USA: Texas Blackbuck

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Handsome, unique and multiple generations wild born & free-ranging in the Texas Hill Country. Hunt large, exclusive and excellently managed low-fence ranches with 100% opportunity rates on big mature Blackbuck with great genetics.

TRIP DURATION  3 professionally guided hunting days
PHYSICAL LEVEL Easy
PRIME TIME Open year-round with two annual ruts; November and February
WILDLIFE STATUS Wild, Free-ranging & Introduced (1932)

Package Highlights

These beautiful antelope originally hail from the Indian subcontinent.  Blackbuck still exist in both Nepal and along the Pakistani border but only in small scattered herds, localized mostly within protected areas, and are now extinct in Bangladesh. Transplanted to the Edwards Plateau in the Texas Hill country in 1932, descendants of these Blackbuck are now dozens of generations wild born and part of the wild Texas landscape. With self-sustaining populations in the tens of thousands, Texas now easily boasts the world’s largest population of wild free-ranging Blackbuck, along with the vast majority of top free-range record book entries.  This is a true conservation success story, as this unique and handsome antelope species was single handedly brought back from the brink of extinction by hunters and conservation minded sportsmen.

While available year-round and combinable with many other species, a perfect time for what might be the best Blackbuck hunting experience would be during the November or February ruts. These seasonal windows offer some great perks. Firstly, Blackbuck not only look their best with their sharply contrasting black and white winter coats complete with “suspenders” and eye rings, but are also actively rutting. Dominant Blackbuck form small breeding groups courting as many females as they can, all the while warding off evenly matched intruder males. They can be seen displaying, vocalizing and are more active in daylight hours. Another great bonus this time of year is that the Blackbuck rut coincides with both the Whitetail rut in November, or Texas’s wintering herd of Axis deer in February, making for ideal combo options. The same goes for Scimitar horned Oryx and Catalina, also sporting their flashiest coats of the year during the winter months. A final reason why November and February are such a great option is the weather. Cool, pleasant hunting temperatures, creepy crawlies in hibernation, and vegetation largely down, offering better visibility.

Excellent odds at true free-range medal class Blackbuck. Wild Hogs, Racoons, or other varmints are a no-cost bonus, and quality custom rifles are available if desired. The lodges are remote and private, nestled directly in the hunting area with classic Tex-Mex cuisine, cocktails and bonfires storytelling after hours. Come experience a first-class free-range Texas safari!

Typical Day & Tactics

Get yourself to the ranch. Depending on arrival time be ready to change and head out hunting shortly after arrival. Pile into a supped up side by side with your outfitter and his trusty tracking dog on a classic spot and stalk free range deer hunt. Cruise the Sendero’s and ranch roads, glassing off high points and into valleys looking for groups of Blackbuck, but no doubt also encountering Axis and Whitetails, along with Scimitar Oryx, Catalina and other oddballs like Emus or varmints. It’s the hill country, so hunters almost never know what they might run into. Seeing young and female Blackbuck prance around initially reminds many of Springbuck or Impala in Africa, and it takes a moment to sink in and appreciate that this incredible free-range antelope resource is so close to home.

Shooter Blackbuck on these ranches are judged very critically and tend to range from 18-21+-inch strait-tape measurements sporting 3+ horn curls with little to no brooming. Guides are very experienced and most days a number of flashy mature bucks can be stalked into and inspected at a closer range. During their ruts in the winter months, mature male Blackbuck dawn their best coats. Look for suspenders past the ankles and halos around the eyes of sharply contrasting black and white. Sandy coats elude to a younger buck this time of year which makes judging easier. Tactics are classic spot & stalk, while typical shots are made off shooting sticks or in the prone, and are usually between 75-150 yards, but can extend past 200 yards at times. During the summer months outside the rut, shots have the potential be longer with the Blackbuck less concentrated. Archery hunting is also possible, especially during the November rut from a blind or stand for those keen on combining with free-range hill country Whitetails.

Lunch is usually back at the lodge, and as soon as the sun starts to slide, head back out for the evening hunt. Continue probing different corners of the ranches, glassing, spotting and judging Blackbuck along the way until a shooter is located. Blackbuck can be very jumpy but often do not go too far if spooked. Wind is always a factor and contending with herds as large as several dozen, Antelope can make getting into range a challenge sometimes. Before long it all comes together, and a good stalk produces an opportunity at a free-range trophy class Blackbuck.

Once successful, Blackbuck are dressed, caped, quartered and placed in a walk-in cooler until it’s time to leave. These target-rich hunts offer an excellent free-range Texas Hill Country experience, beautiful capes and horns, and excellent venison for very reasonable pricing. Being open-year-round with no real tags or limits, where is the downside?

Landscape & Climate

Gently rolling hill country mixed Savannah type terrain. It is generally brushy with patches of live Oak montes, dense juniper thickets or mesquite trees in the bottoms and valley floors are interspersed with small grassy meadows. The ground is also littered with prickly pear cactus colonies, clumps of Yuccas and seasonal native flowers. The fauna in this region are diverse, yet all uniquely able to coexist. In additional to the Axis, hunters are certain to encounter Whitetail Deer, Blackbuck, Scimitar Horned Oryx, Catalina, Hogs, Raccoons, Ringtail Cats, Armadillos, Skunks, Grey Foxes, Jackrabbits, Emus, Turkey Vultures, Rio Grande Wild Turkeys, Cardinals, Hummingbirds, Road Runners and the occasional Tarantulas, Scorpions, Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes and Coachwhips! In low fence Hill Country, any number of unexpected exotic species could also suddenly appear – keeping hunters on their toes!

