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Axis Deer in Texas: The Exotic Hunt with Great Rewards

Updated: 1 day ago

 
 

Big, beautiful, graceful, and yet considered invasive. #Axis deer are part of the group of non-game animals in Texas known as exotics. An exotic is any animal that is non-native to Texas. Originating from India and Nepal, Axis deer were introduced to Texas in the 1930s for hunting on ranches in South Texas. Today, large populations of Axis deer are found in the United States, especially in Texas, where they are hunted on private and public property, and Hawaii.


Physical Attributes: The Axis deer is easily recognized by its reddish-brown coat adorned with white spots and a dark dorsal stripe running along the spine. Males boast antlers that can grow up to 30 inches, with six points… shedding annually. Adult males stand around 35 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 145 to 250 pounds. Females are slightly smaller, standing roughly 26 inches at the shoulder and weighing 100 to 145 pounds. In captivity, Axis deer can live up to 20 years.

 
 

Behavioral Traits: Axis deer prefer moderate to dense forests and grasslands near water sources. They are highly sociable, often gathering in herds of 6 to 30 deer. They emit a bark when sensing danger, and fawns squeal when separated from their mothers.


Reproduction: Axis deer typically breed in April or May, with a gestation period of about 7.3 months, usually resulting in one or two fawns.


Diet: The Axis deer’s diet primarily consists of grasses, supplemented with leaves and fruits when available. Unlike native #Whitetailed Deer (WTD) that primarily eat forbs and browse, Axis deer consume a large amount of grass, giving them a competitive advantage over #WTD for food. When forbs and browse decrease in availability, Axis deer can switch to grasses and thrive, unlike WTD. The fact that they can outcompete native species, such as White-Tailed Deer (WTD), for food and habitats is the reason they are categorized as an invasive species in Texas.  


Hunting Axis Deer: A valid hunting license is required to hunt Axis deer in Texas. On private property, there are no regulations regarding the means and methods of harvesting Axis deer, such as bag or possession limits, closed seasons, or hunting hours. Being crepuscular animals, the best hunting times are dawn and dusk. Night hunting requires a scope or light capable of seeing the difference, for example, between an Axis and WTD doe. The following are three ways (rifle or bow) to hunt Axis deer:


  • Spot and Stalk: Wait until you spot the herd from a distance, then move silently to a position for a shot. This method is most exhilarating, particularly when the herd is continuously moving!


  • Still Hunting: Quietly moving through axis habitat, watching and listening for the herd. Once found, move into a position for a shot.


  • Stationary Hunting: Set up in a deer blind/stand or tripod and wait for the Axis to come into range. Consider using bait to attract the herd to your area.


Rewards of the Hunt: Axis venison is arguably the best wild game meat, lacking the gamey taste often associated with venison. Axis bucks also make beautiful wall mounts with their distinctive coats and antlers.

 
 

Axis deer are beautiful and majestic creatures! They offer an exciting hunting experience in Texas, and the rewards of harvesting an Axis deer are sure to make you share your stories, images, and food with family and friends!


We’d love to hear about your techniques for hunting Axis deer and your favorite Axis recipes. To start planning your next or first Axis hunt, click here or contact us, and we’ll get you started!


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To the Hunt!!!





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