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Old 09-17-2019, 10:26 AM   #1
Darkarcher159
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Default Laguna Atascosa NWR 1/10-1/12 Rifle Hunt

Got drawn for Laguna Atascosa NWR General Deer Rifle hunt January 10-12!!! Any advice from the Green Screen from those that have been there would be greatly appreciated!!! Send me a PM if you prefer. Thanks in advance!

Cary Beason
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Old 09-17-2019, 12:38 PM   #2
caalexander4
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From what I have seen, bring shooting sticks and be ready for 200 on up shots for most of the time. I would practice out to 500 for sure. Also from what people have posted and given me advice on, get a good copper bullet that will penetrate and slam them.
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Old 09-17-2019, 04:57 PM   #3
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Bring good glass and plenty of water.

Getting within 200 yards of nilgai isn't hard, any closer and they gone! Luckily they are a big target.
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Old 09-17-2019, 08:57 PM   #4
Darkarcher159
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Thanks for the advice! I am shooting a 300 win mag with 180 grain Berger bullet and 500 yards is not a problem. Super excited about this hunt!!
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Old 09-19-2019, 03:21 PM   #5
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Thanks for the advice! I am shooting a 300 win mag with 180 grain Berger bullet and 500 yards is not a problem. Super excited about this hunt!!
I think I am gonna borrow my dad's 30-378 or my fil's 7mm stw. I know the vitals are located different than where they are in deer. My FIL swears the money shot is part way down the back and off slightly from where the bone is. He grew up hunting the King Ranch and said he would shoot them there with his .270 to drop them.
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Old 09-20-2019, 12:13 AM   #6
Darkarcher159
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I think I am gonna borrow my dad's 30-378 or my fil's 7mm stw. I know the vitals are located different than where they are in deer. My FIL swears the money shot is part way down the back and off slightly from where the bone is. He grew up hunting the King Ranch and said he would shoot them there with his .270 to drop them.
Very interesting...have not given the vitals positioning any though until now.
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Old 09-20-2019, 09:15 AM   #7
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Very interesting...have not given the vitals positioning any though until now.
Definitely look into this. I've never shot one, but I have hunted them. Seems like everyone has a different spot to hit. The only consistent information seems to be that if you hit behind the shoulder like a whitetail you likely won't find it. These animals are tough and ranked 2nd in toughness to bring down behind the cape buffalo. I've heard of people dropping them with high shoulder shots and neck shots. Always research a new animal before you go hunting it.
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Old 09-20-2019, 09:50 AM   #8
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I was on the fifth rifle hunt last year. If you follow the other Laguna thread you will see most of the animals come from the units that are more easily accessed on the initial archery hunts. By the time my rifle hunt started all of the game was way back off the roads on the edges of the refuge and only those of us that were willing to hoof it back there were seeing anything.

Quote:
Getting within 200 yards of nilgai isn't hard, any closer and they gone!
This was not my experience. These animals were switched ON. I was over 1500 yards from a herd when they busted me, wasn't even able to get a range on them and I have pretty good glass. I played cat and mouse with several whitetails on my hunt stalking in on them, the nilgai were having none of that. They seem to see hunter orange just fine unlike whitetails, and rely more on their vision than deer. They are an antelope after all.

I would be prepared to stay out all day. Take a bike and get the goo stuff for your tires to prevent flats. Bike in as far as you can and then hike in further.
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Old 09-24-2019, 06:22 PM   #9
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Hello everyone, long time listener first time caller here!

I was lucky enough to get drawn for this hunt, and my first thought was “I have no freaking idea what I’m doing!” I’ve been hunting over 30 years, but nearly all of those years have been spent ambushing whitetails in Arkansas, so I think it is safe to say the odds are against me being successful on this trip.

