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Mar 25th, 2012
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Musings on a failed Nilgai Hunt... #7411879 01/22/19 07:46 PM
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Had an opportunity to go down to South Texas last weekend for a no-frills Nilgai hunt. What I mean by that is, three of us had access to several large properties in an around Los Fresnos to hunt Nilgai (bull or cow, although my personal preference was a mature cow). Got there from the Austin/San Antonio area in the early afternoon, and got to scouting two of the properties. LOTS of recent Nilgai signs, or at least, of Nilgai transit. Hunted Saturday *all day*, with 25+ MPH wind and tough terrain making it a challenging hunt. Never saw animals moving. Sunday was a repeat of the same situation. We were hoping the lower temperatures and less wind would have them moving, but other than a handful of whitetail deer, we never saw a Nilgai. Decided to pack up early and head back to Austin on Sunday night instead of hunting on Monday. Of course, saw 50+ Nilgai of all sizes off the side of the highway on the way back, including a few amazing bulls. You know how it is, right? As soon as the rifles were put away....!

Overall, for my first time ever, it was a learning experience. Beautiful place, great food, great camaraderie, but a very challenging and ultimately unsuccessful hunt. A few lessons:

1. Nilgai cover wide areas and their presence in an area doesn't always indicate future presence in the same area
2. Nilgai make "middens", or at least the bulls do. I found a couple of places as we covered the properties we hunted that seemed to indicate the regular presence of a bull Nilgai, but none of the signs were fresher than 2-3 days
3. Free isn't always the answer. For someone like me, time is as hard to get as money, sometimes harder. For my next Nilgai hunt, I will gladly pay a reputable outfitter to at least get me some shooting opportunities on a Nilgai cow
4. After seeing a mature Nilgai cow, I'm sticking to my initial plan, that's my preferred target

I'm now officially obsessed with Nilgai, the hunt is similar to how I grew up hunting in South America!

Cheers and happy wrap up to the hunting season for those lucky to be on MLD properties. For the rest of us, time to assess gear, start planning for next season, and in month or so, start looking for sheds!


"Who Dares, Wins"
Re: Musings on a failed Nilgai Hunt... [Re: Exiled] #7411894 01/22/19 08:05 PM
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You sir, have a great philosphy on hunting.

Re: Musings on a failed Nilgai Hunt... [Re: Exiled] #7411908 01/22/19 08:13 PM
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Sounds like a great time and you do have a great outlook on the hunt. Nilgai is on my list of hunts to get done. They are tough critters and the meat is amazing.


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Re: Musings on a failed Nilgai Hunt... [Re: Exiled] #7411915 01/22/19 08:26 PM
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Thanks, folks, been hunting for 30+ years and enjoy every aspect of it, not just the trophies (which I admittedly love) or the meat (which is usually my #1 priority), but the time spent outside, experiencing new locations, learning new things, challenging ourselves, building great friendships and pitting ourselves against wily prey in the hope that we can best them. Hunting is my escape and my sanity and my obsession! smile


"Who Dares, Wins"
Re: Musings on a failed Nilgai Hunt... [Re: Exiled] #7412102 01/23/19 12:09 AM
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I really enjoyed my hunt on the King ranch. Like you time is critical for me. I used a 7x57 and throughly enjoyed the hunt. I was after a bull for that leg of the Shakar slam. Next nilgai will be a cow.


The Pointy end always goes away from you

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Re: Musings on a failed Nilgai Hunt... [Re: Exiled] #7413206 01/24/19 12:43 AM
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Don't pass on the chance at a bull Nilgai, they are also great eating. I took one that weighed about 750 lbs. and it was excellent.



A clear conscience is often the sign of a fuzzy memory.
Re: Musings on a failed Nilgai Hunt... [Re: Exiled] #7413534 01/24/19 02:18 PM
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Cant speak to anything about nilgai but I know the moon was huge last weekend. We had lots of deer moving mid day

Re: Musings on a failed Nilgai Hunt... [Re: Exiled] #7414583 01/25/19 02:20 PM
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We had a tough hunt for WT last weekend. Just slow overall with the big moon, and a season of pressure and activity in the pasture is showing.

