It seems we always bring rain to Texas. I think I’ll place an ad for a rainmaker. Back in November, we were in the company of Cody Giles and literally were washed out of a large ranch near the Mexican border. Fortune smiled on that first evening with a break in the rain and Rita took a nice low fence 8 pointer. Four days and a couple hundred miles further northeast Lady Luck blessed my wife again with a very good 8 pointer with 10” eye guards. Fast forward to the present, last week specifically.
Rain, rain, thundershowers (Texas speak for you better bring your scuba gear!) and variable winds strong enough to take Dorothy back to Oz. Oh well, the hunt for a free range trophy Axis was still on. Many of you may not know of Guadalupe Outfitters, and that hard working, almost perfect son of Texas, Cody Giles. This is a very good thing! It means Cody always can fit a hunt or two in for my wife and I when we come down to visit family. Cody is a rare “guide” that cuts to the chase when describing his hunting operations across Texas. He tells it like it is, good or bad. What you hear is what you will find. Our most recent hunt was an interesting adventure to boot.
Evening one we set up over a great looking chunk of bottom land in search of a group of six big axis bucks. The wind changed directions under the worst possible conditions and the deer came out just at last legal light, but they were behind us! No shot opportunity was offered. Saw dozens of whitetail, and some great tom turkeys, and about fifteen axis in total.
Next day was a copy of the evening before with several differences. Cody never mentioned to bring a dangerous game gun, and in all honesty I would have not needed one, except for peace of mind. Sitting in the pop up blind, counting spiders of different species, some as large as my hand made time pass quickly. We had turkeys approach the blind within arms reach, whitetails does by the dozen, and finally heard some axis does making their peculiar noises. Not long after we were hearing some gurgling, scratching, growling and fighting. It grew in volume as it came closer and closer until the ripping sounds of claws blocked out all other sound. Bodies bounced off the fabric of the blind with hissing, and snuffling noises, claws digging up the edge of the blind. Three armadillos were fighting over something and intent in getting under the blind wall. Quite a show and education!
The sun had just dropped below the horizon when Cody said let’s check the upper field before we quit. So off we went in a mad dash. His instincts were spot on. About two hundred yards from the tree line that concealed us, a herd of 63 axis with eight eye popping bucks of trophy size and about ten more that needed another year or two of growth. Some were still in velvet, others were hard horned. Rita worked into position on an old post still ten feet back in the trees and had a limited field of view. We looked the group over and found a giant of a deer. Tall, wide, and with good mass. The problem was he was surrounded by does and fawns, with 7 horses less than a hundred yards behind all this, plus it was getting seriously dark so we left them to feed undisturbed. No legitimate shot opportunity had been found. The wife was definitely NOT happy about this monster axis getting a free pass!
Day three we drove onto the ranch once again and were only a half-mile in when Cody stopped the truck as he pointed out the herd was in the same area as the night before. We took off on foot for the mile hike and made our way to the tree line again. Rita set up in the same place. A different big buck was making its way to our left and three other trophies were also moving with the herd. Minutes to go and the hunt would be all up to the hunter. A hundred yards to our right from the tree line come a pair of whitetail does snorting and frolicking into the axis herd. Poof! Like the Pink Panther in his cartoons – “Exit stage right!” Boy can axis disappear fast! Like now you see them, now you don’t!
I know, I know, I can hear all the armchair hunters out there saying they heard you, they saw you move, they smelled you, on and on. Nope. We had a strong wind blowing directly in our faces, from the deer to us. We were totally covered up in brush and trees on our approach. You could have watched an NBA game with good volume and the deer could NOT have heard you. It was the damn whitetail does. What spooked them was repeatedly discussed for a long two and half hours. Well, hunting is hunting! About three hours and a severe thundershower later, Cody and his two clients, still counting spiders, were surprised to see axis begin to return from a very brushy corner two hundred yards distant. In short order about thirty-five deer made their way onto the edge of the field. There were three good bucks, one in velvet, one tall horned heavy buck and a third with a dark coat and the trophy quality that Rita wanted. It was “déjà vue all over again,” as Yogi Berra famously said. The same dance repeated from the evening before occurred, this time minus the horses. We waited almost a half hour for the rest of the herd to make an appearance but they never showed. Finally the target axis buck cleared at one hundred and ninety yards, Rita fired and all hell broke loose. We had deer race to within five feet of our blind and stand stock still for minutes. The target buck was down where he stood and we waited until the deer left the field to claim Rita’s trophy!
A big thanks to Guadalupe Outfitters and Cody Giles (C3 Guide here on THF)! If you are into inches, the buck was a perfectly matched 33.75” with 6.5” bases. I can promise you there is an axis still there that is 38” plus by Cody’s estimate (All I know is that he was way bigger than all the rest) and probably 31” wide with great tine length to boot! Someone better drop the hammer on that toad of an axis soon. Too bad it wasn’t us! Now it’s all up to you guys!