I’m not gonna be that guy that rolls into this forum and says “Tell me what zone to go to, or where do y’all see all the nilgai at?”, that’s not what I’m here for at all! I am looking for some general advice from people that have hunted nilgai before that can help me formulate a plan of attack before I drive down from Fort Worth and wander around aimlessly in rattlesnake country.

I’ve been google searching nilgai behavior every since I received the ‘congrats’ email from TPWD, and there just ain’t much info out there. I know a little bit about how to find whitetails, but can y’all share some tidbits on nilgai with me? To be more specific:

-What period of a typical 24 hr cycle are they generally the most active?
-How do they bed down? Tall grasses or thick brush?
-Do they have a large home base and roam a lot, or do they hold pretty tight to an area?
-Are they a pretty social animal that tends to stay herded up, or do they go solo most of the time? Any differences in how bulls and cows socialize?
-When is their breeding season, and how does their behavior differ during the rut?
-Are there any calls, scents, or other luring methods that seem to be effective drawing them in?
-Do they tend to find shade during a warm sunny day, or do they not mind being out in the blaring sun?

If anyone here could shed the slightest light on any of these questions, I would greatly appreciate it! I’ll even help y’all pack one of the suckers out down there for some tips! I’m open to any advice about LANWR as well.

Thanks in advance, and I’m looking forward to getting acquainted with y’all!
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Old 09-24-2019, 11:07 PM   #10
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I have been hunting Nilgai for several years. Hereís my experience.

1. These animals are constantly on the lookout, if you see one you better be ready to squeeze that trigger immediately.

2. Shots are far, itís not uncommon to shoot them at 475 yards.

3. Better have a big round. Our guide and land owner prefer .30 caliber and larger. Personally Iím a fan of the .30-.378.

4. Their vitals are higher, these are giant animals

5. If you see one running, donít bother chasing they will sprint to the next county and wonít stop till the next day. These suckers move fast too!

6. They donít eat corn and I have never seen them be lured to a scent or the like.

7. I have seen 7-8 bulls together. I have also seen solo bulls during the rut. I have seen several cows and one bull in a group.

8. I most often see them in open pastures.

9. On windy days they will bed down.

10. Fun fact, calves are always twins.

11. The meat is phenomenal.

12. I have seen them move throughout all parts of the day. They arenít like whitetail, dusk or dawn doesnít particularly matter to them.

Good luck!





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Old 09-25-2019, 12:15 PM   #11
TGKIL
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piercebronkite,

Thanks for the info! I’ll be shooting a .300 win mag with a Hornady 180 gr sst, so hopefully I can get it done with that. I’ve been watching YouTube videos and reading about shot placement, and advice on that is a little divided.

I’m gathering that a head-on shot should be placed in the white spot of their neck/throat. As for broadside shots, advice seems torn on 10” below the shoulder hump to break their back and 8” up from the brisket to break their front shoulder joint (possibly get the heart as well) and knock em down to allow for a quick follow up. Thoughts on that?

Thanks for the reply!
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Old 09-26-2019, 09:22 AM   #12
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piercebronkite,

Thanks for the info! Iíll be shooting a .300 win mag with a Hornady 180 gr sst, so hopefully I can get it done with that. Iíve been watching YouTube videos and reading about shot placement, and advice on that is a little divided.

Iím gathering that a head-on shot should be placed in the white spot of their neck/throat. As for broadside shots, advice seems torn on 10Ē below the shoulder hump to break their back and 8Ē up from the brisket to break their front shoulder joint (possibly get the heart as well) and knock em down to allow for a quick follow up. Thoughts on that?

Thanks for the reply!
.300 Mag will get the job done. I have always thought of my shot this way, follow the front leg up and then about 4-5 inches towards their rear.

White spot in their neck is a small area and greater chance of a miss in my opinion. If it were me I would aim center mass in front of their shoulder blades. I have never taken a front side shot so take my opinion lightly.

