Is calling an effective tactic for hunting axis deer? My freezer full of axis steaks says it is.
We touched down in San Antonio on a June Sunday afternoon and made the short trip to Boerne with enough time to squeeze in an evening hunt. After a couple practice shots, I grabbed my Xpedition Xplorer SS and set up in a ground blind with Rubline Marketing’s Keegan Rohlfsen, who was hoping to capture a successful hunt on film.
Several whitetail – including a few bucks in velvet – fed nearby over the next few hours, but there were no axis in sight.
I returned to that blind solo the next morning and saw more of the same – a dozen or so whitetails filtering through, with only axis roars echoing in the distance.
With a combination of less than optimal conditions for bowhunting, the guides advised us to swap our archery rigs for rifles to up our odds for the remainder of the week.
A friend of our host brought in an array of rifles already sighted in for an appropriate 200 yards, and I selected a Blaser R8 as my firearm of choice.
That evening, my guide Patrick Bacak and I headed to a fresh spot that historically produced shot opportunities. In addition to more whitetails than I could count, I spotted my first axis deer – a doe, a fawn and a “winter” buck that had just the beginnings of a set of antlers.
After a couple more sits with no axis sightings on Tuesday, Patrick and I returned to that same spot on Wednesday morning with plans of trying a new, untraditional tactic – calling in a mature buck.
The first couple hours were quiet. Around 7, Patrick broke out the Ezy-Axis and a set of antlers to see if he could fire up any nearby rutting bucks. Over the next 30 minutes, we heard at least two different bucks roar in return, but they remained several hundred yards away and out of sight.
Rather than simply wait for the bucks to move in, we decided to make our move at 8 before the axis bedded down for the day. I followed Patrick, sneaking along a tree line in the direction of the bucks we heard calling 30 minutes earlier. After covering a couple hundred yards, we stopped to sound the call one more time and listened for a reply.
I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye and turned to find an angry buck along the tree line, about 40 yards to my left. “He’s staring right at us,” I whispered.
Patrick knew I had just seconds before he bolted. “Shoot him! Shoot him!”
I scrambled to shoulder my gun and account for the close range, then slowly squeezed the trigger.
That night, our crew enjoyed a grilled backstrap from my buck during our last night in camp.
Thanks to Rubline Marketing for coordinating this trip and sponsors Scent Crusher, Rhino Blinds, and Tactacam for a memorable hunt.
The only axis call on the market, the Ezy-Axis mimics the roar, or scream, that shows dominance and challenges other bucks in the area. It will take some practice to master, but the affordable call will fool even mature rutting deer, and the creator offers a how-to video on creating various pitches and sounds with the unique call.
Because axis deer are notoriously skittish, giving our duds the ozone treatment was a must. With temperatures peaking around 100, we used the Scent Crusher Gear Bag before each sit to kill sweaty odors and help us go undetected. The proven technology has saved me from being skunked several times.
Sitting in a blazing hot blind meant outer layers were the first thing to go in favor of breathable shorts. But whether sitting in a pop-up crawling with Texas critters or putting on the miles in search of quarry, I was always wearing my Danner Wayfinders. These lightweight boots were designed specifically for the female foot, offering an incredibly comfortable fit.
Hunting axis in Texas at this time of year equated to early mornings, late nights, and little sleep. For a mid-hunt pick-me-up, I added a pack of Tioga Rise coffee to my water bottle. The premium Arabica blend dissolves in hot or cold water, and a portion of the profits go to conservation efforts.
We got to put the FieldTorq to good use on my buck for quick, safe field dressing. The multi-functional tool incorporates a gut hook and knife that can cut through bone. The InsideJob design ensures a clean cutting process, while non-stabbing blade tips and no sharp edges prevent injuries.