I went to Agua Vida in 2018 to hunt Axis. I ended up having a great time and shooting a nice Axis and a bonus Blackbuck. With all the craziness going on I wasn't able to go on my spring fishing trip to MN. So, I decided to take advantage of Agua Vida's summer special and get another Axis.
I showed up on Thursday afternoon and met my guide Cody. We talked for a bit and headed out to the stand. Because I already have a solid typical Axis on the wall, I was looking for something unique. We talked about what would interest me. I knew I wanted something with long or interesting caudle tines or eye-guards. We were hunting over water and saw some really nice Axis come in, but all were pretty typical, including one that would go 34", easy. As we were talking about taking my doe so we could concentrate on finding "the one", a really gnarly buck came out of the woods. I was looking him over and debating on taking him when another buck came out. I looked at him and realized that he had "devil tines" (extra points between his eye-guards and main beams). He was also still in velvet. I decided to take him instead. One shot from the 7-08AI with a 162 grain Hornady ELD-X put him down. He left a very good blood trail (only went about 40 yards), which is not very common for an Axis. However the 162 grain ELD-X bullets did do quite a bit of damage to the front shoulders and I lost a bit of meat.
The next morning (after a pretty late night), I had my doe on the ground by 6:40am. At that point I had a choice to make. Pack up and head back to SC, or hang out. If you tag out on the Summer Special, Agua Vida offers another trophy animal (Axix, Mouflon, or Blackbuck) at a pretty substantial discount. The buck that I passed on was still on my mind, so I talked to Cody and we decided that we would go after him that evening. I spent the afternoon fishing their pond and landed a couple of good bass.
Cody and I headed out a little early to the same stand that we had hunted the night before. Again, we saw a lot of good Axis come to the water. One of the animals that crossed the road by the stand was a legitimate stud. He had to go over 30 and his caudles and main tips were even. He didn't stop long enough for me to get the gun on him. As I was dozing off, watching the fallow and turkeys, and waiting for the feeder to go off, Cody says, "There is a good buck coming out on the left. It is the One!" He stepped out facing head on to the stand. As I was waiting for him to turn broadside, the feeder went off. He picked his head up and made a beeline for the feeder. I told Cody that as soon as he stops, I was going to center-punch him in the shoulder and put him down in sight (didn't feel like trailing in the cactus again). He walked right up under the feeder. Literally under. While I contemplated shooting, all I could think was that if he jumped or through his head back, he would hit the cross-beam and break off an antler. As I was waiting for him to step out from under the feeder, the whitetails that near him got spooked by a raccoon coming out of the woods. He bolted. I was crushed. Cody was crushed. We had just lost our chance. As we sat and discussed whether we just lost our chance and if I was going to shoot a different one if it came in, I looked up and down one of the lanes next to the water, there he stood. Unfortunately, he was standing behind a mesquite tree that covered his vitals. Fortunately, he was facing back toward the opening at the feeder. Now it became a matter of light. Would he make it back out before it got too dark to shoot? Right as the sun went down, the does that came out with him came into the clearing. I hoped he would be behind them. As I glassed the base of the windmill that sat right on the edge of the clearing, I saw legs and spots. Was it him? It was. I got the gun up and told Cody, "As soon as he stops, I am hammering him". He walked into the clearing and turned right at the stand. He kept coming, and at about 60 yards, he turned broadside. Cody told me, "He is clear" and I took the shot. As I lowered the gun and looked up, all I saw was him with his chin in the dirt plowing a furrow. He went 15 yards and stopped. I was using my 6.5 Grendel Encore with 105 grain Cavity Back MKZ bullets.
He was super unique and will make a great Euro mount.
All-in-all, it was another great hunt at Agua Vida. I will definitely be back.