Free hog hunting at Independence Ranch, Texas. This ranch flooded our mailbox with invitations to apply for a free boar hunt at the ranch. Hunt all you want, shoot as many as you like, and do it completely free. Too good to be true?
At first glance, the email invitations are tempting. Who would not love free hog hunting Texas on a ranch that is overrun by wild pigs and exotics?
But, as the saying goes, if it sounds too good it may not be true.
First, the lucky winner must be ready for some long-range travel. This is particularly true when you are coming from California to claim your free hog hunting, Texas. Plan on spending hundreds of dollars on transportation to and from the ranch.
That is, of course, only the first sign that this free hog hunting offer might be less free than advertised. Perusing the fine print on the ranch’s website, hunters quickly find the fine print that almost completely obliterates the “free” in hog hunting at the ranch.
Is “free hunting” really free?
Let’s see, free boar hunts are awarded in a random drawing to registered hunters. Successful winners of a free hog hunt pay the following fees:
$ 99.00 booking fee to claim the free hunt;
$ 100.00 staff and guide fee per hunter to be paid in cash upon arrival at the ranch;
$ 50.00 mandatory cleaning fee per pig harvested. The average cleaning fee is between $ 50 and $ 90 according to information from the ranch boss. Cleaning for larger animals is $ 1.0 per pound for each pound.
A minimum gratuity of $ 50.00 per hunter to the staff.
A fee of $ 20.00 if you want the feral swine to be caped for taxidermy.
A 100-pound bag of boar bait. No, not whole kernels and not simply halved either, but specially prepared hog bait available at the ranch.
Now, adding it all up shows that the free hog hunting at the ranch will set you back financially by at least $ 250.00 plus.
Transportation cost and incidental expenses not covered by the plan for free hog hunts at the ranch are not included.
Alas, a regular paid one-day hog hunting package at the ranch sells for $ 250.00. Check it out here.
Maybe I am paranoid but this “free wild hunting” package looks to me like a marketing gimmick and not such a great deal. Think I am wrong? Prove it!
Independence Ranch is located near Waelder, Texas, within easy driving distance from Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. Thus, the ranch becomes one of the easiest to reach hunting ranches in Central and South Texas. This ranch has been in operation since 2002.
Note, I said hunting ranches, not a private, active working ranch. Indeed, the ranch falls in the category of the “high fence” hunting ranches/resorts that offer hunters the opportunity to hunt deer, sika deer, axis deer, wild pigs, and other exotics such as ram, elk, red stag, scimitar-horned oryx, water buffalo, and blackbuck antelope to name a few.
The main business of these ranches is not farming or ranching but to serve as private hunting preserves. The animals on many of these ranches actually do not reproduce there.
High fence ranches, canned hunting, and PETA
I made it my rule to classify any ranch as a high fence hunting ranch that offers hunting for native species, the ever-present invasive pigs, and a plethora of exotics for the sole purpose of hunting them.
Furthermore, if a ranch proudly advertises their gourmet cuisine, luxurious accommodations, bar, pool, and nightclub for hunters to enjoy after the hunt, one can safely assume that such a ranch is not a working ranch but a hunting resort. Of course, these ranches are also a thorn in the eyes of PETA and fanatical wildlife purists.
Of course, these ranches are also a thorn in the eyes of PETA and fanatical wildlife purists.
Nevertheless, there are many other ranches that qualify as hunting resorts besides this Texan ranch. In southern California, for example, we have the Big Horn Ranch near Riverside. I have seen the ranch in its humble beginnings and understand that is has undergone a considerable upgrade of their facilities.
Big Horn Ranch exotics (Big Horn)
Another example would be the Bryson Resort near Fort Hunter Liggett. Yet, there are more all over the United States.
No question, many hunters and wildlife activists refuse to consider hunting any animal on a high fence hunting ranch as fair and equitable hunting. Even more so when the game is pinned to the location by feeders and large baited areas.
Much of the hunting will occur over the bait. Therefore, it is highly predictable when and where the animals will appear. The game will also become tolerant of the presence of humans. They will not flee when one of them is dropped by a bullet. Or, when they do, they will return shortly afterward.
I have discussed the pros and cons of hunting on a high fence ranch in previous articles. Therefore, I will not elaborate on that topic this time. But you can refer to some of my previous articles and to this post that talks about the blessings of canned hunting.
