Hunting for Conservation

It’s easy for people to call hunting evil, especially when they are ill-informed and don’t have to provide a viable alternative. We have hundreds of anti-hunters out a year, and very few if any leave with the notion that what we’re doing is evil.

If you’re here to judge us, I ask that you do so only after visiting Ox Ranch and seeing for yourself how happy and well taken care of our animals are.

My name is Brent Oxley, and I’m the owner of the 18,000 acre Ox Ranch. I’m going to present some facts, opinions, and most importantly a greater insight into our hunting operation.

The ranch does $200,000-$400,000 a month in sales while continuing to go on and lose $2,000,000 a year. I’m not only spending 100% of the money that is brought in from hunting operations but am donating an additional $2mm+ a year to feed and care for our thousands of wildlife. If you add in all the misc one-time expenses such as fencing, feeders, cabins, Jeeps, $5mm worth of new species & herds, this number quickly balloons to $10+mm in losses for 2017.

Wildlife conservation is all about sustainability, and one of the few proven ways to get there is through hunting. I can’t lose money forever as that’s not sustainable to me, or the animals that depend on my funding to feed them.

Luckily for Ox Ranch, our hunting operation is currently growing 40% a year. We can double our current amount of business without affecting the current level of service and exclusivity that we provide. Anything more than this and we’d be jeopardizing both our reputation as well as sales.

The goal is to get to break even within two years time. We will accomplish this goal by lowering our $800,000 a year marketing budget, raising prices, and from buying fewer animals thanks to more sustainable herds.

I’d happily shut down hunting operations tomorrow if someone volunteered to pay our expenses. The reality is that nobody has done this and nobody ever will. I don’t receive taxpayer aid, and to the contrary, the ranch has to pay $100,000’s a year in government taxes.

Photo safaris aren’t going to cover the millions in losses either. We’ve offered photo safaris on our site for years and have only had a few thousand dollars worth of takers. This plan could potentially work if we were less than two hours from San Antonio, didn’t have taxes, and were 100 acres vs. 18,000.

I guarantee it’s a lot more humane to be shot by a bullet than eaten alive by a lion! I recently got back from a photo safari trip to Africa and witnessed this very act. It was no wonder that my girlfriend and I saw 10,000’s of skulls and bones scattered throughout the Serengeti!

I think people forget how cruel nature can be. We lose more animals from interspecies fighting, weather, poisonous plants, and broken legs than we could ever hunt here at Ox Ranch.

If you’re an anti-hunter, I recommend you cease to eat meat immediately! The animals hunted at Ox Ranch are harvested for food and live a much happier and painless life, than the animals forced into the slaughterhouses representing the McDonalds and Wholefoods of the world. Yes, I said Wholefoods of whom charges a premium for their “strict animal welfare standards” (Smith, 2013). The Washington Post wrote an interesting story on a suit filed against them regarding the legitimacy of these claims (Moyer, 2015).

whole foods animal welfare

I’m willing to bet $25,000 that Ox Ranch’s animals quality of life beats the highest rated Wholefood’s national distributors. I challenge any anti-hunter to take me up on this bet and prove me wrong. The requirement to collect on this bet is that the investigation will require on-site documented proof of both the national distributor as well as Ox Ranch. I believe Wholefoods is the gold standard of the grocery world and is the very reason I’d like our animal well-being compared to theirs.

You’ll also find that our animals are happier and healthier than those confined to small enclosures in zoos. I recently visited a zoo for the first time since purchasing Ox Ranch and was saddened to see how depressed the animals looked. The most shocking thing that I noticed was how dull and unhealthy the animal coats looked.

Ox Ranch is 18,000 acres, and while it’s a huge property, the land can only sustain so many animals. The property was overgrazed before my purchase and continues to be so. If it weren’t for the $500,000 we spend a year on supplemental feed hundreds if not thousands of animals would starve to death.

The wildlife population would double every two to four years if the ranch were absent of both predators and hunters. This growth would ultimately result in our feed bill growing exponentially, and at some point, either predators or hunting would once again be the solution. Ox Ranch doesn’t have any predators. However, we do have plenty of hunters to help offset a portion of our losses as well as keep herds in check.

Australia is one of if the not the most prominent anti-hunting and gun countries in the world, and yet they slaughter around 5 million kangaroos annually according to government reports. (Gray, 2013). The independent.co.uk reports 1.5 million were murdered in 2015 to protect grasslands and wildlife. (Bulman 2017). The worst thing is that I’d be surprised if they harvest even a small percentage of this slaughter for food!

