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6 Surprising Things You Can Hunt in Texas

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Did you know about all these animals you can hunt in Texas?

I assume that most hunters know that the great state of Texas is famous for its fantastic hunting for species such as whitetail deer, turkeys, doves, javelina and coyotes. And most people have heard that many parts of the state are just about overrun with feral hogs. However, you may not know that there are some other more surprising species available too. Here are six of them.

Alligator

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The American Alligator is the only species from the Alligator family that is native to the United States, and while TV shows such as “Swamp People” have made the bayous of Louisiana famous for hunting gators, the coastal area of eastern Texas also has a healthy population of these prehistoric reptiles. Certain designated areas are open for the month of September, while a fall season in other areas runs from the beginning of April to the end of June.

Exotics

Texas scimitar horned oryx

Photo courtesy of Wildlife Systems Inc.

The Lone Star State incredibly has some 80 species of exotic deer, antelope, sheep, goats and others, with the most popular being aoudad sheep, axis deer, sika deer, fallow deer, blackbuck antelope and nilgai antelope. Exotics are hunted mostly on private ranches, but some are free-ranging, and outfitters such as Wildlife Systems Inc. (www.wildlifesystems.com) have access to just about anything that might interest you. These animals are generally native to Asia and Africa, but in many cases their populations in North America now outnumber those in their native homelands.

Elk

Texas elk

Photo courtesy of Wildlife Systems Inc.

Elk are also considered to be an exotic species in Texas and are not managed or regulated by the state. This classification is apparently somewhat controversial for some Texans, as the now-extinct Merriam’s elk subspecies were native to the area. In any event, some impressive trophy bulls are taken each year on private ranches.

Mountain Lion

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West Texas has a good population of mountain lions, but they tend to be quite difficult to hunt. Popular and productive tactics such as tracking with dogs in snow simply aren’t possible in this dry area, and most of the cougars harvested each year by hunters are taken incidental to deer hunting. Mountain lions are not protected in Texas and can be harvested at any time.

Mule Deer

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Photo via Wikicommons user AlbertHerring

Most hunters know that Texas has approximately 4 million whitetailed deer, but few realize that close to 250,000 mulies also call the west and northwest areas of Texas home. These two areas, known as the Trans-Pecos and Panhandle/High Plains ecological regions, respectively, provide ideal habitat for the desert mule deer subspecies. Some real dandy bucks are possible.

Pronghorn

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Another species that rarely comes to mind when you think of hunting in Texas is the pronghorn. Although their numbers are down significantly in recent years in the Trans-Pecos region, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, good numbers are still found in the Panhandle, with good trophy quality.

With the exception of exotics, most species are closely managed by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, so consulting them is a good place to start when researching a hunt.

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6 Surprising Things You Can Hunt in Texas