For most of modern history Africa and Texas have been the premier hunting destinations for big game hunters the world over. In the days of the Texas Republic, hunters traveled to the future Lone Star State to take their chances against, javelina, pronghorn, jaguar, and feral longhorn cattle. At the beginning of the 20th Century, upper class adventure seekers from Britain and the United States ventured to the Dark Continent for dangerous and plains game and ushered in what would be known as the Golden Age of Safari. Today, many hunters still travel to Africa and Texas and while the game they seek hasn't changed, the accommodations they expect and the treatment they desire has tremendously.
Centuries past hunters to Africa and Texas could expect to reside in tents or rail car. Travel was by horse or specially outfitted but extremely limited vehicles. Food was most often killed along the way and the amenities, although posh for the time, were far and few between. Today, many hunters to Texas and most of Africa expect to stay in five-star accommodations, wouldn't think of staying anywhere that didn't feature indoor plumbing and air conditioning, expect phone service and Wi-Fi, and would be shocked not to find a masseuse and classically trained chef on staff. Because of this, most hunting outfits in Texas and Africa are quite similar. Most offer more or less the same animal selection and the same in the way of amenities and luxuries. The only major difference for the most part is location. Knowing this, many hunters are now asking if Texas is a better hunting destination than Africa or vice versa. In an effort to help answer this query, I decided to look at two of my favorite hunting outfits and to talk to those that run them to decide which is better: Texas or Africa.
The lodge at Ox Ranch.
Located near Uvalde, Texas, Ox Ranch has quickly become one of the premier game ranches in the world. More than 45 species of game roam the ranch’s more than 18,000 acres and guest accommodations are second to none. Hunters travel to the ranch from all over the world and those looking for an African safari can do so by pursuing more than 20 species of African game. But one of the biggest luxuries the ranch offers, according to ranch manager Jason Molitor, is time.
The author with an ostrich taken on the Ox Ranch.
“Time is more limited than ever,” Molitor explains. “One of the benefits of hunting the Ox is that your travel time is greatly reduced. Depending on where you’re going to in Africa, it can take two to three days travel time and on top of that you're often dealing with jet lag. Hunting with us in Texas is easy and allows more of your hard-earned time to be spent hunting rather than sitting on a plane.”
Guest accommodations at the Ox Ranch.
Time and travel are also a consideration where trophies are concerned. “Shipping game from Africa to the U.S. is expensive and can take upwards of a year,” Molitor continues. “Hunters hunting with us don't have those issues.” Other issues Molitor says that should be considered when deciding between hunting Texas or Africa are the fact that some places in Africa are disease and parasite hot zones. “I know a guy that hunted bongo in the C.A.R. [Central African Republic] who came back with worms in his eyes. That's obviously not an issue here in Texas.” And while on bongo, Molitor rightly points out that many hunters travel to Africa to hunt bongo in C.A.R. or Cameroon and return after weeks of hunting and thousands of dollars spent without so much as even seeing one of the antelope. “That’s not an issue on the Ox. We can’t guarantee that you’ll get a bongo during a three day hunt with us but I can guarantee that you’ll at least see one.”
Species such as this Dama gazelle are available only on ranches such as the Ox Ranch.
Another factor when considering Texas as a hunting destination is the fact that some African animals can be hunted in Texas but not in their native habitat in Africa. Animals like the addax, scimitar-horned oryx, Dama gazelle, and a host of other species are considered extinct in the wild in Africa but can be hunted legally on the Ox and several other game ranches in Texas.
So the obvious choice is Texas, right?
Not so fast.
The author with a nyala taken while hunting with Limcroma Safaris.
“Africa versus Texas? There's no comparison!” So begins Limcroma Safaris owner Hannes Els. Limcroma Safaris operates in the Limpopo Region of South Africa and has access to more than 20,000 acres of prime hunting. In addition, they also offer hunting in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Namibia. “There's only one place to experience a true African safari and that is Africa. Texas has some nice game ranches but there's nowhere but Africa to see the sights of safari.”
And there is nowhere but Africa to hunt Dangerous Game.
A HUGE leopard taken while hunting Dangerous Game with Limcroma Safaris
“You can’t hunt lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and crocodile in Texas,” Els reminds. “Only in Africa. And that’s an experience you just can’t replicate in the U.S.” In addition to these members of the Dangerous Seven, Els rightly points out that game animals aren’t the only wildlife hunters see while hunting in Africa. “Nowhere else will you see the wildlife – birds, small animals, reptiles, insects, and so on – that you will see in Africa. Sure, you can hunt kudu and sable in the U.S. but you won't experience a true Africa safari doing so there. The animals’ aren’t in their natural habitat there. And nowhere else but Africa can you smell the fragrances of the African veld or the burning of African hardwood on a campfire.”
Els continues, “Hunting in Africa also includes the experience of travel, of visiting other cultures, and meeting people from varied backgrounds. The list of why you should hunt Africa instead of Texas goes on and on.”
The list does go on and on.
But it’s time to make a decision and my choice based on all the aforementioned and my experience is…I don't know.
I’m not sure than one is better than the other. I’ve hunted both Africa and Texas numerous times and have fantastic memories of both. I’ve hunted Dangerous Game in Africa and African-extinct animals in Texas and have plans to hunt both locations again soon. And working on this piece has made me realize all the more how much I love both and how glad I am that, much like those hunters that came centuries before me, I have the opportunity to do so.
As such, I declare this challenge a tie.