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#7075893 - 02/12/18 03:30 PM Lower RGV NWR East Lake Hunt 2/16 - 2/18
CedarParkAg Offline
Green Horn

Registered: 02/08/16
Posts: 4
Hi,

I was wondering if anyone will be taking part in the Lower RGV NWR exotics hunt on February 16-19. I'm heading down from Austin on Thursday morning and will hopefully get a chance to scout some on Thursday afternoon.

Also, if anyone has hunted there in earlier this year, or years past, any advice on where to set up would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance on any info you can share.

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#7077920 - 02/14/18 06:01 AM Re: Lower RGV NWR East Lake Hunt 2/16 - 2/18 [Re: CedarParkAg]
magspa Offline
Tracker

Registered: 01/15/12
Posts: 531
Cant tell you where to set-up. I have never been on that part. But the nilgai are moving, saw a few at my lease the other day near teniette portion of refuge and at least it isnt too hot yet. I would stay put and wait for one to come by or another hunter to spook one towards you.

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#7078559 - 02/14/18 03:37 PM Re: Lower RGV NWR East Lake Hunt 2/16 - 2/18 [Re: CedarParkAg]
CedarParkAg Offline
Green Horn

Registered: 02/08/16
Posts: 4
Thanks for the advice!

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#7079344 - 02/15/18 03:48 AM Re: Lower RGV NWR East Lake Hunt 2/16 - 2/18 [Re: CedarParkAg]
Cajun Raider Offline
Tracker

Registered: 07/23/11
Posts: 748
Loc: Texas
See my prior post on hunting nilgai at Teniette, it was a rip off.
_________________________
Don't talk the talk if you didn't walk the walk.

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#7079562 - 02/15/18 08:58 AM Re: Lower RGV NWR East Lake Hunt 2/16 - 2/18 [Re: CedarParkAg]
HankTheTank Offline
Light Foot

Registered: 09/07/17
Posts: 44
Loc: San Antonio
I have not hunted either LRGV or El Tiente and can't comment on those specific hunts/areas, but I did participate in my first TPWD hunt ever and was at Laguna Atascosa (3rd rifle). I was mainly interested in going after Nilgai so did my internet research and knew it would be very difficult with low chance of success. If you enjoy a challenging hunt and can accept coming home empty-handed, it can be very rewarding. If you want an easy hunt with guaranteed or high success rate, there's a very good chance you'll be disappointed.

Not a dig or insult on anyone, but I wouldn't put too much stock in the negative opinions about these difficult hunts. There may be some validity to their complaints, but I wonder if it's more they don't enjoy the (intense) hard work involved or maybe trying to deter others from applying for future hunts?

Anyway, research told me (for the hunt in general)
1) go at least a mile in if possible to avoid other hunters,
2) take a bike if you can to help get in and out quicker as well as get game out if successful
3) take snake protection and insect repellant
4) be sure you know hunt specific rules and regs

For targeting Nilgai:
5) focus on travel areas where they leave thick brush early AM to spend the day in wide-open fields and back shortly before sundown
6) look for active poop piles with fresh sign (they don't use everyday; I looked for tracks/poop that were about 5 days old or fresher

On my rifle hunt, some had success taking animals out in the open fields and others (myself included) had success in dense brush where they were bedded down. My experience was pretty crazy. Starting around 2 pm, I 'stalked' (loudly) through the brush trying my best to be quiet. Bending and stooping, snapping twigs, catching thorns and brush along the way. Around 3 pm, about 100-150 yds into the stalk, hunched over have-way into my next step, I look up and see a young bull laying maybe 20 yds +/- from me and downwind. He was looking up over his shoulder trying to see what I was. I brought my rifle up slowly and was able to anchor him.

What I learned from my experience and the success of others on this hunt:

They don't always run for a 1/4 mi or more at first sight or smell of you. They sometimes stay in the thick brush until you are within 20-50 yds before you are aware they are there. The brush I was in was so thick I couldn't see it until getting in that close and you can't even see where the animal is in a picture taken from where I took the shot.

They have a STRONG smell like nothing I've ever shot, probably close to a cow. If you can smell one, it is close and I would start stalking upwind as carefully as possible trying to find it.

