Axis Deer: Beginner’s Guide to Hunting the Axis Deer

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Introduction

To all hunting enthusiasts, you will agree with me that the Axis deer is one species you will hardly miss to recognize.. It is a moderate-sized member of the deer family wholly covered with spots that add up to its glorious looks. 

The males in this breed are larger than females, as seen in most members of the deer family. Its skin is golden brown with some white spots. These white parts include the abdomen rump, throat, legs, ears, and tail. 

How to Identify the Axis Deer: What are the Characteristics?

Appearance

Size

In comparison to its family members, the Axis deer is moderately sized. The males who are more prominent than the females have a shoulder height of 90cm. Fully matured bulls weigh from 98-110 kg. Females, on the other hand, have a shoulder height of 70cm and a weight of 25-45kg. Its white tail measures 20cm and is marked by a dark stripe running along the animal’s spine.

Colour

One unique feature of the axis deer is its skin. The upper part of the skin is golden to rufous and covered with fawn-like spots. In most members of its family, these spots are only visible on young fawns and gradually fade away on growth. However, in  Axis deer, these spots are featured throughout the lifespan of the animal.

Antlers

Antlers are only on males. They have three-pronged antlers that can grow to a height of one meter. Unlike other deer species, this breed does not have a fixed schedule of shedding their antlers. During their antler growth process, semen production is lowest, affecting their reproduction capabilities.

Hooves

The axis deer is a small and swift animal, and its limb size effectively balances the animal at high speeds. Its foreleg hooves are approximately 1.6 inches, whereas the rear ones are 2.4 inches. Their toes tend to taper to a point.

What is their Temperament?

These grazers are mostly active during the day. Their quest for food begins early in the morning, where they graze fields in groups as they feed. During the day, these animals rest under tree shades evading direct sunlight. They are highly susceptible to high temperatures hence the need to protect themselves from the sunlight. After their midday rest, they resume grazing during late afternoons.

Axis deer are very cautious animals, and their anatomy consists of a system to alert its herd in case of danger. To confirm the threat, they stand motionless keenly listening and picking different odours from their surroundings. In case spooked, they take off at lightning speeds, bellowing and barking to alert the others. They tend to escape in large groups utilizing dense forest and undergrowth for cover.

What Do the Axis Deer Feed on? 

Generally, axis deer are herbivorous species. Their most preferable foods being grass and young tree shoots in the forest. They forage in large groups, slowly and cautiously. The males can stand on their hind legs to reach high tree branches. 

Water holes are visited twice a day, and their instincts recognize that water points are hazardous areas with hunters lurking around frequently.

Are Axis deer omnivorous? Axis deer found in Sunderbans are said to be omnivorous. This conclusion is because researchers retrieved red crab remains from their carcasses. Well, this trait might be unusual and still common to deer and the most reasonable explanation for this would be lack of certain nutrients. Find out more on our article Does Deer Eat Meat.

The dental formula of this breed is much similar to an elk.

Reproduction

Breeding of these species is all year round, and peaks vary depending on the regional difference. This all-year reproduction is as a result of regular production of sperm and the frequent estrous cycle in the females. These cycles are three weeks apart, and the sperm production reduces only when the male is growing its antlers.

The male’s contest for the females and courtship is visible in this species. Their courtship process involves the male following the female around guarding it, competing with other males in the process.  

Its gestation period is 227 days, and the doe is responsible for the calf. Unlike its family members, the doe only hides the newborn for one week. The female is not that strong, and the two frequently separate. They, however, quickly reunite because of the cohesive nature of its herds. If the calf dies, the mother can conceive during the next estrous cycle, which occurs in less than three weeks.

The average lifespan of an axis deer is between five to ten years in the wild, and while in captivity, this period extends, and it can live up to 22 years. 

Habitat

The highest number of this species is in the Indian Forests. Here there is adequate forest diameter to provide both food and cover from direct sunlight. This species has been successfully introduced to other regions like Texas and Australia, where they continue increasing in number.

Axis Deer Hunting

Why Hunt Axis Deer?

There exist numerous reasons as to why you may consider hunting a deer over other game available in the wild. Its skin layout, precisely the spots, make it such a treasured target to most hunters, and the uses exceed your imagination. The antlers are also a unique commodity in the market and are highly valuable.

The animal’s meat, however, is the main reason as to why most hunters target these species. Unlike most wild game meat, Axis deer meat is tender and fat-free, giving a unique taste. The incapability of developing intermuscular fat contributes to a 0.2% fat in its flesh. It is an excellent substitute for white-tailed deer and elk meat.

Where to Hunt?

This species is a native to the Indian subcontinent and has been successfully distributed across the globe to various parts. Hunting of these animals as a sport has been prohibited in India since the 1970s. However, it is perfectly legal to hunt them in their new habitats outside the borders of India.

The prime regions in which this species is Texas, Australia, and Hawaii. In the mentioned areas, axis hunting goes all year round, and a hunting license is necessary.

Axis Deer Hunting in Hawaii

Like most regions this species inhabits, hunting of axis deer in Hawaii is offered all year round. The best months for hunting them are between April and September when most of their antlers are fully matured. In Hawaii, Axis hunting is offered at a fair price, with the locals getting discounted pricing.

To hunt in Hawaii, you will require to purchase an all-inclusive hunting license. The pricing of this license varies according to whether you are a resident of the island. If you are a non-resident and it is your first time, the hunting commission will require to see your hunter’s safety certificate.

No tags are needed when hunting on private land within the island. I recommend that you familiarize yourself with the state laws and regulations first, any misconduct will not be taken lightly by the respective authorities.

