If you asked a few people to start naming dangerous game animals, a particular species – or a family of them – will cross most of their lips. Namely, exotic bovids or at least the ones that are exotic to us Yankees.
Cape buffalo or Congo buffalo (also known as black death) in Africa. The blue bulls of India. The gaur and banteng of southeast Asia. Prior to the classical period in Europe, the wild ancestors of the domestic cow – the aurochs – roamed the forests of the continent and were among the most feared (and revered) wild animals on the continent. Persistent hunting and habitat encroachment, unfortunately, drove them to extinction by the 17th century.
Hunting these animals has long attracted the most serious of sportsmen and sportswomen. Cape buffalo is one of the Big Five of Africa and a must for anyone wanting to do some serious dangerous game hunting. However, hunting any one of these animals is prohibitively expensive.
There is, however, good gnus. (That’s a joke and I won’t be apologizing for it.) There’s a way to get a similar dangerous game experience without quite so much expense. In fact, you don’t even need a passport.
Feral cattle have established populations in certain parts of the country. Like any other domesticated animal, sometimes a few members of a herd will high-tail it away from their dreary farm life and run free. Within a couple generations of breeding, the animals revert to their wild state. This is a particular problem with pigs, but it happens to cows as well.
Feral cattle are no joke. Bulls can weigh more than 1,000 pounds and can be very aggressive. Their attributes are much the same as Cape buffalo and other wild bovids.
The population grows after leaving the farm and eventually may require culling, which – when a state government recognizes a potential cash cow, so to speak – can sometimes lead to hunting opportunities.
For instance, the state of California has a problem herd in the Sand to Snow National Monument, according to the Los Angeles Times. About 150 head have been roaming the area, and there have been some run-ins with hikers and park personnel, including at least one fatality. Besides being aggressive, they can also be detrimental to the landscape.
The Bureau of Land Management is currently looking for solutions, but odds are even a limited draw of hunting permits isn’t going to happen since it might upset the animal rights crowd.
The Aleutian Islands are also home to feral cattle populations, notably on Chirikof and Umnak islands. Some attempts to deal with these cattle have been made, and some subsistence hunting of them has taken place. A hunt has been suggested in previous years, but nothing has come of it.
However, you can hunt feral cattle in Hawaii, of all places. Cattle were brought to the island in the 1800s, and escapees from the ranches have established breeding populations in the jungle areas on Honolulu. A hunting permit is required and you typically will have to buy a hunt package from a ranch as public lands are fairly limited there.
That said, it won’t be like lying on a beach in Oahu. Hawaiian jungle is thick and with successive generations of the beasts living in the wild, the cattle have become wily. Shot opportunities will be fleeting, and can easily wind up being up close and personal, so pack plenty of lead. According to OutdoorHub, some guides won’t take you out with anything less than a .300 Winchester Magnum.
Bad news for you tactical boys; your AR just isn’t going to cut it as-is. But put on a .458 SOCOM upper on and you’re good to go, though they have a 10-round restriction there.
Hawaii, oddly enough, actually has a decent amount of wild game hunting. Besides wild cows, feral goats, feral hogs, whitetail deer and Rio Grande turkey are all available game species. Who knew?
Of course, you can also hunt feral cattle in Australia. A large population of “scrub bulls” exists in various areas. While the expense involved is similar to that of many African hunts, it’s a bargain compared to Cape Buffalo hunts in some African countries. The good news is you don’t need a permit, as the animals are technically an invasive species. You just pay and show up.
What do you think? Would you be up for hunting down wild beef? Let us know!