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Most challenging and least challenging ranch game?

4417 Views 32 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  markc
I'd like to solicit the opinions of the Board as to what the most difficult exotic game to hunt in the US. Also, what would you consider to be the easiest? Both catagories are very subjective buut I would like to get people's opinions anyways.
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Most difficult , aoudad, easiest, Merino. markc :grin:

Why do you think the fallow are so different from axis? For that matter I wonder why some exotics are so much more wild than others. It can't be due to some breeds having been domesticated, as fallow deer have never been kept as barn yard stock have they? Very strange.

So Denvas what is the charge for the youth hunts, and what are the age limits to qualify for them?
markc :grin:
You confuse me.

Denvas it doesn't sound like my experiences with exotics are too different from yours, except that I've never hunted them on a ranch where you could feed them out of your hand as you described some of the youth doing on your THanksgiving hunt with large fallow bucks.

Were those tame exotics in a high fenced area to be hunted at a later date, or were they breeding stock? Sounds like they were obviously domesticated to be able to hand feed them.

Really, I was trying to understand in my last post was why some exotics seem to be more naturally wild than some species like the Merino ram we both listed as some of the easiest to hunt. Now their heritage can be easily traced to domestic livestock, whereas others cannot. Why do you think the axis for instance seems to be more warry of danger like the aoudad, whereas it seems most Corsican or Moufalon are alert, but don't run at the first sight of a person.

I would like to obtain some additional information on the youth exotics hunts. I will e-mail you for details. Thanks for your response and information.
markc :)
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You are correct, the area we were driving through that I mentioned earlier was the "breeding pen" for this particular ranch. These deer are used strictly for breeding and to the best of my knowledge are never turned out into the hunting part of the ranch in question. However, my comments were mainly directed at those "free ranging" dallow deer that I have seen on the hunting parts of game ranches or even those free ranging on low fenced properties. It has been my observation that fallow deer, in general, just are not as wary or skittish as their cousins. Maybe it has to do with the species being raised as "park" deer in Europe and Asia for centuries. Who knows?
Most challenging and least challenging ranc

:) hi guys
ya know i am glad to see some game ranhes with exotics in texas
as some day they may have to reintroduce some of the african
species back to thier native lands if something isnt done about the poachng over there.I am glad to see the hunts for kids thats great

Most challenging and least challenging ranc

Personally, the most difficult exotic hunt I had was for a Sika buck....I wanted to take him with a handgun, but he kept getting wise to me and wouldn't let me get close to him; I finally took him with a .308 while he was eyeballing me through some trees.
The easiest hunt was for bison....the most difficult part was finding them, after that it was easy; more of a shoot than a hunt. Had to wait for them to quit milling around and for the one I wanted to get clear of the others so I didn't get two with one shot (now THAT would have been expensive!) I've got to say that most of the rams I have found on preserves have been pretty easy to approach as well.
Gotta add

the nilgai. Not sure I spelled that correctly, never hunted them, but am told they are hard to hunt.
markc :)
Hardest and easiest.

I have some comments more than an answer. First, I agree with a lot of the comments made about about wariness of several species. Second, it seems to me the wariness depends a lot on the hunting pressure. For example, on a tour of the 400 acres of the YO Ranch that they just use for tours and have a bunch of animals at there is a huge aoudad that is pretty tame. The bus driver was surprised he couldn't get him to step onto the door step entering the bus, although he stood right outside on a tour that I was on once. People have tamed some elk to get them to pull wagons or to pet them like the fallow denvas saw. Then again, the current Colorado Outdoors magazine has an article where a volunteer was petting a mountain lion they had in Colorado that was pretty tame. The lion tore her arm off and ate it, the article says. I'm glad you resqued that little girl from the big fallow horns before they decided to do somethimg like that. I think rams hang around more because they like to butt heads, instead of run. They'll run too though.

I think hunting pressure is a huge factor in wildness and wariness. Hunting helps make them wild or keep them wild, that's my main comment. :grin:
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Wary exotics

I've hunted and killed aoudad, nilgai, whitetail and muleys, antelope, coyotes, buffalo (great meat if you take something young). I've been along on eland hunts. If you're not hunting in some high fenced pen, aoudad are by far the wariest and toughest trophy in Texas. Much harder than whitetail. They've gotten loose all over the arid parts of the state. The game wardens are convinced that they will make it very difficult to reestablish the desert big horn. I agree. Eradicating them would be like eradicating hogs.The Aoudad is smarter, tougher, and more disease resistant. The meat on a big male is inedible, but those horns are awesome. Nilgai are next on the list of common exotics. They can't survive a wet norther, so they aren't really wild north of Kingsville. There are more of them in Texas than India now. The King Ranch kills them from helicopters for the restaurant trade, so anything that can take that and thrive is one tough animal. You need to find a guide that can get close so you can make a heart shot, otherwise he may die in the next county. The meat is better than deer, but not as good as elk or eland. Everyone from Africa says eland is delicious. They are perhaps a little warier than nilgai and much less common. They're also the size of buffalo with a thick African skin. I hope to go in the next year or two (just shot a buffalo, the freezer is full , and the rancher is afraid if we hunt now his eland will soon leave the ranch). I have seen eland clear fences from a standing start.
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Texas Game Ranching....