With the season open year-round, the weather can vary greatly. During the winter rut its quite cool but frost is still uncommon in the mornings and it generally heats up during the day, but nothing aside from a sweater or jacket is required to stay comfortable. Late spring to mid fall weather has the potential to get quite hot. The sun can blaze in the midday which is the perfect time for a siesta. It’s not uncommon to hunt in T-shirts and shorts in the afternoon.

Meals & Accommodations

The outfitter bases these hunts from several private ranch style homes on active working ranches in the remote Texas hill country. AC, private bedrooms and bathrooms, common lounge and dining areas, fire pits, a swimming pool, full kitchen, fridges, freezers and catered meals provides comfort to guests. Also nice is the quiet, remote private setting directly in the hunting area. Cell phone service or wifi is available at most locations but not all.

Fresh home-made tortilla chips and salsa are available round the clock. Aside from quick coffee, toast, juice or fruit, breakfast is normally served once everyone is back in from the morning hunt. Breakfast burritos, waffles or western omelets are classic. Lunch is usually sandwiches, chips and salsa and other snacks. For dinner enjoy some Tex-Mex favorites such as BBQ Brisket, Cowboy Steaks, Axis Enchiladas or Fajitas! Cold drinks are always available.

Key Equipment Suggestions

This hunt only requires basic equipment. A day pack, 10x binoculars, rangefinder, thin pants and a sweater, comfortable walking boots, headlamp and flashlight, ballcap, sunglasses, perhaps some sunscreen or bugspray and a digital camera cover the essentials. Personal shooting sticks, rifle/bow are recommended but not necessary. Hunter orange is not required in Texas.

Pricing

Trophy Free-Range Hill Country Hunts: 3 full days – 2×1 guided – x1 Blackbuck – Year-Round = $3650

Included

  • All meals and accommodations during the hunt
  • Opportunities at trophy class Blackbuck with no size restrictions
  • 2×1 professional guiding
  • Rifle rental for the duration of the hunt & ammunition
  • All ground transportation while hunting
  • Bonus Hogs, Coyote, Foxes, Raccoons
  • Basic meat, and trophy skull & hide preparations for the taxidermist

Not Included

  • Travel to San Antonio or San Angelo airports in central Texas
  • Any pre and post hunt meals or hotel accommodations
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off shuttles – personal or rental vehicle required
  • Texas state exotic hunting license (approx. $50)
  • Trophy fees for any additional game animals harvested
  • Gratuities to guides and staff
  • Taxidermy and custom meat orders or trophy shipping
  • Personal side ventures, vacationing or tourism
  • purchases of a personal nature, alcohol, souvenirs etc.

Additions

  • Extra hunting days: $350/day (if possible)
  • Extra overnight at the lodge: $150/night (if possible)
  • Non-hunting observer days: $150/day
  • Trophy fees for additional game species (no size restrictions);
  • Additional trophy Blackbuck = $2950
  • Trophy Axis Deer = $2950
  • Trophy Whitetail = $2950
  • Trophy Scimitar Horned Oryx = $4250
  • Catalina/Spanish Goat = $1250
  • Management – Axis/Blackbuck (Guides choice) = $1000
  • Doe – Axis Deer/Whitetail Deer = $350

Destination City

Hunters are asked to arrive at either the San Antonio or San Angelo airports, which would be closest and less than 2 hours drive to the various ranches and hunting areas south of Sonora.

Travel Suggestions

The various ranches are scattered south of Sonora. The San Angelo airport is closest, perhaps only 1 hour north. While San Antonio offers better connections, and is roughly 2 hours southeast of the hunting areas. Airport shuttles are not included and so a rental vehicle will be required, unless driving from home.

Airport Shuttles

Round trip airport shuttles between the hunting areas are not included and hunters will need a personal or rental vehicle.

Special Info

Passport required for all international travel.

Dal – Texas Blackbuck

When I had to postpone several international hunts due to COVID travel restrictions that Adrian and I had set up, I was worried 2020 would be a completely “Lost Year”, as with many other hunters in 2020. Adrian and I discussed the situation several times and he suggested that I going on a free-range exotic hunt in Texas with a proven outfitter and friend of his.  Due to missing the state tag deadlines, Texas seemed like the perfect place to plan a short notice hunt.

I already had a Blackbuck on my bucket list, and would also take a nice Axis Deer or Scimitar Oryx should the opportunity present itself.   The amount and variety of free-ranging game was even more amazing than Adrian described.  Just before dark we spotted a nice Blackbuck and after a long crawl into range, we got him!  The next couple of days we chased Scimitar & Axis around with many blown stalks until we finally connected on a nice Scimitar Oryx. They are not curious and have incredible eyesight!

The outfitter was awesome and knew how to hunt these challenging animals, and was extremely personal ensuring I had a great hunt.  I’m looking forward to returning soon to hunt a big Axis.  I want to thank Adrian again for suggesting and setting this hunt up for me which made something out of a nothing season!!!