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#5698125 - 04/13/15 05:06 PM Anatomy of a Nilgai Hunt (at Double Shot Outfitters) - [long read]
John Humbert Offline
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Registered: 12/13/10
Posts: 1666
“This is pretty far south”, I said to myself as I drove through Sarita on Hwy 77 heading south. A quick glance at the dashboard GPS on the Jeep told me I had about an hour left to go to Double Shot Outfitter’s shop south of Raymondville.

I was on my way to finally make good on a 3-year quest to complete my Texas/India slam with a hunt for Nilgai. I had been talking with Adam Batot at DSO for the past two years wanting to go, but life circumstances had gotten in the way either preventing me from booking, or forcing me to cancel plans. Adam had kept in good spirits - very patient and understanding as I flip-flopped a couple of times, before making a hard commitment a couple months ago.

With several Blackbuck, and lots of Axis under my belt – I was eager, excited, and frankly a bit apprehensive about the Nilgai. Were they as good tasting as they say? I’d heard all the stories about how hard they are to bring down, having to make long shots on the run, etc. But the time for stories was over, and soon I would have my own.

My choice of gun this trip was a 1959 Browning Medallion-grade in .375 H&H. This gun had been someone’s safe queen for 50 years before ending up in my hands. A beautiful antique with a Mauser action - which is still very functional today. I choose an atypical lightweight bullet of 235gr Barnes. This is different from most folks, who opt for the standard 300gr or 270gr for Africa game. My reason was the ballistics for this load from Buffalo Bore, made the .375 H&H a pretty flat-shooting gun – extending the traditional range of 100-150 yards out to 300yards. This, I thought, could revolutionize the way a .375H&H is used. With this gun, this load at nearly 3000 fps still packs a wallop of nearly 4500 foot pounds at 100yards, and still nearly 3500 foot-pounds at 200 yards, with a drop of just a smidgen over 2.5”. Should be plenty, if I could do my job and hit the animal in a good spot.

The terrain had changed to alternating thick Mesquite flats and cultivation, with a few sand dunes and palm trees here and there, as I arrived at the DSO shop. Brand-new and clean, although sparsely stocked, it showed the signs of an up-and-coming business run by folks who chose quality over quantity. There was no “fluff” in the store, and no sign of high-markup junk – it was all stuff you’d want to use yourself – and I’m sure they do!

I could see several awesome mounts, and a guy working on a nice waterbuck through a window that exposed the backroom. But there wasn’t much time to look around, as was quickly greeted by Cody, with Adam joining just moments later. A couple of handshakes and greetings and we were off to the ranch in just minutes.

Less than 30 minutes later we were on property. Don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but this wasn’t it. The ranch was so lush green with thick mesquite brush, huisache, ponds and swamps, big grassy meadows, and hardwoods – I knew right away it was going to be tough and challenging to hunt – and I smiled. And when I say thick green – I’m talking about some places looked like a tropical rainforest jungle – not a south Texas ranch just north of the border.

The ranch is as beautiful as any I’ve ever been on – period. Obviously the owners were folks of means and taste, and the “Sunday house” where we were staying was like a 4-star hotel, with big comfortable room professionally decorated – with satellite TV no less. But I didn’t have much time to enjoy it, as I just threw my duffle bag in the door and grabbed my rifle and backback while Adam brought the ranger around – and we were off on our hunt!

As we drove around the ranch, I felt a little like I was on a Disney eco-ride. As we moved from area to area, the terrain and features could change significantly. One area we were driving on hard caliche looking a large sunny green grass meadow. Then we would turn a corner and head through taller trees with thick, jungle-like undergrowth that couldn’t see but 2-ft into. Then around another turn and you are in a typical south Texas Mesquite flat. Then over a levee and you are in a coastal marsh flat, complete with smelly sulfurous mud, and sandy dune-like areas.

And so it continued moving from one micro-ecosystem to the next. I counted over 30 bird species before I stopped counting. From blue-wing teal in the fresh-water pond areas, to Ospreys, to quail. Literally saw hundreds of quail on the roads. Seem liked every couple hundred yards a covey would run out ahead of us.

So far as animals, we saw more bunnies than you can count – cotton and jack. Spotted ground squirrels, horny toads, black buck, red stag, axis, and whitetail. But no nilgai.

