The Spotted Ghosts of Texas
by Ted Nugent
Day 59, hour 200, and finally the beast makes its entrance! Yeah, sure, I know all about the sheer stupidity of “canned hunts”, and the “fish in a barrel” nonsense by the know-nothing presumptuous goofballs out there, but this old 73.5-year-old gutpile addicted lifetime bowhunter knows reality from fiction, and I was all in to capitalize on this rare, long-awaited encounter with the mighty axis deer of Texas. I earned this magical moment, and backstraps would be mine, come hell or high water!
If anybody knows how to ambush a deer with the bow and arrow, with all humility if I may, it would be me. Starting out following my Fred Bear gang member dad through the wilds of Michigan’s national and state forests from the time I could walk, the Spirit of the Wild and the mystical flight of the arrow have called my name nonstop.
Through excruciating trial and error, I eventually figured out the essential rules of engagement of reasoning predator strategies to get within striking distance of the world’s most elusive and high-strung critters; the mighty, hard hunted, public land whitetail deer of Michigan.
And, oh, what a glorious, though always frustrating adventure it has been!
Applying all the inescapable lessons of real world bowhunting 101, my ambush setups have proven rather effective as time throttles on, but as always, right place right time is in the very capable hands of the mythical beasts, and more often than not, the best laid plans of the deadly WhackMaster end up skunked and backstrapless more often than I’d like to admit.
At the top of the bowhunting 101 list is perseverance.
So even though I was getting frustrated to the core after so many skunked sessions, I nevertheless grabbed my Mathews bow with its quiver full of GoldTip arrows, donned my Mossy Oak murder regalia and headed for the best ladderstand for the current wind on SpiritWild Ranch to give it yet another go.
Okay, nobody enjoys and appreciates the glorious birdsong concert every hunt, the always mesmerizing ballet of wildlife and the effervescent sanctuary healing powers of nature, especially in these treacherous times in America, but dammit, I need to kill something and I need to kill something soon.
I had regularly enhanced my chosen ambush zones with ample doses of Big Tine supplemental feed (bait), secured my stand with adequate silhouette breaking cover deep in the shadows with the wind in my face and the sun at my back, made certain my arrow rest was completely silent, and had diligently practiced with my Mathews every day to zero in accurately for the moment of truth.
Equal to the importance of perseverance is the maintaining of a strong, killer mindset, remaining confident and ultra-tuned in, ready for the moment of truth.
Having stuck to the routine, it was all about to pay off, finally, as the giant stag slowly, and carefully emerged from the cedar thicket shadows, cautiously making its way into my killzone.
Consciously getting my breathing under control, and stealthily bringing my Mathews into shooting position, my oft repeated shot sequence unfolded with a power of its own, and the Martial Art of bowhunting executed a beautiful arrow straight into the pumpstation of the mighty stag, and all that was left was the celebration.
His deathrun was a short 50 yards and he was a monster! I’m guessing he was more than 10 years old and pushing a genuine 300 plus muscled pounds of mature axis deer beastdom.
The joys of success are in direct correlation with the challenge of the endeavor, so this celebration was totally out of control.
With the great deer gutted, cleaned and hung in the cooler for aging, my quest for axis deer was far from over as the herd on our SpiritWild Ranch had grown to near out of control levels due to their elusiveness.
Thusly, day after day I repeated my thrilling bowhunting maneuvers, and as usual, got skunked for another five days in a row.
But low and behold, on day six, the predator planets once again aligned, and miracle of miracle, another giant, mature stag made his appearance, and once again the old backstrapping guitarplayer pulled off his bowhunting dream with another old, heavy monarch in the bag.
I’m sure glad I don’t have to wait hundreds of hours between whitetail kills, but the hard-earned encounters with axis deer does make success a little sweeter.
With year-round hunting, no bag limits and a target rich environment, the mighty and very delicious axis deer of Texas is a bowhunters dream.
I’m still at it and will stay at it nonstop, because, quite simply, I am a bowhunter and the critters need me. And I need them. A marriage made in heaven on earth.