Author: Larry Taaffe
I have as many hunters certain species that I would like to hunt, Mouflon is one of the animals which falls in to this category. I had made contact with a Czech hunter some time age as we had a mutual interest in training hunting dogs. So when my hunting friend František Strnad offered me the opportunity to hunt for a mouflon ram I accepted immediately.
I arrived at Prague airport to be greeted by Frank as he would not be known at his request, he was making life as easy as possible for me on my hunting trip so calling him Frank we a good start.
We drove one hour and half to the hunting areas and met a local hunter who would also be my guide for the duration of the hunting trip, his name was also Frank.
He immediately suggested that we should come and see some mouflon which were sitting in the middle of a very large field of oil seed rape crop. We then went to see mouflon grazing in a very big field a group of ewes and lambs with some immature rams.
We then drove to the house where we would be staying for the duration of the hunting. Had a coffee and a bite to eat and got dressed for hunting, I went to a high seat with the new Frank, my guide, and on the way we spotted a group of mouflon rams and there was a very big ram in the group, in the hi seat we had mouflon ewes and lambs and many roe deer surrounding us in the course of the evening but not until the last light did we see a ram and what a ram he was, old and clever, he skirted the hiseat for many minutes even though the wind was in our favour, he eventually left us, We could only imagine how good he was as he never close enough to allow a clear view of his trophy..
Back then for a hot dinner, it was prepared by new Franks wife, we had beer and a local drink which reminded me of heaven, then bed as my alarm was set for 4.15 am.
At the appointed time Frank the second arrived and we went to a hiseat at a maize field, the maize had been harvested and close to dawn light two mouflon rams appeared but both were young, and not for shooting, both came to within 35meters of the hiseat so I got a good look at them.
Later in the day we went stalking for mouflon lying up in the forests but again no luck. This stalk took 3 hours in the very hot part of the day and i was glad to get back and have a reviving shower and a rest for my weary legs. It was not level ground stalking but climbing up 60' slopes and then down again looking in the sandstone rocks for sleeping sheep, again no luck.
It is now Thursday and again to the hiseat at the maize and just before light a mature mouflon appeared unfortunately he moved away from us and did not present a shoot, the distance was 250meters, too far in this poor light. Later today to another high seat from 16.30hrs. Just had an excited call from Frank my guide, mouflon have been seen out in a large field and we should try and stalk them. When we went to see them there were mostly ewes and lambs but also a ram but on closer inspection he was young 3years or less. Although a fine trophy for any hunter Frank my guide insisted I wait for a mature ram.
So back for a shower and clean up to await the evening hunting. No luck again we only saw roe deer.
Friday morning again up at 4.30 and off to the hiseat at the maize field, waited until 07.00 nothing came, we then drove to different vantage points to look for mouflon and eventually found a group of 42 ewes and lambs and young males but nothing shootable, back then for breakfast and a sleep for a few hours.
Frank arrives at five o clock and we go to a different location but also close to the maize, this hiseat looks over a large field recently drilled with corn. The field is populated with roe deer, as many of the fields in this area are, the population of roe is very high, but Frank notices some different shapes at the very far end of the field. He determines they are mouflon and there is a suitable ram with them, so we go into action. Immediately we go to the car to try and get in front of the mouflon before they get to the maize field. We are successful and arrive before them or just as the arrive. Closer inspection on the ram qualifies Franks earlier suggestion that he is a good trophy and I should try and take him.
We are standing on a track lined with apple trees, no shooting sticks or bipod on the rifle, which I am used to using at home when I stalk, so I have to use Frank as a rest and lean against one of the apple trees for support.
Not the best the best position to take the shot of a lifetime. but I have been in awkward spots before.
The rifle I am using is a CZ mauser in 30.06, a really nice rifle and very comfortable, the scope is a 6x42 fixed with graduated reticule. The top crosshairs are zeroed for 100meters, the next for 150meters and the next for 200meters, and on to 400, my mouflon is 220meters away.
As I try to become comfortable in my shooting position, I find it hard to focus clearly and after a few attempts I find a position where all is ok, the mouflon has turned broadside and is offering a shot,, my heart and head at this point begin to separate, after all this is the first mouflon I have ever had in the crosshairs and therein lies the problem. My brain went into default mode, and as I have a standard hunting scope with a single crosshair as the reticule, I automatically used the top crosshair on the riflescope I was using.
I took the shot and there was no sound of a hit, the ram ran forward and stopped and looked startled, he looked around and tried to understand what happened and then he was gone. Yes, yes, yes I missed low. I have not felt this stupid since I was a child, as the realisation of what just happened dawned on me.
We went forward to confirm my worst thoughts and on very close inspection we found the bullet strike and in relation to this we confirmed no hit on the mouflon, this was of course a very heavy weight off my mind as the bullet may have creased the brisket. So I did miss low. I was so annoyed with my stupidity but happy that I had not wounded the mouflon, the bullet was placed correctly and would have been a clear heart and lung shot, if, if ,if I had kept my concentration and not be become excited...
That evening we try again and a young ram walks beside the hiseat but he is too young to shoot. So later in that evening we try for wild boar but we saw nothing at the feed station despite the boars eating all the food there the evening before.
Next morning we saw nothing only roe deer, plenty of roe deer they are everywhere we go. That evening and we are back at the very first hiseat and just at last light a young ram comes to within 50 meters of the high seat, he is young, so he is safe.
