By: Ted Nugent
113 days and 106 deerhunting sits later since returning home to Texas last November, (I duck hunted a few mornings and evenings) the ghost appeared for the 1st time before me! Axis deer! By far the most invisible, and quite possibly, the most desirable critter on SpiritWild Ranch, and for many hunters, all across Texas.
Nestled back in a prime Primos Double Bull popup blind deep in the vast mesquite jungle, the gorgeous and most delicious of the deer family appeared at the edge of the distant foodplot like an apparition from the cedar valley sanctuary.
Still more than 200 yards out, but with a good hour of shooting light remaining, my hope meter sprang to life with visions of the spotted deer entering my killzone.
Ever so cautiously and painstakingly slow, the foursome of stags browsed and nibbled their way in my direction.
My Mathews bow was up and ready when even at that for off range, the lead buck’s head jerked erect, head swiveling to and fro, and all four deer spun and beat a hasty retreat back into no-mans-land.
The wind was perfect but these beasts are scared to death of their own shadows, and getting one into bowrange is one of life’s greatest challenges.
That next afternoon I made a decision that I usually do not make, and figured I would roll the dice and hit the other Double Bull blind at the mountain of jambled limbs and debris downwind of where the deer showed up last evening.
I rarely have faith in Axis deer repeating their moves, but what the heck, I went for it.
And this time, along with my favorite Mathews bow, I’m bringing my GA Precision .308 sniper rifle to even the odds.
I not only want to kill an Axis deer, I have to kill some Axis deer to balance the ever increasing herd that breeds year round.
I settled in early with a good three hours of daylight ahead of me, and hunkered down like the patient lifetime whitetail hunter I am.
As usual, I was gleefully entertained by jackrabbits, cottontails, squirrels, crows, difference species of hawks, a Mexican Caracara eagle, songbirds galore and meandering whitetails far out in the Buck Forage oats and Tall Tine foodplot.
As dusk enveloped my huntzone, I was losing Axis faith and figured another par for the course skunking was in the books.
Then amazingly, from the same pocket of cedars as the night before, long, heavy, velvet covered antlers poked in and out of the cedar boughs as the spotted deer harassed the green limbs and slowly came into view.
At 88 yards I was extremely tempted to grab my rifle and just get it over with after so many months of skunking, but hope of bowhunting hope prevailed as the four stags grazed slowly into the plot.
The biggest buck made it to 58.6 yards confirmed by my Bushnell lazer rangefinder, and all I could think of was the Rinehart 3D caribou target out my backdoor at 51 yards that I shoot every day, and I grabbed the Mathews.
Shooting the caribou out to 51, 55 and 60 yards each day, my reasoning predator brain knew exactly what that sight picture looked like, and my confidence soared on the wings of a bird of prey!
With my Spirit of the Wild vidcam zeroed in on the stag, I left my body, and smoothly transitioned into Mystical Flight of the Arrow man. When my mind saw the same square of orange tape that is on all my 3D targets painted on the crease behind the deer’s foreleg, perfectly broadside, my well-trained archery muscles flexed, the 400 grain GoldTip arrow was gone, and lo and behold, with the beautifully exaggerated arch of the long-distance shot, up and over the horizon my shaft soared, landing squarely where my spirit dreams envisioned. With a very audible FOOMPH! I knew I did it as the huge buck mule-kicked and exploded for parts unknown!
I spun the vidcam around into my face and just sat there gaga-eyed and out of body grinning like a Cheshire cat!
I have been so very fortunate to accumulate immeasurable spine-tingling bowhunting memories for 70 years, and without a doubt, this moment was right up there with the most exciting of them all.
I questioned what exactly I thought I had witnessed, and decided to head to the house to review the footage of the shot. And when I did, I literally danced like a maniac on the dining room floor, confirming a perfect orange square pocket rocket of pocket rockets.
Pulling up into the mesquite jungle where I last saw him, my dogs leapt out of the ATV as my headlights lit up the red and white spotted dead beast right there where he had died instantly with a razor-sharp NAP Killzone broadhead clean through his now disconnected pumpstation.
God that was FUN!
I filmed the very exciting recovery for Spirit of the Wild TV, loaded the nearly 300-pound stag onto my Ox Rack, gutted, hung, cleaned and hoisted into my walk-in cooler for aging the best venison of all.
I don’t really know what the great Jimi Hendrix meant with his killersong “Axis-Bold As Love”, but I sure know what I mean!
If you’ve never hunted this amazing species of deer that runs wild and free all across Texas, think about it, because it is absolutely thrilling.
Axis deer are hunted all year long in Texas, and the bucks can be in any stage of antler development at any time of the year.
The four stags on this hunt were all in different stages of antler growth, and I was just extremely fortunate to have a crack at the 95% velvet growth beast among them.
58.6 yards is quite the poke with the bow and arrow, but as they say, practice makes perfect, and I have the ultimate backstraps reward to prove it!