Hunt with Pope Bros in Texas

Discussion in 'Hunting North America' started by Diamondhitch, Feb 14, 2014.

  1. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

    Joined:
    May 2, 2011
    Messages:
    2,325
    Likes Received:
    7
    My Photos:
    67
    Member of:
    SCI
    Hunted:
    Canada (AB, SK, NWT, BC) USA (NM, TX) South Africa (Limpopo, KZN, Free State, Eastern Cape, Northen Cape), Kyrgyzstan
    Well I guess I have procrastinated enough on writing this.

    We have returned from Texas and had a wonderful time with Pope Brothers Guide Service.

    Clay and the staff are fully invested in their clients satisfaction. Although somewhat disorganized at times, they provide great hunting for both high fence as well as lots of free range exotics and work very hard for their clients. Clays tenacity really impressed me when a shot through the plural space resulted in a 4 day search for Christines Blackbuck, at Clays suggestion we reluctantly moved on to hunt other species after 1 1/2 days but Clay refused to give up and along with a small team of guides/quads and dogs managed to finally retrieve the buck which prompted tears of joy from Christine who has been dreaming of hunting Blackbuck, no other animal captivates her like the Blackbuck.

    We arrived to 23c sunny weather and had a great drive to the lodge, located in Utopia Texas. 2 large Blackbuck rams were spotted fiercely battling over a group of females and the tone was set for the hunt. Guns were checked and found to be spot on and a plan was made to hunt Aoudad and Blackbuck in the morning.

    Well before first light our guide knocked on our door and we scrambled to find clothes and get ready, did anyone know there is an hour time difference from Alberta to Texas! Oops. LOL No harm done we were on our way and in position to begin glassing for Aoudad before light broke anyway.

    As the morning began to warm up and with no Aoudad spotted we decided to meet the rest of the crew for breakfast. Little did I know I was about to find out how difficult free range Aoudad hunting can be.

    After a hearty breakfast we were on our way to a ranch that had a large population of free range Blackbuck as well as a big high fence enclosure with Axis, Blackbuck and Whitetails. We spotted several herds of blackbuck all with mature bucks present but nothing we were after. About 3pm we came across a lone Buck with exceptional horns, a careful stalk through the open hill country timber was undertaken.

    The buck bedded down on the edge of a semi-open area allowing us to slip up from the timbered side and set up for a shot. The bipod was set and after waiting 15 minutes or so a small group of females came into view moving towards the buck from our left.

    "Get ready" Josh, our Guide, said "He will likely get up and check them out." Sure enough as soon as the herd fed past the buck he could not stand to watch them walk away and rose to his feet. He watched them for several long moments with his vitals blocked by an inconvenient oak before taking a few steps forward then stopping once again. The crosshairs settled and Christine fired. The buck fell forward running hard and heavy on his front end, disappearing into a small ravine.

    After the shot we moved carefully to where he had been standing at the shot. No sign of a hit could be found, we fanned out, sweeping the direction he had been seen departing.

    As we moved along the close edge of the ravine the buck jumped out of a small bush on the other side offering no opportunity for a shot. We moved to where he had been and found no blood. Only knowing the basic direction he had headed we again swept for blood to no avail. Josh felt that, being native to open plains, he would head to a more open area where he would feel more secure. We swept our way through the thick bush he had been seen heading into.

    As we got to a small opening on the side of a hill overlooking a thick creek bottom Josh's sharp eyes picked up a patch of black fur about 350yds out in a small but thick bush on the edge of a large open meadow. With no chance for a shot we planned a stalk.

    Arriving on the far side of the creek we scoured the bushes we had landmarked to no avail. He was nowhere to be found. Dejected and with no idea where he could have went we retreated to the truck to drive around and hope to bump into him. This tactic revealed several other Blackbuck but not the one we were after. Once again we returned to the last place we had seen him to see if a fresh look could turn up a clue as to his whereabouts.

    We stood and talked about the situation for some time before walking back up to the bush he had been bedded in. The buck crashed out and ran through the thick cover away from us. He had laid in the bush mere yards downwind of us not once but twice before panicking! I fired a hail mary as he streaked through a tiny opening to no avail.