It is now Sunday morning and I leave tomorrow and this morning we saw 3 rams, two were possibly shootable but it was impossible to stalk into them due to the wind, we looked at them for a long while and the went for breakfast, still no mouflon in the larder...
Sunday afternoon we went for a small driven hunt, Frank who invited me and a local hunter called Robert acted as beaters to drive game to me and Frank MY hunting guide. Unfortunately no luck, so my last night in a hiseat with Frank was fast looming, so at five o’clock we set out again to wait for the elusive mouflon ram. As the light began to fade and the roe deer had left the field and we were about to decide to leave the hiseat, I spotted in the distance some large body shapes, either boars or mouflon, yes, mouflon, mouflon and they were heading our way. 500meters came down to 150 meters and then they stopped to eat and relax.
They began to move away to our right moving into the forest, they became just shadows and then disappeared from view. Our hearts sank, foiled again we thought, the suddenly the appeared walking in single file towards our position. In the small group there were two rams, one looked possible to take but the light was poor and identification was unclear, they would have to be very close to make a positive decision.
They were now just less than 100 meters away when the ewe who was leading the group decided to change direction and move diagonally away from us. I could see her clearly with my swarovski binos as she crested the horizon, when and at the same time as i tried to get the largest ram into my riflescope she appeared to wind us and moved rapidly back in the same direction she had come from, of course all the other animals followed her. They went to 150 meters and relaxed and suddenly another mouflon appeared at this spot.
So we asked ourselves a question, did she wind us or did she go back to investigate the new arrival. It was another ram.
Light was now going fast and no condition for positive identification of the mouflon so we reluctantly left the hiseat and went to meet Robert and Frank for a well earned beer and some discussion on the misfortunes and disappointments of hunting mouflon.
In the course of the evening Frank my guide advised he could not take me in the morning, it would be my last outing as I had to travel home to Ireland in the early afternoon. Robert was to be my new guide in the morning and Frank advised him where we should go to try once again and for the last time for a good mouflon ram. The alarm woke me at 04.30hrs, my last day, my last hunt opportunity, my friend Frank had coffee ready as he had every morning at this time, while I was preparing myself for the hunting trip. We discussed the very possibility of me going home with no mouflon, but that is wild hunting, there are no guarantees. If I failed to take a mouflon, I had been very kindly invited to come back and try again next year, an invitation I gladly accepted. Robert arrived and away we went, a short drive and a walk of ten minutes had us perched in the hiseat.
Within minutes two rams appeared on the horizon. Pushing and shoving each other, head butting and running about but in complete silhouette, I ranged them at just over 100 meters, was this to be my lucky day, they moved ever so slowly to the left on the horizon still in silhouette, the time was only 05.30hrs and the wind was coming from behind us and possibly reaching them. We watched and watched and watched and I prayed for them to come closer but no, no, no they disappeared into the darkness to our left.
I began to accept the fact that there was no ram with my name on him, when some time later at 06.15 hrs I noticed to my left a dark shape emerging from the forest, yes it was a mouflon, a mouflon ram, alone. with a heavy body, his trophy was not clear at this time. He moved with a slow, deliberate, suspicious movement, indicating a mature animal.
I asked to Robert to have a look at him as a possible shootable ram, but he could not see him clearly as the light was only breaking. And then Diana smiled, the ram turned to walk towards our hiseat, slowly and deliberately he came, was this my ram, Robert nodded ,he did not speak, but his body language suggested a shootable ram, a good one,
I had the 30.06 CZ at my shoulder but the crosshairs are so delicate on this scope and not designed for low light shooting but I found the rams shoulder and at 80 meters as he was slightly quartering towards me i squeezed the trigger. It appeared to take forever to connect and when it did it happened I only heard the Norma bullet connect with my ram. I watched him take The shock of the hit, he spun around and took his last rush to the forest. He died on the field less than 30 meters from the position of the strike. I had taken a mature mouflon ram, Robert confirmed what I already knew, the ram was down and lifeless. A very quick and excited congratulation to each other and our attention was on the ram.
We waited some minutes before descending from the hiseat to have a closer inspection of the fallen king of the forest. Robert stood back and allowed me to approach the ram alone, and I knew when I saw him in the first light of the new day that he was special.
Roberts is a man who has seen many fallen mouflon before, and he confirmed my suspicion, but we did not dare say what we were thinking, instead we spoke about the morning and the events leading up to the mouflon coming to our hiseat.
Robert gave the ram his last bite for his eternal journey and presented me with a green branch from the forest and congratulated med on my success.
Phone calls were made, many congratulations were given and the ram was dressed by as the hunter as part of my respect and to the privilege of this hunt. The ram was taken away to be examined by the local hunting club officials and was measured against CIC. criteria for the possibility of a medal, either bronze, silver or gold. The number of CIC points for a gold medal for a mouflon is 205 and my ram scored 216.5 CIC.
When Robert and I had first seen the ram, we had the same thoughts, it was an exceptional example and so it was a gold medal Mouflon Ram.
I must offer my warmest thank to all the people from the local hunting club who came to congratulate me on my success, but especially to Frank, Robert and Frank for a wonderful time in the Czech Republic and allowing me to become part of their love and knowledge of their countryside and their wild animals.