Having traveled the world in an operational capacity a few times prior, I must admit that images of aoudad often brought back memories of times spent in arid climates and unforgiving circumstances. Their visual characteristics and behavioral traits, coupled with the harsh environments in which they often thrive, remind me of times spent with black rifles in hand and gray aircraft marked by star and stripe. The same could be said for many species of goat or sheep not native nor iconic of North America; however, images of aoudad are more readily seen in recent trends and patterns of our industry. The aoudad is an incredibly resilient creature as can easily be suggested at first glance. When the elite crew at AllTerra Arms extended their invitation on my behalf to attend Hornady’s official release of their new 7mm PRC caliber offering and I was briefed on the sequence of events for the week ahead spent in Far West, Texas, I knew I was in for a memorable experience on the Mexican border.
With the fine Mexican cuisine and impeccable hospitality provided by the folks at Cibolo Creek Ranch, we explored the new caliber offering by Hornady over the course of a full week, utilizing their factory ammunition – Hornady Match 7mm PRC with 180-grain ELD-Match and Hornady Precision Hunter 7mm PRC with 175-grain ELD-X. Having been provided with an AllTerra Mountain Shadow Carbon Rifle for the week, which was paired nicely with the impressive Kahles K318i 3.5-18x50 and a HUXWRX suppressor, we evaluated the new round at distances from 100 to 1,760 yards under real world conditions. There wasn’t an asset available to us that wasn’t of the utmost quality and craftsmanship, and the results demonstrated that readily as 4.5- inch groups at 1,000 yards were had by the more proficient marksmen of the group. In fact, such groups were proven repeatable despite steady half-to-full value winds ranging from 8-10 mph and an abundance of terrain contour between the elevated shooting position and the steel downrange. Even in the hands of an average shooter, though, similar ballistic and marksmanship performances were achievable given the excellence of the products at hand. If you haven’t experimented with Hornady’s 4DOF Ballistic Calculator, I strongly suggest you give it a solid look. It was used by the majority at the event and with great success.
The AllTerra Mountain Shadow Carbon chambered in 7mm PRC was an absolute joy to handle and employ, whether aboard the various range complexes offered or afield in the surprisingly mountainous terrain. It lent itself well to manipulation when operated from non-standard firing positions using the natural, varying terrain features available. Its truly compact, lightweight posture made for timely target acquisitions regardless of the environmental and human factors present, and the optical clarity and well-designed Kahles K318i complimented the AllTerra package extremely well. Even in the hands of an average marksman, the smoothness in its cycle of operation made for little disturbance to one’s sight picture when presented with quick follow-up shot opportunities, a critical aspect in both hunting and competitive target shooting. Without reservation, I must admit with full confidence that one would be hard pressed to build a finer firearm intended for backcountry hunting, which is where my mind often wandered over the course of the week.
After several days spent oriented around ballistic discussions and live-fire range demonstrations, I was eager to explore the vastness of the Cibolo Creek Ranch in pursuit of aoudad with the 7mm PRC in hand. After all, how better to conclude an evaluation of the new round offering made by Hornady than with actual terminal ballistics from the field? With fresh migas or huevos rancheros to fuel our morning’s effort, we quickly found ourselves immersed in a target-rich environment of non-native sheep, or goats for that matter. (I’ll admit here that I certainly am not a specialist in taxonomy). Traditional 10x42 and 12x50 binoculars proved adequate in the acquisition of the game species; however, having a spotting scope available eased the burden of judgment greatly concerning maturity and size. It wasn’t uncommon for small groups of a dozen or less to be seen in most any direction nor herds of 40 or more amongst the more isolated ridgelines. From just about any glassing position found aboard the 30,000-acre ranch in the heart of Big Bend Country, aoudad could be seen with relative ease. It was truly a delight to function in the beautiful landscape that Cibolo Creek Ranch offered, which served greatly to enhance the overall experience.
As mid-morning approached, we glassed a large herd of aoudad dispersed amongst the rock formations near the skyline of a nearby ridge. I was accompanied by down- to-earth people in my pursuit of aoudad, which included representatives of both HUXWRX and Swarovski, as well as the impressive Wildlife Manager of Cibolo Creek Ranch. With the above average rainfall Far West, Texas had experienced this past summer, we parked the OHV available to us partway up the ridge and dismounted to advance the remainder on foot. It wasn’t long after reaching the summit that we could hear the disturbance of shale rock just below the ridgeline’s highest rock formations and the distinct breathing and communicative chatter of aoudad below. Having chambered a round and verified low power on the Kahles K318i, we advanced slowly and methodically to different aspects of the nearby cliff edge looking to gain a visual of a fine ram below. After three advancements and at a distance of approximately 30 yards, a calloused aoudad ram with 31" horns stood beneath us. With the fine AllTerra firearm in hand and having shot effectively at 1,760 yards the afternoon prior, “the rest was history” and the ram was ethically dispatched.
Later that afternoon once all parties were once again present in the guest quarters, we conversed about the products tried and the new caliber offering. Everyone had experienced much the same with incredible performance through-and-through as the majority of the aoudad harvested ranged from 400 to 550 yards. The largest ram measured a solid 34" in length, while the majority measured between 30" and 31" in length.
It was a sad afternoon as the sun began to set on the final day of my Far West, Texas experience and I turned my AllTerra firearm back in. Every aspect of the trip was both enjoyable and memorable. If you’re a member with an interest in pursuing the dust-laden aoudad in either self-guided or guided fashion, I strongly suggest giving consideration to the high-caliber operation of the Cibolo Creek Ranch.
Please visit AllTerra Arms at allterraarms.com and Hornady at www.hornady.com.