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 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.

Brent Oxley

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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!

  • 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

  • Emily

    I’m going into conservation and personally, I’d have no problem with what you’re doing if you didn’t have endangered and critically endangered animals available to hunt on your ranch, or if you worked with reintroduction programs. The reintroductory populations of these animals could really use the genetic diversity found on your ranch.
    I hope I can one day email you offering to buy some live animals. I doubt yours would be considered fit for the wild considering that they are use to eating from feeders and may have diseases from interacting with other species, but perhaps they could go to a breeding center.
    And on PETA, they are pure evil. You say that you think their killings were best for the animals but I can tell you from personal experience that they are not. PETA commonly euthanizes healthy animals that could be rehomed. Hell, part of their mission statements are to eliminate pets because they believe that no animal should be owned. I hate the fact that their so highly donated to when there are much better organizations that can barely keep their doors open. But I digress.

  • Emily

    A follow up to my earlier comment, you don’t have to approve this but I hope you see it, C2S2, a program responsible for many breeding centers and reintroduction programs, is hoping to partner with private ranches like your’s to establish a sustainable way to breed and research endangered species. If you haven’t hear about them, I suggest you look into it as it would provide a massive boon to the conservation community and possibly even your own ranch.

  • John

    I’m sorry to point this out but two of the animals that are offered to patrons are categorized as extinct in the wild. That being the scimitar horned oryx of Northern Africa and the Pere David’s Deer of China. Now you can have these animals on your ranch but why have them hunted. These creatures need to be bred. If you have too many animals on the ranch, you don’t need to cull them. Send them to other zoos, I’ve never seen either of these animals in the flesh and know that zoos would love to help breed these animals. You get enough money from the hunting of other non-extinct animals to just keep them on the land like the giraffes. I hate the thought of these animals no longer living in the wild but you can shoot them for only $4,500 in some ranch in Texas… also, the culling of kangaroos has nothing to do with anything to do with the operation at this ranch.

  • Our feed bill alone is over $1mm a year. I currently lose millions a year for conservation and supporting all the species on our ranch. The land can only support so many animals and while hunting doesn’t pay all the bills it def helps. If you want to pay me the value of these animals you’re welcome to do so and we’ll ship as many as you like to zoos or wherever you like. Until than I’d love to hear more of your ideas on how we can give away our own money while you do nothing.

  • David

    Hey Brent
    First off, thanks for the refund earlier this year due to COVID. My wife and I were scheduled for a trip (which would have been our second trip to the ranch), but like many, my company furloughed thousands due to the pandemic. As things have picked back up at work, we have booked a trip for September 2021, even adding a couple extra nights as 3 days/2 nights wasn’t quite enough for us the first time. But, to address your point to anti-hunters about the costs involved in supporting a growing herd. We bought a small farm 4 years ago in East Texas. Nothing spectacular, but ours. We quickly noticed that there were literally no deer anywhere around us, except for an older doe that had given birth to two fawns that spring. Being a deer hunter and conservationist, (yes, the two can happily co-exist), I thought I could bring deer to us, and quickly set up both gravity protein and corn thrower feeders in strategic areas. I have gone four years without harvesting a doe, having taken one buck during that time, although I have watched the herd explode. This year, I have decided to harvest some does; not because I have decided I like doe meat all of a sudden, but instead, because it has now become necessary. I have had three straight years of 90+% survival of fawns, in large part to the continuous feeding of high quality feed. When bucks and does are strong, survival increases across the board. With that unfortunately, can come overpopulation. In my heart, I know that selective harvesting will provide stability and sustainability for the herd that I have played a small part in building, as well as providing a leaner and healthier meat for my family. As you have pointed out in some of your posts, the costs of providing the feed, and plots, and watering stations, when compared to what is gained in hunting fees, in your case, or meat pound for pound in my case, is hardly a wise move financially speaking. But, we both know it’s not just about return on investment. It’s about so much more.

  • Diane Stovall

    I have nothing to say about can hunts because it’s necessary for keeping a healthy herd. I do like that the can hunts can keep a lot of animals around that otherwise may not make the next life for our grand kids and their kids to see. I do however have a problem with killing a native’s sacred animal, the white buffalo . Don’t you think we’ve screwed the natives enough? Let them have it for their reservation. I’m sure that won’t kill you but would sure help their spirit high.

  • Alistair

    Conserving kangaroos by killing them?
    Hunting doves?
    Shooting Zebra?

    Is this for real????

  • joe

    I’m a lifelong outdoorsman. I love hunting and fishing. I read your entire blog and I get it. I really do. You’re doing a lot of good things. And you’re absolutely spot on — the animals at your ranch live a MUCH better life than they do at the dairy farms or slaughterhouses. Animal rights activists would do well to focus their attention on the deplorable conditions that livestock are kept in as opposed to attacking responsible hunters who sustainably harvest wildlife.

    However, I can not get behind hunting a critically endangered species like a bongo. Those animals belong in a sanctuary that facilitates breeding and restoring the wild population. I blame the government for even allowing you to acquire and possess such an animal. It should not be possible.

  • Sue Petrie

    Hi, interesting convo. 1- Why not invest your time and talent to create sustainable food, or coops, which support local, small farmers? Industrialized anything is bad for land and animals. That includes Whole Foods. 2- Help me understand why you started the ranch, and why you import exotic animals like zebra. What was the vision and plan? It must have taken huge effort to create it. Why? Who do you get your exotics from? 3- Zoning boards need to be smarter about managing land for life, over generations. Short-term gain is, as we see, a losing situation. 4- too bad you put such a bright mind to use for hunting exotics. Yes, nature is cruel. People, often more so. Animals are in this bind bc we put them there. There must be better solutions than hunting ranches. Do animals die in the wild, of course. Do you have to open your doors and welcome those who don’t mind or like killing? I don’t understand why you would make that part of your business plan. Why nourish that beast? People don’t eat zebra, they make rugs, right? How many of your participants need that meat to feed their families? My grandfather was a butcher. I have largely transitioned to plant-based diet. I updated my world view. You’re smart & capable & you can do better.


    Brent , my name is Charlie Gray and I have hunted Ox four times in the past 14 months. The ranch has the best game management I have ever seen. There are 18000 acres for the game to flourish and live in a natural habitat. I have my own exotic stocker ranch in Eastland County so I realize how difficult it is to keep the animals safe and healthy. You and your team provide a service to human and animal. I ask the doubters if they would rather see an animal suffer from hunger or be humanely and instantly killed. I will be back at Ox next week to visit the friendliest and most knowledgeable staff in this industry. Brent , keep the faith , brother !

  • Madison Cullinan
    Just nasty trying to defend your actions, this is not a way to put food on the table, this is merely a way to exploit animals, 12,000 of scimitar oryxes should be returned to Africa, explain why we just ‘control population’ not solve the problem of over population. Ecosystems thrive just fine without humans, look at the dinosaurs, we have not found 100,000,000 of skeletons in one place because diesease controls and weaker animals die off, explain why you never go after weak animals and leave the strong to breed, trying to justify shooting as much more humane than this, can I shoot your dog or horse so it doesn’t die a painful death,

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