SAN ANTONIO - It's something I've been wanting to bag since I moved to Texas and began to learn about them.
I remember the first time I saw one. We were covering a story near Garner State Park. We were topping a hill, just before dropping down to the entrance to the park and off to the right side of the road, there it was. It looked like an elk, except it had spots.
Axis deer were brought into Texas, from India in 1932. Most were kept on high fence ranches, but of course eventually some escaped. Since then they have spread throughout 45 counties, especially in parts of the hill country.
This day my host was Brent Hardy. His family has owned the Poco Loco Ranch, about seven miles north of Boerne since 1969. The ranch is roughly 400 hundred acres, teaming with whitetail, turkey, hogs and at the right time of the year axis. I have hunted for them on the Poco Loco numerous times and even had a shot at one once, but apparently I missed.
This particular morning I arrived well before daylight and sat up about 75 yards from a feeder. I love being in the woods well before daylight and watching the world awaken. There's just something about seeing God's majesty arise.
I've sat in this same area several times and was probably only 30 yards from where I missed before. As daylight came, I saw several whitetail, all bucks. Nothing I would shoot, because they were too young but there was one, which in the next year or two will make someone a nice trophy if it makes it.
About two and a half hours after daylight I heard leaves and brush crackle to my right. I slowly turned my head and caught a glimpse of golden brown with white spots move through the thick brush. I quickly looked to the where the head would be and saw a white rack rise tall above the scrub brush.
It happened so quickly I really didn't get to soak in the moment. I knew it was a buck, it's rack was fairly high and probably two feet wide, at it's widest. I turned farther to my right, put my Nikon scope on the area and saw only one spot to shoot. The brush was too thick to try to shoot through. My daddy taught me as a youngster to only shoot for a clean, quick kill.
Just as I thought to myself, "I'm not going to get a shot!" The buck took a couple of steps away from me and almost disappeared in thicker brush. Then, as if on cue he continue his journey to my left continued and a hole the size of a bushel basket opened. He turned, quartering toward me and presented an almost perfect shot.
I squeezed the trigger on my Weatherby 300 magnum. The bucks immediately left left and took off running. I chambered another round, when the Axis turned to run directly away from me. I wasn't going to shoot because the brush was thick and, if I had missed again I didn't want to chance wounding him from the rear.
I didn't need that second shot anyway. The 180 grain bullet had found it's mark. The deer only ran about 30 yards and dropped. I sat there for 10 to 15 minutes, just to make sure he didn't move. I looked through the scope at what I could see of him and knew he was down.
About that time I felt my phone buzz. Brent was texting me to see if that was me who had shot. I told him I had a nice buck. He said I'll be over in a minute. It was an exciting hunt that ended successfully. I dressed the buck and dragged it down to an opening by the road which runs the length of Brent's field.
After loaded him in the back of my old truck, took it to Schott's Processing on Highway 16. Mike Schotts and his family do an amazing job processing deer. I knew they would do a great job on the Axis. I have since gotten the meat back and it's the most amazing tasting wild game. And, the summer sausage I had him make will be an excellent snack in the blind during this year's whitetail season.
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