Obscure and mysterious. Asia’s largest antelope, the Nilgai, have taken up residence in coastal south Texas scrub country. With an estimated 30,000+ Nilgai, this lower 48 free-range, non-draw hunting opportunity is very unique, and comes with a bonus of the world’s finest venison upon success!
||3 nights/3 fully guided hunting days
||Open year-round, Rut is Jan-Feb
||Wild, Free-ranging & Introduced/Escaped (1920’s)
Here’s an exciting package in extreme south Texas pursuing an incredibly unique and underappreciated species -the Nilgai. Asia’s largest antelope, and regarded by some of the world’s highest quality venison.
Introduced to Texas in the 1920s, and outside a limited native range, they are essentially available nowhere else in viable populations than South Texas. It’s a conservation success story, a challenging hunting opportunity, and a freezer filler at the same time!
Nilgai are super tough. Built like a brick house and equipped with keen senses. They often travel in loose herds and can be extremely skittish. Camouflaged perfectly and mainly nocturnal, it can be tricky getting into shooting range undetected. It’s a true hunt, and completely low-fence and free-range. Simply observing these bizarre creatures at home in the south Texas landscape is an experience in itself.
In addition to Nilgai, other species such as scimitar-horned oryx, big south Texas whitetails, javelina, or a host of other wing shooting or fishing opportunities provide options. Consider a day of Quail, Doves, or Waterfowl hunting throughout the fall and early winter. Or add a day or two of inshore fishing primarily for Red Fish, Speckled Sea Trout, and Flounder around south Padre Island’s Laguna Madre!
Consider pursuing the lesser-known and delicious Nilgai, in a unique lower 48 environment such as coastal south Texas. It makes for a great off-season non-draw opportunity, and with so many extras, it’s more like a free-range south Texas safari!
Typical Day & Tactics
Arrive to the ranch in time to settle in, enjoy a nice dinner. Wake up before dawn, grab breakfast and jump into the outfitters rigged-out 4×4 truck with plans to be in the specific hunting area by sun up.
When conditions are prime, say during the rut, hunts are generally conducted by vehicle-assisted spot & stalk. First-time Nilgai hunters will quickly appreciate these antelope for their keen senses and near impeccable camouflage. A few failed stalks later confirm it. Nilgai are difficult to get close to! Adaptive tactics include sitting over a crossing or feeding area, or the willingness to take quick, moving or brushy shots. Outside the rut, or as needed, thermal night stalking can be an effective strategy. And in the summer, waterhole hunting is an excellent way to see nilgai at close range, especially for archery hunters. It should be noted that Nilgai are incredibly tough, and little short of a perfect shot will bring one down quickly.
Each mature bull has a unique look. Some are silver, some are nearly all black. Others are the classic grizzled blue, but body shape and big triangular horn bases are the best indicators of age when judging a trophy. Horns in the 7–9-inch range are very respectable. 10-11+ inches is an SCI monster. Fortunately, the outfitter and his guides specialize in Nilgai, and assist in the judging process. Come late morning, head back to the lodge for lunch and a nap, until its time to venture out again for the evening.
While adding a second Nilgai is possible, other free-ranging native and exotic species are sure to be encountered on this hunt. Open year-round, hunters can expect to bump into trophy Scimitar-horned Oryx and Javelina, available as targets of opportunity on a trophy fee basis. Whitetail season peaks November through January, and can also be added to any Nilgai hunt during those overlapping months. In addition, wing shooting and fishing opportunities can complement any South Texas safari! Doves, Quail, and Waterfowl are all available in the fall and early winter, and the nearby Gulf coasts is another great year-round resource. Popular inshore fishing targets Red Fish, Speckled Sea Trout, and Flounder in the warm shallows of Laguna Madre. But Tuna, Spanish Mackerel, Dorado and Billfish can all be had offshore.
Upon success, Nilgai are often kept whole and taken directly to a combination taxidermy studio and meat processing facility. There is no additional price for the delivery, and all preparations for meat & trophies can be made directly and simultaneously. If planning on caping, quartering or processing your Nilgai yourself, the ranches are equipped with winched gambrels and walk-in coolers where clients are welcome to store their Nilgai until the hunt concludes. These unique antelope sport beautiful grizzled capes, with characterizing scars and makings, and the venison might be some of the world’s best!
Landscape & Climate
This is a land of thick, flat South Texas scrub, mainly mesquite or oak tangles which provide these species the exceptional cover they need to thrive. The scrub opens into mixed grassy meadows with scatterings of wildflowers, Yuccas, and prickly pears, giving way to open pasture and worked crop fields. The many Sendero’s provide wide viewing and shooting lands through the thick scrub. An assortment of migrant birds thrive here throughout the winter months, and other iconic species like diamondback rattlesnakes, roadrunners, javelina, armadillos live here year-round.
