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Stanton Upson

EXOTICS INFORMATION

When it comes to hunting exotics, two states take the cake – New Mexico and Texas. While New Mexico is winning the amount of public land contest, Texas gives them a good run for their money with the number of exotic species that can be hunted. These states offer exotic hunts that will fit any hunter’s needs, whether it be a drawn hunt, a free-range guided hunt, or even a private ranch hunt in Texas with African options. Hunting exotics may not be on everyone’s bucket list, but for many of us, these species are just plain cool and we hope to hunt them one day. I will always have some exotic species on the agenda for my yearly application strategy, especially when you look at a state like Texas where you can be entered for a guided gemsbok package for just $10 and a multiple species exotic raffle for $9. New Mexico has both draw and over-the-counter options, and for the small $13 non-refundable application fee, it’s hard to resist.

NEW MEXICO

Most permits in New Mexico are acquired through the public draw, which takes place in mid to late March. You can find information on all of the draws and species New Mexico has to offer in our February magazine. Residents and non-residents may apply together for Barbary sheep (aoudad), oryx, and ibex. Only two individuals can apply together for oryx and ibex, whereas a party of four can apply for Barbary sheep.

New Mexico makes it worth your while if you are a hunter who knows you will go guided once you have drawn the tag as they allocate 10% of permits to the resident/non-resident guide draw. New Mexico only allocates 6% of permits to non-residents who are not in the guide draw. You must contract with and hire the guide you apply with if you draw. Once drawn, each hunter is required to purchase a habitat stamp and habitat management and access validation.

One of the best things about New Mexico is that there is no point system in place for these hunts, so if you are just getting started, you are not behind in the points game. This also allows you to apply or not apply without a penalty. New Mexico takes care of the youth with youth-only hunts and a discounted license fee. Unfortunately, youth still have to pay the full price of the permit fee, but they can have an incredible experience! There are also hunts available specifically for the mobility impaired.

BARBARY SHEEP

Barbary sheep, also known as aoudad, can be hunted on private and public land. Hunting Barbary sheep in New Mexico is awesome for those of you who are itching after the season is over at the beginning of the year and you want nothing more than to get out in the field. With low densities, it can be a tough hunt, but some units, like the McGregor Range (unit 28), run close to a 50% success rate. Units 29 and 30 have a very low population, but they give you a better chance of drawing a permit, and with a huge chunk of public ground, you have the opportunity to get out and get after it. The easiest permit for you to pull is for units 32, 34, 36, 37. With that permit, you will want to tie up some private land or get in touch with an outfitter as the majority of rams are on private ground.

This year, New Mexico addressed the issue of being able to draw a nonresident permit on the McGregor Range, which used to be mathematically impossible, by increasing the number of permits available. Non-residents now have a shot at two guided permits and one non-resident permit. The over-thecounter options in New Mexico can offer you a successful hunt if you are lucky enough to find yourself on some good private land. The areas closed to hunting include the White Sands Missile Range. Check the New Mexico regulations to see all of the units closed to hunting.

IBEX

Most of New Mexico’s ibex hunting takes place in the southern part of the state on the famed Florida Mountains. With the wide variety of hunts available, there is sure to be one that fits your needs if you are looking to add an ibex to your trophy room. New Mexico offers rifle hunts, including one youthonly hunt and a once-in-a-lifetime draw hunt. On top of the rifle hunts, they also offer muzzleloader and archery hunts with slightly better draw odds. There is also the option to hunt overthe- counter with any legal weapon off of the Florida Mountains, but success rates are near zero.

ORYX

There are many different options to hunt oryx in New Mexico. Most options are once-in-a-lifetime hunts, but there are also youth, broken horn, and off-range hunts. Hunts are usually conducted on the White Sands Missile Range where the Stallion Range and Rhodes Canyon provide you with the opportunity to harvest a trophy bull. The Rhodes Canyon area is consistently producing trophy bulls with high success, while the Stallion Range is continuing to improve on quality but has high success across the available hunts.

The McGregor Range is another good option for a coveted tag. This is not considered a once-in-a-lifetime hunt, but there is a lower population and a lower harvest success rate compared to the once-in-a-lifetime hunts. The youth hunt takes place in the Rhodes Canyon area September 1-3 and has 100% success for 30 permits. There are five broken horn hunts, three of which are on the Stallion Range and two on the Rhodes Canyon area. The two Rhodes Canyon hunts had a 75% success rate, whereas the Stallion Range had 83% on the October hunt, 67% on the January hunt, and 100% on the February hunt.

RESERVATIONS

New Mexico has a wide variety of hunts located on their many reservations, and we cover several of these hunts in our January issue each year. Most reservations are known for their big bulls and giant bucks, but the exotic lineup is often overlooked. The Pueblo of Laguna, a 500,000 acre reservation located in central New Mexico, offers Barbary sheep hunts for $600 and Himalayan tahr hunts for $800. Hunters are allowed to scout before the season, and unlike most reservations, the Pueblo of Laguna does not require you to have a guide. Also, a hunting partner can join you.

