Texas offers opportunities to tag some stunning species you won’t find anywhere else in the United States. But is shooting exotics in the Lone Star State really hunting?

Axis deer to zebra to aoudad — Texas ranches hold dozens of exotic fowl and mammal species hunters can chase throughout the year. Outfitted hunts range from relatively affordable DIY packages to fully guided, high-fence outings with luxury accommodations.

While some hunters appreciate the opportunity to take a newbie on an easier hunt or notch another species off the bucket list, others refuse to shoot exotics and label these ranches zoos rather than legitimate hunting operations.

Although these exotics were introduced to the state, some species have escaped ranches over the years, thrived in the wild, and now boast healthy free-range populations in many areas of the state. Axis deer, aoudad, and blackbuck are a few of the most common free-ranging exotic species you’ll find in Texas.

So arrowing one of these animals roaming the wide open spaces? That’s still fair chase.

But bowhunting a penned kudu, rhea, or zebra? Not so much.

Sure, while it may not be as challenging as fence-free hunting, it’s not like shooting fish in a barrel either — not usually. Some of these ranches span tens or even hundreds of thousands of acres. So it can still be a bit of a challenge depending on where you book.

But if you want a genuinely fair chase hunt you can feel great about, look for an outfitter that offers free-range exotic hunts without the high fences. It’s not a zoo without “cages.”