I'm a meat hunter and on animals this size or bigger, prefer the backcountry elk method of quartering. Do not gut. Skin topside laying it out carefully on the ground, take quarters, backstop, and carefully get in and get tenderloin without compromising entrails. Flip over onto layed-out skin and repeat. I didn't pay attention to the head and neck when I did it, so it was difficult to flip b/c it was bent back. In the future, the first thing I'll do if possible is lay the head and neck out straight to make flipping over easier.

They have very think skin, thicker than I have ever dealt with. Probably a 1/4 inch at least on body and nearly a full inch thick around the neck. Not exaggerating. Take several sharp knives and a sharpener, you will need them if sucessfully take an animal.

Wish you great success on your hunt, it's very possible. I went solo and had a bunch of naysayers leading up to the hunt, but didn't let that get in my head. It pushed me to go further, try harder, prove them wrong, and I glad I did it. For me, my success boiled down to: God answering A LOT of prayers, a hell of a lot of work, and a good bit of luck. Don't let mistakes or missed opportunities ruin it for you. I made more mistakes than I care to admit and had several blown opportunities, but stuck it out and couldn't be happier. Without those mistakes and missed opportunities I don't think I would have been successful.

Sorry, one last thing. I didn't think it would be as difficult as others said, and was dead azz wrong. For me, it was even more difficult (partly b/c I was solo). It tested me physically and mentally beyond most other experiences I've had in life so far...I hope I get a chance to do it again.

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#7080529 - 02/15/18 08:17 PM Re: Lower RGV NWR East Lake Hunt 2/16 - 2/18 [Re: CedarParkAg]
CedarParkAg Offline
Green Horn

Registered: 02/08/16
Posts: 4
Hank,

Thanks for the great write up. We went out and hiked about 5 miles through East Lake today. Didnít see any Nilgai, but did see tons of deer, javelina, and hogs.

Think I have some pretty decent spots marked for hunting. Will definitely take your advice about hunting further in.

Hope to have a successful story tomorrow!

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#7080722 - 02/15/18 11:46 PM Re: Lower RGV NWR East Lake Hunt 2/16 - 2/18 [Re: CedarParkAg]
Cajun Raider Offline
Tracker

Registered: 07/23/11
Posts: 748
Loc: Texas
Problem at Tiente was that no baiting was allowed but area was surrounded by private land and everyone, private land owners, turned on feeders a day before the hunt started. Nilgai simply stayed near the feeders. Game Warden is the one that pointed out feeders and told us where nigai had moved to. Hope you have better luck at East Lake.
_________________________
Don't talk the talk if you didn't walk the walk.

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#7080805 - 02/16/18 06:14 AM Re: Lower RGV NWR East Lake Hunt 2/16 - 2/18 [Re: CedarParkAg]
magspa Offline
Tracker

Registered: 01/15/12
Posts: 531
I wonder what they are putting in those feeders. I border teniette and have NEVER seen a nilgai at a feeder - protein or corn, even tried alfalfa hay. They stopped to smell the alfalfa but that was about it. They like anything fresh, like grain crops when they are just sprouting nice and green. I doubt those deer feeders had any impact on the nilgai hunting.

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#7080885 - 02/16/18 07:26 AM Re: Lower RGV NWR East Lake Hunt 2/16 - 2/18 [Re: Cajun Raider]
HankTheTank Offline
Light Foot

Registered: 09/07/17
Posts: 44
Loc: San Antonio
Originally Posted By: Cajun Raider
Problem at Tiente was that no baiting was allowed but area was surrounded by private land and everyone, private land owners, turned on feeders a day before the hunt started. Nilgai simply stayed near the feeders. Game Warden is the one that pointed out feeders and told us where nigai had moved to. Hope you have better luck at East Lake.


I understand the frustration with the neighboring landowners actively trying to disrupt the hunt, that sucks. I don't think any of the NWR drawn hunts allow baiting which can make it more difficult, but I liked that aspect. To me it equates to hunters relying more on skill and strategy, and in my mind, lower chance of success for others might mean higher success for me as there are that many more animals not taken over bait.

Though I didn't observe or hear about issues with neighboring properties, I was on the 3rd hunt and the animals had been pressured pretty good at the point. There's a few good posts on these hunts and the vast majority spell out how difficult they are one way or another. Some also had pics of the 'harvest board' or whatever it's called; archery hunts usually ended with <5% success (so about 12 of 250 hunters killed something) and rifle something like 20-50%, depending on hunt. Now that the hunts are under TPWD, I'm sure this years data will be available sometime before 2018 season.