Hi guys [&ladies],

To introduce myself I am a Cattle Rancher from Western Australia. Can`t believe I just found this forum ;) I actually registered for the BPCR forum as I plan to build a long range Sharps 74 shortly. Is great news to see this forum on Exotics and Game Ranches... I am not really going to help with any answers here, just ramble ona bit, something I do well ;)

I am a member of the Exotic Wildlife Assoc [EWA] in Ingram Texas and am researching a proposal to establish a Game Ranch in the Texas Hill Country. A ranch for conservation purposes and hunting. I would like to cater towards the Big Game rifle and BPCR guys/ladies...

Like all industries there are pitfalls on establishing a Game Ranch business, sharks waiting to swoop and Govt Beaurocracy [and the Greenies/Bunny huggers], just like here! However I see a great industry with a good future... With my proposal I am leaning towards African Exotics, and wildlife from the Middle East/Asia! I am working in with the - E.W.A, Texas PWD, KZN Wildlife Service in Sth Africa [formerly Natal Parks Board] and several private Game Reserves both in Africa and Texas for my research...

In reference to the hunting side of my proposal- Aoudad, Blesbok or Bontebok, Kudu, Eland, Black Wildebeest and Sable, Bulls will be available in limited Nos. Also of consideration are - Nilgai, though they need a lot of room, being so territorial and have been known to kill Eland! The live import of Wildlife into the U.S is very difficult, however you are very lucky in that many of these species are already available in viable free ranging breeding numbers in Texas...

There has been a lot of bad publicity on the Game Ranch Indusrty: ie Canned Hunts. We have seen it on the news here too. However I will say nearly all of the Game Ranches I saw and know are very good ethical operations! To me a good chunk of the satisfaction of a hunt is the preparation and the stalk... I have wild pigs here in my area and will set out 8-10 times without seeing one, just sign. Then when I do come across one and the hunt is successful, I feel all the more rewarded. [Mind you, knowing they are there and not setting eyes on them at the right time can be a little frustrating ;)]

I do see publicity from time to time in some of the top shooting magazines of Buffalo shot on a Game Ranch that will remain nameless... It irks me as I have been to this Ranch. Great people, a big Ranch and all the animals I viewed were "wild" - except the Buffalo! I walked amongst the herd as they grazed around the sheds and even the butcher shop. They were so quiet they were an annoyance I believe. I could have beaten one to death with a hammer they were that quiet [well, maybe not]. In my mind that is no trophy, that is not a hunt and the hunter is not a hunter! On saying this, I believe these types of situations are not the norm. In general the Game Ranch industry is very good with very strong ethics promoted and an Industry I would be proud to be a part of!

To add to a few of the posts I have read. I haven`t taken the opportunity to Hunt Exotics in Texas, but my next visit this year I surely will. I am told and certainly have no doubts that Auodad and Nilgai are good challenging hunts! I couldn`t get close enough to an Aoudad to take a descent photo, had to resort to binoculars to watch his butt disappear over the hill! hahaha. They say Nilgai can smell you from 600 yards up, down or across the wind. I don`t doubt it, I didn`t see one in the wild!

I did hear that the King Ranch is shooting Nilgai for the restaurant trade! I think some goes packed to Germany for their game meat trade. I did visit an Abottoir [slaughter house as you all say!] in Texas which was in the process of slaughtering a consignment of Wild Pigs from the King Ranch. Sure were mean looking fellas! Would like to tackle them someday! I saw Eland mentioned, yes they do jump high! I was guest of the KZN Wildlife Service of Sth Africa in March/April last year. The Game Capture unit told me that Eland will standing jump a 12 foot fence! Stunned me, they really are big animals. Russia has a herd of Eland, which they have domesticated and use for milking! Amazing stuff... I have eaten Kudu, whick was very nice, am told Eland is as good - give it a try.

You have a truly unique situation in Texas. No where on earth can you go and view or hunt free ranging animals from all 4 corners of the globe! I have visited Africa and it is amazing how similar parts of the Texas Hill Country and Sth Texas are to there! Is surely why these introduced animals have done so well!

