Rifle Axis deer hunting is offered on a private ranch in southwestern Texas. The Axis hunts will be conducted from June through September each year. We’re talking about completely free-ranging, spot and stalk hunts, in stunningly beautiful country.
Axis hunts will be conducted with only 2 hunters on a 2 on 1 guided hunt or 1 hunter on a 1 on 1 hunt. The goal is to offer a high success hunt with an enjoyable hunting experience attached. Axis deer are under most people’s radar, but they offer an affordable, challenging hunt and are absolutely beautiful trophies.
An Axis deer is a moderately large, spotted deer originally indigenous to India and Sri Lanka. Significant populations of Axis deer no longer exist in these countries. There are more than 50,000 Axis deer currently living in Texas, which makes it the official Axis capital of the world. The vast majority of the Axis deer live in the limestone hills and creeks of the Edwards Plateau region of central Texas. They have literally exploded in population here over the last 25 years.
Axis deer are gregarious and rarely seen by themselves. Unlike whitetail deer and elk, mature Axis bucks may be found living with herds of young and old animals of both sexes at any time of year. Anatomically, they are more closely related to the elk than native deer and many of their habits and actions very closely resemble elk. During the rut, Axis bucks have a bugle-like roar similar to elk as well.
The most interesting aspect of the Axis deer is rutting bucks with hard antlers can be found at any time of year. Each buck has a reproductive cycle which may or may not synchronize with other bucks in a herd. Consequently, when some buck are going into rut, others may be in a non-breeding condition without antlers. It is based on the time of year each buck is born.
Correspondingly, does experience estrous cycles at different times of the year and breeding can occur year round. However, the largest breeding season, with the most bucks in hard horn, occurs in late May through September.
The varying rut creates a unique hunting opportunity as it is possible to see hard-horned or velvet-horned bucks at the same time. Anything is possible with Axis deer.
The Hunting Area
The 6,000-acre Wade Ranch is located in southeastern Sutton County, Texas. The nearest town, Sonora, is 30 miles away. The ranch is located in the Edwards Plateau region of Texas. Elite has had an exclusive hunting lease on this ranch the past five years. The Axis populations have been properly managed on the ranch to produce trophy-caliber hunting and a unique hunting experience.
The Wade Ranch has been owned and operated by the Wade family since the 1930’s. The entire ranch is contiguous which creates an uninterrupted hunting area of over 9 square miles. All animals in the immediate region are completely free ranging. In other words, they can leave anytime they wish.
The ranch has been under an extensive land-management plan since it’s inception. All cedar and mesquite has been systematically removed over the last 70+ years. On the entire ranch, you probably cannot find 50 cedar or mesquite trees growing. The live oak trees are the jewels of the ranch. They are interspersed with abundant openings of grasses and forbes, creating perfect habitat for deer. There is cover, yet enough openings to offer excellent hunting options as well.
Axis deer have proliferated on the ranch over the past 20 years along with the native whitetails. You could not hope for a better population of Axis or a finer ranch to hunt for trophy bucks.
The Axis Deer Hunts
First and foremost, let us clarify exactly what type of hunting we will be doing. There are hunting methods unique to Texas, such as hunting over bait out of blinds, and driving around the roads in vehicles shooting at deer. It is legal and accepted as tradition on many ranches…
With that said, we want to make it perfectly clear, that we will NOT be hunting over bait. In addition, there will be little hunting directly from vehicles. Vehicles will provide only the access. The hunt will be primarily glassing from prominent points and then spot and stalk on foot.
The ranch is ideal for rifle hunting. The only way to kill one of these elusive deer with a bow is to sit over a feeder or water and wait. The challenge of the hunt is not killing any buck with a bow. It’s killing a GOOD buck with a rifle. That’s why we do only rifle hunts.
The Wade Ranch is truly a unique ranch that offers superb spot and stalk rifle hunting. The hunting experience will be second to none. The exact hunting strategies we would use on a rifle elk hunt in New Mexico are used for Axis deer. If you like elk hunting, you will like Axis hunting.
A year-round, supplemental mineral and feeding program is utilized to ensure healthy animals and to enhance the population of game on the ranch.
Fallow deer, Sika deer, Blackbuck antelope and Aoudad sheep exist in this area in very small numbers. Should any of them be encountered during an Axis hunt, it can be taken on a kill-fee basis. But don’t count on seeing them.
Hogs are not numerous on the ranch, but should you encounter one, you may take it at no extra charge.
Expectations for the Hunt
You will need only a low to moderate level of physical conditioning to enjoy this hunt.
What are reasonable expectations? If you will hunt with us, we will get you a shot opportunity at a 26-inch or better Axis. How much better is where the hunt comes in. Long brow tines and good mass characterize the better bucks in this area. We plan to hunt for 30-inch class and better deer.
In 2014, we took 12 hunters and killed 12 good Axis bucks.
If you are patient and can shoot 200 yards, the following shot-opportunity percentages are what any of our guides feel they can produce for any hunter, any given week:
|Minimum Size Class||Chances at a Shot Opportunity||Comments|
|26″+||100%||Ranch minimum. Good bucks with very high success.|
|30″+||95%||Slightly harder, but good minimum for patient hunters.|
|34″+||40%||The uppermost class of bucks.|
Bunkhouse lodging is provided on the ranch. Cool, air-conditioned comfort for the hot, Texas days.
Food and meals are the responsibility of the hunter. No oven is present, although we do have a microwave. Most meals are made on the grill or in our crock pot.
Air service is available by flying into either San Angelo or San Antonio, TX. You will need to rent a vehicle and drive to the ranch located 25 miles east of Sonora, TX. The drive time is approximately 1 1/2 hours from San Angelo and 2 1/2 hours from San Antonio.
2016 Axis Deer Hunt Prices
4-Day Axis Deer Hunt – $3000 (1 on 1) or $2500 (2 on 1)
2016 Axis Deer Seasons
Jun 1-4, 2015
Jun 6-9, 2015
Jul 6-9, 2015
Jul 11-14, 2015
Aug 6-9, 2015
Aug 11-14, 2015
Sep 6-9, 2015
Sep 11-14, 2015
2016 Axis Deer License Fees
5-Day Nonresident Special License- $48 (Available over-the-counter in Texas or online)