Axis Hunting in Texas
A popular exotic deer to hunt in Texas
The Axis or chital deer is not only one of the most beautiful deer in the world but also is one of the most popular exotic deer to hunt in Texas. Introduced in the Edwards Plateau region of Texas in the 1930’s, they were one of several of the “Texotic” species first stocked for hunting on the Farrell Ranch in the late 1970’s. Originating from the Indian subcontinent, where their numbers have been reduced due mostly to habitat destruction, the animals have flourished in Texas. First, released on private exotic game hunting ranches in over 67 counties of Texas where they are still widely hunted, free ranging axis deer now approach a population of over 40,000 in 27 additional counties of central and southern Texas, often outnumbering native whitetail deer in some areas.
Axis deer were once thought not to be able to tolerate the cold weather spells typical to Texas winters where the temperatures can range from 80 to 0 degrees F in a matter of a few hours as their normal habitat in India consists of an average year round temperatures of 70 degrees F. However, since their introduction to Texas over 90 years ago, some adaptation has occurred and, along with supplemental feeding, winter loss has been reduced.
Both male and female axis deer are born with a dark chestnut brown color coat highlighted with white spots throughout, a black stripe down the center of the back, a white patch on the throat and white hair on the abdomen, inside of legs, under the tail and inside of the ears. Males have darker facial markings with a pronounced “scowling look” as they mature. The hides are highly sought after as home decorating accents and are used for pillows and chair backs.
Only the Axis males have antlers, which are shed annually. The antlers are tall and graceful and usually consist of three tines or points per side; a brow tine of up to 18” in length, a long main beam measuring an average of 22-30” and a secondary point halfway up the main beam measuring 6”-10” long. Axis bucks with more points coming off the main beam are not uncommon on the Farrell Ranch. Axis with main beams exceeding 30”are considered trophies and Axis bucks with main beam lengths of over 33” being exceptional. Axis bucks are very unusual, as they can be found with hard horns during any season of the year, with the most Axis Bucks found in hard horn during May thru December on Farrell Ranch.
Axis males attain maturity at 14-1/2 months reaching 29-40″ tall at the shoulder and weighing an average of 160 pounds after reaching full adult size at 5-6 years. The females are smaller than the males, standing 26-33″ tall and weigh usually 90-125 pounds when they reach maturity at about 1 year. Full adult size for an Axis female is realized at 6 years of age.
On the Farrell Ranch, Axis breed year round with the peak breeding period occurring in May-July. Fawning is usually January- April and October-November. Gestation is 7-1/2 months, with twins being rare. Axis deer have a high fertility rate; an axis doe is usually found to be pregnant, lactating or both, all at the same time.
The Axis Deer diet is mostly of grasses but they will eat weeds and forbs. As summer conditions dry this vegetation, Axis will turn to consuming more browse. Axis lifespan is generally 8-15 years with most Axis mortality associated with winterkill and coyotes.
A gregarious animal, the social structure of the Axis consists of matriarchal herds consisting of adult females, their offspring of the past and current year of both sexes, often accompanied by adult males. These herds usually consist of about 15-20 members, are loosely organized and disband often except for the related mother-offspring members. Adult males usually separate from these herds during the rut. When sensing danger, both males and females sound an alarm call that sounds somewhat like a sharp high pitched bark. This alarm bark is often repeated continuously until the danger passes or the deer seeks shelter elsewhere.
During the Rut, Axis bucks can often be heard bugling, a sound somewhat similar to that of an Elk bugle. Males with hard horns are dominant over those in velvet no matter the size or age of the individual deer. As the Axis buck “tends“ a receptive doe until breeding is completed and will fight of all interlopers, vicious fights often occur between Axis bucks during the breeding season. These fights always end with the “loser” breaking off the fight, turning and walking away, officially acknowledging defeat and retreating from the battle. Often, the “winner” will walk behind the “loser” as he leaves the area, not so gently nudging the defeated interloper in the rear end with his horns, as if to further emphasize to the “loser” just who is the boss.
The meat of the Axis has been judged best tasting of all venison and is the only one considered fat free at 1%. Axis meat is the finest textured and most tender of all deer meat and is often served at the best restaurants. Grilled Axis tenderloin or back-strap over mesquite makes for an unforgettable meal.
Hunting Trophy Axis in Texas on the Farrell Ranch is very challenging, as Axis are never far from dense cover, especially in colder temperatures. Hunts are typically conducted safari style (spot and stalk) or from make shift temporary blinds near food plots as the Axis infrequently visit or stay long at a feeder. The hunter and guide must be prepared to make a decision on which trophy Axis to take and the hunter must follow up with a quick shot, often off shooting sticks. When alarmed or when the hunter is detected, Axis immediately seek shelter deep in the many juniper and oak thickets and canyons on the Farrell Ranch, making hunting quite “sporting”.
The best time to hunt Trophy Axis on the Farrell Ranch is mid May thru July and again September thru early November or until cold weather sets in and the Axis retreat to dense brush. However, hunting opportunities often exist for trophy Axis Bucks outside these prime hunting dates as Axis are often seen in late November-January, in between cold snaps, sunning themselves against south or west brush lines.
To price your Trophy Axis Hunt simply add the Daily Fees of the type of hunt you want to the Axis Trophy Fee shown below. There are no extra fees for that unusual or over 33″ Axis. These prices are for any mature Axis on the Ranch.
Texas Axis Hunts on Farrell Ranch are for 3 days and 2 nights beginning with hunter check-in at 1:30PM on the first day and check out by 11AM on the last day. Extra hunt days can be purchased with prior notice. Airport transportation and shipment of meat can be arranged.
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FULL SERVICE TEXAS AXIS HUNTS:
$350.00 per day per Hunter
Includes: Lodging, meals and daily guide fees, Ranch transportation, field dressing of game, temporary cold storage.
Not Included: Texas Axis Trophy Fees, hunting licenses, tips, ammunition, alcohol, ice, transportation to and from Ranch, skinning, quartering, taxidermy, meat processing and/or shipment.
$150.00 per day per Observer
Includes: Lodging, meals and Ranch transportation while accompanying Hunter.
Not Included: Transportation to and from Ranch, alcohol.
GUIDE SERVICE ONLY TEXAS AXIS HUNTS:
$200.00 per day per Hunter
Includes: Daily guide fees, Ranch transportation, field dressing of game, temporary cold storage.
Not Included: Texas Axis Trophy Fees, lodging and meals, alcohol, ice, hunting licenses, tips, ammunition, transportation to and from Ranch, skinning, quartering, taxidermy, meat processing and or shipment.
$50.00 per day per Observer
Includes: Ranch transportation while accompanying Hunter.
Not Included: Transportation to and from Ranch, lodging and meals, alcohol.
TEXAS AXIS TROPHY FEE
NO HARVEST NO PAY TROPHY FEE
Some outfitters keep all prepaid Trophy /Harvest Fees whether or not a Hunter is successful in taking their animal. On the Farrell Ranch, our policy is simple- if you don’t get your animal as specified in the Hunting Agreement, you are refunded the appropriate prepaid Trophy/Harvest Fees.
CASH OR CHECK
All prices show include cash or check discount from standard pricing.
CREDIT CARD or ELECTRONIC TRANSFERS
3% convenience fee will apply for all transactions made with credit cards or through electronic transfers.
TIPS & GRATUITY
A tip to the guide consisting of up to 10% of the Trophy or Harvest Fee (per animal/hunter) is customary in the Texas hunting industry. If you don’t receive the highest level of expected attention, feel free to reflect that discrepancy in your tip given.