to India was in reality a trip to the Texas hill country in order to hunt
an animal that is native to the mysterious continent of India.This animal
is the Nilgai Antelope. This animal is probably the oddest looking of
the many exotics that have established a big foothold in the State of
Texas. Many of these species now number more animals here than in their
native land. The Nilgai is one of those species and has been in Texas
for decades, ever since the original owners of the fabled King Ranch,
just to have something different to look at stocked them. Their populations
have now risen to almost nuisance levels.
The Nilgai are to say the least, different. Older males are a bluish gray
in color, and for that reason are nicknamed the "Blue Bull". For the trophy
hunter they come up kind short, with a really good trophy male growing
to a maximum of nine to ten inches in length and being a coal black color.
Females have no horns and are smaller with a tan coat. Males can weigh
over 600 pounds.
We were to hunt our Indian quarry on a ranch near Harper, Texas called
the Rusty Spur. Our friend and guide on many hunts, L. R. Castleberry,
picked us up at our motel early in the morning on July 1st to begin our
short trip to the Rusty Spur. It was a typical Texas, July day. Even at
6:00 a. m. it was already hot and muggy. The sky was agate blue without
a cloud to be seen anywhere.
We arrived at our destination and nearly immediately started seeing game.
We eased down a narrow road through lush green, waist high vegetation
and large stately trees. On our right was a dry creek bed containing nothing
but smooth, polished, white rocks. I told Shirley and L. R. that this
would be a great spot to get a shot, with its white rocks and only about
50 - 60 yards wide. We were seeing a good number of the denizens of India,
but after an hour we still hadn't seen any Nilgai. We were seeing the
beautiful spotted Axis Deer with wide sweeping antlers, whole groups of
them. In the open areas the Blackbuck Antelope with there striking twisting
horns and namesake, jet black hides, chased after the tan colored females
in a seemingly, never ending, mating ritual. There was even a few Sambar
Stags roaming around. This place was a treasure trove of game animals.
For over three hours we beat the brush looking for the two Nilgai bulls
the owner had told L. R. was on the place. We had lots o luck, all bad.
We did finally see them flitting through some thick brush. They played
cat and mouse with us for another hour or so but never gave us even a
slight chance for a shot. Then they were gone and no matter where we searched
nor what we tried there was no sign of them. This went on for maybe another
hour or so. I was beginning to wonder if they had just gone up in a puff
of smoke. We figured we had covered the whole ranch maybe twenty times
with the exception of the creek bed area we had passed right after entering
You know the old saying,"If it ain't here it must be somewhere else".
That said we figured logic told us, try by the creek, so off we went.
It took us about fifteen minutes to get there. That's right you guessed
it, there were our two bulls one standing knee deep in the weeds, the
other right in the middle of the creek bed. This time they seemed real
nonchalant about our presence and just stood there watching us. Out came
the binoculars to try to figure out which one had the best length and
mass to make a record book trophy. It was quickly decided that the one
closest to us, at about forty yards, was the best of the two. I figured
that at this distance the shot was just a formality. At the report from
the Remington Model 700, 30/06, the bull didn't even flinch. He just looked
around as if he was wondering what that noise was. Of course I quickly
jacked another of the 180-grain core-loct bullets into the chamber and
fired again. This time the bull went straight down on his back with all
four legs waving in the air. Then, He got right back up on all fours.
As I put a third round in the chamber, I thought to myself, " Am I shooting
blanks? ". At the sound of the shot he went down again, this time to stay.
I had been told that the Nilgai was a tough cookie to put down, but this
was ridiculous. My Nilgai had 9 1/8 x 8 6/8 horns making it a solid gold
medal trophy. My trip to India was short but fun and rewarding.
by Steve Mahurin on June 8, 2000.