A couple of hours and not a single nilgai sighting, cow or bull. Then we came around a corner near an area that Adam says his “nemesis” lives (a very large mature black Nilgai bull) – and a few cow nilgai quickly crossed the road and disappeared into the brush. Then following the cow, a huge bull nilgai scampered past. He looked like he was just gently loping, but after I had recovered from my shock and awe – and realized he covered a lot of territory pretty quick.

We had no time to react, but Adam hit the pedal and sped down a road and around another corner to get us into position where he thought they were heading. He quickly explained on the way there that this time of year, it was unusual to see a bull following cows.

We got into position, sticks up, gun up and looking through the scope – just as the cows crossed the road. I realized that I would have just a second if the bull stepped into view and was busy trying to figure out the lead on a running bull, when nothing….. no bull, nada. The big nilgai failed to cross the road. And just like that, the day ended.

Back at main house, walked into the beautiful house and my mouth began to water. I don’t know whether it was the aroma of the Nilgai spaghetti that Cody was cooking up, or the mount of a 35lb-plus snook, which was caught in the Arroyo that borders the ranch. Did I forget to mention there is a lighted dock where you can fish for trout and redfish under the lights if you aren’t too tired?

After eating my fill, stepped out onto the porch with Adam and Cody to have a beer and there was a group of axis (some pretty darn nice) feeding at the feeder out front a scant 70 yards away. Got the thermal out and watched the axis, some very large pigs, and some whitetail for an hour and reflected this was just heaven. Retired to my room and didn’t take long to fall asleep with visions of that big Nilgai filling my thoughts.

Edited by John Humbert (04/13/15 07:11 PM)

#5698127 - 04/13/15 05:07 PM Re: Anatomy of a Nilgai Hunt (at Double Shot Outfitters) - [long read] [Re: John Humbert]
John Humbert Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 12/13/10
Posts: 1666
The next morning we left at daybreak with a cool morning due the rain that had fallen during the night. We started the circuit and saw lots of lots of animals, big blackbuck, whitetail, red deer, coyotes, etc. as we drove around. But no Nilgai.

They were teasing us. Zigging when we zagged. All day, it was the same. Movement of animals were very slow, but several times we would find fresh nilgai tracks in the soft sand, or fresh poop piles, right on the road where we had driven by 30 minutes earlier. A few bulls were spotted on the ranch by others – usually when we were on the opposite side – but we failed to see any bulls, and only a couple of cows briefly cross here and there.

Well, I take that back – we did get a fleeting glimpse of a big bull at about 50 yards as we were driving down a levee. He was right next to us as we came up to a crossing, but a glimpse was all I got as this 700-800 lb animal simply disappeared into the brush.

Did see lots of blackbuck, and several that were good shooters. We tried sitting on a waterhole and poop piles, driving around, glassing from vantage points – but they were giving us the slip. It was just so green, lush, and wet that we knew those animals were deep into the brush, where no one could even walk into.

Still, Adam is a good guy to spend 16 hours in Ranger with. We both enjoyed taking pictures of the various fauna, and exchanged stories and thoughts as we covered the ranch back and forth, west to east, east to west, north to south, and all over again. I could tell Adam was getting a bit concerned, and explained this was very usual – but we could turn a corner any moment and run into them.

We did run across a very nice group of axis, with a couple of good shooters – both hard and in velvet, and I was very tempted to take a shot. Being the same price as nilgai, DSO was very accommodating – but nilgai was what I was after, and I wasn’t ready to throw the towel in yet. “Maybe tomorrow”, I said, as we left them be and continued our nilgai quest.

As we drove around, I was constantly thinking about shot opportunities. I realized I was going to have to be quick. A few dry-runs on coyotes told me it was better to have the gun in my hand at all times. I kept playing scenarios in my head as we rounded every corner. Shoot I go for a neck shot, or try to break the spine, or opt for lung/heart shot? How do you lead a nilgai? How far away was I will to shoot? I anticipated an animal every bush or ambush point and played the scenario out in my head a hundred times that day.

