Essentially growing up on a hunting ranch in West Central Texas, I quickly developed a deeply rooted passion for the outdoors at a very early age. Seeing my dad’s friends come back to camp with big deer and chasing birds and rabbits around the camp house w/ a bb gun or kids’ bow was addicting before I knew the meaning of that word. I ran the family ranch myself for several years in my teenage years and really learned to appreciate the land, the animals and found the intrinsic value in taking care of both. My passion for the outdoors led me to pursue a degree in Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences degree at Texas A&M University. As a summer intern at a hunting ranch, I was first introduced to “exotics” and exotic hunting. I was enamored, seeing these almost larger than life animals that I had only seen in magazines or on hunting shows in Africa or New Zealand, roaming across a Post Oak Savannah.
It was also during this time that I also got serious about bowhunting. It brought into play a whole new realm of challenges and just added “fuel to the fire” for hunting and outdoor adventures. My very first opportunity to hunt an EXOTIC species came in the summer of 2007 when I was invited to a friend’s ranch near Sonora, Tx to chase axis. During the trip I was able to take a great mature buck during a spot & stalk hunt with my bow. I was hooked. I was able to harvest several more exotic species over the next couple of years, including blackbuck, fallow, nilgai and aoudad…most taking place during the hottest parts of the year.
If you’ve ever hunted during bow season in Texas or gone after exotics in the dead heat of summer, you know how critical keeping things COOL can be. Boy, how I wish Frio Ice Chests & the Cape Insert existed back in the early days of my hunting career! From keeping ice to staying hydrated to keeping capes cool while traveling across the state to the taxidermist. Frio products are GAME CHANGERS for hunters!
In 2009, with the help of a developer friend, we launched a new website called AllAboutExotics.com. It’s a place to connect hunters w/ exotic ranches and learn all there is to know about these amazing animals. For several years it was a part-time hobby and something that consumed mostly my nights and weekends; working at “day jobs” to keep the lights on. Then one day, the “indoors” became just too constraining and soul draining. I abruptly quit my full-time job to go on a once-in-a-lifetime elk bowhunt in New Mexico. I also felt the timing was right to leave “corporate” behind and get back to what I was PASSIONATE about - hunting, the outdoors and running the website in hopes of helping other hunters. I’ve never regretted that decision. “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”, they say, right? Well, if that’s the case, I haven’t worked a single minute in years!
Today I’m blessed to be able to hunt some of the most unique animals in the world, most of which that now reside in the great state of Texas…many that exist in greater numbers here than can be found in their native habitat. Hunters and ranchers have played the most vital roles in the proliferation of these amazing animals, in Texas AND back in their native lands. It’s an incredible story of species conservation…and one that I love telling. So I plan on continuing to travel, hunt and tell everyone who will listen about exotics and their many success stories…with my bow and Frio Ice Chest in tow!
"Some of the best hunting for exotics in Texas occurs during the most scorching parts of Summer. I rely on Frio to help me stay cool, protect my meat & get my trophy to the taxidermist. With my Frio Ice Chest & Cape Insert, getting game from the field to the table (and taxidermist) just got a WHOLE lot easier!"
- CRAIG ELLWANGER