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Hunt free-range nilgai or blue bulls on 16,000-acre Texas ranch

Here's a fun hunt in the late fall and winter, and it yields a trophy animal as well as a year's supply of meat. The quarry is the nilgai or blue bull from India and Pakistan.

These game animals were stocked in Texas in 1930, and they're faring just fine on their own in some areas. Though most nilgai are hunted inside game-proof fences, this hunt takes place on a ranch that is not enclosed, where the animals may roam freely on and off the 16,000-ranch. The property is near Raymondville and borders a much larger ranch that also is not high fenced.

Though nilgai are wary and consistently rate among the top exotic species for eluding hunters, they are not overhunted on this property, so all the hunters this outfitter has guided so far have killed their bulls.

The bulls weigh 750 to 900 pounds and are a steely bluish-gray. Their horns are not long -- an exceptional bull has eight-inch horns that are eight inches around at the bases.

Nilgai are tough to bring down and seldom leave a good blood trail because their thick, elastic hides slip over bullet holes. Some say that nilgai meat rates with axis deer meat as the best wild game for the table. Most shots are from 100 to 125 yards

The hunt includes guiding and transportation on the ranch along with skinning and quartering. The outfitter will take your meat and trophy to a packing house and to a taxidermist, or you can have a local flesher prepare the hide and cape for your own taxidermist.

"The hunters have really enjoyed this hunt," the outfitter said. "Probably half the bulls we take are of gold medal quality according to SCI, and though you can usually get a shot under 125 yards, we also do some long-range shooting with a .416 Berrett.

"You can bring your own rifle, or you can borrow a .340 Weatherby or a 7mm Magnum from me. We like hunting in November, December, January, March and April."

The outfitter has this .416 Barrett that he lends to hunters who wish to use it on these very tough animals.

Cow nilgai are colored much differently than the bulls.

Hunt NI2824

Hunt
Price per person, length
Nilgai (aka blue bull), 2 days $2,750
Location
16,000-acre ranch near Raymond, Texas. The nilgai are free-roaming in this area and can leave the ranch. $45. Updated license prices

Season

Travel
November through March Fly to the Harlingen airport. Rent a car and drive to ther anch.
Lodging and meals
Extras
Motel quarters and restaurant meals are not included in the price Meat packing and shipping. Trophy preparation (complete fleshing is about $150 -- most taxidermists will give you a credit if you bring in a completely fleshed-out cape).