    We moved up to where the buck crossed the creek back into the thick woods and found our first blood, not a lot but a bit. With light failing we followed the sparse blood trail as quickly as possible and jumped him once again with the same results, 2 missed shots in tight cover. How I wished for open sights instead of my scoped rifle, it was quite useless in this situation. The blood trail ended there.

    After a wonderful supper we grabbed the .204, spotlight and FoxPro to go look for Bobcat. We hunted until midnight netting 2 Raccoon, one missed Gray Fox and the spotting of a sly Bobcat that stayed to the brush and would not come in the last few yards into the open where we could shoot.

    Our 2nd day we spent the first 2 hours of light glassing for Aoudad, once again none were spotted. A couple hours a day is certainly not enough time to spend hunting a creature as wily as these free range hill country Aoudad. Once again we headed to breakfast to regroup and get some help with the Blackbuck.

    To make a long story short, the next day resulted in 3 sightings and no shots. He was not travelling far but was hiding well in the thick creek bottom brush.

    At supper that night, Clay said if we wished we could continue to look for the Blackbuck but if we preferred we could use our remaining time chasing other species while he and a couple guides returned to find the Blackbuck. Reluctantly I agreed, I hate giving up but in this case it was the right thing to do and since Clay would be continuing the search it was not really giving up anyway.

    By this point the cold front had settled in and a night of rain kept us from calling predators. With only 1 day left before we were to drive down to Laredo to complete our hunt with Javelina and Bobcat and still wanting a Texas Dall For Christine, I asked Clay about our chances with the Aoudad. With the cold front and limited time to invest he said it is possible but they really need to be a dedicated hunt, we can probably get you a high fence Aoudad if you would like. Being a free range fan and with the respect gained by all the conversation about the difficulty of hunting them free range there was no doubt I wanted to do it free range, so Aoudad was forgotten for this hunt.

    "How about those Armenian Mouflon the Australians killed, they are pretty cool" I asked Clay. He said "we have a great place for them, high fence but a large ranch and we have taken some real good rams there over the years plus it is close to the ranch with the Texas Dalls". I was easily convinced.

    First thing in the morning we headed for the property with Texas Dalls. The owner was very helpful and indicated where he had seen a herd with a couple good rams, he took us to a bluff of trees and said they are probably somewhere in there. We headed out with the wind in our favor. After still hunting our way through many bluffs of trees the Rams were spotted milling around feeding in the cool morning air.

    We carefully moved into position to judge the rams and several big rams were noticed including a long ram with twisty horns. As is somehow fitting for a horse nut an herd of curious horses spotted us and swarmed in spooking the Rams and stampeding them out of sight.

    We drove the horses off and moved up to where the Rams had been standing, they had not run far huddling in a small group as sheep often do when alarmed. The big ram was singled out as the horses moved back in, diverting that attention of the Rams away from us. Tense minutes went by as the big ram stood behind cover. Slowly the rams started to settle down, comfortable that it was just a bunch of rambunctious horses. One by one they went back to feeding, slipping off to our left.

    "Be ready when he steps out" Josh told Christine. As the ram stepped out Josh Baaaed and the ram stopped broadside while another Black Hawaiian ram walked behind him.

    BOOM, my jaw dropped and Josh and I shared a look of "did that really just happen?" I asked "was that ram clear from your angle?" Christines adrenalin filled ears did not hear. Josh said "the black one is hit too". As I stood I saw what Josh had, a black ram laying 30 yards left of the White one.

    We took a few steps forward and the ram came into clear view laying head up. "Shoot the Black one" I told Christine, she was confused. "You shot 2 rams, you need to finish him off" now she understood and dealt the final blow.

    I think the look she gave me may be the most sheepish, pun intended, she has ever given me. LOL Upon inspection, she said "I like him, Im glad I accidently shot him." My look prompted her to apologize and I said "Lets stick with just shooting animals we intend to congrats on your ramS". LOL

    Texas Dall.jpg
    Christines trophy Texas Dall sheep

    2 Rams.jpg
    Christines "two fer" Hawaiian Black sheep. This old warrior is a junk yard dog, split down the bridge of the nose as well as over each eye with evidence of previous injuries.

