AXIS DEER HUNTING IN TEXAS
Have you ever shot a buck only to see a bigger one show up during the same hunt? It happened to me this weekend after harvesting my first axis buck.
It felt like buying a new top from the store and being absolutely thrilled with it, only to go back to the store the next day to see it on sale.
If you’ve ever driven through the western Texas Hill Country at night, then you’ve probably seen one of the most beautiful and arguably the most delicious deer in the world: the axis deer. Originally from India, they are one of the most common free-ranging exotics in Texas and I recently had the pleasure of harvesting my first buck.
Our friend Glynn Underwood, owner of Koon’s Canyon Ranch, invited my husband, Khoa, and I out to his land for the weekend to stalk these magnificent creatures. It was a great chance for me to witness one of the rare instances in which my husband will get up super early without complaining.
After a blown stalk on a gold medal buck and passing on another that had only recently begun regrowing its antlers, I was able to successfully stalk and harvest the first hard-horned axis I saw coming to water in the evening. It was nowhere near the size of the buck I spooked, but it was my first and I was absolutely thrilled.
The moment I squeezed the trigger, I exhaled and watched him drop immediately 167 yards away. A feeling of utter joy and elation completely consumed my entire body and I wanted to scream. I walked over to the cactus patch where he had fallen in a state of disbelief and placed my hand on its warm body. I felt solemn yet excited at the same time as I thanked the Lord and promised the magnificent 181 pound buck that I would use every bit of him that I could. And to honor that, I pulled out my Havalon knife and got to work immediately on cleaning him. The key to a man’s heart is through his stomach and I was excited to start filling the Brute cooler with my family’s favorite venison. At one point, a flash of red caught my attention from the thickets in the distance. I turned to look and sure enough it was the gold medal axis buck in full velvet looking back at me. So there I was, kneeling over my first axis buck watching a trophy velvet axis buck of a lifetime casually grazing broadside 170 yards from me.
To say I was not feeling conflicted would be dishonest. I was overcome with pure joy from harvesting my first buck and nothing was going to change that. I had recently spent a week in the mountains unsuccessfully chasing mule deer and I was determined to come back heavy this time. Perhaps if I had shot an axis deer before, I would regret not being more patient, but as the saying goes, “Don’t pass on a deer the first hour of the first day that you would be glad to shoot the last hour of the last day.”
To me, the best way to describe how I felt is to compare it to shopping, of course. It felt like buying a new top from the store and being absolutely thrilled with it, only to go back to the store the next day to see it on sale.
Tight Lines and Big Tines!
Co-Founder, Tight Lines and Big Tines!