But I never got a chance. The day ended on the north side of the ranch, as I was glassing some turkeys. As shooting light faded along with hopes for that day, we witnessed an amazing site as the fireflies began to light up. There were thousands! I tried to take some pictures before the light faded, but wasn’t very successful in capturing the moment.

As we drove south back to the smell of fajitas and sausage on the grill, it was like we will among the stars – or a scene from Avatar - as fireflies put on an amazing spectacle.

And to add insult to injury, as we were leaving – I pulled out the thermal and we saw a big nilgai come out of the brush and start grazing on the new growth – right in a brushy area we had JUST been sitting on for several hours. Argghh!

After an amazing dinner, some ice cream, and a wonderfully delicious Brandy Alexander – Adam, Cody, and I discussed options for the next, and final morning. Thinking of a 9-10 hour drive back to Dallas, I said I would want to hit the road around noon. Adam said we would hunt to the last minute. We discussed the option of trying for an axis, if the nilgai wouldn’t cooperate. I was perfectly OK with that – being an axis nut.

#5698138 - 04/13/15 05:11 PM Re: Anatomy of a Nilgai Hunt (at Double Shot Outfitters) - [long read] [Re: John Humbert]
John Humbert Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 12/13/10
Posts: 1666
The next morning we were quickly on our way, and immediately saw two very large pigs feeding in the daylight in the field where there always seemed to be several blackbuck. We made the circuit several times, with pretty much the same results of the previous two days.

We did come across a nice group of axis, including an atypical 11pt that was in velvet. He wasn’t ready for harvest though, but there was another shooter with him. It was very, very tempting – but never really got a good shot opportunity after I decided I was going to settle.

Cody helped out by scouting the ranch looking for bulls on the opposite side from where we were. Pretty soon a text came in he was on a young bull, and off Adam and I went. As we rolled up to his position, he pointed out a young, smaller bull not too far often who was intent on watching us. Cody said, he’s young – but if you want him, go ahead. I decided yes – but after all the mental prep work, in this position I was I couldn’t find a solid rest to shoot from – the cross hairs kept dancing around. I certainly didn’t want to make a poor shot – not on a nilgai – and by the time I called for the sticks and Adam rushed them over to where I was, the bull faded back into the brush. Daammmn! That was my opportunity.

We started our circuit again, but I was dejected. The nilgai won this round. I told Adam to circle around where we had seen the axis earlier. As luck would have it, they weren’t too far away. It was almost 11am, and I had decided take one. We put a stalk on them, having to enter some heavy brush. Adam whispered “there are two big bulls in there”, and I swore I thought he meant axis. We entered the heavy brush, but we could hear them run off. Adam and I lost sight of each other, so I back-tracked to the road to be safe. When we reunited, Adam said he had a bull at 65 yards – when I realized he was talking about a NILGAI, and not an axis – I was bummed to say the least. We regrouped back at the Ranger and I looked at my watch. It was 11:48am.

I told Adam, “OK, let’s make ONE more circuit around and then call it quits”. Adam said fine, let me get another water from the house. We drove back to the house, Cody was packing up to leave (I had packed my Jeep that morning before we left), picked up a water, and started for the east side.

We rounded a corner and saw a bull at 400+ yards scamper around a corner and head north along the fenceline and VANISH. Still, I got gun in hand – and we edged up. He was gone. As we drove along the levee road, looking to our right, and came up to an intersection that led back to the house. I was still looking for that bull to the right when Adam slammed the Ranger to a stop and said “shoot him!” in a strong whisper.

I had no idea what he was looking at, but automatic pilot took over and I brought the gun up as I began to look left. The next moments were a blur, it happened so fast. Without time to think, I saw a bull standing at the edge of the brush ahead of us to the left. I can’t remember clearly, but put the firedot from the Leupold at a point in the middle of the vitals and squeezed the trigger. I vaguely remember seeing Adam cover his ears out of the corner of my eye.

Don’t remember the bang or recoil of the antique 55-year old Browning, but I remember seeing the nilgai jump and kick his back legs – and he was gone! My mind went numb.

