Hunting grows in cost

“The cost of hunting is forcing more people to quit doing something they love to do and it seems there is nothing that can be done about it,” according to a friend of mine. As we sipped on our coffee this statement would set the tone for our day.

We were enjoying a postdeer season hunt for exotic animals. Exotics are those animals that are not native to our land. Typically, the most common exotics are axis deer, fallow deer, mouflon sheep and black buck antelope. Average cost of hunting these animals range from $1,500 to $2,500 each depending upon length of hunt, accommodations and other variables. Hunting exotic animals helps extend our hunting season to be year round. The dollars that are generated by hunting all kinds of animals helps landowners pay their bills and ultimately helps assure that the property remains undeveloped.

Far too many times landowners have been forced into selling their property because they simply could not make a living off traditional live stock. Many times when these properties sell, it spells doom for all wildlife as development of subdivisions, golf courses and so on destroys the natural habitat. So the way I see it, hunting exotics has been a real blessing for Texas landowners.

But what about the cost? After giving consideration to the statement that started the column, I was determined to find another way to still enjoy my hunt, take some great animals and do it all at a fraction of the list price. Most whitetail deer hunters know that the cost of a trophy and a management buck vary tremendously. The only difference between these two categories of bucks is the size of their antlers. Both bucks are usually mature in age, taste equally as good and are just as challenging to hunt. The hunting experience is just as enjoyable regardless of the size of antlers.

At daylight I spotted a band of mouflon rams about 70 yards away. All of them were old but one of them was limping badly. His front leg was swollen and he slowly followed along trying to keep up with the other rams. At 35 yards I sent an arrow his way and in seconds he was down. Cost was $500. Not bad, considering the other rams were $1,500.00 each.

Sitting by a waterhole around mid-day a group of Catalina goats came to drink. The big billy was in the rear and had only one horn. The other had been broken off about 2″ above his skull. A 20-yard shot put this bargain priced exotic on the ground. Cost $150.00 compared to $750.00 if he had both horns.

As the sun set, a group of fallow deer came into the food plot and within 30 yards of my Double Bull blind. I selected an old doe, shot and watched as she came to rest. Minutes later the others were back within range and I took another old doe. Cost $75.00 each compared to $1,500.00 or more for a fallow buck.

It had been a great day and I accomplished what I came for. I enjoyed the hunt and will enjoy the memories for years to come. Most of all I realized that there are more landowners with bargain priced hunts than I had ever imagined. Next time you are looking for a hunting bargain, consider hunting management exotics.

For questions or comments, contact Keith at