Looking back to about ten years ago, there were
very few places to get a bog bore airgun, fewer
people hunting with them, and fewer places you could
hunt them. Within that handful of places, most hunting
was restricted to predators …… nothing wrong with
that, but my small cluster of big bore airgun shooting
buddies back at that point wanted to stretch it out a
bit …. see what else we could do at the other end of
the game size spectrum.

We found that while Texas has some fairly restrictive
regulations in place when it came to game animals,
non-game and exotics were on the hit list for airguns.
It was a little strange that in most of the state we
couldn’t shoot a squirrel; but hogs, rams, fallow
and axis deer, aoudad and other exotic game were all
available to us. A lot of these animals are free range,
however Texas has virtually no public land, which
forced us towards and restricted us to hunting game
ranches in the early years. Still, the opportunity
presented with the exotics made Texas ground zero
for the development of the sport.

While I’m not a huge fan of the high fence
operations, I also don’t have a problem with
them; they provide an opportunity for hunters that
want to hunt a particular type of game, can be hunted
any time of the year, and in our case allowed a variety
of methods of take. The consideration for me was
that these properties were large enough provide a
true hunt, and that the animals need to be as wild and
wary of man as possible. I like hunting hogs the best,
because they can be hunted truly free range and itâ
€™s inexpensive to find a ranch to hunt on. I’m
also very lucky in that because of articles I’ve
written for Predator Xtreme and Fur Fish Game, Iâ
€™ve meet and formed friendships with a lot of
guides, outfitters, and landowners in Texas and now
have virtually unlimited hunting access….. the biggest
limitation being how often I can make it down south ,
but try for 4-5 trips per year.

The animals on tap for an airgunner are hogs, many
many types of rams, a wide selection of African,
Asian, and European game, and nonindigenous (to
Texas) North American game such as elk.  I have
taken my fair share of rams, which make beautiful
mounts, but for the most part are only mildly
challenging to hunt (though there are exceptions),
truckloads of pigs, a couple axis, and lots of my
target species; the predators. A lot of guys might use
Texas to hunt African game that they otherwise might
not get a chance at (especially with an airgun), I go to
South Africa almost yearly so have much more cost
effective and (to my mind) exciting opportunities to
hunt plains game there.

To my way of thinking, hogs are the ultimate Texas
airgun quarry, there are big populations throughout
the state, and the cost of a hunt is fairly low. Even if
your preference is self-catered do it yourself hunts,
and you’ve never used a guide before, you’ll
need a guide or an outfitter in Texas….a big part of
what you’re paying for is access. You can
sometimes find ranches where you can pay a trespass
fee, but you need to do your homework to locate
these. I use to fly into Dallas to meet up with Eric
Henderson, and he'd have organized a hunt for us at
one of the wildlife ranches, often tied into one of his
early filming ventures. We'd shoot some hogs or
rams, then he'd edit videos of the hunts..... these were
the first films going out to a wide viewership showing
what big bore airguns could do. Eric and I bought
some new and young hunters out with us, and Eric set
up several hunts over the years which gave many
hunters their first chance at larger game with an
airgun. I think that these days with all of the big bore
opportunities around us and the fact that there are so
many participants in the sport, that the import of both
Texas and Eric to its growth and accrptance
sometimes get lost.

There are two animals (outside of predators) I still
want to hunt in Texas; my trophy room is calling out
for a nice blackbuck, and an aoudad. The black buck
is from India, however there are no huntable
populations left there and Texas represents the
stronghold of the species where they can be found all
over the state. I love the small antelope and this is an
animal I’ve been coveting since my first trip to S.
Texas, they are wary, fast, I’m told taste great,
and to my eye are the epitome of the mini-antelope.
To take one with an airgun would be a high point for
me! The other animal I want is probably the most
challenging, the Aoudad. These large sheep, often
called the “poor man’s big horn� are all
over the hill country and arid western regions, and
take a lot of miles and work, the right shot â
€“placement, and a bit of luck. I’ve gone out
after free range aoudad on huge ranches with my
airguns twice, and still haven’t gotten one. Got
close on one hunt, after several hours of stalking up
and down rock strewn mountains, I missed the
opportunity when a ewe spotted us and took off with
all the other animals close at her heels. When after all
the trips and days of trying, when I finally get one with
my airgun it will be another Texas generated high
point!