I came back to the present when I heard Adam repeat himself to me. I didn’t understand what he said, but I offered “I think I got him”. I heard what he said next clearly as I was coming out of the fog. “How confident are you of the shot?”, he asked. “Pretty comfortable”, I lied – already beginning to second-guess myself. Did I really hit him? Couldn’t remember exactly where I aimed, thoughts poured through my head. I knew he jumped – and I COULDN’T have missed at this range, could I’ve? But still, never fired this gun at animal. Heck, I’d only put 11 rounds through the gun totally since I got it.

Adam bolstered my confidence when he said, “I think you whacked him pretty good”. I heard it hit, and I didn’t hear much crashing through brush. I think he’s down, let’s go over there.

Now here’s where the fun starts. We drove down to the closest point we could get, which was on a road right next to a SWAMP. The nilgai was standing on the other side of the swamp when I shot at him – about 60-70 yards from where we were now standing. The water didn’t look too inviting, and I didn’t have any waterproof – besides the water was over boot-high.

Adam wasn’t fazed a bit. Got on the phone and called Cody, and said “Bring the truck, we just shot a nilgai”. I heard Cody’s response, “No sh-t?”. Adam replied “Yup, and bring your waders….”. I looked at my watch- it was 12:15pm.

Not 5 minutes later, Cody arrives with the recovery vehicle. He says, “Where is he?”, and Adam points a finger across the swamp. Moments later Cody has his waders on, backup gun slung over his shoulder, and starts across the swamp as Adam and I give directions.

We guide to them spot where the bull was standing, and he begins to look around. I am still shaking, sat down and lit up a smoke. I am very concerned now for a bunch of reasons. Hoping I made a good shot, hoping we find him – not wishing for a long tracking. Dreading the possibility of a long track on a wounded animal that could run into the night. Upset at creating a bunch of work for Adam and Cody.

Adam notices me wringing my hands. “Don’t worry, he says – you whacked him hard – we’ll get him”. It helped – a little.

A long 5 minutes goes by, and then we get the first message from Cody. “Blood everywhere! On the trail”. I feel better. A few moments later, then next message sends a wave of relief. “Found him, he’s down – he’s a good one.” Texted pics of horns soon follow, and there is elation all around.

Then Adam gets a call, and the next message is not so good. I overhear from the phone: “I found him, but I don’t know how in the h-ll we are going to get him out of here”. He didn’t run very far at all before dropping, but it was further away from any open area.

Adam and Cody have a phone call, and these guys proved beyond all doubt they know what they are doing. A brief consultation and the “Nilgai Recovery Team” springs into action. This was amazing to watch.

They decided the closest extraction point was from a levee road about 90 degrees from where he was shot. They moved the truck into position, somehow got it positioned crosswise on the levee road without it slipping into the swamp, and got the winch into position.

The winch only had a cable of about 50-60ft I guess, so they got another strap material a cut a section to cover the distance from where the winch cable would reach to the animal. After a couple of times where the strap broke, they got it going smooth.

And that’s how they got him out of there, 50-60 feet at a time. Winch, retie, wait for winch to cool down, repeat. Probably was maybe 150-200 yards from the road, but it wasn’t long before they had him pulled through the swamp and loaded on the back of the truck.

Meanwhile, I was able to find a dry path around the end where I could walk to where he dropped without getting too wet or muddy. It looked like a jungle back in there!! Post-mortem showed a fatal double-lung shot, which in all honestly – was just a tad high, but the .375 H&H and the Barnes got a clean pass-though with an entrance and exit hole of about 3/4 inch and heavy blood trail. You can see from yourself on the pictures. The animal was standing slightly quartered to me, facing right – entrance on right side, exit on left.

Took him to a meadow where they cleaned him for the “money shots”. Nice pretty pics, I’m sure you can tell theirs from mine. ☺

All in all, from the last minutes of the hunt, to having him gutted and on the way to cold room was only about 2 hours. Amazing. 10 hours later I was back in Dallas with my Nilgai hunt only a memory.

And that, my friends, was my experience Nilgai hunting with Double Shot Outfitters. One for the books!! Memories to last a lifetime.

Now y’all go get you one!! These guys were the best!!