    With the rams loaded in the truck we made the short drive to the Ranch with the Armenian Mouflon. The drive was dotted with spottings of deer and exotics. The sheer amount of game in this part of Texas is nothing short of amazing.

    After arriving we went to search for Mouflon. The rest of the afternoon netted only a small ram and some ewes. Figuring the Rams were probably holed up in one of the thick stands of timber we set up a drive. A large opening was closed off by a long thick finger of trees nearly a mile long. This piece of bush was slowly pushed toward our position. A large, by hill country standards, Whitetail buck bounced by us and we settled in at the ready.

    After a short period of time had passed, Josh whispered "Shoot the one in front" I looked around, seeing nothing. "Where are they I asked". "Right in front of us Josh answered". I could see nothing which was even more frustrating since they could be no more than 50 yards away.

    When the rams bolted they became painfully obvious, they had been hidden by the only tree that I could not see past. Josh had a clear view but I did not. The opportunity was lost but at least I knew I was not blind! Darkness was almost upon us as the truck rolled up to pick us up. A quick tour to try to locate the Rams proved fruitless.

    Another night of rain once again precluded our chance for any predator calling.

    The morning revealed a wet countryside as we drove back to try one last morning for an Armenian Mouflon. By this time we were due for some luck and we would soon find it.

    Im pretty sure the rams are feeding out in the big meadow and working their way back to the thick cover through this big stand of timber Josh said. This timber was a long way from where they had been the day before but was the direction they had escaped us the evening before. We made our way to the end of the open bush and started working our way through the middle of it.

    A white Fallow was spotted and behind him a group of Ewes and small rams. From behind them the 3 rams from the night before emerged feeding away from us in the direction that Josh had predicted. "We only have one chance at this" Josh warned "If they get running we will have a tough time getting on them again".

    The roll of the land was not conducive to shooting from our position. "We need to get up to those trees" Josh said "If if we bust that Fallow we are done, do you mind belly crawling?" I of course had no problem with that and we slid the 40 yards into position as the rams quickly fed way from us.

    I set up the bipod ad settled in waiting for the biggest ram, an older broomed off specimen, to turn broadside, he did not. Moving away and to the left, the rams would not be visible for long and we would be blocked by the ewe herd that they were rapidly leaving behind. I repositioned to have a better view if the kept heading left. Twice the ram was broadside, each time with another ram behind him. Finally he stepped clear and in an instant he collapsed. Luck was certainly with us as any longer and we would have had to decide between a ram hunt or Javelina/Bobcat.

    Armenian Mouflon 2 (600 x 598).jpg
    Armenian Mouflon (423 x 600).jpg
    These Armenian Mouflon rams are very cool. With Supracervical (curling behind their neck) horns. They are believed to be the ancestor of the European Mouflon as well as 50% of the Iranian Red Sheep which is actually a naturally occurring crossbreed with Afghan Urial sheep.

    A great hunt behind us we returned to the lodge. By now it had cooled further and started to mist rain which froze in a thick column on the aerial of the truck, not to mention the highway.

    The Ram was put up for skinning and we hoped for a break in weather while we ate brunch. Fortunately it both warmed up and stopped raining and with little time to spare we were headed for Laredo.

    Arriving late in the day we wasted no time in heading out to find a Javelina, or should I say 2 Javelina, Christines insistence that she had no interest in shooting one had subsided and the thought of yet another trophy took priority for this budding hunter.

    We planted some Javelina seeds or spread corn down several senderos (whichever you prefer to believe), then began checking for hungry pigs. The impossibly thick brush precludes any other hunting style.

    It didnt take long to spot the 1st pig, a lone boar. After hearing all the stories about Javelina hunting being very easy I had decided to take a bow range shot to be sporting. Covering the distance to this boar was easy enough and at 45 yards I had my opportunity, which I passed in favor of gaining another 20 yards or so. When asked about how far I wanted to shoot one at I believe I replied I want to put the barrel right behind his ear. LOL Bad decision.

