$: For the Birds
Where: Herradura Ranch. Located midway between Laredo and San Antonio in the South Texas brush country, this 7,000-acre property offers hunters resort-style lodging in a rustic setting.
What: While you can certainly hunt for whitetail deer and exotics, it’s the birds that remain the chief draw here. Small wonder, given that the ranch has more than 120 miles of underground irrigation and year-round feeding programs to bolster the wild bird population. Herradura offers morning dove hunts as well as guided hunts for the Rio Grande wild turkey. Afterwards, return to the 9,000-square-foot lodge for its game room, pool, and upscale dining.
How much:All excursions last three days and range from $800 for a dove hunt (with a minimum of 10 hunters) to $14,000 for certain types of bucks. Packages are available for groups of up to 22 hunters.
$$: Prices Not Too Deer
Where: Beaver Creek Ranch.On 3,000 acres of bucolic Hill Country land 45 minutes west of College Station, guests can choose to stay in the main lodge—where the menu offers water buffalo lasagna—or in log cabins with private baths, TVs, and air-conditioning.
What: The ranch specializes in trophy whitetail deer and exotic animals from all over the world. Onsite tanks also allow for bass, catfish, and crappie fishing.
How much: Prices start at $2,500 and top off around $50,000 for certain prize-winning bucks. The ranch is packed with everything from exotics to wild hogs, making it popular with the oil and gas set in Houston, who are fond of using the estate for corporate retreats.
$$$: Big Game Indeed
Where: Texas Hunt Lodge. This family estate turned bed-and-breakfast hunting haven is located on the Guadalupe River just outside Kerrville.
What: That largely depends on your imagination. The list of animals here reads like a zoology textbook and includes everything from Himalayan tahr and Texas alligator to water buffalo and Transcapian urials, a kind of big-horned sheep indigenous to the mountains of Central Asia.
How much: There’s a “no kill, no pay” policy in place, but it’s probably not often invoked, given the number of animals available to hunters (close to 100 different varieties). Prices range from as little as $350 for a blackbuck doe to $25,000 for a blue sheep, which is actually not a sheep, but an extremely rare antelope from China. General rule of thumb: the more exotic-sounding and far-flung the animal, the higher the price tag to mount it on your wall.