I hunted Nilgai DIY for a couple years. Definitely a steep learning curve, but such a rewarding hunt once you "learn" them. Once we got the formula down we consistently had success. Here were some of my take-aways:

-I tried multiple methods: still hunting likely areas, "stand" hunting trails, water holes, and dung piles, and safari-style from a truck and high rack. Safari style was by far the most effective. My preferred style was to spot them from the high rack, then put a stalk on on foot to close the distance.
-I never had any success if the wind was at my back. They will hear/smell you and take off before you see them. You need the wind in your face, and preferably the sun at your back. I would plan my routes based on this.
-I would find them at water early in the mornings. But, most of our success came late morning once they were grazing.
-I was never the biggest fan of shooting them on the run aka "Rodeo hunting." That said, they do have a peculiar habit of running in a straight line. If you see one running you can often get ahead of them and they will pop out on the same course.

Good luck! Don't get discouraged, give it another go if you get a chance. Like most things in the hunting world, when it happens it happens fast!


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Re: Musings on a failed Nilgai Hunt... [Re: Exiled] #7415040 01/25/19 08:43 PM
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Thanks, TxAg, I appreciate the tips and I will definitely hunt them again, I've obsessing over it since I got back! I used to hunt Coues deer in AZ and my failure rate was like 80%, but it made the few times I was able to get a kill just that much satisfying and I cherish my Coues trophies more than many others! smile


"Who Dares, Wins"
Re: Musings on a failed Nilgai Hunt... [Re: Exiled] #7415370 01/26/19 03:11 AM
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Great information!

Re: Musings on a failed Nilgai Hunt... [Re: Exiled] #7422774 02/02/19 06:48 PM
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Very cool write up

Re: Musings on a failed Nilgai Hunt... [Re: Exiled] #7716447 01/13/20 05:46 PM
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Update: Two of the three hunters that went to Los Fresnos last year decided to try another Nilgai hunt this year. As we’d discussed, we opted to work with a reputable outfitter this time and reserve a guided hunt, to improve the odds and -more importantly- learn valuable lessons about hunting these elusive giant antelopes. Through this forum, we contacted Cody Phillips at Insight Outdoors, who set us up with a great package. My friend and I hunted a 50,000 acre ranch near Raymondville, TX, with a very knowledgeable guide. The ranch was expansive and beautiful, with plenty of opportunity to see Nilgai. We also spotted abundant scimitar oryx, native whitetail deer (including a few great bucks) and more javelina than I’d seen in decades (more on those stinky “devil pigs” later)…

Originally, we set out to shoot either a mature cow or an immature bull. After seeing the latter up close (called “carrot tops” by the locals for their short rounded horns) and spotting a half dozen mature bulls, we decided to upgrade on the spot! Maybe this was what Cody anticipated, but if it was, no hard feelings and definitely no regrets, I’m proud to have shot a big bull!

Our first hunt was intense, we spotted a big bull that was moving a sizable harem of cows through thick brush next to a sendero. We moved quickly to try to cut them off, but lost them in the thick stuff. Doubling back to the sendero, we spotted them again further down (but upwind), and again used the trails that parallel the sendero to put a stalk on. We were able to intercept them as they headed deeper into the brush and waited in ambush. My friend, with his rifle leaning against a small tree, found a window through the thick vegetation and with the guide giving him the green light, hit the bull broadside at ~40 yards and dropped him on the spot (.375 H&H round that we later realized had turned the top half of the bull’s heart into mush). The bull gave a death bellow (which was cool to hear for the first time) and twitched a couple of times, but it was an impressive shot and a clean kill. Walking up to our first Nilgai ever was thrilling, especially after last year’s failed attempt. To understand the scale of the animal and admiring the ability to move as quietly as they do for their size was one of the highlights of the trip! The effort of moving it, hanging it and gutting it was also proportionate to the animal’s dimension and weight, I can’t imagine the effort required to hunt a Nilgai solo! (my hat’s off to those of you that have taken Nilgai during the Laguna Atascosa draws, y’all are hard-core)!

