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It's not easy to pick an outfitter or a ranch for your hunt. But there are some questions you can ask that will quickly narrow the field.

How to pick the right axis outfitter

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This article was first published in my email newsletter in May of 2024. I've added it to my website, because I think the information is useful in general, not just for the month it was published. If you'd like to keep up with the latest hunting information, including my open dates and available hunts, you can subscribe to my newsletter at the bottom of this page.


It can be tough to choose an outfitter or a ranch for your axis hunt. Prices are all over the place. The cheapest hunts may be just half the price of the most expensive hunts. How do you decide? Should you just go with the cheapest hunt, because, after all, an axis is an axis, right? Or should you choose the most expensive on the theory that you get what you pay for?

There’s a better approach that I recommend.

I can tell you that all axis hunts are not created equal, so you should start by getting a good understanding of what each ranch or outfitter is offering. Then pick the one that gives you what you’re looking for.

In this article, I’m going to walk through some tips for how you can do that. I’m going to talk about the questions you should ask and the information you should collect from each outfitter or ranch you’re considering.

If you don’t get this information in advance, you might end up surprised and disappointed by the hunt you’ve purchased.


I like to deliver a ‘real’ hunting experience, so my axis hunts are spot and stalk. I like the real interaction involved in a hunt where I call and the deer responds, or the deer calls and I respond, much like an elk hunt.

Some other outfitters and ranches will set you up in a blind overlooking a feeder. That’s the easiest way to bag a deer, I guess, but it’s not the experience I want you to get out of your hunt with me. If you’ve got some physical limitations, I’m happy to set you up with that kind of hunt. There’s nothing wrong with that approach, if it’s what you want. Just be sure you understand upfront that this is the hunt you’re going to get.


Be sure you understand the environment in which you’ll be hunting. A big thing to watch out for is a situation where you’re expecting to hunt axis on a 5,000 acre ranch, only to discover that the axis are in a 200 acre pen or ‘trap’. Yes, it’s a 5,000 acre ranch, but you’re hunting only a tiny piece of it.

When I hunt axis, they’re in the ‘general population’ of animals on that ranch. They’re not in a pen.



If you’re hunting for a big trophy axis, choose a ranch or outfitter that has a history of delivering that kind of animal. Most importantly, watch out for some of the misleading marketing pitches that happen entirely too often. Here are two that I see a lot.


First, there are deceptive photos. I definitely advise you to check the social media accounts of the outfitter or ranch you’re considering. The pictures they post give you an idea of the kind of animals their hunters are taking. But watch out for photos where the deer have been posed in a way that makes the antlers look a lot bigger than they are.


The typical trick is to pose the animal’s head so that the nose is tucked and the antlers jut out at the camera, almost like they’re coming through the screen at you. They make the antlers look double or triple their real size, depending on the camera lens. Basically, you can’t tell how big they are.


When you see this, you should turn and run. It’s not just that the deer aren’t as big as you think. It’s that the photo is deliberately deceptive, and that doesn’t speak well for that ranch or outfitter.


Second, there are meaningless measurements. Too often, when you're told how big the deer are, you’ll be given the measurement of the antler’s main beam. That’s not how you measure a trophy deer.


A serious outfitter or ranch is going to talk about the deer’s score, not the measurement of the main beam. There are different scoring methods, but one that’s simple to understand is the SCI system. That system doesn’t consider just the main beam, it looks at every tine, the eye guard, the mass, and the widest spread. It adds up all those numbers and gives you a score that’s really complete and descriptive.


To see what I mean, watch this video.

Anyhow, as I mention in the video, it’s the score that tells you how big that outfitter’s deer really are. If they’re giving you main beam measurements, they’re not telling you anything useful.


The ranch where I do my axis hunts has terrific trophies. In fact, the deer we cull get sold to other ranches, where they’re considered trophies. In addition to their good genetics, we really manage our axis population, and I limit the number of trophy hunts each year so that there are always plenty of big deer to select from.



Some ranches may have you hunting axis at night. That’s completely legal in Texas, and there can be good reasons that the ranch does nighttime hunts. Maybe that’s when they see more deer. And, of course, it can be easier to hunt at night, because deer don’t run when they’ve got a spotlight shining in their eyes.


If that’s what you’re looking for, like I said, it’s legal. However, my axis hunts are in daylight.



There’s nothing wrong with some rugged living when you hunt. On the other hand, you don’t want to be surprised by accommodations that aren’t up to standard, especially if you plan to bring a non-hunting spouse or maybe some big clients. So be sure to check what your accommodations will be like.



If you’re thinking about booking an axis hunt with me, you should be asking me those questions. So I’ll give you some straight, quick answers. If you want more information, just contact me.

Q1: How do I hunt? I use spot and stalk, unless you specifically want something different.

Q2: Where do I hunt? The ranch where I hunt my super trophy axis is 3,600 acres and divided up into two pastures. One pasture is 2,200 acres, and the other pasture is 1,400 acres. All the animals are in general population, so you’re not hunting a small trap.


Q3: How big are the deer? My trophy axis are big. Last year we killed about twenty trophies and averaged right at 150” (SCI gold medal). And check out my Facebook or Instagram photos.

Q4: When do I hunt? I schedule my hunts for daylight hours. May through July is the best time to find a trophy, hard-antlered axis.


Q5: How are the accommodations? It’s like having your own private hotel room on the ranch — a room with two twin beds, private bath, satellite tv, mini fridge, and mini desk. Here's one of the rooms:



I aim to give you the best possible hunting experience: a real hunt with genuine trophy animals. When you’re considering outfitters or ranches, make sure you know exactly what they’re going to give you.

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