From the Big Bend to East Texas, the Panhandle to the Rio Grande Valley, Texas ranches have been transformed in recent decades by the proliferation of exotic game animals, many of them rare and endangered in their native habitats. With the rise of “Texotics” has come an army of hunters, eager to take aim at aoudads, axis, bongos, nilgai, and even zebras. But you don’t have to be a hunter to enjoy these wondrous critters. Here are ten ranches open to the public for hunting or viewing.
1. Ox Ranch, Uvalde
Drive real military tanks, shoot heavy artillery, go on a photo safari, and hunt an array of native and exotic game animals on 18,000 sprawling acres.
2. Champion Ranch, Rochelle
This 8,000-acre hunting operation boasts nearly sixty exotic species—from Armenian mouflon to yaks and zebras—and provides luxurious accommodations, including a swimming pool fed by a man-made waterfall.
3. Y. O. Ranch Headquarters, Mountain Home
Probably the most famous exotic hunting ranch in the state, Y. O. was founded by French immigrant and former Texas Ranger Charles Schreiner in 1880. Wildlife tours are also offered daily.
4. The Patio Ranch, Hunt
The first ranch in Texas to offer exotic game hunts, Patio prides itself on fair-chase hunts and accommodations that include a Depression-era lodge.
5. King Ranch, Kingsville
This historic ranch specializes in the hunting of white-tailed deer and nilgais, which the ranch introduced to Texas a century ago. Also home to a museum and saddle shop, the King regularly offers tours of its ranching operations as well as tours catering to wildlife and bird enthusiasts.
6. Big Oak Hunting Adventures, Avinger
This East Texas game ranch specializes in bow hunting for trophy exotics in dense timber.
7. Squaw Mountain Ranch, Jacksboro
Hunt more than three dozen species, including the Himalayan tahr, a relative of the wild goat, which sports a regal coat resembling a lion’s mane.
8. Rockin G Ranch, Turkey
Native game and about 25 exotics, including the markhor goat, the national animal of Pakistan, roam this 2,000-acre spread in the Panhandle.
9. HuntAoudad.com, Terlingua
Stalk free-ranging aoudads, also known as Barbary sheep, on 20,000 acres of rugged mountain near the Mexican border and Big Bend National Park.
10. Berryhill Exotic Hunting Ranch, Normangee
The dozen game species on offer include the blackbuck, a classic “Texotic” species and one of the fastest animals on the planet.
This article originally appeared in the February 2021 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “Where the Wild Things Are.” Subscribe today.