Since Nilgai season is open year-round, the weather can vary greatly depending on the time of year. The summer months can understandably get quite hot, calling for midday siestas. During the winter rut, conditions can turn quite cool in the morning or evenings, and the leafless vegetation allows for greater visibility.
Meals & Accommodations
These hunts are based from several private ranch-style lodges, usually on active working ranches in remote south Texas. AC, private bedrooms and bathrooms, common lounge, dining areas, porches, fire pits, full kitchens, fridges, freezers, and catered meals provide all the comfort for hunters. Also, enjoy the remote and private setting directly in the hunting area. Cell phone service or wifi is available at most locations.
Breakfasts are quick, usually comprised of breakfast burritos, bacon, coffee, tea, or juice to get hunters out the door. Lunch is usually back at the lodge where fresh tortilla chips and home-made salsas are made daily, along with local finger foods and other snacks. For dinner enjoy some classic Tex-Mex favorites such as Nilgai Enchiladas or Fajitas, various handmade tacos, or steak night, usually served with beans, rice, and fresh guacamole. Cold drinks are always available.
This hunt only requires basic equipment. A small day pack, 10x binoculars, rangefinder, suitable layered camo clothing, comfortable hiking or snake boots, headlamp and flashlight, ballcap, sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellant, a hunting knife, and digital camera covers the essentials. Personal shooting sticks, rifles/bows can be recommended. Hunter orange is not required.
South Texas Nilgai: 3 full days/3 nights – Fully guided – x1 Nilgai – Year-Round = $4500
South Texas Scimitar-horned Oryx: 3 full days/3 nights – Fully guided – x1 Oryx – Year-Round = $5500
Trophy South Texas Whitetail: 3 full days/3 nights – Fully guided – x1 WT – Nov-Jan = $5950
Free-Range Javelina: 2 full days/2 nights – Fully/Semi-guided – x2 Javelina – Open Year-Round = $1500
*NOTE – All hunts are free-range with flat-rate pricing. No size restrictions or sliding scale trophy fees.
- Airport pick-up & drop off at Harlingen airport in South Texas
- All meals and accommodations for 3 nights during the hunt
- Professional guiding for 3 full days – day (stalking)/Night (thermals)
- Trophy fees for x1 free-range trophy Nilgai bull with no size restrictions
- All vehicles & ground transportation while hunting
- Free bonus Coyote, Foxes, Raccoons etc.
- Delivery of whole Nilgai to taxidermists/meat processing facility
- Travel to the ranch if driving, or Corpus Christi, Texas airport shuttle ($150)
- Any pre and post-hunt meals or hotel accommodations
- Texas state exotic hunting license (approx. $50) or other state licensing
- Rifle rental & ammo for the duration of the hunt if desired ($100)
- Trophy fees for any additional game animals harvested
- Wing Shooting/Fishing add-ons
- 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.
- Extra hunting days: $300/day (if possible)
- Non-hunting observer days: $150/day
Trophy fees for additional game species;
- 2nd Trophy Nilgai = $3500
- Non-Trophy/Cow Nilgai = $1800
- Trophy Scimitar Horned Oryx = $4500
- Trophy South Texas Whitetail (if season is open) = $5500
- Trophy Javelina/Peccary = $550 (max x2/hunter)
Wing Shooting/Fishing Add-on’s
- Doves – (Sept through Jan) – Half day $150/gun, Full day $300/gun
- Waterfowl – (Nov through Jan) – Half day $200/gun, Full day $400/gun
- Quail – (Nov through Feb) – Half day – $2000.Max 4 hunters
- Inshore Fishing – Open all year – Half day – $450 for 2 anglers – $75/additional angler
Most hunters drive from home and are provided directions. If flying, hunters are asked to arrive at either the Corpus Christi airport (car rentals available or airport shuttle provided for $150 round trip), or Harlingen airport only half an hour from the hunting area, where round-trip airport-pick up and drop off is provided at no charge
The various ranches are scattered between Raymondville and Brownsville Texas. Having a personal vehicle is handy and the outfitter provides directions to a meeting spot near the ranch gates prior to arrival. If flying, Dallas & Houston both serve as the best hub airports for international travelers.
Round trip airport shuttles between the hunting areas are NOT included and hunters will need a personal or rental vehicle if arriving to any airport aside from Harlingen, Texas.
Passport required for all international travel.