What do you do with populations that don’t have predators and whose numbers keep growing? Should we let these animals starve to death when the land can’t support them?

It’s funny how many people are anti-hunting but support what Peta is doing. According to the HuffingtonPost Peta took in $51,933,000 in donations in 2014, while simultaneously murdering 81% of the of animals at it’s Norfolk, Virginia shelter (Greenwood, 2015). Ox Ranch takes in $0 in donations, is losing millions of dollars, and hunts just a few percent of our animals a year.

It’s horrible to hear this, but if there were a viable alternative for these animals, I’m confident Peta would be doing it.

There are somewhere around 550,000 whitetail deer hunted a year in Texas with an additional 100,00 killed from car accidents (Tompkins, 2008). I can’t even begin to imagine how many car accidents there would be if the state didn’t offer hunting permits to control their population. The accident totals would continue to compound as the grass in the fields becomes further overgrazed, and the highway grass became more desired.

Any solution besides hunting, euthanizing, culling, or whatever else you may call it, is a band-aid solution until funding or food runs out. Eventually, Earth’s population is going to hit an unsustainable number, and humanity is going to have to make some difficult decisions. We either figure out a cheap form of space travel and colonization or be destined to a future filled with wars and famine.

It’s all about sustainability, without sustainability there is no long-term solution. We have many endangered species at Ox Ranch, and while we hunt a few, their numbers continue to grow while shrinking in their native lands.

There’s rarely a perfect solution, but the fact is what we’re doing in Texas works, provides meat on the table, brings tax revenue in, and is saving many species from the brink of extinction such as the scimitar-horned oryx, addax, and dama gazelle. (Freemantle, 2012).

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, as well as further educating yourself on what is a very sensitive topic. I invite you to continue the conversation by commenting below.

Sincerely,
Brent Oxley

Rating: 4
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13 comments

  • Craig Bosse

    Excellent read Brent…. my boys and I love and respect your ranch and your goals. We will be back.

  • Bob Geiser

    Nice, hope people are open minded enough to really think about what you said. Been to the ranch twice, what a wonderful place. Hope to get back there again! My family loved the experience.

  • Control is very important and a good example are the kangaroos in Australia,that without control would be a real danger for the population.

  • Jen

    I don’t think there’s ever a good reason for canned hunting. Any animal will suffer when harvested for meat. There are only 50 white buffalos in the world and selling the chance to kill one is enabling their endangerment.

    I appreciate that you donate funding for conservationist, but I morally can’t agree with canned hunting.

  • Admin

    Hi Jen,

    I guess that depends on what your definition of canned hunting is. Our animals are free ranging on 18,000 acres. This is larger than the size of many cities.

    Also white buffalo aren’t any different than brown buffalo, they aren’t their own species. Hunting ranches created white buffalo by mixing brown buffalo with Charolais and breeding the “white buffalo” that looked most like buffalo vs cows.

  • Michelle bales

    I like this guy. Lol. I am desperately trying to convince my best friend’s husband to visit. I’m interested in arrowhead hunting and to be honest, i don’t believe i saw any activity the ox ranch offers that i wouldn’t enjoy. Fingers crossed i can convince my friend to take us to the ranch. He drove a tank in the army and I’m also using this activity to get him excited. Lol. I love that guy too! And he just sect a text asking where your located! Oh yeah! That’s a good sign!

  • Craig Ottinger

    Great article. I love what you are doing. I think hunting a wild animal is a much more humane act compared to an animal that’s been confined in a small cage, only to be hung upside down and electrocuted then beheaded to make those beloved chicken nuggets. Then to the matter of being a CANNED HUNT, 18,000 acres is one hum dinger of a big can. That’s something like 15 miles to the back fence.

    Rating: 5
  • Gary Christensen

    I have hunted both privately owned ranches and National and BLM ground. Ranches on the most are managed to bring the species that are there up. Yes there are those who give a black eye to the sport. And yes it is a sport, that contributes to the economy. Thank you for your article, you expressed the hunting world as it is. Look forward to booking a future hunt.

    Rating: 5
  • Barbara

    What I don’t understand is your repeated point that you need to offer hunting to help defray the costs of maintaining the animals on your ranch. Honestly, I would prefer a place like yours did not exist at all if you must resort to hunting fees to survive. I would rather you not have any animals on your land if it’s necessary to kill some to support the others. Or…consider keeping the place as a true conservation location and allow interns and/volunteers to help you in exchange for the experience to work with the animals. Partner with a university vet school.

