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Free Range Axis, Blackbuck and Oryx in Texas
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My Black Bear hunt I had booked in Manitoba was postponed due to the US Canada border being closed. Me and 2 buddies still had vacation scheduled so we kicked around a few ideas and settled on booking with Mike Stroff at SOE. He was very friendly on the phone and was prompt to reply to any follow up questions we had via text or email.
The details of the hunt; 3 hunting days, semi guided, stand hunting over water or spot and stalk if there is a guide available to take you. They are set up for rifle or bow. The hunt includes meals and lodging. We were hunting a 20,000 acre ranch south of Sonora, TX. The food was good and the lodge was nice. The hunt included 1 buck and 1 doe of either a blackbuck or axis. If you chose to shoot an Oryx you could only shoot 1 male or 1 Female. The hunt also included unlimited hogs. There was a total of 7 hunters and 3 guides in camp.
We arrived late in the afternoon on day 1 and quickly got settled in our rooms, did the necessary paperwork, got our safety briefing, and went to the range to check the zero on our rifles and bows. The head guide Randy, had a game plan for the morning hunt and he let everybody know where they would be hunting and any specific gear they would need ( safety harness etc). It was getting late by that time so we had dinner, drank a few beers and went to bed.
The first morning we got up at 4:30 the guides put out coffee, juice, and some light breakfast food. My friends(Joe and John) were bow hunting so one went to a stand and the other a blind, both were over water. I was rifle hunting and went out with Greg (one of the guides) for spot and stalk. It was a good morning we saw a lot of game including 2 shooter Axis bucks and a Blackbuck that was close but his horns were a little too short. By 10am we had walked 3.5 miles and couldn’t get on either of the 2 shooter axis we had seen.
A quick side note. My friends were targeting Axis with a bow. I was interested in the experience and wanted to get a nice animal by spot and stalk so I was open to any of the three species. I get to spend plenty of time in a Whitetail stand at home and like to spot and stalk whenever it’s possible.
Ok, back to the hunt. Greg and I picked up a couple other stand hunters and returned to the lodge for a nice brunch. They were unsuccessful. My friends elected to stay on stand until 2pm. Later that day at approx 1:15 Joe sent me a text that he connected with an Axis and the shot looked good. I got in the truck with the other guides and we went to Joes stand. He made a great 55yd shot across a water hole, a complete pass thru. The buck went about 40 yards we found him easily. We did the customary pictures, slap on the back, and loaded the buck for the skinning shed. The guides made quick work skinning and quartering the buck. He was in the walk in cooler less than an hour after Joe shot him. The Axis measured 32”

The evening hunt started about 4pm. The guides took the stand hunters out then came back to get the spot and stalk hunters. I was with Greg again. We had been out for not long when he spotted an axis that looked interesting. After we circled to get the wind right the buck was chasing a few does around and we never got a good look at him before the herd moved over a hill. We were standing in the shade glassing around when I spotted a lone Oryx grazing in a draw about 150 yards away. We eased closer, Greg verified it was a male and said he was a nice representative. We stood there for a while watching him as he grazed. The wind was in our face and we were standing in the shade with a cedar tree behind us. I had lots of time to set up on the shooting sticks and get ready. The shot was good and he only went 10 yards. The whole thing was over in less than 30 seconds. You know the drill. Pictures, back slap, and congrats. We drug the Oryx to what Greg said was a road and went to get a trailer with a ramp because it weighed 325 lbs and we were not getting in the back of his gator without help. Greg was working on the Oryx at the skinning shed when Randy came by and asked if I wanted to keep hunting (additional animals cost more). That was so much fun I was ready to keep hunting. Randy said he had spotted a big herd of Axis while he was out building a blind and wanted to see what was in it. So off we went. We managed to get ahead of the herd. The bucks were roaring and chasing does everywhere it was a sight to see. The only problem was we weren’t seeing what we were looking for. I think even Randy was a little disappointed that the bucks we were seeing weren’t shooters. It was getting dark and we were on the way to the truck when a 75ish lb hog stepped out of the fence line. I put one in his ear and he will be the main ingredient in my uncle Carl’s sausage recipe. John had a nice very nervous Axis buck bolt right as he touched his release resulting in a clean miss. Joe shot an axis doe with his rifle. The other hunters bagged an Axis and a Blackbuck.
The second day started like the first. Randy put me with Greg to hunt an additional animal, Joe was hunting hogs on a stand and John has his bow in a blind. Greg and I walked a lot and looked over some Axis but just couldn’t connect it wasn’t for lack of trying. John saw a lot of Axis out of bow range and Joe shot a hog. In case you haven’t noticed Joe is a savage he has been hunting his whole life and is very successful. But don’t tell him I said that.