These are super skittish animals. Their natural enemy is a tiger so they dont stop and wait to look around like whitetails. However, you can get the sneak on them but they are often far shots. I missed a toad of a bull at 450 yards.
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Old 09-27-2019, 12:36 AM   #13
glen
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Find where they want to be and sit still. Shoot them in the shoulder and break the two front tires off
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Old 09-27-2019, 08:13 AM   #14
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Find where they want to be and sit still. Shoot them in the shoulder and break the two front tires off
That sounds like a plan. Iím thinking I should find some dung piles on a trail that leads to fresh water, back of a few hundred yards, set up shop and wait em out.
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Old 09-27-2019, 09:52 AM   #15
piercebronkite
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That sounds like a plan. Iím thinking I should find some dung piles on a trail that leads to fresh water, back of a few hundred yards, set up shop and wait em out.


We often catch them crossing a pipeline or a road. I personally have never had any luck at a dung pile but I have heard they will pop out of the brush, mark their pile and go back on their way.


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Old 09-27-2019, 11:48 AM   #16
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What about watering holes? Looking on google earth and google maps, you can see tons of tracks/trails leading to watering holes. You can even see tracks through the mud in some of the holes. It is impossible to tell what left the tracks in the mud, but the trails sure look like game trails to me.

Anyone ever have luck posting up on a trail leading to water? If that is the route I'm gonna take, I'll make sure to be a few hundred yards down wind of the trail.
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Old 09-27-2019, 11:53 AM   #17
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What about watering holes? Looking on google earth and google maps, you can see tons of tracks/trails leading to watering holes. You can even see tracks through the mud in some of the holes. It is impossible to tell what left the tracks in the mud, but the trails sure look like game trails to me.

Anyone ever have luck posting up on a trail leading to water? If that is the route I'm gonna take, I'll make sure to be a few hundred yards down wind of the trail.
Lots of travel lanes near the water holes. A lot of those will turn out to be nilgai tracks too, they are unmistakable in person.

You'll probably have good luck posting up near those and/or their poop piles.
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Old 09-27-2019, 12:20 PM   #18
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The 300 will get it done but you may want to consider a heavier bonded bullet, Barnes or Nosler Partition type. These are big critters and a heavier bonded round will help get the penetration you will need to get through bone and vitals. Allthough the SST is a great round I don't think it has enough retention to get to the vitals well enough if it contacts bone first.
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Old 09-27-2019, 12:39 PM   #19
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I had success last year finding a convergence of trails leading to a main and active dung pile. Sat off the trail only about 100 yards and connected with a bull coming in broadside. Used a 300 weatherby mag with weatherby 180gr. Hit through the shoulder on the first shot and then had a quick follow up that dropped him. Found both bullets in the offside hide and left no blood trail so make sure you drop them.
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Old 09-27-2019, 04:51 PM   #20
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The 300 will get it done but you may want to consider a heavier bonded bullet, Barnes or Nosler Partition type. These are big critters and a heavier bonded round will help get the penetration you will need to get through bone and vitals. Allthough the SST is a great round I don't think it has enough retention to get to the vitals well enough if it contacts bone first.
What do you think about Hornady 180 gr GMX? Solid copper core should hold up and punch through, huh? Biggest game I've ever shot are whitetails, so this is all new territory for me!
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Old 09-27-2019, 04:57 PM   #21
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What do you think about Hornady 180 gr GMX? Solid copper core should hold up and punch through, huh? Biggest game I've ever shot are whitetails, so this is all new territory for me!


Thatís what I shoot but in .30-.378. Worked for taking my Nilgai and has stopped 170 pound boars in their tracks.