Another characteristic of high fence hunting ranches is that they are often on relatively small parcels of land. About 200 acres of the Big Horn Ranch and 260 or 1,300 acres of the Independence Ranch depending on whom you ask.
Let the PETA folks not mislead us: Canned hunts have been with us for centuries if not for thousands of years. European nobility established enclosures in their forests to safely keep deer and other treasured game to be hunted at special occasions. You can see a drawing of such a ‘special’ hunt in this article. Modern high fence hunting ranches are a civilized version of the “deer parks” of lore.
As a child, my great aunts took me to the remnants of such an enclosure in a nearby forest. The high iron fences, staging grounds, and an amphitheater-like open area were still there. Though they were not used anymore, we could occasionally still see stags inside the compound.
Most notably, people used to refer to the place in hushed voices warning of some never defined evil. They treated the place almost as a haunted place.
Back to the “free hog hunting” at the ranch in Texas. Among all the marketing hype and hunting hyperbola, they show a video of wild boar-hunting on the ranch, some of the other game, and a lengthy demonstration of AR 15 a specially modified for hunting purposes.
The video, though lengthy and loquacious, indirectly embeds good educational information on boar and hunting wild pigs. Specifically, you can clearly see the method of baiting, baiting patterns, and the reactions of the pigs to bait, baiting and hunting over bait.
Not much of a challenging pursuit or stalk. Hunters just go there, sit in a stand and wait for the pigs to show up for their daily feeding. They even give you a chair to sit on.
A free hog hunting video to watch
Interesting, however, is the choice of pig hunting weapon and the special equipment Texan hunters can use. Night vision goggles, scopes, and special night-vision aiming devices are just some of them. Oh, let us not forget the silencers that make a round from an AR 15 sound like a .22LR. Please keep in mind that the primary purpose of this video is to demonstrate the killing power of the 100 grain Swine Smasher bullet.
Interesting to watch. But I warn you, there is a lot of idle talk and marketing you need to sit through to get to the informative parts. Fortunately, you can use the fast forward button on your video player.
Also, enjoy the five deer that tend to show up in most hunting scenes. They seem unfazed by hunting and death nearby. Kind of cute.
Finally, the answer to the question whether the offer of “free boar hunting” on this Texan ranch is a lifetime opportunity or a scam.
Unfortunately, there is no authoritative and definite answer. It all depends on what the winner of such a free boar hunt can expect when he gets to the ranch.
Is the ranch really overrun with feral swine as insinuated in this picture or are the visitor reviews correct that claim that there were no pigs?
Does a winning hunter really get to hunt as many boar as he or she desires?
Are the facilities up to par or in a dilapidated state as other reviews say?
To be fair, let me point out here that some of the critical reviews and reports are several years old. They may not represent the current status of the facilities and the boar population on the ranch.
Considering all the baiting , the number of boar on the ranch has increased dramatically over the past years.
We tested the ranch in 2011
In 2011, I found an invitation to apply for a drawing for a free hog hunt at a ranch in Texas. I applied, won, and sent a friend to hunt for me. His report is here. It is an archived web page rendered in a different blogging application. The layout and the pictures are, therefore, not perfect. But you will get the idea.
He saw plenty of hogs at the ranch. He also hunted successfully. Judging by the text of this hunting website this is the same place as the Independence Ranch. I know from my research that the ranch and the operators of the ranch have changed business names several times in the past. Same ministry as well.
Oh, I forgot to tell you that Independence Ranch also operates a ministry.
Enough of it. Applying for a free boar hunt at Independence and, of course, winning one is not a scam. There is a ranch, there are feral swine and other game.
Yet, in my opinion, it is a questionable marketing gimmick designed to lure hunters to the ranch for free hunting that costs as much as paid hunting.
Nevertheless, if you do not care, do not object to ‘canned hunting’, are looking for almost guaranteed success, and for a good time at a high fence hunting ranch, definitely, go for it. If nothing else, you get to use advanced weaponry and equipment that you cannot use, for example, in California.
Beauty, hunting success and a good time are in the eyes of the beholder. Make your own judgment.
PS: Independence Ranch has not paid us in any way for this article nor have they solicited this contribution. All information is based on my research, personal experience of a good friend, and data from their website.
On the other hand, if they offered me free hog hunting at their ranch with all expenses paid, I could not say no. Or could I?
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