Cody with waders crossing the swamp to look for the nilgai

Edited by John Humbert (04/14/15 01:25 AM)

#5698142 - 04/13/15 05:13 PM Re: Anatomy of a Nilgai Hunt (at Double Shot Outfitters) - [long read] [Re: John Humbert]
John Humbert Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 12/13/10
Posts: 1666
11pt Axis

#5698175 - 04/13/15 05:26 PM Re: Anatomy of a Nilgai Hunt (at Double Shot Outfitters) - [long read] [Re: John Humbert]
Struggle Offline

Registered: 11/21/14
Posts: 178
Wow, congratulations and very nice write up!

#5698208 - 04/13/15 05:49 PM Re: Anatomy of a Nilgai Hunt (at Double Shot Outfitters) - [long read] [Re: John Humbert]
Elkhunter49 Offline
Extreme Tracker

Registered: 06/21/11
Posts: 4089
Loc: Oak Harbor, Slidell La
Wow what a hunt!! Congratulations on a hell of an adventure. Thanks for the great report and photos, I felt like I was right next to you guys in the jeep. I too have been thinking about a Nilgai hunt and I think you may have just pushed me over the edge. I'm thinking this winter or early next year. well Done sir!! Baker
A true friend reaches for your hand but touches your heart.

#5698212 - 04/13/15 05:53 PM Re: Anatomy of a Nilgai Hunt (at Double Shot Outfitters) - [long read] [Re: John Humbert]
PaulZ2 Offline

Registered: 11/08/13
Posts: 175
awesome story man. Congrats. Really beautiful animal. cheers
God Bless

#5698256 - 04/13/15 06:19 PM Re: Anatomy of a Nilgai Hunt (at Double Shot Outfitters) - [long read] [Re: John Humbert]
Guadalupe Outfitters Offline

Registered: 03/16/15
Posts: 162
Loc: Boerne, Texas
John! Awesome story! Congrats on a terrific Trophy, but ohhhh boy that's good eating! And lots of it...:)) Pictures are beautiful too.... That is one Happy Hunter!
Diane Reiner Sodoro
Guadalupe Outfitters
Hunt Coordinator

#5698259 - 04/13/15 06:21 PM Re: Anatomy of a Nilgai Hunt (at Double Shot Outfitters) - [long read] [Re: John Humbert]
el_cazador713 Offline

Registered: 03/03/14
Posts: 805
Loc: Texas
Great story and even better trophy!!! Definitely on my list of hunts to do soon. Another great review of Adam and Cody, I need to hunt with them asap!

#5698284 - 04/13/15 06:35 PM Re: Anatomy of a Nilgai Hunt (at Double Shot Outfitters) - [long read] [Re: John Humbert]
BOBO the Clown Offline

Registered: 04/19/07
Posts: 43581
Loc: Metroplex
up up up

#5698352 - 04/13/15 07:13 PM Re: Anatomy of a Nilgai Hunt (at Double Shot Outfitters) - [long read] [Re: John Humbert]
rsbcool Offline
Light Foot

Registered: 02/22/11
Posts: 30
Congrats on a great hunt for a Nilgai. I really enjoyed your write up making us all feel like we were there with you. Testament to a excellent outfitter.

#5698459 - 04/13/15 08:07 PM Re: Anatomy of a Nilgai Hunt (at Double Shot Outfitters) - [long read] [Re: John Humbert]
Drop Tine Offline
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 09/26/09
Posts: 5129
Loc: Denton,Tx
Nice write up, congrats on your bull. Definitely on my bucket list!

#5698495 - 04/13/15 08:28 PM Re: Anatomy of a Nilgai Hunt (at Double Shot Outfitters) - [long read] [Re: John Humbert]
Redneck78 Offline

Registered: 01/16/12
Posts: 878
Loc: Southeast Texas
up coolpics

#5698522 - 04/13/15 08:42 PM Re: Anatomy of a Nilgai Hunt (at Double Shot Outfitters) - [long read] [Re: John Humbert]
Tux Man Offline

Registered: 01/10/14
Posts: 80
If you're not a professional writer, I think you may have missed your calling. Well done, sir.

#5698526 - 04/13/15 08:44 PM Re: Anatomy of a Nilgai Hunt (at Double Shot Outfitters) - [long read] [Re: Redneck78]
EddieWalker Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 08/06/14
Posts: 1585
Loc: Tyler, TX
What a fantastic adventure with an amazing trophy. Congratulations!!!!

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