Then it was my turn! With my heart beating, we crisscrossed a number of senderos and quickly walked parallel trails in an effort to cut off a number of good bulls (we ended up walking ~10 miles total). After missing out on getting into shooting position a couple of times, we headed to where a sendero met an open field/meadow where we could see some Nilgai in the distance. Two of them turned out to be good shooter bulls, one that was darker and bigger but was on the opposite side of the field and beyond comfortable range, and another good one that was smack in the middle of the field with some of his cows, about 260 yards from our position. We moved quickly to make the stalk, taking advantage of the strong winds blowing in our face and conscious that the afternoon light was fading quickly. We crawled on our hands and knees towards the only clump of bushes that offers some cover (~130 yards from the small group), and as we got within 10 yards of the bush, I see a group of about 20 javelinas making their way towards our position, not a care in the world. Our guide seemed to be ignoring them, but I grew up in South America where these things are very aggressive, and it was making me very uncomfortable. They seemed to be ignoring us, so I slowly made my way to the clump of bushes. As I moved to set the rifle on the shooting sticks, we got spotted by a big cow and our hearts sank, we thought we were done. Then she saw the javelinas moving and hesitated, walking a couple more steps forward and giving me a clean shot at the bull. I took it, saw the big animal jump clear in the air, and then looked around to see javelinas running in all directions. The bull ran about 20-30 yards and dropped, and we later learned that it had been another clean heart shot with the .375. Blue bull #2 down!

Overall, it was a tremendously memorable experience, a hunt for the ages and a big bucket list item ticked off. It took 500 qt. of cooler capacity to pack the quartered animals for the trip home, and again, the scale of these antelopes is impressive! Our guide was fantastic, the place where we stayed (Horn, Fin & Feather at the El Sauza Ranch) comfortable and clean, the food great, the owners and staff went all went out to make our trip an enjoyable experience, and the comraderie of other hunters there an experience in itself. We drove home feeling that our hunt was well worth the money and now the saving process (and the daydreaming) starts again.


"Who Dares, Wins"
Re: Musings on a failed Nilgai Hunt... [Re: Exiled] #7716485 01/13/20 06:09 PM
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How was the quail population down there?

Re: Musings on a failed Nilgai Hunt... [Re: Exiled] #7716492 01/13/20 06:11 PM
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We saw a handful and rustled up one covey, but I wouldn't say the area was covered with them. It was also super windy that day. not if that was affecting their movement?


"Who Dares, Wins"
Re: Musings on a failed Nilgai Hunt... [Re: Exiled] #7716655 01/13/20 08:34 PM
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worthless

Re: Musings on a failed Nilgai Hunt... [Re: Exiled] #7716678 01/13/20 09:05 PM
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[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]


"Who Dares, Wins"
Re: Musings on a failed Nilgai Hunt... [Re: Exiled] #7716681 01/13/20 09:06 PM
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Sorry, we don't do the "stand six feet behind the animal so it looks like a hippo" pictures!


"Who Dares, Wins"
Re: Musings on a failed Nilgai Hunt... [Re: Exiled] #7716687 01/13/20 09:10 PM
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Last one, for scale (and the reason we wanted to hunt Nilgai in the first place), one of the backstraps! smile [Linked Image]


"Who Dares, Wins"
Re: Musings on a failed Nilgai Hunt... [Re: Exiled] #7716697 01/13/20 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Exiled
Last one, for scale (and the reason we wanted to hunt Nilgai in the first place), one of the backstraps! smile [Linked Image]


Thats what Im talking about!


Golden Oaks Lodge
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Re: Musings on a failed Nilgai Hunt... [Re: Exiled] #7717305 01/14/20 10:35 AM
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Great hunt and writeup . Congratulations . I will be hunting with hunting with Cody the first of March and I cant wait !


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Re: Musings on a failed Nilgai Hunt... [Re: Exiled] #7717551 01/14/20 03:27 PM
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Awesome and congrats on a great hunt

Re: Musings on a failed Nilgai Hunt... [Re: Exiled] #7717616 01/14/20 04:35 PM
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Excellent write up! great job all around up


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Re: Musings on a failed Nilgai Hunt... [Re: dkershen] #7717662 01/14/20 05:05 PM
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Congrats!

Re: Musings on a failed Nilgai Hunt... [Re: Exiled] #7717912 01/14/20 09:22 PM
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Blue bulls of the Wild Horse Desert - quite the treat!

Re: Musings on a failed Nilgai Hunt... [Re: Exiled] #7718506 01/15/20 03:03 PM
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Great write up, On my bucket list also. Congrats,,,,,, Well done. up


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