Thursday, June 21, 2012

Exotic Hunting In The Texas Hill Country

One does not have to travel to the far regions of Africa to enjoy a good hunt for exotic animals as the Texas Hill Country has become quite notorious for such.

The Texas Hill Country, located directly between Austin and San Antonio, has become a notorious exotic animal hunting region. Its rolling hills are covered with cedar and oak, which is separated by grassy pastures making it the perfect habitat for a number of exotic game species. These species include animals from North Africa, India, Nepal and China. There is the emu, fallow deer, barasingha, Addax antelope, Blackbuck antelope, Axis deer, red stag, red sheep, scimitar horn oryx, zebras, bison and more.

Do to the number of exotic animals in this region, hunting is permitted year around with a state hunting license. There are a number of licensed guides in the area to help you along the way. These guides usually have permits and access to ranches and property for hunting.

Where do all these exotic animals come from? Many of these animals had originally been imported by collectors and hunters who have private ranches. Many of these animals have escaped and established themselves by the tens of thousands around southern Texas and particularly in the Hill Country. Now the overpopulation of these varieties has become a problem.

The executive director of the Exotic Wildlife Association, Charly Seale, says that there are nearly 400,000 exotics living behind high fences in Texas. In addition there are 50,000 to 60,000 free-ranging exotics living outside of these fences. He adds, the populations have been growing at a rate of 10 percent a year. Owners of herds manage their population by allowing routine hunting. One ranch owner said they try to shoot 30 black bucks a year and 10 to 20 axis deer.

The hunting of these exotic trophy animals has not only been a boon for hunters but for locals as well. Hunts can start at ,500 for black bucks and axis deer and go up from there for super exotics such as bison and kudu. Texas A&M studies have shown that the exotic animal business in Texas has assisted the economy by about .3 billion. For the Nature Conservancy, they see the hunters playing a key role in managing free-ranging exotics.

For those who hire hunting guides, their fee usually covers a two to four day package which includes the daily hunt fee, meals, lodging and guiding services. There are additional costs that vary according to the type of animal hunted to if an animal is wounded and survives after being shot so ask your guide about these fees.

Whether you're hunting with a gun or bow, you must purchase a license, which is sold at most local grocery stores. Nonresidents of Texas will need a valid Non-Resident Special Hunting License (Type 107) or Non-Resident 5-Day Special Hunting License (Type 157). Those under 17 must obtain a Youth Hunting License (Type 169).

Exotics that can be legally hunted include animals that are ungulates, that is grass- or plant-eating, single-or cloven-hoofed mammals that are not native to Texas. This list includes: aoudad sheep, axis deer, fallow deer, elk, bison, blackbuck antelope, feral hog, sika deer, scimitar-horned oryx, wildebeest, ibex, mouflon, Texas dahl sheep, Catalina goat, gemsbok, markhor, impala, eland, barasinga (Indian swamp deer) and other species. Hunting of ratites (emu, rhea, ostrich, cassowary) is also allowed.

No, one doesn't have to travel to other countries to enjoy an exotic animal hunt, when there is the Hill Country of Texas right at your back door.

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