You enter the gates and off in the distance stands a Blue Wildebeest in the shade of a tree, around the bend a Zebra and a group of Gemsbok. You almost ask yourself is this Africa, those who have been to South Africa would agree the terrain and fauna are nearly identical. Though very similar you would know something was different when you spot your first Black Buck a native of Pakistan or an Addax an extremely rare antelope native to Northern Africa, then a giant red Stag steps out and you know your someplace special. The AC Ranch just 60 miles South East of San Angelo Texas, other species abound Aoudad, Scimitar Oryx, Axis deer, Sika deer to name only a few and of course the North American favorite monster White Tail.
I had never heard of an Addax prior to an auction at the National SCI Convention in Vegas. When I looked at the picture of this magnificent animal I knew I wanted to go to the AC Ranch with my bow and test my skills against this exotic trophy. After a few emails and calls with Jessi Wier the Ranch Manager the details were set and in October of this year we landed at a small airstrip where Jessi had been waiting for two hours as she did not want us waiting. A short drive and we were going through the gates of the AC Ranch.
I have never been one to hunt fenced properties, but it did not take long before I was wondering how I was ever going to get close to one of these animals. Twenty-five thousand acres sounds big, but you don’t realize how big until you start walking a small section, especially with a bow this is as free range as it gets.
We were introduced to some of the staff and showed to our room.What a property the room had everything you could ever want with leather everything and Texas bigness every where you looked. The game room next door was decorated with no detail spared, TV’s everywhere no chance of missing a game here. Enough room for quite a party and a bar to take care of everyone’s favorite libations.
First things first we had to get over to the dining room for a quick bite before we hit the bush in search of our quarry. I don’t think I have seen a table that long before, definitely Texas. The food was excellent with every meal an adventure in culinary excellence, the staff was amazing. No chance of losing weight here even with the miles put in on the chase.
Craig Johnson was the guide and manager of hunting and ranch operations, lucky for me he knew the property better than anyone. That evening we had several sightings and some close encounters but no real opportunities. These animals are hard to judge especially when you have never even heard of them before. Again, this is where Craig’s expertise came in as he studies them daily. At the AC Ranch their number one concern is you having the best experience possible. Craig was working hard to get me on a trophy Addax, we spotted an exceptional male that evening, and I set my sights on him.
We put at least 12 to 15 miles in stalk after stalk, with each failed attempt Craig would just smile and tell me he has another spot to try and off we go. Mid-day we took a break to check out some of the other species on the ranch. As luck would have it a lone Addax Bull showed himself, not quite the one we had been after but the biggest I have ever had an opportunity at. After a short stalk he gave me an opportunity and my arrow was in flight. These animals are tough unfortunately it took several more hours to get another arrow off to end the hunt, but it was all worth it, he was magnificent.
We were off to the processing room which I assumed would be a small room or shed off one of the main buildings. Not even close this was the most impressive processing room I have ever visited. Stainless steel walls fifteen-foot-high, the room my guess at least 50 x 100 with pulleys and trolleys the entire length eliminating any heavy lifting. This looked more like an operating room with the trolley system going into the walk in cooler and then into the walk-in freezer. At one end of the room stood a walk in commercial smoker, only in Texas.
For many years I have been hoping for an opportunity to hunt a Black Buck so with a day and a half of hunting left we added this Antelope to the wish list. These animals love to run, they remind me of our native pronghorn, any excuse and they are off at full speed. After six or seven failed stalks we tried a different approach, spotting a good buck with dark black coloring then circling to get the wind right, half a mile away then wait for them to feed towards us. The rest of the second day passed quickly and soon we were over eight hours into the last day with enough failed attempts to make most switch to the magnum bow. That was not an option here, so we kept on and finally one beautiful dark black Ram stood still a couple seconds to long and my arrow hit its mark. The trip would have been well worth it just for the opportunity at a Black Buck, but I was lucky enough to harvest both impressive trophies with Craig’s knowledge of both the property and the animals.
Most hunting trips you are limited to just the hunting and sometimes a little sight-seeing, not at the AC Ranch. To our surprise there was a Trophy Truck off road driving school on the property with a two and half mile desert track complete with berms, jumps, and straight-aways where the trucks hit over 100mph. These trucks are full race ready trophy trucks with certified instructors sponsored by FORD motor company. Drivers come from all over the world to train and be certified here, not something anyone would expect on a hunting adventure. That’s not all, they have a 10 station NSCA approved high tech Sporting Clay Course and a world class trap and skeet facility. Coming soon a three-gun tactical bay, 200-yard AR-15 training bay, pistol range with steel targets, 1000-yard steel range, and fully auto machine gunshoots.
If all of this isn’t enough there is a Pro shop on site that rivals most elite sporting goods stores. The foyer of the pro shop seems simple enough with your standard items, t-shirts, and miscellaneous shooting accessories. Then they open a seven-foot-tall vault door and you enter the cornucopia of gun rooms! Not just your every day brands all top manufacturers in every caliber and configuration you could imagine with ammunition for any weapon you can think of and some you have never heard of. Even Swiss made 50 caliber long range rifles with optics to match. Every gun I ever wanted to shoulder or hold in my hand was in this room, along with custom knives and more, it is amazing.
The AC Ranch is truly a destination not just a hunting property, a place you can bring the whole family, and everyone will enjoy themselves. With the on-site gym full of the top equipment, swimming pools, Jacuzzies, waterfalls, and a cantina to keep the party going all night, there is something for everyone. The culinary experience Is second to none and one to remember, best of all the staff is amazing you will feel at home in no time and they truly work hard to make your stay one to remember. If you are looking for a hunting experience close to home I highly recommend the AC Ranch give Jessi Wier a call at 325-227-8611 or drop her an email firstname.lastname@example.org, for sure check out their website www.acranch.net. The AC Ranch has graciously donated a Gemsbok hunt which will be available at SCI Las Vegas Chapter Banquet on January 27th at the Gold Coast Hotel see the website for more details www.scilasvegas.com/banquet