Dear Hunting Report: I wanted to add this note to my Hunting Trip Report Form since there was nothing typical about this hunt. Some background:
I have 6 kids that currently range in age from 17-25. One of my goals as a Dad was to hopefully raise each of them to be hunters but to at least instill in them the value of hunting as an activity and as a conservation tool. I can happily report that all 6 of them understand the value of hunting and that 5 of them have become hunters. One of the strategies I've used toward this goal is to take each of my kids on a l-on-l trip with me prior to their senior year of high school. I of course have hoped that each of my kids would pick a hunting trip and 4 of the first 5 did. When it was time for my youngest, 17-yr-old Maggie, to choose a trip, it looked like I would go 4 for 6. I showed her many pictures of various game animals and described a number of different types of trips we could take, but nothing interested her until one day she overheard me tell someone that I had once seen kangaroos in a pasture in the Hill Country of Texas. For whatever reason, that sparked her interest and she said that if I could line up a kangaroo hunt, then that was definitely what she wanted to do. I had never heard of anyone in Texas actually offering a kangaroo hunt, nor had I ever heard of anyone taking a kangaroo outside of Australia, but I started working the phones and internet. After countless dead ends, I came across the website for OX ranch near Uvalde, TX. Though the website didn't mention anything about kangaroos, they had a picture of one on their home page. I e-mailed the ranch owner, Brent Oxley, and explained what I wanted to do and why. He was extremely helpful and, while he did indeed have some kangaroos (reds) on his ranch, they were basically "mascot" animals at the time. Fortunately I had started this process almost a year in advance and Brent had the means and desire to establish a wild kangaroo herd on his ranch, so he set about doing that.
OX ranch is a work in progress, with top quality improvements of all kinds currently underway. Having said that, it is already a spectacular destination. I've hunted on a number of TX ranches in the West, South, and Hill Country, but I've never seen a ranch like this. Once finished, it will be a hunting destination to rival any on the planet. For a full description of the ranch and its offerings, I would recommend your readers visit the ranch's website, www.oxhuntingranch.com. This is not just another Hill Country Ranch with a list of native and exotic species and a nice lodge. The activities that a hunter, non-hunting partner, or entire family can enjoy there is impressive. Maggie took her kangaroo, a mature male, as well as several hogs by spot and stalk, from a box blind, and from a high rack, but we also enjoyed many other fantastic experiences together including exploring the fully-functional WWII Sherman tank, seeing fossil dinosaur tracks, riding high performance jet skis, and interacting with the herd of tame giraffes. We both wished we could have stayed longer because there was much more to do there for which we just didn't have time. I failed to connect on one of their very wily feral goats, but that was due to my choice to spend more time on activities with my daughter rather than on stalking the beautiful low mountains on this expansive ranch, parts of which look more like West Central Wyoming than what you expect to find in TX, and it is game-rich.
Maggie and I were guided by Tony Harden, CEO of OX ranch. Tony knows this ranch and the countless animals on it as well as I know my own back yard, and his company was a real treat. He knew exactly how to guide a moderately-experienced hunting Dad with a novice hunting female teenager. Everyone we met at OX ranch was eager to please and made us feel like honored guests and friends at the same time. I can't say enough good things about the people, and the people of course are what make an operation like this a success.
To the best of my knowledge, Maggie is the first person to have hunted and taken a kangaroo outside of Australia. But what is most important to me is that she has become a hunter (she's now looking forward to her first deer season at home in Indiana) and she has experienced firsthand how passionate people like Brent, Tony, and everyone at OX Ranch are about game animals and their conservation. I will definitely return to OX Ranch. I may even take the whole family as there is something for everyone, hunters and non-hunters alike, to enjoy there.