The Spotted Dragon 
  The Hunt  
This hunt, and its follow-up, took place at Buck Valley Ranch, not far from San Antonio. It's a really nice place with LOTS of animals.

12 August 2006

It's up super-early in the morning (0330) because I have an hour's drive ahead of me. Got to the ranch about 0500 and met my guide and the ranch manager. We talked a bit about where would be the best place to set up. I was going to try bowhunting, but the ground blind I had bought was too small for the conditions. So, I'll be using a rifle. I'm hunting for an Axis doe on this trip.

Around 0545 we head out to the blind. It's a short drive and we get set up quickly and settlein to wait for the deer to show up. It's a well-built blind, solid construction with a carpeted floor to deaden noise and rolling chairs. Very comfortable. Lots of windows and three shooting lanes. A water tank is about 85 yards to the left and a feeder is about 30 yards to the front. Lots of cover nearby for the deer.

A little while later, a couple of young Blackbuck antelopes (one male and one female) show up at the water tank. They milll around there for a little bit and then wander off. Since I'm not hunting for them, I settle with looking at them through binoculars. A short while later, two more Blackbuck appear at the tank. One is a mature male, the other is young. They get a drink and then head our way! The larger male approaches to within 50 yards and turns broadside. What a perfect shot. Oh well.

Since nothing is moving, the ranch manager starts driving around the ranch hoping to flush some game our way. It works, and pretty soon a herd of about 30 whitetail come our way! They stay mostly out of sight in the trees beyond the feeder, but it's incredible to see that many deer in one place. They just keep coming! They walk all the way around the blind, to within 25 yards at times, then back into the trees. Wow, what a sight. We get some really good video of these deer before they scamper off.

After while of no deer, we decide to leave the blind and head down to another area where they had luck earlier in the wee. It's an open area with a huge tree to sit under (it's hot already, and it's not even 1000) and within sight of at least two feeders.

After about an hour there we have seen two large herds of whitetail and a couple of Axis that run off before I can get set up for the shot. All in all a very good morning with lots of animals but nothing to shoot. We head back to the ranch house and get ready to go for lunch.

Man, I feel awful. I think after having eaten a small breakfast at about 0400 and then nothing all day but water (not to mention the heat) has taken its toll. We go into town to a great burger joint but I'm feeling too ill to enjoy the food - and it is very good. When we get back to the ranch I kick back in a large Lazy Boy reclinder and am quickly asleep.

A couple hours later they wake me for the afternoon hunt. I'm feeling much better now after my nap. We head out to a nive blid overlooking a feeder (about 40 yars away) and a plain where the deer come out to feed (150 to 200 yards). For a while nothing shows up, then a couple of Blackbuck walk out near the plain. Those things are everywhere! A little bit later, a few Whitetail show up and walk through the brush about 225 yards away.

It goes on like this for a while before we notice a lone Axis deer walking towards the feeder. I get my rifle and start to get set up for the shot. But it's almost 1900, and that's when the feeder goes off. Before I can get set, the feeder goes off and scares the Axis away. She retreats into the brush and watches the feeder for a few minutes before walking up the hill. Drat, that was perfect! A 40-yard broadside shot. Oh well, maybe she'll be back.

A little bit later a large herd of Whitetail wanders out onto the plain. It looks like some fawns are with them. But a few minutes later, those fawns look an awful lot like Axis. Yep, they are Axis does. You can tell by the dark strip down thee back, and by their size when they walk near the Whitetail.

I'm getting excited now and can't breathe. I line up for a shot on one of the three Axis does who have finally separated themselves from the Whitetail. It's about 175 yards. I've never shot at that range with this rifle, so I hold a little high trying to estimate the bullet drop. I take the shot and it misses! Rats! The Axis look around but don't scamper away. They can't figure out what just happened. From the video later, it looks like I shot high. But I don't know that at the time and I line up for another shot. My blood is pounding and it's hard to keep the rifle steady. I need a lot mor practice at this. I line up again and shoot. Again I'm high. The Axis figure it out this time and run off.

A disappointing end to a very nice day. I got into position for a couple of shots but wasn't able to hit my target. I'm upset with myself, but it's not Buck Valley's fault. They did everything they could to get animals in view - and if I was hunting Whitetail or Blackbuck I would have had a field day! I'm going to try to come back again in a week or so before their "Axis special" runs out. Thanks for a great hunt, Buck Valley!

23 August 2006

I'm coming back during the week because the weekend before was full. This time I have a real ground blind so I'm going to try with my bow. But I'm bringing the gun along just in case.

Frank's House
Frank's Place

Dale's Sika
My Sika Doe
Three Deer
The white Fallow buck and friends

Fallow Bucks
The two Fallow bucks

Whitetail Buck
One of the whitetail bucks

Sika Doe
A Sika Doe

Wild Turkeys