  • Wolfgang Wilson

    I found your website by chance while searching for more information on another story and thought it interesting. I was happy to find a blog that detailed your thoughts and reasons on hunting, some of which I agreed with and others I found somewhat disingenuous, but nonetheless, all of which were worthy of being heard. I, however, couldn’t help but to keep going back to your 100% guarantee of opportunity and trying to square that with how I’ve always viewed hunting: me versus whatever it may be, in their environment (full disclosure, I hunt with a lens) with no guarantee of anything—even returning uninjured; I’ve spent thousands and come up short. But that’s the nature of the endeavor. This seems to be more like a Disneyland hunt than an actual one: a guide takes me in, shows me where the animals are, points them out to me, I shoot one then pose with its carcass, I hand you my credit card, all with zero threat or risk to myself. I imagine for many that’s enough to brand themselves a hunter, but I find it lacking in the fundamental understanding that a hunt works both ways and without the risk of adverse danger to one’s self it’s merely a chance to feign mastery over a dead animal. Can any hunt that endeavors with the luxury of 100% opportunity actually be called a hunt?

    Rating: 3
  • Admin

    Hi Wolfgang,

    It’s extremely rare but we’ve had to refund customers for not being able to locate what they came out to hunt. Hunting is really what you choose to make of it and what you are hunting for. We have some hunters that prefer to hunt animals off the main drag and never want to leave the vehicle, you than have others that want to hike mountains for days in search of a trophy.

    You usually aren’t going to find the biggest trophies free loading off the main road. They’re big for a reason which means it can easily take days of searching and climbing mountains. One perfect example that’s driving me nuts is two cape buffalos we have free ranging on 1,800 acres. You’re talking huge buffaloes and I’ve now spent over a month looking for them without success. I’ve had a few other guides say they recently saw them and others that say they’ve never seen them in 6+ months.

    I always tell hunters that it’s best to be opportunistic. I’m frequently coming across the biggest trophy’s on the ranch that nobody new existed. 18,000 acres is a big property and it’s easy for monsters to hide for years without being seen.

    Something else to consider is that everyone has different skill sets and physical abilities. I haven’t decided at what age, but eventually I’m going to take my little girl of whom just turned 4 hunting. I guarantee it’s going to be a hunt of a lifetime for her, but if it was me doing this same hunt I’d easily consider it a canned hunt. However you choose to hunt it’s going to be more rewarding and more challenging than going to your local grocery store to put food on the table.

  • Ken Beard

    I am a 72 year old Vietnam Vet and a professional wildlife and nature photographer. I have just had the privilege to spend 5 1/2 days on the Ox Ranch near Uvalde, Texas. There is so much to say about the ranch that it will be tough to put it into words. I have been to a number of high fences ranches with both local as well as exotic animals on them. However I have never seen animals in such good condition and so well cared for as this ranch.

    Animal activists fuss about putting animals behind a closed fence and harvesting a few to keep the numbers controlled for a better life. Most of these animals on this ranch would have to constantly be concerned about their lives day and night if they were in their normal environment. They are surrounded by natural predators, lack of water through certain seasons of the year, shortages of food for one reason or another, etc. Yet the animals on the Ox Ranch can bed down anywhere without fear of themselves or their babies being attacked either during the day or night. They always have plenty of food and water. This is an 18,000 acre ranch and the amount of work that goes into keeping all their animals healthy and happy takes a tremendous amount of work.

    The accommodations are unbelievably nice and comfortable and the staff, no matter their position, bends over backwards to make everyone’s visit an adventure to remember with a smile. NOTE: If you show up with a bad or negative attitude there isn’t a guarantee that you will leave with a smile but that will be all on your back and no one else.

    I would highly recommend this ranch to anyone or any business wanting to show their customers or employees a great time. It’s here waiting on you. Give them a call today. There is something for everyone to enjoy!

    Rating: 5
  • Michael Rowan

    Thank you for what you do. Until I had the opportunity to drive through Texas and see for myself some of the game ranches, I would have called them canned hunts as well.I personally don’t have the expendable cash to take advantage of this type of hunting, much less the means of taking a trip to a foreign country to hunt one of these magnificent animals. This can be legitimate hunting due to picking the animal you want, and the acreage travel to find that animal. Until you have try ed it for yourself, or have first hand experience, please don’t be so quick to judge. I have never visited your ranch,so I can’t leave a rating. But yes you are a game manager

    Rating: 1

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