Anyway, I can see I am rambling. So I will sign off... If you are after Exotics, Natives too, a Game Ranch can be well worth a visit! Do your research and I doubt you would be disappointed!


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Dear Cam, We've got sleet and freezing rain right now in N Tx. A lot of those African and Asian exotics can't make it after a wet freeze. Specifically Nilgai. That's why they aren't found N of Kingsville. Aoudad are really tough, but they have slipped out. I think an experienced hunter wants one out of the hi fence.
Game Rancjhing and Exotics...

Hi Big Tex,

Thanks for the update on weather and exotics. Doesnot sound too pleasant.... I have heard that the cold snaps have played havoc with some exotic species in Texas, especially in the Northern 1/2 of the state. The one to watch inparticular appears to be the Greater Kudu. I have a few mates in the Hill Country breeding them, down around Bandera, Medina and Vanderpool. They have had some pretty bad weather down there, but luckily havenot lost too many because of it [they have plenty of protection and supplimentary feed, which helps]. I believe the Kudu and a few other species donot do well at all in the North...

The species I am looking @ include Kudu, but also many others from Sth Africa, which seem to handle the cold better. I was amazed to see Eland, Wildebeest and Heartebeest surviving in the Snow covered Ranges in Natal on my visit to Sth Africa last year. They had 2 ft snow this winter... I am learning of the ways in which they manage their wildlife and Game Reserves for weather, so hopefully have a formula to reduce the chances or Nos of deaths. Exotics, inparticular the Super Exotics are pretty expensive to lose, so sure want to reduce the risks! I am not sure on the Nilgai for my proposal, they are very fighty, very territorial, very aggressive to other wildlife and yes as you say, don`t like the cold... I don`t know of many in the Texas Hill Country, but do have a friend successfully breeding them in Burnet. His are supplementary fed and are livesale not hunting stock, so this does help.

Always great to hear news from the Lone Star State and the Game Ranch Industry. keep in touch... Good shooting.


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Welcome to the boards Cam, glad to have you. The discussion can get a bit slow here some times, so jump in any time you want. The only exotic I have heard ranchers say they wish they had never added to their ranches or to Texas for that matter is Aoudad. THey breed like rats, can be hard to hunt, and nearly impossible to get rid of once they are established. Just something to consider.
markc :)
Most challenging and least challenging ranc

Hi Marc,

Thanks for your input. I gather the Aoudad is one "Hardy" animal. I included them in my propsal mainly as they are more often than not already established on many of the ranches, not that I was all that keen to introduce them, same for the Blackbuck! They seem to be everywhere in parts too, though the Blackbuck much easier to control...

My proposal is mainly aimed @ an Eco-tourism venture [though not a drive around zoo] and the livesale market, with limited hunting for trophy stock as part of the management plan. Additionall with Game BIrd hunting and fishing catered too... Providing the Ranch is big enough, a larger hunting operation could ceratinly be considered. I still have more to learn and research here, but it does look very promising. Thankfully I have great help both in Texas and Africa on this Game Ranching project, which does make it easier. I am very appreciate of comments by others. Thanks. Good shooting!


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Why not Sambar deer

If you guys want a tough hardy animal to stock for hunting why dont you try sambar we have them running wild here in Australia both in alpine and tropical climates,been here for nearly 200 years now they keep expanding their range and the season is open year round with no bag limit,they are very hard to hunt ,take a lot to put down .They have been reported to have killed Tigers in there native range,and apparentley you all ready have some herds in the states,such as the one on St.Vincents Island in Florida. If the photos i have seen of this herd are reliable they are world class heads. This deer is regarded as THE premier big game animal of the Sth. Pacific . Could be something for you blokes to look at also the Rusa as well. :D

can't say as I've ever seen one. Where can I see a pic of them, and what does a breeding pair go for?
Most challenging and least challenging ranc

Howdy Marc,

This is the website for an Aussie Outfitter. Quite a well known fellow. His website has pics of Aussie Game animals, including the Sambar.

Most challenging and least challenging ranc

except that I've never hunted them on a ranch where you could feed them out of your hand
......I thought you had hunted Thompson's Rocky Top several times?

I've been to Rocky Top several times also and have never seen one hand fed. I think some people try and make them pets, then end up selling them, then they end up on some ranch to be hunted and those are not as wild as others unless they survive a while on the hunting ranch and get more wild again. When an operation is in business long enough and gets thousands of rams, they eventually get some that are less wild than most would desire. It can be embarasing and is rare, in my experience. They make a good target, when it happens for a grandad with his grandson in a blind on the grandson or granddaughters first hunt. If they don't get shot like that, they get to running away pretty quick.
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