Natchez native hunts exotic animals

Published 2:31 am Sunday, May 11, 2008

NATCHEZ — Growing up in Natchez, Jason Wisner was used to whitetail deer hunting.

But after he got married and moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, he found another type of hunting that piqued his interest.

So now it’s out with the whitetail and in with exotic animals.

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Wisner has been hunting and leading hunting expeditions for exotic animals in Texas for the past few years, In November he killed the animal he’s coveted most, a Barbary Sheep, also known as an Aoudad,

“I grew up hunting whitetail but when I moved to Texas I found out that whitetail hunting is extremely expensive,” Wisner said. “I found that exotic hunting was much more affordable. Over the last three years I’ve done a variety of exotic hunting.”

There are numerous exotic animals, including many species originally from Africa, in Texas, such as the Aoudad, bison, zebras and Scimitar-horned Oryx.

These animals were brought to Texas from Africa and other continents and now mainly live on hunting ranches, although there are several free-ranging species across the state.

“The Scimitar-horned Oryx is originally from Africa but is more populous in Texas than in Africa now,” Wisner said. “These exotic animals thrive here.”

And it was the variety of animals that really attracted Wisner to the sport.

“If you go on a hunt, you not only harvest an animal, but you can see two dozen other animals,” Wisner said. “There’s such a variety of species, it’s fun to not only hunt, but to observe all the other animals you come in contact with.”

The type of hunting is also different than typical deer hunting. Instead of sitting in a deer stand in the woods or over a food plot, exotic animal hunters use the African style spot and stalk.

Hunters will spot an animal from a distance with binoculars and stalk it until they get close enough where they are comfortable taking a shot.

While much of the hunting takes place in high fenced ranches, Wisner said that doesn’t make it easy by any means.

“You still have to battle the snakes, hogs, cacti and the Texas sun,” Wisner said. “There’s a lot of obstacles to overcome.”

And Wisner says that type of hunting is a great way to get beginners involved in the sport.

“It’s easy to get hooked on (this type of hunting),” Wisner said. “I took a novice hunting recently for a Corsican Ram and he had a blast. I feel like I’ve created a guy who will hunt for the rest of his life.”

Wisner said he hopes his love of exotic hunting carries over to others, especially his friends back in the Miss-Lou.

“I feel like it’s a great thing for people to be informed of the affordable variety of hunting that’s less than a day’s drive away,” Wisner said. “This is something that I would like to see catch on (in the Miss-Lou) because it’s a great hunting community.”