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Old 09-27-2019, 10:33 PM   #22
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I'm sure the SST would work but I'd rather be going into a hunt like this with a bonded bullet. The GMX would probably be a better option. I know guys that have sunk 4 shots from a 300 Wby mag and 220 grain bullet into good bulls to get them down. And then again I know guys who have taken them with a 270. I've shot a cow with a 140 gr Nosler Partition in 270 and it took three shots. First shot was a poor one running at about 175 yards. But it was enough to slow her down for the last two.
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Old 09-28-2019, 06:03 PM   #23
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I just picked up a few boxes of 180 grain gmx, so I should be set. I’m gonna wait till after deer season to rezero for the gmx’s, and hopefully it won’t take too many shots to get it all set.

On another note, have any of you guys stayed at Thomae Park? I’m planning on staying there to save a few bucks and add to the nostalgia of the trip, but I’m not above getting a room somewhere if it looks like all my stuff will walk off while I’m out hunting.
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Old 09-28-2019, 09:19 PM   #24
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[QUOTE=TGKIL;14397604

On another note, have any of you guys stayed at Thomae Park? Iím planning on staying there to save a few bucks and add to the nostalgia of the trip, but Iím not above getting a room somewhere if it looks like all my stuff will walk off while Iím out hunting.[/QUOTE]



Never stayed there, but I just booked a tent space for my trip. 1st time down to do this hunt. Iíve never had trouble before at a campground, and this one gets locked up every evening. Curious what others have to say about it.
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Old 09-28-2019, 09:42 PM   #25
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Golly this thread makes me crave sweet baby nilgai meat.

Think of this...by December they've been hunted there a few months and the scent and sight of anything moving they run. A blue bull in a winter coat will have nearly black fur and the only thing you'll quickly identify is the white throat patch. So yeah a long shot is common, but if you can use cover and wind to your advantage do so. I've only killed one, a running Texas heart shot at about a 40 yard shot. So yes they can be taken by surprise, but if they see you first and run while you shoot, shoot anyway.

I've stayed at Thomae park, tent camping isn't quite as nice as like a state park, but theres an open area where they let us tent. Great place to be and trade info with other hunters too, but it can get loud on weekends. I had got locked out one night and ended up staying at Wal Mart down south, but heck I killed a buck that next day. Good luck y'all.
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Old 09-30-2019, 01:12 PM   #26
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How many of you use a pop-up blind at Laguna Atascosa?

Iíve never used one before. Any recommendations on one that can be backpacked in? I also hunt the SHNF a fair amount (no deer lease) so Iíd use it out there too if I decided to purchase one.
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Old 09-30-2019, 05:24 PM   #27
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Never stayed there, but I just booked a tent space for my trip. 1st time down to do this hunt. Iíve never had trouble before at a campground, and this one gets locked up every evening. Curious what others have to say about it.
Campground is nice and quiet, a bit expensive per night but it's not bad.

THere's a shower on site too so that almost makes it work it haha
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Old 09-30-2019, 06:13 PM   #28
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The furthest shot I took on the 5 I harvested there two years ago, was maybe 50 yards. My advise is to practice walking up to your target, with the scope turned to 4 or 5 (I too was shooting 300 win mag with a 4x12 Zeiss) and practice getting on the target quickly. 3 out of the 5 shots I had were running but two of them (cow and a bull) had no idea I was there. When you are stalking, always keep your scope turned down low as it will give you more of a view of the animal. My partner pulled up on a huge bull and only saw fur when he got the animal in the scope. He didn't know what part of the body he was shooting at and by the time he corrected the issue the bull was gone. If the nilgai does not know you are there, you will have time to turn the scope up. Shooting sticks will work if you plan on sitting. But if you are going to stalk, then they will be a bourdon.

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Thanks for the advice! I am shooting a 300 win mag with 180 grain Berger bullet and 500 yards is not a problem. Super excited about this hunt!!
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Old 09-30-2019, 06:20 PM   #29
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I went ahead and booked at Thomae, couldn’t turn down a shower every night for only $20!
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Old 09-30-2019, 06:27 PM   #30
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[QUOTE=TGKIL;14388464]Hello everyone, long time listener first time caller here!

