23. February 2011 00:08
Undeniably one of the most beautiful deer on the planet, the Axis deer is a sight to behold. Easily identifiable by its rich auburn color, dappled with white spots (not unlike a whitetail fawn) and creamy tan trim, the Axis (or Chital Deer as it is known as in its home of origin, India) is certifiable eye-candy.
More akin to the North American Elk rather than the deer family, the Axis deer has another very peculiar and interesting trait. Like cattle, it breeds year round. There is no set time for the rut or fawning. The Axis deer can be born anytime of the year and bucks are known to drop their antlers on or about their birthday, every year.
When we hunt the Rio Bonito Ranch in Texas, the Axis deer is a common sight, appearing in great numbers with the bucks in all stages of antler development. The Axis deer was introduced to Texas in 1932 and free ranging and ranch herds have grown to vast numbers making this very special creature the most abundant exotic ungulate in Texas.
Perhaps the characteristic that the Axis is most famous for is the high quality and succulent flavor of its meat. The Axis deer is touted by many as the most delicious of all game animals in the world. As with all food stuffs, individual opinion is the final determination, but the unusually fine taste and quality of properly cared for Axis deer meat is undeniable by anyone.
For years I have patiently waited for an opportunity to add and mature, hard-horned Axis buck to my trophy wall and freezer, but have been unable to do so as our annual trip to the Hill Country of Texas takes place in February and the majority of the bucks on the Rio Bonito Ranch are still in velvet at that time. Gwen Huges, the Ranch’s manager, does not allow Axis bucks to be taken in velvet as she insists on seeing them reach full maturity before harvest. This practice has earned the Rio Bonito Ranch extensive recognition and a bevy of awards for the Ranch’s big Axis bucks with the Texas Exotic Association.
The bulk of the Rio Bonito Axis herd goes into rut in June a month or so after the bucks shed their velvet. While discussing her herd, an interesting situation came up during our most recent visit to the Rio in early February. Gwen generously offered an opportunity for my friends and I to help her thin out her very large Axis deer buck population. The hunt will take place the first full week in June, which is in the beginning of the heaviest Axis rut on the Rio Bonito Ranch. That is the time when the big Axis bucks are coming out of the woodwork and tearing things and each other up in search of cycling does.
The hunt will be five days long and consist of camping on the Rio Bonito Camp site or staying in a hotel in Junction. The hunt will include an Axis buck or an Aoudad ram and all the hogs you care to shoot. All hogs killed must be taken by hunters for consumption and not left as offal.
This is a wonderful opportunity to take a unique trophy as well being able to hunt big bucks in June. The hunt is $1495, the special Texas Exotic license is $48 and tipping of the guides that will see you to and from your stands and help you find the best locations to take an Axis buck on the ranch’s 26 square miles is required. The ranch has a skinner/butcher and your animals can be stored in the ranch’s walk-in cooler
If you are interested in joining us for this hunt, please look me up. Any weapon is allowable on this hunt; rifle, black powder, pistol and all forms of archery including the crossbow. We are limited to 20 hunters so if you are interested don’t drag your feet. At this price, this hunt will fill quickly.