The Capybara just might be the most exotic big game species you've never heard of.
In the United States, exotic game animals are generally those that are non-indigenous (not from around here) and do not have a very limited or non-existent free-ranging and reproducing population. A common example of a typical exotic animal in the United States is the fallow deer.
The countries of South America tend to use the word "exotic" when referring to animals that are very uncommon elsewhere in the world, or animals that do not have widespread popularity and recognition but can be legally hunted in the area. Either application of the term exotic applies to the capybara.
Technically a rodent species, a capybara or carpincho (as it is often referred to in South America) is as large as the American pronghorn or whitetail deer in some regions. Weighing up to 150 pounds and measuring up to over three feet in length this rodent is in the big game category.
This exotic big game species lives in groups and typically inhabit lowland areas, wetlands and dry forest areas where nearby water sources are present. When spooked, capybara will usually retreat to the water for protection. They can remain underwater for as much as five minutes before they must surface for air. When they do surface they tend to expose only their eyes and nose, much like a hippo.
The capybara has a fairly soft skeletal structure with average skin thickness for a mammal of their size. The firearms and archery equipment needed to hunt them do not have to be particularly powerful, and most gear used for deer hunting will be effective. Shot placement on a capybara on land include heart and lung shots that tend to be straight up the front leg, half way into the body and just behind the shoulder respectively.
Hunting methods include spot and stalk and hunting from blinds. Native or wild born capybara are a challenge to get near since they will scurry away at the first detection of movement.
Belly crawling can be effective with good cover to conceal you, but belly crawling in the open looks similar to a caiman, one of the capybara's predators.
Sometimes capybara are shot while they are in the water. This is a challenging shot that offers a target area of only about two inches by two inches.
Capybara hunting is common in Argentina and Uruguay in South American, and in Texas in the United States. Hunting in the United States tends to be on private property where the capybara were introduced, and there is now a surplus population. These exotic hunts are sold by the landowner or a private company, so prices can vary widely.
Capybara meat is excellent. Don't just take my word for it, check with any of the South American outfitters that offer capybara hunts by searching the Internet and reading their comments.
This exotic big game species is also going to make a very unique mount when your taxidermist finishes his job and you add it to your trophy room.
The capybara may just be the most exotic big game species you've never heard of. Do you know of another exotic big game species that we've never heard of?