I was lucky enough to get drawn for this hunt, and my first thought was ďI have no freaking idea what Iím doing!Ē Iíve been hunting over 30 years, but nearly all of those years have been spent ambushing whitetails in Arkansas, so I think it is safe to say the odds are against me being successful on this trip.

Iím not gonna be that guy that rolls into this forum and says ďTell me what zone to go to, or where do yíall see all the nilgai at?Ē, thatís not what Iím here for at all! I am looking for some general advice from people that have hunted nilgai before that can help me formulate a plan of attack before I drive down from Fort Worth and wander around aimlessly in rattlesnake country.




Premier conditions for a nilgai is clear and cool. If you have a cloudless and relatively calm day where it never gets above 55 degrees they will be out all day.



There pretty smart and typically go to thick brush to bed down.



When nilgai get spooked they do not run to the next brush line and stop like a white tail does but will continue to run for miles. This said, they are going to be wherever they are least pressured.



This kind of goes with your next question as your hunt is during the breading season. Large Bulls will break off of the bachelor herds and will begin to round up cows in a group.



See above



Using corn is prohibited on LANWR but I've hunted these guys on the King, Yturria, and the Kennedy and have never seen them come to corn, so no big loss there. Nilgai do have an interesting characteristic in that they mark their territory with scat piles. I've never bothered hunting the scat piles but if you find fresh scat then obviously there will be nilgai around. You'll understand what I mean when you see one. And you will see one.



If you have a frost, they will not be moving early in the morning. If it's clear they will start sunning themselves by about 8:30 am. Also, if it's raining they probably will not be moving. They are not fans of the rain.
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Old 10-01-2019, 11:00 AM   #31
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How many of you use a pop-up blind at Laguna Atascosa?

Iíve never used one before. Any recommendations on one that can be backpacked in? I also hunt the SHNF a fair amount (no deer lease) so Iíd use it out there too if I decided to purchase one.
Iíve never hunted Laguna, but I have used pop ups before. My experience with them is that they arenít very light, so if you plan to go pretty far in, your best bet is going to be a small steel spring set up. Those are the lightest Iíve found, and they tend to be pretty compact when folded up. Blind combined with a stool is probably going to be 10-15 pounds minimum.

Hope this helps, and good luck!
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Old 10-08-2019, 01:54 PM   #32
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I talked with a guy at work last week, and asked him if he knew anything about Atascosa or nilgai, and he didn't have any info but he reached out to a FB group he's in. The consensus from his FB group (people that have hunted Atascosa) echoed what has been said here, the best way to hunt nilgai is to find a trail and settle in. Evidently these things bust you walking and are gone before you even know it, so being still is the way to go. All sources are saying to pick a spot and stay still, so I'm going to heed all of the advice.

Changing directions a bit, does anyone have a snake boot that they'd recommend? I'm shopping around for a pair, but I don't want to spend $200-$300 on something that isn't comfortable.
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:53 PM   #33
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Get chaps and wear your comfortable boots
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Old 10-08-2019, 05:02 PM   #34
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Changing directions a bit, does anyone have a snake boot that they'd recommend? I'm shopping around for a pair, but I don't want to spend $200-$300 on something that isn't comfortable.
Chaps are great but they are noisy and hot. If you decide to sit in hopes that a nilgai moves in front of you, both will be non-issues and I would also recommend the chaps. If you are stalking, you want to illuminate as much noise as you possibly can and snake boots will help with that. I believe a pair of red heads are under 200.00. The key is to make sure they are well worn in and I recommend wearing wool socks. Blisters suck out there. Pack some band aides to put on any areas that start rubbing before they turn into blisters. If you are lucky enough to hunt when the temperature is below 50 degrees, then I wouldn't worry about snakes and wear whatever is comfortable.
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Old 10-09-2019, 09:18 AM   #35
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More is said about rattlers than necessary. I have seen them in LA but on very warm days. I just use chaps on those days and take them off while sitting. Be more concerned about insects and thorny vegetation
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Old 10-09-2019, 09:51 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by TGKIL View Post
I talked with a guy at work last week, and asked him if he knew anything about Atascosa or nilgai, and he didn't have any info but he reached out to a FB group he's in. The consensus from his FB group (people that have hunted Atascosa) echoed what has been said here, the best way to hunt nilgai is to find a trail and settle in. Evidently these things bust you walking and are gone before you even know it, so being still is the way to go. All sources are saying to pick a spot and stay still, so I'm going to heed all of the advice.

