Whether hunters want unique trophies, rare species, or special table fare, the reasons to hunt exotics in Texas are numerous. While many hunters don't have the budget to traverse the globe in search of these species, Texas has them all in booming populations at the ready.
Before dismissing this as nothing more than canned high-fence hunting, realize that many of these ranches are over 10,000 acres. Further, Texas hunting ranches have saved multiple species from near extinction occurring in their native ranges.
We've gathered together some of the most popular and recognizable Texas exotics -- along with places to hunt and firearms, calibers, optics, and ammo to use for success.
Home Range: India and Sri Lanka, where they are often known as Chital
Why hunt Axis: Ask any hunter, and the odds are good, they list Axis among their very favorite meats. Mild flavor, tender cuts, and that beautifully spotted hide with a tall majestic rack make the bucket list of most deer hunters.
Places to Hunt: Priour Ranch, Mountain Home, Texas
Why hunt Blackbuck: The first time I saw a Blackbuck, I knew I had to hunt one. Those tightly spiraled horns and the darkly colored face of a mature buck are one of a kind. Though the critters are small at only 85 pounds, the meat is fantastic. Plus, they’re a thrill to hunt -- fast-moving, bounding quarry in open terrain.
Places to Hunt: King of Eights Outfitters, Ballinger, Texas
Home Range: Southeast Asia; Flat-horned Water Buffalo have now become prevalent in Australia
Why hunt Water Buffalo: Any hunters seeking the thrill of the largest and most formidable hulky game animals will want to pursue Water Buffalo along with Cape and American Bison. When travel to the Asian continent is prohibitive, Texas fields healthy populations of well-fed, wild Water Buffalo. Anybody who tells you hunting Water Buffalo is like cattle has never hunted one in open terrain. Full freezers and great campfire stories are sure to result from these massive beasts.
Why hunt Ibex: While there’s no substitute for climbing after Bezoar (Persian) or Nubian Ibex in their native mountain ranges, those hunts are sadly out of the price ranges and abilities of many hunters. Texas is the next best bet, with many outfitters in the hill country offering rugged rocky terrain where Ibex deliver a challenging hunt and amazing trophy with those swooping horns.
Places to Hunt: Action Outdoor Adventures, Hondo, Texas
Why hunt Nilgai: Ask any serious hunters, and they’ll not only list Nilgai as one of the most underrated of all wild game meats but also as a formidable quarry. Those sharply tipped horns are easily weaponized, and the Nilgai is not only one of the most difficult hunts, but also the largest of the Asian Antelope species.
Places to Hunt: King Ranch, where they were first introduced in Texas
Home Range: Central Asia, including Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan
Why hunt Markhor: The better answer is why not, as long as money is no object. I know no hunter who wouldn’t gladly go after Markhor if they weren’t so pricey. For those who can swing it, Markhor is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful game animals in the world. Catching fleeting glimpses of their flowing mane and tightly curled horns moving through the rocky Texas country is enough to get any hunter's heart beating faster.
Home Range: Indigenous to Europe; Imported to New Zealand; subspecies in Asia and North Africa
Why hunt Red Deer: The Red Stag that defines New Zealand hunting is, in fact, not even truly native to that land anymore so than it is to Texas. Regardless, the Red Deer is one stunning creature. While we’d love to make the trek to faraway scenic highlands, Texas offers some dandy Stags without the hassle of importing/exporting guns, trophies, and meat. Whether you favor crazy non-typical farm-raised or natural-roaming typicals, Texas has it all, and getting close to a Red Deer on most ranches is a legit hunting expedition.
Places to Hunt: Texas Hunt Lodge offers a healthy selection of Red Deer from management to monstrous
Why hunt Kudu: Name one exotic animal that is as instantly recognizable, even by non-hunters, as a Kudu. If that’s not reason enough to bump the Greater Kudu to the top of your bucket list of hunts, know that those tightly spiraled horns and lean meat are hard to beat. While there’s nothing like chasing Plains Game in Southern African, if you can’t make that journey, book a Texas Kudu hunt today.
Places to Hunt: YO Ranch, or other outfits in the Texas Hill country
There are far too many exotic species now calling Texas home to list them all here, but this is a mix of the top managed big game critters that draw hunters from all over the world to the Lone Star State. If you’re building a wish list for your exotic hunt, also consider adding Aoudad/Barbary Sheep, Gemsbok, Scimitar Horned Oryx, Afghan Urial, Fallow Deer, or Pere David Deer. Think Addax to Zebra and every wild game animal in between, and the odds are good, they’re roaming Texas—and Texas is waiting for you.