USA: Texas Nilgai, Javelina, Sandhill Crane Hunt

Mauser3000

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Background
This is my first hunt report on this forum. I am not the eloquent writer that most of you are but I figured I would give this a shot and maybe inspire someone who is considering a similar hunt. The planning for this trip started in the winter of 2022, looking for the “right” outfitter to conduct this hunt. My parameters were a low fence, free range hunt with an outfitter that hunts them on foot. I ended up booking with Lomas Chicas Outfitters. A friend of mine was interested in the hunt and wanted to join. I have been interested in hunting Nilgai since I was a poor college student and thought this may be the closest experience to an African style hunt in the United States. In the 8 months before the trip I wound up planning a visit with a friend near Hebronville Texas and maybe hunting Javelina. I also booked a sandhill crane hunt with a friend from college who guides for Redeye Outfitters in Littlefield Texas.

The Travel
Living in Maryland, this trip started on Friday before the hunt. My buddy and I started driving from my house on the Chesapeake Bay through Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, and made it to Picayune Mississippi for the night after a 16 hour drive. On the 4th, we drove the remaining 9 hours through Louisiana, and on to Texas and the Hampton inn in Kingsville.

The Hunt
On we met up with my friend south of Hebronville and spent the day in elevated box blinds looking for javelina and bird watching. It was my first time seeing road runners, green jays, and golden fronted woodpeckers. At about 4:00 PM my hunting partner connected with a nice Javelina at 150 yards using his prized 1903 Mannlicher Schoenauer carbine shooting 156 grain RWS T mantel ammunition. He recovered the bullet. I sat until dark and just soaked in the scenery and listed to the coyotes barking.

The next morning we did a little sight seeing in Kingsville before meeting up with our guides from Lomas Chicas outfitters on the Kennedy Trust which is roughly 165,000 acres of low fence cattle ranch. For this endeavor I was carrying my custom Mauser 3000L in 375 H&H and my hunting partner had his trusty Remington 700 BDL in 7mm rem mag. I had the pleasure of hunting with Gilbert Lucero, a retired school teacher and hunting guide of 43 years. Riding in the jeep we talked about everything from cattle breeds, the native plants, birds, and other wildlife we saw. While slowly driving the “roads” on the ranch, we glasses the sand dunes and oak Motts looking for the dark silhouette of a Nilgai bull. After seeing several groups of Nilgai as small dots off on the far edges of pastures finally at about 3:30 I spotted a large bull standing on a hill about a half mile away from us. The hill had a windmill pumping water to a stock tank. Thankfully we spotted him first and the stalk ensued. Gilbert grabbed my 4 stable sticks shooting sticks, and in a last minute decision, I decided to take his rifle, a custom 300 Norma Magnum, wearing a surpressor and a Nightforce NXS scope. I chose to use his rifle mainly to try a suppressed hunting rifle, and also to take advantage of the flatter trajectory if a shot passed 300 yards (my comfortable maximum with my 375) was needed. We stalked up the hill until we could see into this depression where 4 young Nilgai bulls were feeding towards us at about 250 yards. After watching them for several minutes, two more young bulls dashed out from behind a large oak tree to my left and and headed over the hill in front of us. Gilbert leaned over and whispered that a more dominant bull was probably what was chasing those Two we just saw, and not 5 minutes later, the large bull that we saw stepped out of a clump of oak trees walking down a draw in front of us at about 50 yards. We were sky-lined on the hill and there was no time for sticks. Gilbert whispered “take him” and I raised the rifle to my shoulder and pressed the trigger when the crosshairs intersected his large shoulder. The only sound I heard was the audible ring from a bullet ricocheting off the bank on the far side on the bull and he darted over the far hill. Gilbert hissed “ you missed him! I heard the bullet ricochet and there was no slap” I thought to myself, as much time as I practice rifle shooting and offhand shots, I couldn’t have missed. Gilbert and I started down the draw and over the accompanying bank on the other side where we saw the pair of young bulls that “our” bull had chased. The were standing on a hill about 150 yards ahead looking down into a depression dotted with clumps of sawgrass. When we looked into the sawgrass, a dark hunt was visible and about 75 yards from us lied “my” bull.
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Gilbert and I with my Bull
After getting my hands on the bull, I could really appreciate his size. I took note of my nearly perfect shoulder shot and quarter-size exit wound. The ricochet we heard was from the 208 grain Barnes LRX after penetrating the bull. In the picture of the bull laying as we approached it, you can see the scar from going under cattle fences. After field dressing and loading my bull on the keep, it was over an hour drive on the caliche roads from where I took my bull back to the main gate where it was hung in a walk-in cooler and my hunting partner and I got to discuss our first day experiences. I could not thank Gilbert and everyone at Lomas Chicas Outfitters enough for this incredible experience.

