Axis hunt, need advice


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PotatoJudge
June 2, 2009, 02:36 AM
My wife and family-inlaws included, went in together and planned an axis hunt as my graduation gift. It looks like the hunt is on a 4,000 acre ranch and the guide assured my wife it would be sporting (I don't want to shoot a pet anymore than the next hunter). The hunt is this Friday to Sunday so I've got little time to prepare. I'm really only used to winter deer hunting and summer birds, not June deer. The hunt is in San Angelo and I've never hunted the area (unsure of terrain, what to wear in terms of protecting the legs or camo). I'm unsure of how to transport the quartered animal 5 hours away for processing. I can cape an animal, but haven't had to transport the thing any real distance for freezing/taxidermy while avoiding decomposition. I don't have a freezer that will hold a decent axis rack. The family taxidermist should run about $400 and does a great job in just a few months. Should I go to him or keep it local to the ranch? Any suggestions how axis is best processed (steaks, sausage, ground, fat added)?

Things that are simple hunting close to home become a bit harder when so far away and with a new species and I would appreciate some advice on how to deal with all this.

Now for the fun stuff: picking the gun. I have it narrowed down to four, two of which are going with one as backup.

1. Ruger 77 in 7mm Mauser shooting 160 grain Accubonds with Leupold VXII 2-7 scope. My dad and I both shot our first deer with this gun and my grandfather used it to take his blackbuck as well as tons of deer. I shoot the gun reasonably well but haven't shot it in a few months. Tang safety, decent trigger. Fast, slick action.

2. Ruger No 1 in 257 Roberts shooting 110 grain Accubonds or 117 grain GameKings with a Nikon Monarch 3x9 scope. We gave this gun to my dad a couple years ago for his 50th birthday and I think he'd like me to take it. Tang safety, great trigger. The only problem is that the gun needs offset rings to really make it comfortable for me. I have a couple of decent scopes with better eye relief, but nothing as nice as the Monarch. Swapping scopes is an option. Also, Axis deer range in size up to pretty big. I don't know how big an animal I'll be taking on, but at the upper size limit there may be some debate on adequacy of the caliber.

3. Remington 700 ADL in 30-06, 165 grain Accubonds or Ballistic Tips, Nikon Monarch 1.5x4 scope. Side safety, okay trigger. This is the gun my dad hunted with for decades, and was until recently his only rifle. The stock fit is a little off for me, but I still shoot it well. I'm not sure if the low power scope will be a handicap (for me, I know most of you guys only need irons out to 1000 yards for sub MOA work, but I'm a mere mortal :evil:).

4. Remington 710 in 30-06, same loads, Nikon Monarch 3x9. This was a gift when I turned 16. Side safety, very good trigger. The gun shoots very well, and the package has been my go-to gun. The action works slow and heavy, but feeds reliably. I shoot this gun often, well, and it fits me like a glove. With a bipod and my hunting backpack I'm comfortable to 350 yards.

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~z
June 2, 2009, 11:24 AM
I hunt that area in Jan each year, however my methodology may be different from yours, but I can provide some insight. Figure if you are not hunting in a box you will be best served to sit on top of a mesa to spot your quarry. Then it will time to figure if you are gonna shoot or stalk. Shots can get pretty long out there. You will most likely be in pointy plant country so dress appropriately. That means you will be hot so bring plenty of water. If you wear camo something with a lot of sandy colors or salt cedar green should serve you well.

As to the rifle, axis are pretty much just fancy deer, I’d advise you use your “deer rifle” (sounds like #4 to me). As for the back up rifle, your call, I think .257 would be plenty with either of the listed bullets.

As for meat care, if you are not going to process it yourself, just it out and throw it in a cooler with plenty of ice. Tape the seal shut for the drive home, you would not believe how much this helps. At 70mph the wind whips in and melts your ice. For the head, you can cape it out if you want to, or have time to, or just throw the whole thing in a big contractor trash bag and ice it down for the drive home. When you stop for gas throw more ice in it as necessary. Talk to the family taxidermist for further advice on handling. Otherwise I know a taxidermist in Bronte (about 30 mi north on 277) who would do a good job at a reasonable price.

Good luck and don’t forget the camera. Additionally, you will be in rattle snake country so be cautious during the cool times of the day they will most likely be laid up during the heat of the day.
~z

Art Eatman
June 2, 2009, 11:43 AM
Whichever rifle you do best with, your "Old Pet". Like Potato Judge said, they're just deer.

Sounds to me that if you can cape, you can butcher. Take a bone saw to cut off the lower legs. After that, coolers, lawn bags and ice.

txman321
June 3, 2009, 04:21 PM
san angelo isnt too far from where I live its pretty flat and bushy around there so you may need to make a long range shot, id bring your .30-06 if thats the one your comfortable with using !! Good luck on your hunt and definately take pics

Nathanael_Greene
June 3, 2009, 04:38 PM
Yes, we definitely need to see photos!

As for the meat, whatever you do, don't grind it up into sausage! Axis venison is delicious, and should be savored, not masked with other flavors.

The backstraps will make some of the finest chops you've ever had; just a hint of seasoning (if you must) and be very careful not to overcook them.

If you're lucky enough to shoot a nice big axis, you can get steaks off the hindquarters. Otherwise, a nice roast will be a real treat.

You might want to grind the scraps into axisburger, but again, you don't really need to season it. It's terrific.

~z
June 8, 2009, 10:18 AM
So...how did you do?
~z

~z
June 11, 2009, 03:21 PM
Well...? Any axis???
~z

PotatoJudge
June 11, 2009, 03:46 PM
Sorry for the delay, but I'm moving tomorrow and don't really have time for a proper writeup. I'll get the whole thing down once we're settled and can post pics of the cool stuff we saw. ~z, you were spot on with your advice. Thanks for the tips. We did get tons of pics (my wife used her camera as a monocular, I used Nikon binos) and saw our fair share of reptiles.

I did get my deer on the last night of the hunt with about 5min of shooting light available. The shot was about 130 yards, frontal, with my dad's Ruger No 1 in 257 Roberts shooting my handloads of 110 grain Accubonds over RL22 (+P kind of). The bullet hit with a thwap and the deer went down without taking another step. The bullet was recovered in the right shoulder blade at .52 in and around 65 grains in weight. This is after busting quite a bit of bone along the way, so I think the bullet held up well despite losing 40% of it's weight. The deer has a very nice hide and will be going on a Jets pedistal wall mount form. This should show off the spots and help deal with the slight asymmetry in the beam lengths.
http://www.jetztaxidermysupply.com/axis.html

I ended up taking the 7mm Mauser as backup.

http://i123.photobucket.com/albums/o292/potatojudge/IMGP2689.jpg

~z
June 11, 2009, 03:55 PM
Very nice! We will be waiting patiently for the write up. Congrats
~z

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