Early to mid-June? Normally about now I would be heading to bear country. I dearly love hunting Alaska brown bear, grizzly and especially black bear, interestingly I have never had a desire to shoot a polar bear, even though I have been in their realm.
No bear hunting for me this year! This spring my co-host in “DSC’s Trailing the Hunter’s Moon” is hunting black bear, twice actually. First with Sean Lingl (www.canadianguideoutfitters.com) in British Columbia and then in the far northern reaches of Saskatchewan. Actually he’s hunting bears three times. The third hunt will be for Alaskan Brown Bear. To be frank I am jealous, but then it will be my turn to pursue bears again next year.
I started June completing a great fun and challenging red sheep hunt on the OX Ranch only about a half hour north of where I live in Southwest Texas. The OX Ranch (www.oxranchhunting.com) is over 18,000 acres of extremely rugged, game-filled hills, traversed by clear running streams and dams. But also some reasonably flat land along the streams. Fun hunting to say the least. More about that hunt in an upcoming visit…
The first full week of June I’ll be hunting Axis deer on the Crooked CK Ranch (www.lazyckranch.com). Axis tend to breed throughout the year, but there seems to be peak in rutting activity late May, June and early July. During this time of year there are more hard antlered bucks in the herd than generally any other time of the year. Being a non-indigenous big game species to Texas, Axis can be hunted year around. There are no seasons or bag limits, however a hunting license is required, as is permission from the landowner one hunts on.
I will be hunting with my Ruger revolvers. I have two I am going to shoot once I get to the ranch; my long-time favorite Ruger Super Blackhawk Hunter in .44 Mag, a single action; and a Ruger Super Redhawk in .480 Ruger, all using Hornady 240-grain XTP in the .44 Mag and 325-grian XTP ammo in the 480 Ruger. Each is topped with a variable long eye relief scope. I will decide which one to use after I shoot the two shortly after I arrive on the ranch. I feel completely comfortable shooting at ranges out to 125 yards with a good solid rest with both of these revolvers.
My intention is to hunt spot and stalk, listening for “roaring” Axis stags, then determining how to stalk in close enough for the shot.
The Axis stags on the Lazy CK tend to be big body and antler. Axis stags weighing upwards of and over 200-pounds are not uncommon, nor are bucks with main beam lengths over 30-inches. Normally Axis stags have three points per side, a brow-tine, a secondary or caudle tine, and the main beam. Any buck with main beams 28-inches or longer are considered good, especially if he has good mass and long brow and caudle tines.
Axis are native to India, never lose their spots and are EXTREMELY good to eat! Chital, as they are also known, were introduced into the Texas Hill Country not long after World War I. Originally they were maintained behind high fences. But, over time floods “washed out” fences and Axis deer along with other introduced big game species escaped and became free range.
It has been years since I shot an Axis stag and it is about time I do so once again! That one’s antlers were a bit over 32-inches long and about 28-inches wide. Unfortunately, I shot it back before The Wildlife Gallery came into my life. The taxidermist I left that long-beamed buck with to be mounted, disappeared and took my big Axis stag with him.
Hopefully I’ll have a story to tell by the end of June about my return to personally hunting Axis stags!
For the past two years I have been hunting whitetail deer on the Sandstone Mountain Ranch (www.sandstonemountainranch.homestead.com). Blake Barnett and I, along with others have taken several extremely good mature whitetail bucks hunting on Sandstone.
As a professional wildlife biologist who has long set up and helped maintain quality whitetail deer management programs I suggested the ranch plant some spring, Tecomate (www.tecomate.com) food plots. Recently I stopped by Sandstone to check on the food plots. The Tecomate seeds had just started coming up. While on the ranch I visited withChris Treiber, the ranch’s manager. He and I looked at sites where he plans on planting Tecomate’s various seed blends this coming fall. Some of the fields will be several acres in size, those to truly supplement the deer herd’s diet. Others will be smaller, hunting plots, planted in secluded areas that will be more likely used by older, mature, big antlered bucks. Chris plans on break ground on the fall food plots in late August, and then plant in mid-September.
While visiting with Chris we discussed predator control. During late winter and spring he had called in, with his Convergent Hunting Solution’s Bullet HP and trapped, eight bobcats on the ranch. Knowing how efficient bobcats are at taking fawns, there is no doubt the whitetail survival rate has increased substantially on the SMR with the removal of those bobcats.
Late summer and fall months are fast approaching as are hunts I have planned for leopard in Namibia, and fallow deer and red stags in Sweden. All things are set up for the leopard hunt in mid-July with Dzombo Safaris. I am now setting up “things” for the Sweden hunt with Stefan Bengtssen’s Scandinavian ProHunters. Simply a few more things I will have to do and check-off of my list in June to do list…..
Adventure awaits….Title picture: Sandstone Mountain Ranch's Chris Treiber with a bobcat he called in using his Convergent Hunting Solution's Bullet HP...