For me, the bottom line is: difficult does not mean impossible; very difficult does not mean impossible; improbable does not mean impossible; generally speaking if others can do it, so can I (or you); in many instances we limit ourselves more anything else does.

CedarParkAg,
If you can, try to speak with the wardens and see who's feeding or not. If that's going on, maybe try to find an area like I described before (dense cover, active travel lanes) where they may be leaving the hunt area early AM to neighboring feeder all day and back in the evening. You might be able to catch some slipping up.

Volunteers told me someone on a previous hunt someone had shot a bull through the nose with an arrow. With all that thick cover/brush, be careful you have a clear shot and don't rush it. They aren't tanks as some might suggest, but there is very little margin for error with shot placement on these animals. Go with a neck shot if possible. If not, heart is more low and forward (compared to deer). I'd think a slight quartering away would be ideal, aiming low and juuuuust behind the leg. This should allow bullet to travel through ribs, heart, and maybe out just ahead of the opposing shoulder and preserve more meat. I've seen others suggest 'breaking down the shoulders' but I would avoid that if possible. It's the best wild game I've ever had, very mild and beef-like, and tender if cooked properly.

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#7082535 - 02/17/18 12:12 PM Re: Lower RGV NWR East Lake Hunt 2/16 - 2/18 [Re: magspa]
Erny Offline
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 02/26/11
Posts: 2236
Loc: Smith County
Originally Posted By: magspa
I wonder what they are putting in those feeders. I border teniette and have NEVER seen a nilgai at a feeder - protein or corn, even tried alfalfa hay. They stopped to smell the alfalfa but that was about it. They like anything fresh, like grain crops when they are just sprouting nice and green. I doubt those deer feeders had any impact on the nilgai hunting.


I have been told the same thing as well. That Nilgai do not come to feeders. I would like to know as well what they are using as well to attract them.

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#7091156 - 02/24/18 08:49 AM Re: Lower RGV NWR East Lake Hunt 2/16 - 2/18 [Re: CedarParkAg]
javman Offline
Bird Dog

Registered: 03/19/11
Posts: 346
Loc: McAllen, TX deep South Tex
So what was the final outcome of the hunt? Iíve hunted the place a few times with some success.

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#7092505 - 02/25/18 11:49 AM Re: Lower RGV NWR East Lake Hunt 2/16 - 2/18 [Re: CedarParkAg]
Brian C. Offline
Bird Dog

Registered: 11/14/14
Posts: 271
Loc: Location
Just finished my LRGV NWR Tiente hunt and hands down worth the experience. Undoubtedly a foreign land to most of us even fellow Texans. No doubt this animal is extremely cagey and almost ghost like in this thick thorn infested brush country but put the time in, read the sign and be willing to endure the long haul. This is possible.
_________________________
God Bless Texas!!! Godspeed our Military!

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#7093701 - 02/26/18 12:34 PM Re: Lower RGV NWR East Lake Hunt 2/16 - 2/18 [Re: CedarParkAg]
CedarParkAg Offline
Green Horn

Registered: 02/08/16
Posts: 4
Been a bit busy, so I haven't had a chance to follow up. The short story is, I came back home with some good memories but no nilgai.
I biked/walked 5 miles Thursday scouting around, and 10 miles each Friday and Saturday. There was one bull taken Friday and one, that I know of, taken Saturday. Both were on the northern part of the Refuge. I was hunting the south and west areas. Saw a lot of javelina and whitetails, but only saw one nilgai bull. I came up on his downwind side and didn't see him until he spooked probably about 30 yards away from me.

Not being able to use powered vehicles is a real disadvantage for hunting the refuge. We were back at the parking lot when the groups that killed were coming back from the field and they were exhausted. The near 90 degree heat didn't help matters much.

That being said, I had a good time and would do it all over again. The only thing I would do differently is to buy my liquor before I got to Raymondville. There is only one liquor store in town and the shelves were pretty much bare! :-)

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#7093949 - 02/26/18 04:38 PM Re: Lower RGV NWR East Lake Hunt 2/16 - 2/18 [Re: CedarParkAg]
javman Offline
Bird Dog

Registered: 03/19/11
Posts: 346
Loc: McAllen, TX deep South Tex
Yeah great hunts but walking hiking is quite a bit but I enjoy the quietness being out there. Seen some amazing bucks out there and some Nilgai. Only wish that they would allow some type of motorized game cart.

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