goats he is always with on
the game camera. The white color of his traveling companions was what
I decided to spot for since his own color blended in really well. I
also know they use the trails on top of mountains to travel. I would
normally have a difficult time determining where in the pasture to
spot for him, but a norther came in each weekend I hunted. Goats and sheep
usually always travel against the wind. If the wind changes, so do
they. This factor narrowed it down to the North end of the pasture.
Plan of attack was simple. Hike up the tallest mountain that commands
a view of the Northern side of the pasture. Spot the white Angora
goats that he travels with and hike within 500 yards for a shot.
On the first attempt, I finally spotted the white angora goats around 3 pm on a
mountain ledge 1600 yards away. I didn’t see him, but figured he was
there somewhere. I walked within 450 yards and set up for a shot.
I watched the group of goats for an hour but never saw
him. I packed up my rifle and backpack and began to hike back the way
I came rethinking my strategy. However, before I got very far I turned
around to give them one last look and noticed a different spanish goat
that wasn’t there earlier. I stopped in the middle of the trail and
spotted again to see who else showed up. Sure enough, the Ibex suddenly
appeared. I started scrambling for my rifle and range finder , however
the place I was at didn’t have a clear shot once I placed my rifle on
the ground. I grabbed my rifle and scrambled to some higher ground
that gave me a shot. I had to hurry because they were traveling over
the top of the mountain out of sight. Controlling my breathing was
hard after climbing, etc. I placed the shot on his shoulder and fired,
hitting a rock beside him. Astonished that it missed by that much, I
waited for him to stop and fired again. Nothing. He just froze for a
minute and then ran off..By this point they were gone. I hiked up
there afterwards to look for blood, but didn’t see a trace of anything
at all. I realized afterwards that I had forgotten to foul my barrel
after cleaning the rifle. Without fouling the barrel, the first shot
after a good cleaning will always be off by several inches at 100
yards. At 450 yards, it would be a complete miss. I didn't know how I
missed my second shot at the time.
The next attempt was almost the exact same situation. After spotting
for several hours, I found them again in the same area.. However, this
time I drove in the mule to other side of the mountain behind them and
hiked up the mountain next to them. I planned to shoot from one
mountain to the other with the wind in my face, this way my shot would
be more horizontal and not shooting up from below. However, the brush
on top of the mountain concealed them and didn’t give me a shot
either. So I hiked down the front of my mountain and wound up at the
same exact place I was before where I missed. However, this time they
made it over the top of the mountain before I could get a shot at
them. I was determined to get him that day. I dropped my entire pack there,
picked up my rifle and started stalking up the front of the
mountain they were on. I was expecting a “close encounter” with him at
this point. The wind was from my right to left, so I mainly had to
worry about my sound. You can stalk up a mountain, but it’s a very
slow process that requires a lot of balance so you don’t step on the
wrong rocks that shift or make noise. I placed the rifle over my
shoulders for balance and began the hike. Once on top, I listened for
them running, but didn’t hear anything. I kept moving forward
following the trail and keeping my ears open for any sign of them
running down the right side of the side of the hill into the wind.
That would be perfect in my case. After hiking on top for a quarter
mile, it began to grow dark and I began thinking I missed them
somewhere on the left side of the mountain. Mountain goats and sheep
can move fast, but even they make noise on the rocks when they do. I
never heard them run off the side, but there weren’t anywhere on top
its seemed. I finally decided to start heading back and stalk the
left side. I didn’t go 50 yards when I saw them on the side of the
mountain on my way back. Luckily, they were 200 yards away and never
knew I was there. My scent from on top must have blown over them since
they were halfway down the mountain side.
I quickly looked for a place to set my rifle up for a shot. I ended up
raising my bipod all the way up and lying on a downhill slope in the
middle of a sticker bush with my neck in an awkward angle, but I had a
clear shot. As soon as I got the Ibex in my scope, I noticed a bullet
wound in his left shoulder and I just smiled and pulled the trigger.
He dropped where he stood and rolled down the mountain about ten feet.
Once I was on him, I could see two bullet entry holes 3 inches apart
on his left shoulder. I did not see any exit wounds. After
caping him, I honestly don’t know how he survived the first shot. His
insides were torn apart from my previous shot. He didn’t have many
more days before he had died.
I usually shoot a DPMS 308-LR. Hope this helps somehow.