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The nilgai and hunting

For one fabulous 10-day span, I had a charter job out of Brownsville flying three scientists who were conducting a dolphin census in and around South Padre Island. Besides the bottlenose dolphins, however, one of the amazing mammals I learned about was the nilgai, which is the largest antelope in Asia. In the U.S. one of the largest nilgai population resides on the King Ranch. When we first saw them on the ground from about 500 feet aloft, none of us had a clue what they were. The three scientists aboard were marine biologists who had no real expertise in Asian antelope. Still, they were an amazing animal to watch run. They could bob and weave on a dime, and weighed in at approximately 600 pounds. If they were human, the NFL would sign them up to run the ball. One day after landing back at the Brownsville Airport, I went to the library and looked up their species. An amazing story. They were brought to the U.S. mainly from India and Pakistan back mid-20th Century when hunting exotic animals became fashionable. Why go to Asia when you can hunt a nilgai closer to home? Of all the animals that are hunted on the King Ranch, the nilgai is considered to be one of the hardest trophies for hunters. The Ranch used to charge hunters $300 per nilgai cow and $1,000 per nilgai bull. That was approximately 13 years ago. Today, the King Ranch charges one hunter $3,500 for a two-day hunt in search of a nilgai bull. If you’re an animal lover who is opposed to hunting, reading about killing a nilgai probably makes you upset. People who don’t hunt tend to be that way even though they find no problem in buying steak, fajitas, or chicken from the grocery story. To me, if you’re totally opposed to hunting, you should be a vegetarian. If not, the two are somewhat contradictory. In fact, I’d say the game animal shot and killed with one round from a high-powered rifle after spending a life of running free on the range has lived a better life than the poor cow, pig, or chicken raised for slaughter in cramped quarters and then later sold at the meat market. Me, I don’t hunt, but it’s hard to pass up good fajitas. I just don’t watch those youtube videos of poor conditions inside slaughterhouses. If I did, I probably ...

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