I consider myself fortunate indeed in my profession as an outdoors communicator to get the opportunity to go places and do stuff I probably wouldn't have access to otherwise.
One thing I shall be eternally grateful for is my open invitation to travel to Menard County Texas each spring to do battle with Rio Grande gobblers. An individual I owe a debt of gratitude to is Walt Russell, owner of Russell Ranch where the gobbler games take place.
Not only do I love to turkey hunt, I thoroughly enjoy sitting with my camera and snapping photos of other critters that happen to come along, and on the Russell Ranch, there are plenty of them.
In addition to enjoying turkey hunting, I also like to deer hunt and there are plenty to see and photograph on the Texas ranch. Other species, however, have captivated my attention because there are wild animals on Russell Ranch we don't have in Louisiana.
Three species in particular are there in abundance and seldom do I sit in my turkey blind I don't see them.
On practically every hunt, I have the opportunity to see and photograph Axis deer. These are magnificent animals, especially the bucks that can have antler spreads approaching 30 inches.
These reddish deer, native of India and surrounding countries, are covered with white spots, are generally larger than whitetail deer and have been in the continental U.S. since 1932.
"I have had the axis deer on my ranch for about the past 25 years and the herds have grown into large numbers," said Russell.
Another streamlined little critter I see each time I head for Menard is the black buck, a member of the antelope family, similar to a gazelle and a species that has been on Russell Ranch for 25 years . Black bucks can weigh from 75 to 100 pounds and are beautifully marked in blackish brown on the back, sides and front of neck with contrasting white on the under parts. Long spiraling horns can reach near 28 inches in length.
I've spotted another exotic animal that has been on the ranch for 14 years, the red Urial sheep, only a couple of times as they are more shy and secretive than the Axis or black buck. These animals, natives of the Caspian Sea area, are the largest exotic sheep found in the U.S. and have been called "America's hottest new exotic" because of the challenge they offer plus the headgear they sport, horns that are deeply curled and can reach 40 inches.
I mention these three exotic species because numbers have expanded to the point Russell is ready to offer hunting opportunities.
"I need to get the numbers of these animals thinned out so I'm offering the opportunity for hunters to go after them. The chance to hunt these magnificent animals is something hunters may want to try. Not many folks are willing and able to travel to India and land around the Caspian Sea. However, they can come to south Texas and have the same opportunity," Russell said.
Glynn Harris Outdoors is proudly sponsored by DSK, Ltd. of Minden.