That evening we switched it up. I went to a blind with John. At about 2pm we headed out with my suppressed rifle and a video camera. We were in the same ground blind near a water hole he had hunted that morning. The plan was to hopefully double up or at least John could shoot one of the two big axis he had seen that morning out of bow range. About 5pm the bigger of the two he had seen earlier came in.... behind us downwind. He blew out of there. John was patient, and he passed a couple other pretty nice bucks. I was starting to question his sanity when a big buck came sneaking up to the edge of the brush very suspicious. He finally took a few steps in the wrong direction to sniff a doe and John drilled him thru the shoulders. He ran into the water hole and most of the way up the opposite bank before he rolled to a stop at the waters edge. It was getting dark, so we went down to the buck for pictures in lieu of continuing the hunt. As we were headed back to the blind to text Randy another hog came strolling by so I put one in his ear too. That’s gonna be a lot of sausage. Randy showed up at dark and even brought us a cold beer. Joe didn’t pull the trigger that evening but he had some great footage of some turkey poults scratching around 10 feet in front of him. John’s buck was 34.25” That night we decided to leave the next day around noon.
The morning of hunt day 3 John shot an axis doe from a ground blind and Joe and I slept in till about 7am while John was hunting we caped out the 2 Axis bucks because we were taking them home to Missouri and all deer have to have their brain and spinal column removed. When we loaded up our coolers we estimated that we had over 400lbs of bone in meat to take home. The hunt was very fun. It is not a gimmie. Especially the axis, they are on alert all the time. I have no complaints about anything. I am going to go again.
 
Posts: 3 | Registered: 15 March 2019Reply With Quote
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Pretty consolation prize of a hunt I would say. Glad you and your friends had fun.
 
Posts: 178 | Registered: 07 May 2018Reply With Quote
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Sounds like you had a great hunt. Congrats! I have always wanted to get a nice axis buck and a good blackbuck free range. Pakistan is way more than my disposable income can withstand and Argentina is problematic for getting the trophies home. That just leaves Texas and I like Texas but I have mostly had poor feedback on the axis and blackbuck hunts from clients I guided that had done those hunts. Most seemed to be on high fenced ranches that were not particularly large and the hunters said it was not much of a hunt.

Large free range ranches in Texas is a viable option. Smiler


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Posts: 1495 | Location: Northwestern BC | Registered: 21 July 2006Reply With Quote
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Axis have gone free range pretty much all over the hill country of Texas, blackbuck quite a bit less, they don't jump fences and there is a lot of sheep fence in that part of the state. I don't know of any free range scimitar......
 
Posts: 39028 | Location: Crosby and Barksdale, Texas | Registered: 18 September 2006Reply With Quote
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JTEX, I had never seen free range scimitar either myself, but a month ago we were meat hunting some axis does just South of Sonora on a 3000 acre low fenced property.....and there they were. About 15 of them. We actually saw them twice over a 3 day period and I was surprised to say the least. Saw lots of blackbuck too. Seems the axis population has exploded there as well.
 
Posts: 30 | Registered: 10 June 2020Reply With Quote
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Hmmmmm......first I've ever heard of it. I'll be darned.

