By: Ted Nugent
The gorgeous whitetail buck was still a long-ways off, but if he stays on course along the rocky dry creekbed, I just may get an arrow off for more backstrap dreams. It may be late in the season for whitetails on this beautiful, cold February afternoon, but you would think this was my very first encounter ever with a deer I was so damn excited.
A handsome doe with two good sized yearlings meandered past my ambush tree and I was gearing up for a hopeful shot after a long, patience testing vigil when I caught movement off my left shoulder in the puckerbrush tangles below.
Well, lo and behold, there is no question we are in Texas baby, when the telltale red and white spotted beast stepped into view, and immediately my whitetail dreams pulsated vigorously into the axis deer mode and I let er rip!
A good bowhunter must be ready to improvise, adapt and overcome at any given moment, and when hunting all across the great Republic of Texas, one never knows just what sort of beast may appear, for in my own experience such surprises have taken place with wild hogs of every imaginable size, shape and color, axis deer, fallow deer, sika deer, Scimitar horn oryx, Corsican, Mouflon and feral rams, Nilgai and blackbuck antelope, Aoudad sheep, elk, eland and the occasional Spanish goat.
Hell, some deerhunters each year encounter a mountain lion on occasion.
Each year hunters in Texas have been surprised and rewarded with encounters, kills and much appreciated exotic venison from everything from African kudu, waterbuck, impala, zebra, elk, red stags and assorted critters from around the world that have escaped over time from exotic game ranches and provided one heck of a bonus from the wild.
I think back to the amazement I experienced when these non-indigenous critters showed up and how much increased fun and excitement they provided.
And though there is absolutely no difference in the hunting experience whether they showed up on free range, no fence grounds or on legally bound high fence hunting operations, the right place right time holy grail of hunting applied equally no matter what, and in each instance, celebratory hunting happiness exploded as it damn well should.
Like the Oryx, Aoudad and Ibex in New Mexico, the sika deer in Maryland or the phenomenal Chinese ringneck pheasant across the country, these non-indigenous introduced game animals have flourished and established much appreciated breeding populations that have brought with them exponentially increased hunting fun and cherished venison to the American hunting landscape and lifestyle.
I don’t know the exact number of exotic game ranches to be found in Texas, but they are everywhere and are constantly booked up by families eagerly looking for extended hunting opportunities and the different experiences that these different critters provide.
In the famous Hill Country northwest of San Antonio, I believe the beautiful and delicious and extremely challenging axis deer population exceeds that of the native whitetails, and though found nearly exclusively on private land, deerhunters flock to this region for the chance at this special and extremely delicious Indian spotted deer.
Hunting families from across the country join the Nugent family on our own SpiritWild Ranch outside Waco each winter for what they always rave is some of the most exciting hunting of their lives.
Our hunters consistently take trophy class axis, fallow, sika, blackbuck antelope, Aoudad sheep, giant African scimitar horn oryx and the occasional stunning gemsbok antelope.
The famous 777 Ranch near Hondo Texas and the Ox Ranch near Uvalde have more than 50 different species of exotic big game including Bongo, Cape Buffalo and pretty much every African, European and Asian species.
The ultimate real bonus to hunting exotics is that it is year-round with only an inexpensive 5-day nonresident license required with the landowner establishing our own harvest rates.
And don’t think for a goofy minute that hunting vast high fence acreage operations could ever be considered “fish in a barrel” of a “canned hunt”.
Those presumptuous claims come from elitists that have never even tried it.
Every “right place right time” hunting 101 rule that applies on your uncles Midwest farm for whitetails applies to these hunts, I assure you.
Some species are more alert and spookier than whitetail deer, and some are not. Whether found on the savannahs of Africa or on an African looking landscape in south Texas, hunting is hunting and hundreds of thousands of American hunting families head to Texas each year during the off season and enjoy it just as much as a dream Alaskan moose hunt.
Our own Sunrize Safaris books such exotic hunting trips, so if you’re looking to extend the joys of your hunting addiction, Paul Wilson and Toby Nugent can make it happen.
“Less hunting is better than more hunting” nobody ever said!