On the second day of the Nilgai hunt, I rode along with my buddy and his guide, helping to glass and moving jeep along slowly if they were out on a stalk. We made slow progress in the early morning as the fog was slow to lift.
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At about 10:30, I spotted two dark bulls off to our right on a small hill covered in brush. I stayed with the jeep my my hunting partner and guide went in for a stalk. After what seemed like ages, I heard the boom and slap of a bullet striking an animal. After they returned to the jeep we all walked forward to look for the bull. The shot was 200 yards, broadside off sticks with a 150 grain Barnes TTSX bullet. We walked to where it was standing at the shot and spotted it piled up about 100 yards away. The bullet was up against the hide on the offside Shoulder. On our drive back to the walk-in, we spotted several nice whitetail bucks that Texas is famous for.

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That afternoon, my buddy we hunted Javelina with two days prior, calls and tells me he’s seeing signs of Javelina on a small farm of his south of San Isidro Texas. After making the drive from Sarita, we came to this small property covered in cactus and containing the only pond for a few miles. After setting up over this pond, we waited for something to come in for a drink. Within an hour or so, a large boar javelina came in for a drink and my custom Mauser 3000L in 30-06 barked and dropped him in his tracks at about 60 yards.

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The next morning, we packed up our gear in Kingsville and head northwest for the small town of Littlefield Texas. We stopped in San Antonio to stretch our legs and see the Alamo. While crossing the Texas hill country, we saw amazing scenery and high fence operations along the highway with scimitar horned Oryx and Nubian Ibex. We pulled into Littlefield around 5:00 PM and stepped outside to be greeted with a gusty 40 degree temperature drop from south texas. At 4:30 the next morning we traded our rifles for shotguns and headed out with Red-Eye Outfitters to a large cotton farm with several irrigation pivots to set up an A-frame blind and brush it in. We had a constant wind out of the north and about 40 degree temperatures. We only had two groups of cranes fly into our decoys but we managed to knock down 5 cranes. After some quick pictures and cleaning the birds on the tailgate of my truck, we said our goodbyes and thanks to our guides for a neat experience for an eastern waterfowler like me.


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Travel

After loading up our “rib-eye of the sky” we turned the truck East for Amarillo, where we jumped on Interstate 40 and spent the next 28 hours taking turns driving and planning our next trip back to what Texas is to me, a sportsman’s paradise.

-Nathan
 
Nice report and congrats on the various animals. That one whitetail buck......wow he's nice!
 
Sounds like you had a great trip. Well done. Congrats
Bruce
 
Great report. Too bad that white-tail was not on your list.
The Kennedy trust only allows non-native species to be taken so the turkey, and whitetail were everywhere and amazing trophy quality. It was fun just seeing them.
 
Great hunt report!
Nilgai has always been on my list just haven't put a hunt together as other opportunities keep getting in the way.
I've done the cranes and javelina though. All fun hunts
 
Quite a hunt and road trip. Nilgai are a fun hunt and similar to an African PG hunt. You but a kazillion miles on your vehicle, just zig zagging across a good bit of Texas!
 
Nice report! Thanks for sharing.
 
Nice trip. Congrats.
 
Very cool, congrats!
I also took a nilgai bull this past weekend.
 

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sgtsabai wrote on krish's profile.
I recently had operation for Agent Orange caused throat cancer and cannot talk so phone calls are out. I am interested, maybe more so after seeing the pics. No decision today, it's radiology and chemo day and sometimes that leaves me a bit worn down. I did notice the used rifle had only one reenforcing bolt in contrast to the NIB.
sgtsabai wrote on krish's profile.
I'm interested. Maybe more so in the used as I want to have some work done on one and restocked. Would it be too much trouble to send some pics of both. Btw, [redacted].
sgtsabai wrote on flyfishdoc's profile.
Do you still have that CZ?
Maintenance is going we fitted new walkway lights at the Wildgoose lodge!

 
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