Axis Deer Hunting in Texas

Axis deer are also popular in Texas; they were introduced here a long time and continue to increase in numbers. This species is one of the most popular exotic trophies to hunt in Texas; hog dogs may be slightly more popular because of their large population in the region.

This species is not indigenous to Texas. Hence there is no hunting season as it continues throughout the year. They are considered as livestock together with sheep and cattle.

Precautions When Hunting in Texas
  • Hunting is only allowed to individuals with a valid hunting license. If found hunting without it, you are subject to have committed a Class C misdemeanor
  • Hunting on or near public roads is prohibited. This offense falls under class A misdemeanor.
  • Hunting on private land without the owner’s permission is also not acceptable. You need to have the consent of the respective owner. The animals on that land belong to him or her. This offense is considered a class A misdemeanor.

When to Hunt?

Hunting of these exotic animals is throughout the year. However, for an experienced hunter, you will know that there is a specific time of the year where the population of hunting-with animals is high. This period is commonly known as the peak.

In Texas, a significant number of bucks rut during May and June. This period is practically the peak for Texas hunters.

Hunting Methods Used to Hunt Axis Deer

In regards to the axis deer, every hunting method is effective. They are not massive animals and therefore do not require heavy and complicated approaches to take one down. Spot and stalk is the most common method used by hunters worldwide.

The efficiency of this method dramatically lies with the fact that these animals are day grazers. Daylight gives the hunter enough light to spot them even on long distances. Most game ranches have stationery blinds and highly placed seats around water holes and common grazing areas. The areas are used by both hunters and game watching enthusiasts.

Hunting Accessories for Axis Deer

Here’s a simple table with information on the best axis deer hunting accessories.

Tips to Hunting an Axis Deer

Every hunter can attest to the excitement and complexity of tracing and hunting exotics. The animals are incredibly coveted; however, tracking and killing one is a complicated practice. The tips discussed below will enable you to take down the axis deer.

Natural Instincts

These animals are medium-sized; this size does not offer a large target surface, meaning that long shots are more likely to miss. To get a close-range shot opportunity is next to impossible. The Axis deer is exceptionally cautious, and they take off quickly at the first detection of threat.

However, like most wild animals, it also has an inquisitive nature. A good hunter will know better and fully utilize the first opportunity he or she has to take the animal down.

Social Grouping

Axis deer are known to graze in large herds. These movements in herds give the species an advantage as they have more eyes and ears to watch out for danger. In case one of them notices a valid threat, it alerts the other members by giving loud arks and bellows as they escape in large numbers. Their swiftness makes it impossible to get a clear shot while in motion.

Because of this, you as a hunter need to take your shot immediately the opportunity arises. It is unlikely for a deer to return to the same spot it is spooked. Once in a while, one deer may part ways with its herd, if you come across an axis deer strolling alone, take it.

Quick and Cautious

This species is one of the most cautious animals in the wild; most of its features allow it to detect danger beforehand. Their physical attributes give way to quick and swift escapes from any threat lurking. They can pick out the human body odor easily from their surroundings and escape. I recommend that before heading to the fields, make efforts to minimize the human smell from your outfit.

Loud movement in the forest will also blow your cover as this species has sharp hearing skills. Their initial response to any threat is to take off, and once it starts its run, you may as well forget it. Tread carefully and silently to reduce the possibility of detection by these animals.

Position

Perfect positioning is key to getting a good aim at this species. The position should be comfortable enough as you may be required to camp there for a very long time as you wait for your prey. Patience is also crucial, as you wait for your prey, study the environment, and locate aspects that may be an advantage to you as the hunter.

To increase your chances of a successful shot, select a stable area that will support both you and your weapon. Make sure that your location provides you with an all-round view of the field as these animals are known to blend in with the environment making it difficult to locate them. The more field of view you have, the higher your chances of spotting them.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is axis deer meat good to eat?

Yes, you can eat the meat of an axis deer. In fact, most hunters claim that its flesh is the best tasting meat of all game. It is tender and has a unique taste that is bound to brighten your taste buds. This meat is also fat-free as it is unable to develop intermuscular fat. The meat contains only 0.2% of fat, and this percentage is extremely low in comparison to other meat.

Can an Axis deer jump fences?

Their body composition allows the deer to jump over fences that are higher than their height, but they are reluctant to do so. In situations of extreme danger is when you may find this species jumping over a fence. Most game reserves in which this species inhabits are secured with a standard goat net fence for additional security. 

In panic, the deer will opt to go under or through the fence before considering jumping over it. The males will tend to fight through the fence if it is too high to climb.

How often do the Axis Deer Mate?

Mating of this species is all year round, and most females reproduce once a year. This is possible as the females experience frequent estrous cycles, and male production of semen is consistent. A female axis first conceived from 14-17 months; at this age, it is mature enough to give birth. 

Breeding often occurs in April and May when there is adequate food, and the weather suits the bringing up of a young fawn. During this time, the chances of the fawn surviving are higher. Females usually nurse their fawns until they are fully mature.

Conclusion

I take it that this animal is the most beautiful member of the deer family; its spots are unique and complement its magnificent look. This species is not regulated by game laws, except for a few regions like India. The axis deer in most areas is considered as the landowner’s property, just as the case with cattle and sheep.

Wise ranchers stock up these animals and hunt them as substitutes to the typical game like the antelopes and elks. The owner of the land in which they are found has the right to sell them at any time. Looking at this animal from a sport hunting perspective, they provide a great trophy to the hunters. Hunters travel from far and wide just to get a piece of the excitement that comes with hunting down these beautiful animals. 

If you wish to experience this fantastic adventure, do not be shy to approach the respective organizations and book yourself a hunting tour.

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