Take a Walk on the Wild Side in Sabinal, Texas

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The Texas Hill Country is known worldwide for its picturesque countryside of gentle sloping hills, serene lakes, gently flowing rivers, and majestic canyons. But like the weather, its landscape can change quicker than a New York minute. The Hill Country also has its wild side. Sabinal, known as the “Southern Gateway to the Texas Hill Country”, is also known as the “Wild Boar Capital of the World” and the “Bow Hunting Capital of Texas.”

So, if you want to walk on the wild side with your bow and arrow, come to Sabinal. But, please, take down a few, or a lot, of wild hogs! Texas has been overrun by wild boars and has been fighting a losing battle. Feral hogs can multiply almost as fast as rabbits. They are animals that nobody wants on their land because they can be dreadfully destructive to crops and livestock as well as to deer and other wildlife. They are free-ranging animals classified as livestock, but that industry lays no claim to them either. They are a non-native, exotic species that when introduced here, they adapted, and decided to make Texas home.

SabinalPhoto: Chambers Bowhunts

The good news is Texans love to hunt, and they love a challenge. So, Sabinal residents adapted and turned the feral hog problem into a win for their community. Several ranches in the area double as hunting lodges and offer safari-style packages and lodging for hunting parties. Because feral hogs are so abundant, they are fair game all year round and thus can provide steady revenues for ranchers and outfitters. The preferred challenge in hog hunting involves a bow and arrow, and it has become the favorite method of hunting wild boars. Thus, Sabinal has rightly, and proudly, earned the title of “Bow Hunting Capital of Texas”. Check out Chambers Bowhunts and Brushy Hill Ranch in Sabinal for an action-packed bow-hunting experience.

Now, you don’t have to be a bow hunter to accept the challenge and benefit from the abundance of boars. For some, the challenge is in the kitchen creating savory dishes and recipes. The meat is very nutritious; but being wild game, field dressing it quickly is very important. It does not taste like chicken! For some, it has a beefy, pork flavor. Wild hog meat has very little fat, so it tends to dry out more than regular pork. For juicier meat, the slower it is cooked, in a Crock-Pot or a smoker, the more tender it will be. Wild boar meat is considered such a culinary delicacy by some that much of it is distributed to gourmet delis and upscale restaurants in both Europe and the United States. Eat more boar! Texas is home to several wild hog cook-offs, including one that is part of the Wild Hog Festival which Sabinal has hosted for the last 25 years.

SabinalPhoto: Wild Hog Festival and Craft Fair

Sabinal residents have expertly played the cards they were dealt and have created a community spirit far excelling the toughness of these wild animals that nobody wants. Town folks not only thrive among the wild boars, but they celebrate their existence and have turned Sabinal into a hunter’s paradise amidst the beauty and serenity of the region. Hunting, fishing, and outdoor enthusiasts are delighted with all the wild game, deer, turkey, and fish abundant along the Frio and Sabinal rivers. Weapon of choice is optional-cameras welcome!

The population of Sabinal is 1,695 according to the census of 2010. It has a folksy, small-town Texas ambiance. A visit to downtown Sabinal may find you relaxing under the cypress trees listening to live music any weekend or during the Cypress Day Celebration in June. Join in for a jam session! Stop by Nora’s Tacos and try the bean and cheese or brisket tacos on flour tortillas. Drop in for a reenactment by the Badland Rangers. They present a historically correct production depicting the frontier Texas Rangers during the 1870’s through 1900’s era.

Sabinal exudes that friendly hometown feeling customary of small close-knit communities of Texas. Be advised! Someone noticed a Google car recently, so Sabinal may soon be on the map. Get here before the rush!