TEXAS

Everything is bigger in Texas, so why wouldn’t their options to hunt exotics be the same? In Texas, you can tailormake your hunting experience. They have public draw hunts, raffle hunts, and guided hunts. To top it all off, you can get on some private fenced ranches that offer hunts you usually can’t find on this continent. Yes, I’m talking about African species, such as kudu and eland. A non-resident hunting license will cost you only $48 if you draw, and for as low as $9, you can have your name in the hat for the state raffle hunts. There are no application fees for a youth, so make sure you get your kids applied as well.

PUBLIC DRAW

The Texas public draw offers a wide variety of options for hunting exotic species. Keep in mind that a majority of these hunts are high fenced. A majority of deer hunts allow the harvest of exotics while you are on the hunt, much like the Government Canyon SNA archery deer hunt where you can harvest deer, unlimited hogs, and unlimited exotic mammals. Although the exotic numbers are low, it still gives you the opportunity to notch a tag while you are in the field.

There are hunts set up for the National Wildlife Refuge with an application fee of just $3 where you can harvest an unlimited number of Nilgai antelope with a rifle or archery equipment. The standouts of the public draw hunts are by far the guided hunt packages.

For 2017 applications, Texas offered a guided gemsbok, Scimitar-horned oryx, and waterbuck hunt packages. The gemsbok hunt is guided, and food, lodging, and on-site transportation are provided. The hunt takes place in January on the Mason Mountain WMA. The hunter will be able to harvest one gemsbok of either-sex and unlimited feral hogs and coyotes. In 2016, there were two permits for 3,942 applicants, and in 2015, there were two permits for 4,145 applicants. The gemsbok hunt has continually had 100% success.

The guided Scimitar-horned oryx hunt package will be running in conjunction with the gemsbok and waterbuck hunt packages. The guided Scimitar-horned oryx hunt will take place on the Mason Mountain WMA in January. Food, lodging, and on-site transportation are provided on this guided hunt. The hunter will be able to harvest one Scimitar-horned oryx of either-sex. In 2016, there were two permits for 3,823 applicants, and in 2015, there were two permits for 3,913 applicants. This hunt has traditionally had a 100% success rate. New this year, the Mason Mountain WMA has a guided waterbuck hunt that will have a total of two permits. The hunt dates are in January, and hunters will be able to harvest one bull waterbuck. Unfortunately, this is an adult-only hunt, so hunters have to be at least 17 years of age. For $10, why not have your name in the hat?

RAFFLE TAGS

Each year, Texas has their Big Time Texas Hunts. All proceeds from the Big Time Texas Hunts raffle benefit wildlife conservation and research in Texas. There is no limit on the number on the entries you can buy. The fees are $9 online and $10 by phone, in person, or by mail. If you decide to purchase entries online, know that you will be charged an administrative fee. Included in the Big Time Texas Hunts raffle is their Exotic Safari package, which allows the winner and one companion to harvest three exotics. The exotics available for harvest are sable antelope, gemsbok, Scimitar-horned oryx, and axis deer. The winner can harvest two management exotics, and their companion can harvest one. Food and lodging are provided on the Mason Mountain WMA. You will be guided by an experienced TPWD biologist as well as guides from the Mason Mountain WMA. You will receive taxidermy after the hunt in the form of two shoulder mounts. On the hunt, you can use a rifle, muzzleloader, archery equipment, or a crossbow. Hunters have a high success rate of 96% on this hunt.

PRIVATE LAND OPPORTUNITIES

High fenced ranches in Texas are filled to the brim with 60+ exotic species, which are available to hunt all in one place. Prices range anywhere from $750 to $35,000. If you are not worried about the size of your trophy, smaller scoring animals usually come at a discounted rate. Most of these ranches provide world-class amenities, sightseeing, and activities outside of the harvest. With low companion fees, this is a no-brainer for your next family vacation. Outside of high fenced ranch hunts, many outfitters offer free-range or even low fence options, which have tied up thousands of acres of good hunting. Having all of these ranches tied up has allowed the guides to hunt a specific area, but they also have the option to move from ranch to ranch if there is too much pressure in an area or if the quality they are looking for is on a different piece of ground.

Aoudad hunting is very popular along the western part of the state, and most outfitters will advertise 100% opportunity with a high success rate. You can look to spend anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000 to go on an aoudad hunt-of-a-lifetime. In this year’s Winter Membership Drive, we gave away a fully guided free-range aoudad hunt, giving the lucky winner the opportunity to hunt 30" rams in west Texas. For your chance to win any of our other 29 hunts/ prizes, give us a call at 435-865-1020 and get your name in the hat.

Between New Mexico and Texas, there should be a dream hunt for you that still falls within your budget. As you plan out your 2018-2019 applications and find holes in the middle of your season or if you are looking to extend your season into February or even further, remember that there are plenty of hunts that fall outside of that August to December realm. Extended dates and low cost are big reasons why many of us at Huntin’ Fool have our fingers crossed each year for that tag with our name on it. If you need help getting applied for any of these hunts, let our License Application Department help you in the draw or with raffle tags. Many of these hunts allow you to explore some unique country and see large numbers of wildlife. On top of extending your season, these hunts provide you with a fairly cheap way to hunt some of the coolest animals around.