Close To Home Trophy Hunt For Deer


Published: April - 2006

If you've always wanted to go on a trophy hunt for sika or axis deer but just don't have the time to fly overseas and don't want to shoot one behind a wire, then listen up. There's a Texas ranch that offers true free-range hunts for these species. Correspondent Gary Lewis recently was at the Rio Bonito Ranch on a whitetail hunt and was surprised to find the real prize was the trophy axis and sika deer that roam around the property. The place is 75 miles north of San Antonio in the Texas Hill Country. Lewis writes:

"Rio Bonito Ranch is a 16,000-acre, low-fence operation, where animals are free to cross property lines. There are 16 species of exotics, plus whitetail deer, hogs and turkeys roaming this property. The ranch uses feeders to supplement natural forage, and that is part of the reason, along with a large supply of water, for the abundance of wildlife.

"Axis and sika deer, as well as aoudad, are plentiful here. I hunted Rio Bonito in November and was amazed at the numbers of very good axis bucks I saw. To put `good' in perspective, a 30-inch axis (measured along the length of one antler) is the standard most hunters seek, and the majority of the axis in the SCI record book sport horns of at least this length. The largest axis ever taken on the Rio Bonito Ranch was a 39-inch trophy. One hunter in my party this past November took a 33-inch buck. Another 33-inch buck was taken two weeks after we left.

"Sika deer have been in the area since a release in the late 1950s. In the course of our hunt, my hunting partners and I observed several three- and four-point bucks and heard them bugling in the early mornings. Like elk, these animals are vocal and not afraid to fight for the dominance of a herd of does. Ranch owner Gwen Hughes reports that 50 percent of the sikas killed here in the last three years have been SCI silver and gold medal animals.........(continued)

 
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