    The wind swirled and the big boar bolted back into the jungle of cactus and a million other plants, all bearing thorns. No big deal I thought, we will find another one. The cold front had other ideas and it became painfully clear that they were not moving like they normally would be. After significant looking we decided that it would be best if I sat and waited for the big pig to return and Christine would continue touring to find a pig of her own. 30 long minutes later a shot was heard. I knew it meant Christina had success.

    Soon the truck returned with a proud hunter and a female pig that had been mistaken for a boar due to being out all alone. Either way it was a nice pig and it was looking like the only one we would be taking.

    With light failing we took one last spin past the most likely spot and sure enough 4 pigs scampered off into the brush. Jason and I bailed out and set up 100 yards or so from where they had been.

    Less than 5 minutes passed and light was at a premium when the group emerged and resumed feeding. The minute or 2 that it took for the biggest pig to clear and turn broadside seemed like an eternity. The pig dropped at the shot and concluded our Javi hunt. Now just Bobcat left.

    Javelina.jpg
    Guides Josh and Jason posing with our Javelina

    The pictures were taken and we were on our way to supper when the text came across Christines Blackbuck had been found! The cold weather had taken its toll. A huge weight was lifted as she shed tears of joy, she will still have to wait until the shipment arrives to finally put her hands on her dream trophy. Unfortunately that is where our luck would end. My Cat curse proved far more powerful than any good luck streak, and although we called in a couple coyotes the cats eluded us yet again.

    BB (600 x 448).jpg
    Christine could not be happier to collect such a beautiful ram. The exit wound can be seen at the back of the ribs, the entrance broke the shoulder on the entrance (opposite) side.

    Next time Aoudad and the increasingly elusive cat!!! BTW to add insult to injury, the next client killed a Bobcat the day we left... Figures

    Attached Files:

  2. BnC 04

    BnC 04 TITANIUM SUPPORTER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2011
    Messages:
    317
    Likes Received:
    9
    My Photos:
    8
    Member of:
    SCI, RMEF, DU, NWTF, NRA
    Hunted:
    USA/Canada/Europe/ Africa
    Great write up and congrads on a very successful and fun hunt!
  3. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

    Joined:
    May 2, 2011
    Messages:
    2,325
    Likes Received:
    7
    My Photos:
    67
    Member of:
    SCI
    Hunted:
    Canada (AB, SK, NWT, BC) USA (NM, TX) South Africa (Limpopo, KZN, Free State, Eastern Cape, Northen Cape), Kyrgyzstan
    Thanks, Im just glad the pictures came through! LOL
  4. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2009
    Messages:
    5,696
    Likes Received:
    51
    My Photos:
    32
    Member of:
    Northeast Wisconsin SCI chapter, Lifetime member of NRA,RMEF
    Hunted:
    Namibia, South Africa (East Cape, Guateng and Limpopo)
    Thanks for the pictures and stories, it sure made my day! I'm glad you had a good time!
  5. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Messages:
    6,880
    Likes Received:
    60
    My Photos:
    396
    Member of:
    KZN Hunters Assoc
    Hunted:
    Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Canada, USA, Mexico
    Oops.

    Know how it feels to have the next guy drop the cat you were after.
    Next time.....

    Congrats on some nice trophies.
  6. bluey

    bluey GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

    Joined:
    May 21, 2012
    Messages:
    2,324
    Likes Received:
    36
    Location:
    38.12.23south 149.50.37 east
    My Photos:
    27
    Member of:
    ssaa, aba ,bairnsdale field archers
    Hunted:
    australia south africa (limpopo) canada (b.c)
    sounds like a good time , there hitch .

    im glad your wife got her black buck .was he found dead or did he need some persuasion ?
    thanks for sharing your adventure
  7. Royal27

    Royal27 BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Messages:
    699
    Likes Received:
    42
    My Photos:
    1
    Member of:
    DSC, NRA
    Hunted:
    USA - TX, CO, GA, Zim (soon), SA (after Zim!)
    You're making me miss Texas!!! :)
  8. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