I guess animals get loose. I killed an elk on my place in Barksdale this spring. First I've ever heard of scimitar....all I've been around have acted tame like livestock....
 
Posts: 39028 | Location: Crosby and Barksdale, Texas | Registered: 18 September 2006Reply With Quote
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Originally posted by JTEX:
Hmmmmm......first I've ever heard of it. I'll be darned.

I guess animals get loose. I killed an elk on my place in Scarsdale this spring. First I've ever heard of scimitar....all I've been around have acted tame like livestock....


I had never heard of it either, and I agree with your assessment. The scimitar just stood there and watched as we walked by. Not spooked at all. I guess when you get in the right place there's not telling what animal can show up anymore.
 
Posts: 30 | Registered: 10 June 2020Reply With Quote
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Indian Head ranch near Del Rio has free range hunts for Oryx and Addax. I "think" they use high cliffs on the Devil's River as a natural fence and can call free range.


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Posts: 2693 | Location: Austin, Texas | Registered: 05 April 2006Reply With Quote
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The ranch I was hunting was called Canyon Ranch. South of Sonora. The Scimitar inside the fence acted like livestock. The ones outside the fence ran away when they saw you either in a stopped vehicle or on foot. The stalk was not super challenging. We used terrain and shadows to break up our outline, and of course kept the wind in our face.
We were there to have fun. When I was able to convince myself that not every hunt has to be a back country survival experience and to have fun, it was great.
 
Posts: 3 | Registered: 15 March 2019Reply With Quote
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Oh, man I would like to do a hunt like this. Does would be fine. It would give me an excuse to buy a freezer. Thanks for the detailed report, Mike! beer


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Posts: 13916 | Location: Alamogordo, NM | Registered: 03 June 2000Reply With Quote
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Nice report. tu2
 
Posts: 16145 | Registered: 04 April 2005Reply With Quote
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This past Saturday must have a special day for game as I saw a personal best of dead road kill deer, coyotes, coons, skunk and god knows what between Brownwood and Junction.
Some of the carcasses were just hair and meat, so I am not exactly sure what they were. We did not see any dead hogs, so they must have slept in.

I was looking for dead warthogs as they are now running free range in the Rio Grande valley and spreading, but we saw none. A friend told me that he had seen a Warthog pair for sale at an exotic game sale for $2500, so they will be seen in increasing number of exotic game ranches soon. - and also as roadkill. I for one, do not want to hit a feral hog at 80 miles per hour which seems to be average speed down in the land of big ranches and big trucks.


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Posts: 1889 | Location: Republic of Texas | Registered: 25 May 2009Reply With Quote
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I have been through Brownwood, but not to Junction, where my Mexican War veteran GGfather lies. I'd like to see Kimble County some of these days.


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Posts: 13916 | Location: Alamogordo, NM | Registered: 03 June 2000Reply With Quote
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Bill,
The outfitter that ran our 2019 Pronghorn hunt in the Texas Panhandle is based in Junction and they book hunts all over Texas, the US and some in Australia, so I bet they can book something in the Junction area so you can justify a trip to visit your GGFather!
You may live closer to Junction than I. The navigation app said it was nearly 500 miles each way from my place in East Texas. Same distance to the NW Panhandle to hunt Pronghorn.

Dang, I better locate some places to hunt that are closer to home. Smiler


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Posts: 1889 | Location: Republic of Texas | Registered: 25 May 2009Reply With Quote
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That was a great hunt report. I may have to go to Texas again one day. I would like to shoot an Oryx and a warthog. Be Well, Packy.
 
Posts: 2024 | Registered: 28 May 2002Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by Austin Hunter:
Indian Head ranch near Del Rio has free range hunts for Oryx and Addax. I "think" they use high cliffs on the Devil's River as a natural fence and can call free range.


is it the one owned in the past or still by the french people named delagrange?
 
Posts: 1451 | Location: Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. | Registered: 21 May 2006Reply With Quote
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