As mentioned, my main thing is predator hunting;
Texas is great because you can shoot coyote, bobcat,
red fox, grey fox, raccoon, ringtail on any given nightâ
€¦â€¦ and there is always a chance a mountain lion
might come in. I’ll hunt both day and night, with
the night time hunts being much more productive.
Texas allows lights to be used, and the typical method
at night is to drive the ranch roads and set at regular
intervals to call for 20-30 minutes, before going to the
next spot. In areas with heavy coyote populations weâ
€™ll call about every mile, and in the bobcat / fox
areas call about every half mile. As we call we’ll
sweep the light, using either a red filter or haloing the
areas of interest. When you see that glow of eyes
reflected back, all your senses go on high alert, it is a
rush!

The guns I’ve used on these hunts have been
varied over the years; my first pigs and rams were
taken almost exclusively with Quackenbush .308, .
457, and .50 caliber guns. In all of the game I’ve
shot with these guns, everyone has worked flawlessly
….. except for a couple occasions where I didnâ
€™t lock the bolt and caught a blast of air in my eye,
but this was my fault not the guns! I’ve used the
Sam Yang .45 and .50 to take axis, hog, and
bobcats, finding that even out of the box these guns
do a good job, even better after a tune and a trigger
job. Recently I’ve used the Evanix .357’s
and the Daystate .303 to put away bobcats, and see
a lot of potential with these gun, though I think the
lower power .303 are more interesting in more built
up spaces, where the ability to be quiet is more
importanty than the ability to reach out to longer
ranges. The important point is that whatever gun is
used, make sure you know the limits of the gun, and
select your range, shot placement, and quarry
accordingly. After all my hunts; I think that my
optimal Texas bigbore airgun is a powerful .357 or .
457 that produces good accuracy out to 100 yards,
with the lightest and flattest shooting projectile I can
find. My reasoning is that in many of the places I hunt,
it’s never certain what will pop up, I like to know
that if I’m out hunting coyote where I plan to
shoot out to 100 yards, that if a hog comes inside of
50 yards I still have enough gun to knock him over.
The costs of a Texas predator or exotic hunt are not
cheap, but also not unreasonable. There are currently
more states allowing you to hunt deer with an airgun
(Missouri, Mississippi, Virginia), others in the process
of opening up big game with airguns (Arizona) and
several states where it is currently legal to take
predators and hogs with airguns. However Texas still
holds an attraction as a place where you can hunt a
long list of big game species, and unlike the small
hunting reserves you find out east, these “reserve
hunts� in Texas can be over vast expanses of land
and provide very difficult and challenging hunting
experience. Definitely worth a try if you want to
broaden you airgunning experience.
The History of Big Bore Airgun
Hunting:
The Texas Connection!                                Jim Chapman
Eric Henderson and I talking "strategery" before hitting the field/
Whereever we went in those early years, the truck was a
conversation starter!
A couple of the early hog successes with the Quackenbush
guns.
I believe this pig shot by Eric was the first taken with an air
pistol
A few years later a grizzeled old boar .... and that's a pig he
shot with his Sam Yang .45
Dressing out a couple of hogs we shot, Eric and I used to
scan them with a metal detector to find the slugs for post
morts..
One trip, Eric had a contact from a 14 year old kid named
Derek that as dying to try hunting with a big bore. We took
him with us, and he became the youngest and first ssub-adult to
take game with a big bore AG.
I continue to hunt Texas with my big bores on a regular basis, but almost all of it is in pursuit of predators, which has
become my primary focus over the years. I travel to the states that allow airguns for deer and turkey, travel to South
Africa for plains game, and next year will be going out of country to other destinations for other game as well..... but still
look at Texas as the place where it all began. Next year also, I will focus on the blackbuck and the aoudad ..... so look
for a lot more adventures to come in the Lonestar State!
My first Texas bobcat took forever to come, but then
the tap opened!
Lost count of the coyote, this is one from along the
way