the story of my first ever Axis Deer hunt. I had hunted for exotics a
couple of times on the C. L. Hatch ranch with owner C. L Hatch and had
always had a good time as well as a successful ones. C. L. said he thought
he could find me a nice Axis Deer so my wife Shirley and I told him we
would be at his place, which is located right off highway 41 near Mt.
Home, Texas, about 35 to 40 miles southeast of Interstate 10 West. We
arrived there about 6:00 a.m. ready to go hunting. C.L. was ready with
his open jeep on a trailer behind his truck. We piled in and we started
on a run of about 45 minutes to a place called the Texana Ranch, between
Mt. Home and Hunt, Texas. When we arrived there, boy was impressed.We
unloaded the jeep in preparation to start our hunt.
The ranch turned out to be what I would have to call a dream place. A
huge owners residence set on top of a butte overlooking, a valley that
was crowded with game for viewing in early morning and late evening. The
ranch foreman's house was a large three bedroom house that in the Houston
area, where I lived would probably cost in the 90 or 100 thousand range.
This 55,000 acre spread was crisscrossed with hard topped roads like super
highways, in comparison to some of the places I'd hunted on, through the
brushland. We met Sonny, the foreman, who was getting ready to do some
chores, and he said that if we hadn't had any luck by noon or so, to come
back to headquarters, and he would help us find a good spot for Axis.
First off he told us about a feeder located about a quarter of a mile
away that would be going off pretty soon. He said that we should go sit
near there for awhile in the chance that some good Axis bucks he'd seen
there might show up. I uncrated old "meat in the pot", the Remington Model
700, 30/06,and loaded it up with Remington Core Lokt soft nosed bullets.
I put the safety on and got it, myself, and Shirley into the Jeep. We
were to use my Tasco 10 x 50 binoculars for judging any animals we came
across. We arrived at the area where the feeder was and set up for a wait.
The feeder went off and we did see some Axis, but they were all does or
small bucks. We also saw some Blackbuck Antelope, both male and female.
After an hour of waiting we decided to leave and try somewhere else.
We thought we might try and spot something from the road and try a stalk
if it was as big as what we were looking for. Along the edge of the road
about a mile or so on we saw a good sized band of Aoudad Sheep, the spooky
and elusive native of Africa ghosting thru he thick cedar brush. As we
cruised the ranch C. L. said he had an area he wanted to try. He said
that we would have to travel through the ranch family's picnic area, then
ford the river to get to it. Now I pictured a table and benches along
the river under maybe a big shade tree, Right! Well I was at least partially
right. This was an area 4 to 5 miles from the main house, but it was about
five acres in size, with thick grass manicured like a prize winning lawn,
a screened in dining area supplied with not only with electricity, but
phone service as well. All this along a gin clear, ice cold riverbed lined
on the far side with tall, sheer, rocky walls. By the way, there were
a couple of picnic tables under the trees. We forded the river at a shallow
spot and went on to a secluded area in which we hunted for a couple of
hours with no luck.
We decided it was time to go check with Sonny the ranch foreman, to see
if he could show us some better spots. We found him and he said, I'll
go along with you in the Jeep. Told us he had a couple of places he thought
might be productive. We first drove the secondary road into some dense
thickets of Cedar and tall trees. Almost immediately we jumped a very
nice Axis buck. We played cat and mouse with this buck for an hour and
a half. Many a tantalizing glimpse of large barrel shaped horns and many
almost shots. But never quite enough for that shot. Finally we lost touch
with him altogether and decided to try elsewhere.
As we rode down the road going toward the front part of the ranch, Sonny
told us that about 200 yards down in this same area there had been a good
buck killed a couple of months ago. Usually when a dominant buck was taken
out of his territory, usually another one would take it over.
So he said why don't we go and check it out. As we neared the area almost
all of us at once saw a herd of Axis grazing the tall grass and dappled
shadows of late afternoon. We stopped the Jeep and four pairs of binoculars
snapped to four sets of eyes. The buck had the barrel shaped horns that
made the Axis buck so stately a trophy to seek. Both guides thought that
the bucks main beans would go over 30 inches and had pretty good brow
and secondary tines. The consensus was he was worth going for. We were
able to pull the Jeep up a little further to within 400 yards. The tall
grass helped to hide the buck and us as well. But I was able to ease out
of the Jeep and using the right fender for a rest, for an angling shot
to the left. Luckily the animals were slowly feeding toward us. After
about 20 minutes the buck, still a good 300 yards away, stepped out right
to the edge of the road into an opening I slowly eased the safety off
and squeezed the trigger. You've heard of in bow hunting how sometimes
an animal can jump the string. Well when the 30/06 boomed the Axis bolted
forward and ducked at the same time. Thus the bullet hit the spine area
instead of the heart area I'd been shooting at. Luckily it was just as
deadly a shot and anchored the buck in his tracks.
This ended my quest for the Axis Deer. The buck had main beams of 32 and
33 inches and scored as a gold medal 138 3/8's points for the record book.
Written by Steve Mahurin on March 18, 2000.