Now Hannah likes to hunt alone, and this weekend was no different. Rather than sit back at the hotel, I booked a day with Cody/Guadalupe outfitters for myself on Saturday because I had been seeing all the great harvest pics the prior couple of weeks posted right here on THF, and it was clear that Cody has some nice trophy axis.
So the plan was for Hannah to hunt Boerne, while I skipped up the road towards Waring a few miles away and hunt with Cody for a monster.
I made it clear to Cody that I didn’t need to shoot a deer, and was going to be selective on the shot. I was looking for a big one. I was thinking that Hannah would take an axis of some sort (she’s usually pretty lucky) and so it would be “trophy only” for me.
Cody was more than accommodating and in agreement, and he indicated he had a number of properties, and a number of large axis that were still walking around.
That was the plan, anyways. But free-range axis hunting rarely goes according to plan – and this trip was proving that true.
Cody called and was very upfront – he had checked the cams and said that he was just not seeing many axis on cam – at least, none that would be what I was looking for. I knew he was being honest, because after checking the cards from our cams – we saw the same results – or rather the lack of it.
While normally we have cams filled with pictures of deer, and many axis – the last 3 weeks of pictures show a remarkable lack of animals. A few whitetail, only 3 or 4 axis, and smattering of hogs and turkey. And two big coyotes.
Armed with this knowledge, and the optimism of a new day – we all still followed through with the original plan. Hannah to Boerne, me to Guadalupe Outfitters with Cody.
After meeting Cody right on time at the Waring County Store, he set me up on a prime piece of property on the Guadalupe river only about a mile away from where we met. Even on that short drive, I saw about 2 dozen deer moving in the fields and along the road.
The spot and popup he put me in had axis written all over it. I couldn’t of drawn up a better spot to hunt if I had wished for it for XMAS. A popup set up next to tree in a small coastal field next to the river. There were two hills, and two draws, and a couple of feeders and a big protein block that had obviously had deer tearing into it recently.
I wasn’t the blind 5 minutes, and could still hear the sound of Cody’s diesel pulling away before deer started coming out right and left. My head was on a swivel trying to keep track – and spot an axis.
For the next 3 hours, I had deer trickling in every 15 minutes or so at a slow, but steady pace. But they were mostly all whitetails. A had a pair of axis does right in front of me for a bit, and they kept looking over the shoulder. I fully expected to see some more axis follow them out – but nothing ever showed except WT – and one big toad of a buck that would have been a definite shooter during season.
Honestly, I could see some deer back in the brush – and I got the feeling they were the bigger axis – but never really got a look at them clearly.
Meanwhile, over in Boerne – steady texts were coming in from Hannah every few minutes. She was having about the same results, reporting several nice whitetails, a huge group of turkeys, and not much else.
She also reported that the popup was infested with thousands of Daddy-Longlegs and a few scorpions. Neither Hannah nor myself have much fondness for spiders.
By 9am, the heat started getting uncomfortable, with sweat pouring off my head and back, and we decided to call it a morning.
For summer axis hunting, things are a bit different that traditional deer hunting. First, while I commonly sit a blind all day during regular deer season – and have taken plenty of animals during mid-day, even axis – during the summer, it is a losing proposition to sit all day.
Ever see the movie “Bridge on the River Kwai”? Remember the scene where the Japanese prison commander put the English colonel in the small “hot box” all day for punishment? Well blind hunting for axis in the 100 degree during the day is a bit like that. Well, scratch that – it is EXACTLY like that, only with more legroom.
It’s not pleasant, and I have known buddies who strip down to their tighty-whitey during summer axis hunts.
I don’t care what anyone says – I believe that axis deer are FAR more wary than most whitetails. They will see you better, and smell you better, and avoid you better. And when you are sweating buckets, it makes scent/wind all the more difficult hunting.
Many of us like to add additional challenges to our hunting as we progress in the sport. Rifles give way to bows. Sitting in box blinds gives way to spot-and-stalk. And feeders become a thing of the past.
Well, if you want a challenge – try hunting free range axis in July in Texas. It is definitely a challenge.
Anyway, back to the story…..
After eating breakfast, and a shopping trip to Wheeler’s in Boerne (you really should check out the story since the remodel – it’s awesome) – we had a conference and a change in plans.
Hannah and I decided to switch positions. Since it seemed more likely to see some sort of axis on Cody’s ranches, we decided to have Hannah hunt there – since her requirements on axis were less stringent this trip than mine. She could take a axis doe, or lesser buck just fine for meat – while I would roll the dice on the chance that one of the big boys would show up in Boerne.
Although I suspect a big reason was she did not want to deal with being covered in spiders. Can’t say I blame her.
Cody was very accommodating – and he had gone the extra mile to check the cams on all the other ranches he had, finding some consistent axis action on one spot.
So late Saturday afternoon, Hannah headed over to Sisterdale and I went back to our Boerne honey hole.
Neither of us saw much until around 7pm. I had a couple of WT show up – the usual suspects, but Hannah said she could hear axis bugling close by.
Then no texts for a while. And knowing my daughter – that means she was getting ready, or had just taken a shot. I waited for the results…..
Finally, I got a text that she had some axis, along with a good axis buck, come in – but before they cleared the brush – they spooked off because of something. Maybe they winded her, or maybe just got spooky. But she was hoping they would return soon.
They never did – and I didn’t have squat show up until way after sunset – when I say “something” big on the thermal cross the field.
And so our second day ended. Cody was agreeable to hunt the next morning (thanks buddy, I know we only booked a day and an impromptu extension probably took you away from family). Hannah REALLY wanted to return to that spot the next morning, as she felt she would have good opportunity on at least a doe.
I should mention another thing about summer axis hunts that make it hard. During the summer, it stays light so late – that it is not uncommon to have shooting light well past 9pm. By the time you pack out of the field, have some Mexican food and margaritas, shower – it can be close to midnight – and then you might have to get up at 4:30am to get into your spot well before daylight which comes early.
GIVE HIM A FEW YEARS