This hunt was a TYHP hunt. TYHP is Texas Youth Hunting Program. It’s associated with the state and available for youth hunters from ages 9-17. You simply apply for hunts, and you get picked or you don’t, so its best to apply for nearly every single hunt. However, you do have a much better chance of getting picked for a hunt when you haven’t been on any TYHP hunts yet. The fee for hunts is only $150 for one adult and one youth. Additional people can come along for an extra $50 each because TYHP provides meals which have to be payed for. I have gone on this hunt, which was nilgai and hogs, as well as a dove hunt and a deer hunt. This hunt was unsuccessful as far as harvesting game goes, but I had an absolute BLAST. TYHP is a great place to meet new friends that hunt, and in between hunts, you get to screw around by your tents, or cabin, or wherever you happen to be staying. On this hunt, we stayed in tents.
Laguna Atascosa is a National Wildlife Refuge. Generally, this would mean that you can’t legally hunt there, but the hogs and nilgai are both invasive species, so the biologist wanted them off the place. This was one of the hunts that happens on multiple occasions. Another group of TYHP kids had gone on this hunt the previous year and harvested hogs, but no nilgai.
For those of you who don’t know, a nilgai is a very large antelope-like animal that is native to India. It has a reputation for being an extremely tough animal, and many people think you have to have a magnum caliber to go for this. However, this is not very accurate. Some of the experienced hunters at our camp said that my .270 Win. would do the job just fine. People who have a hard time bringing a nilgai down are usually chasing them around in trucks, which raises the animal’s adrenaline level really high, which makes them harder to bring down. We were simply hunting them from stands. Another thing that gives nilgai their titanium reputation is that they have a shield of tough material over their shoulder, so you have to shoot the animal behind the shoulder or the bullet won’t do as much damage. I was using Nosler Partition bullets.
Laguna Atascosa is a truly beautiful place. I saw some really amazing birds, and an alligator under the bridge we were driving over. Some of the birds I saw, like the common chachalaca, can only be found in the southernmost part of Texas and in Mexico. We were only 26 miles from the border on this hunt. A few of the other kids got pigs; again, nobody got nilgai, and I didn’t even see any big game– but I had a great time.