Woman dressed warmly in camouflage and standing in marsh reeds aims a shotgun into the air

The Lower Rio Grande Valley NWR provides habitat for rare species like ocelot and jaguarundi, animals that many people don't associate with the United States. Much easier to spot are two species that are indeed not native to the U.S. but which roam the refuge in large numbers: feral hog and nilgai. These two species, along with white-tailed deer, are hunted during the refuge's big game hunts that are issued by lottery in the categories of archery, firearms and youth. Hunters are allowed to take two deer, one of which may be a buck, as well as unlimited exotics. Hunters are given a lot of freedom about where they hunt, and public roads run through the property. The hunts can be extremely successful, with the archery hunt often having a 30 percent success rate for white-tailed deer. The exotic species can be difficult to take with a bow, and hunting has yet to put a dent in those populations. This is an excellent public hunting opportunity for those who want to avoid the cost of a hunting lease.

Hunting is permitted at designated sites only. No general hunting is permitted--a state-drawn hunting permit is required.