Changing directions a bit, does anyone have a snake boot that they'd recommend? I'm shopping around for a pair, but I don't want to spend $200-$300 on something that isn't comfortable.
Call the Justin Boots outlet in Fort Worth. I found some Chippewaís last year for my wife for $150 shipped. They had a minor scuff on the leather, otherwise brand new.
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Old 10-13-2019, 08:17 PM   #37
chancito1
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Grew up hunting Laguna it’s a tough hunt but still wouldn’t trade it for anything. We’ve had opportunity to hunt nilgai many years now shoot big caliber and we’ve always had luck with nosler 180 to 200 in 338 win and 300 win mags. We’ve always shot dead in shoulder and be ready for immediate follow up shot. They have amazing eye sight so can be a little tough sneaking up on them. Usually have best luck where we can see a lot of open salt grass surrounded by brush. Good luck!
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Old 10-16-2019, 02:06 PM   #38
TGKIL
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Anybody win big in the draws today? I'm pending 2nd drawing on 17 hunts, so I think it's safe to say that I didn't win anything...
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Old 10-16-2019, 03:09 PM   #39
RGV Hunter
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Not me. 20+ years and still batting .1000 at not getting drawn for rifle hunts.
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Old 10-24-2019, 06:12 PM   #40
TGKIL
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I’ve been taking an inventory of all of my gear in preparation of this hunt, and I wanted to see if you gents could help me decide on whether or not I should purchase a few things.

I have plenty of knives, but I was thinking about picking up a Havalon Piranta Edge; anybody know if a Havalon could cut it on a nilgai? Dad joke/pun intended there...

Anyone use Blackovis reusable game bags? Would a set of the large handle a decent sized nilgai?

I understand that the refuge has a cooler you can use to store your game during the hunt, but I have a 9.5 hour drive home after the hunt, so I’m thinking about picking up a Rtic 145 to go along with my Rtic 65 and Coleman 53. Do y’all think the 145 is necessary, or would my other coolers handle a bull/cow by themselves?

Thanks in advance, and come on January 10th!
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Old 10-25-2019, 04:13 PM   #41
Jspradley
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Black Ovis bags are gtg, make sure you wash them a few times before use, they reek of formaldehyde straight out of the pack.

The large ones are sized for an elk so they should fit a nilgai.
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Old 10-25-2019, 06:03 PM   #42
glen
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TG- If you bone them out they will fit in a 105 qt. Kid and I fit a bull, and a cow in a 105 @ 120 last year. That is boned out though and it was tight. As far as knives. Best advice I will give is bring a box cutter and xtra blades. Sharp and easy to keep a sharp blade running. Once skinned use whatever knife fits your hand for processing. I like Dexter boning knife.
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Old 11-07-2019, 01:33 PM   #43
TGKIL
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I've been watching the other Atascosa thread, and it don't look like they are going to leave anything there for us!
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Old 11-07-2019, 02:35 PM   #44
piercebronkite
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TGKIL View Post
I've been watching the other Atascosa thread, and it don't look like they are going to leave anything there for us!


Oh thereís still Nilgai there. If I had a rifle I could have easily taken 2 nilgai. Saw cows on different days at 125 and 165 yards. Just got to be in the right spot. Thereís some giant bulls on 5, just a lot people donít want to do the hump to get there.


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