    Joined:
    May 2, 2011
    Messages:
    2,325
    Likes Received:
    7
    My Photos:
    67
    Member of:
    SCI
    Hunted:
    Canada (AB, SK, NWT, BC) USA (NM, TX) South Africa (Limpopo, KZN, Free State, Eastern Cape, Northen Cape), Kyrgyzstan
    Thanks Eric, we sure did have a great time. I was unsure of Texas exotics before going and figured the cat hunt was a good hunt insurance plan but I have to say I enjoyed everything thoroughly and Christine now claims to be a big game hunter instead of a predator hunter. I have created monster! LOL
  9. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

    Joined:
    May 2, 2011
    Messages:
    2,325
    Likes Received:
    7
    My Photos:
    67
    Member of:
    SCI
    Hunted:
    Canada (AB, SK, NWT, BC) USA (NM, TX) South Africa (Limpopo, KZN, Free State, Eastern Cape, Northen Cape), Kyrgyzstan
    Thanks, I cant claim that "my" cat was dropped since I was after any cat and there are plenty around but I will be very relieved the day my cat luck changes. Caracal, Bobcat... any cat, If things don't change the barn cat may be in trouble!!! LOL
  10. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

    Joined:
    May 2, 2011
    Messages:
    2,325
    Likes Received:
    7
    My Photos:
    67
    Member of:
    SCI
    Hunted:
    Canada (AB, SK, NWT, BC) USA (NM, TX) South Africa (Limpopo, KZN, Free State, Eastern Cape, Northen Cape), Kyrgyzstan
    Thanks Bluey,

    The Blackbuck was shot a second time the day before he was found and jumped 2x after that so I don't know if that shot helped or not but it sure couldn't have hurt. Im glad we were able to get it recovered but I sure wish we could have taken some meat home, it is supposed to be delicious.

    BTW I ate Water Buffalo tenderloin one night. MY GOD that was incredible, better than beef and so tender I thought it had been minute steaked and tenderized but it had just been country fried as is. Amazing. I cant wait to shoot one of them myself!
  11. gutterdoc

    gutterdoc AH Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 23, 2013
    Messages:
    62
    Likes Received:
    1
    Member of:
    NRA
    Hunted:
    US(AZ, AK, CT, IA, MT, NC, OH, TX, WY)
    I hunted with Pope Bros in Marfa, Texas in the Davis Mountains for free range Aoudad. My father and I went on a five day hunt and saw tons of animals and both harvested 30"+ rams. We went in October and woke up to snow the last day. Our guide was a young guy named Johnathan. He was sharp and knew what he was doing. Never saw Clay, but he was in contact. It was truly the most active and hardest hunt I have ever been on. Well worth it. I'm looking at him right now on the wall....oh the memories.
  12. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

    Joined:
    May 2, 2011
    Messages:
    2,325
    Likes Received:
    7
    My Photos:
    67
    Member of:
    SCI
    Hunted:
    Canada (AB, SK, NWT, BC) USA (NM, TX) South Africa (Limpopo, KZN, Free State, Eastern Cape, Northen Cape), Kyrgyzstan
    LOL, I always knew they had just about one of everything down there but I had no idea how much is available free range and in good numbers. I will definitely be back.
  13. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2009
    Messages:
    5,696
    Likes Received:
    51
    My Photos:
    32
    Member of:
    Northeast Wisconsin SCI chapter, Lifetime member of NRA,RMEF
    Hunted:
    Namibia, South Africa (East Cape, Guateng and Limpopo)
    Dropping two rams with one shot (let's just assume they are both dead), hard to live that one down. They are both gorgeous though. Sounds like she's taking after her husband. Two nyalas, two bushbucks....wait again, that sounds like me too! I'd rather shoot two big animals and pass on anything small!

