Hunting Options at San Angelo, TX Ranches
In most large cities, about the only thing there is to hunt is a parking place. That is why outdoor sporting enthusiasts flock to San Angelo to enjoy the wide array of hunting options offered on both public land and at various private ranches throughout the region.
“The hunting around here is just amazing,” says Chris Sloan, a schoolteacher who has lived in San Angelo since 1986. “I don’t know anybody who doesn’t hunt. In most cities the rush hour is Monday through Friday. Ours is Saturday and Sunday, with everybody heading out of town to go hunting.”
In addition to free public hunting lands such as the Twin Buttes Reservoir, there are more than 40 ranches in the greater San Angelo area that provide hunting opportunities for both native and exotic game. This attracts tourists seeking an experience they simply cannot find in their crowded hometowns.
“The hunting industry has had a huge economic impact on this area,” says Stanley Mayfield, owner of the 3,000-acre Mayfield Ranch. “People come from all over, from California to Florida. We’ve had European hunters. Anyplace where it’s difficult for people to hunt, they come here.”
The result is an industry that during peak times can increase revenue at local businesses by 65 to 70 percent. All told, it is estimated that hunting tourism provides an economic impact to San Angelo that can range from $2.5 million to $3 million annually.
From antelopes to zebras
The San Angelo region is where the deer and the antelope play, along with turkey, quail, doves and such exotic species as oryx, wildebeest and zebras. The native species can be hunted only during official hunting season, but the exotic animals are available year round.
“For years, this region has been considered a premier destination for hunters around the country who like to travel and go on different hunting trips,” says Greg Simons, founder of San Angelo-based Wildlife Systems Inc., which provides hunting services including outfitted trips.
Ranches offer a variety of packages, from quick day trips to multi-night and even weekly stays. Professional guides help coordinate the hunts. Many ranches provide meals that are prepared daily on site, as well as transportation to and from the San Angelo airport.
Simons says the quality of hunting is so good in the San Angelo area because of the varied geological conditions found in the region. San Angelo is on the western edge of the Edwards Plateau, on the southern edge of the Rolling Plains and sits just to the north of the Great Plains.
“We’re at a bit of an eco-crossroads here,” Simons says. “With that diversity of landscape features you also have a diversity of wildlife that you find in those different regions. This is just a hotbed for folks who like to travel and hunt different types of animals."
Hunt for Heroes
The city of San Angelo combines its love for hunting with its respect for U.S. war veterans with an annual Hunt for Heroes celebration. Each November, in the middle of hunting season, 25 veterans from around the country who were wounded in military conflicts are brought to San Angelo and honored in a parade through the downtown streets. That is followed by an all-expenses-paid hunt and a steak dinner at the ranch where the hunt takes place.
“It’s turned into quite a festive annual program,” Simons says. “It’s yet another example of how the hunting community has facilitated and developed some great humanitarian-based programs and activities.”
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