    I also have no cat kills other than feral cats!
  14. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

    Joined:
    May 2, 2011
    Messages:
    2,325
    Likes Received:
    7
    My Photos:
    67
    Member of:
    SCI
    Hunted:
    Canada (AB, SK, NWT, BC) USA (NM, TX) South Africa (Limpopo, KZN, Free State, Eastern Cape, Northen Cape), Kyrgyzstan
    Marfa is in west Texas, the Aoudad are much easier to find there and much tougher physically to hunt than in the hill country. Although I would love to knock down a hill country Aoudad I may go out west next time, after seeing the hunts on youtube I am hooked. Congrats on your ram.
  15. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

    Joined:
    May 2, 2011
    Messages:
    2,325
    Likes Received:
    7
    My Photos:
    67
    Member of:
    SCI
    Hunted:
    Canada (AB, SK, NWT, BC) USA (NM, TX) South Africa (Limpopo, KZN, Free State, Eastern Cape, Northen Cape), Kyrgyzstan
    Ya Im sure she will be talking about that one for a while. I hadn't thought of the 2 factor, I am trying to stop doing that just so you know. ;) So far its not working out very well though.
  16. bluey

    bluey GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

    Joined:
    May 21, 2012
    Messages:
    2,324
    Likes Received:
    36
    Location:
    38.12.23south 149.50.37 east
    My Photos:
    27
    Member of:
    ssaa, aba ,bairnsdale field archers
    Hunted:
    australia south africa (limpopo) canada (b.c)
    how did you come by water buffalo in texas (dumb question ,right)?
    is there a site or a book on all these exotic hunt to be had in the cowboy state ?
    don't you mean cant wait to shoot two of them for yourself ?

    im sorry brick but l giggled a we bit when you posted your coment .
    its one bitterness l will only ever be able to wish to have ,
    but l reckon it must taste as bitter as cats piss ,
  17. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

    Joined:
    May 2, 2011
    Messages:
    2,325
    Likes Received:
    7
    My Photos:
    67
    Member of:
    SCI
    Hunted:
    Canada (AB, SK, NWT, BC) USA (NM, TX) South Africa (Limpopo, KZN, Free State, Eastern Cape, Northen Cape), Kyrgyzstan
    LOL it was killed by a previous client. The day I arrived a client from Wisconsin killed a big Eland as well. If you can dream it you can shoot it in Texas. while there are some animals that are only affordable it Texas I have been baffled by the ones that are much cheaper (including airfare) in their native habitat.

    Here is Clays website, I have read novels with less pages. Clay also said if something wasn't listed to inquire because he can probably get it.

    Pope Brothers Guide Service & Outfitters
  18. bluey

    bluey GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

    Joined:
    May 21, 2012
    Messages:
    2,324
    Likes Received:
    36
    Location:
    38.12.23south 149.50.37 east
    My Photos:
    27
    Member of:
    ssaa, aba ,bairnsdale field archers
    Hunted:
    australia south africa (limpopo) canada (b.c)
    ha ha ha ,dude you can hunt a bongo in texas !!!!
    im going back to see if what else .....
    only in texas .
    thanks for the site , hitch .
    cya later
  19. PaulT

    PaulT AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2010
    Messages:
    646
    Likes Received:
    2
    My Photos:
    134
    Member of:
    S.C.I. International. Rowland Ward. Sporting shooters Association of Australia. Australian Deer Association.
    Hunted:
    Aus. N.Z & Zim.
    Hitch, congrats on a very successful hunt !

    Also, thank-you for posting this report.

    I've been lookig for something very similar to do for myself, particularily an Aodad hunt.
    I'm in the U.S each year around the convention time when all the shows are on and am looking for a hunt to combine with these visits.

    I'll be looking at Pope Bros web site in detail for a good free range hunt.

    Thanks again for posting.

    Paul.
  20. Royal27

    Royal27 BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Messages:
    699
    Likes Received:
    42
    My Photos:
    1
    Member of:
    DSC, NRA
    Hunted:
    USA - TX, CO, GA, Zim (soon), SA (after Zim!)
    Definitely a lot of game... I miss hunting in the hill country. Grew up hunting there and in west, but not far west, Texas.

Share This Page