Axis Deer In Texas

Axis Deer In Texas & What You Need To Know

Get to know more about Axis deer in Texas. This article is about something that some people have called an invasive species, but which in truth is just another animal that has found a home in the all welcoming paradise for all species that is the state of Texas. We are talking about non-other than the axis deer.

As we have severally mentioned on preceding articles in this series, the state of Texas is blessed with a unique geographical position, a favorable topographical makeup, as well as a comparatively mild climate that makes it a haven for all types of life forms. As a matter of fact, Texas has one of the most diverse and most important ecosystems in North America.

Now, let us look at the Axis deer in Texas, and what we can learn about them.

Axis Deer In Texas & What You Need To Know

How Can You Identify Axis Deer? Their spots! Axis deer have white spots on their brown coats, and this is their most marked feature which sets them apart from the other types of deer in Texas. The males also have long and broad antlers- a major unifying characteristic of deer.

As we have mentioned earlier in a preceding article on a similar subject, the Axis deer is an exotic species of deer in Texas. The native species of deer in Texas being the White-Tailed {including the The Texas deer whitetail (O. v. texanus), The Kansas whitetail (O. v. macrourus), Carmen Mountains whitetail (O. v. carminis), The Avery Island whitetail (O. c. mcilhennyi)} and Mule deers {The Rocky Mountain mule deer (O. h. hemionus, The desert mule deer (O. h. eremicus}.

As you already know, this article will concentrate on the Axis deer, which migrates into the United States, coming all the way from South Asia from whence it was imported to provide game for people who like to kill things for sport- hunters. This species has since thrived in Texas, becoming an important member of the ecosystem and food chain.

Axis Deer In Texas
Axis Deer – Chittal

Let Us Learn More About the Axis Deer

This axis deer (also called chital), is recognized by its white spots which it has on its reddish coat. Apart from that, the abdomen, throat, inside of legs, ears, and tail are also white, and then, in contrast, there is a  black stripe running along its backbone.

Axis deer are originally from India and Sri Lanka and therefore, they are a species that is nonnative to the Texas, or the U.S.  Axis deer are beautiful deer with characteristically long antlers. When you ask most hunters who encounter them in the wild about the axis deer, they have much praise to give to the Axis deer. Some of them can go on about how beautiful they are, how great the meat tastes and they also say that the males are fierce, and will put up a fight when cornered.

Axis Deer Antlers: The antlers of the axis deer characteristically sweep backward and with an upward curve and have three tines (or branches) that grow off one long main beam, we generally make mention of three branches, although a 4th tine isn’t uncommon. An interesting fact is that axis bucks (remember that the males are called bucks) can be in hard horn any time of the year. They grow and shed antlers on their own clock. What this means is that every individual buck follows its own particular time table as regards the business of its horns. That is why we can see that in one herd there may be a new shed buck, a hard-horn buck and even a buck in the velvet. The all-time record for axis deer antlers is  41 inches, and the specimen was found in India!

Want to know how far the axis deer have come?

The Axis deer has firmly established itself in Texas. As a matter of fact, the axis deer is the most common exotic deer in the whole of Texas. It is reported that there are about 40,000 axis deer confined on 463 ranches in 92 counties. Apart from those in confinement, there are over 6,000 free-ranging axis deer in Texas.

It is also worthy to mention that there are also free-ranging populations of axis deer in Hawaii. Estimates put the figures at  30,000-50,000 axis deer currently living on the island of Molokaʻi, another 10,000-15,000 axis deer on Lanaʻi and then again another 30,000-50,000 axis deer on the island of Maui. These deer are booming in numbers, and there is significant growth expected over the next couple of decades. These are impressive figures for ”introduced species.” Some have even begun to question how a so-called introduced species has to boast so many numbers, perhaps even bigger than some native species, and what that tells us about what w do not know about the ecosystem. Can a species thrive and populate more outside its natural environment? Or did the axis deer once roam freely over the fields and valleys of what is now Texas? Time will tell.

But Here is What We do Know About the Axis Deer Texas

History of the Axis Deer in Texas: The most common story you hear is that axis deer were brought to Texas in 1932. Yes, that is true. But for the purpose of clarity let us mention that it was not the first coming of Axis deer in America. In the 1860s, a small number of axis deer were introduced to the island of Molokaʻi, in the state of Hawaii. They were then introduced to Lanaʻi island and then Maui in the 1950s. In the Hawaiian islands, Axis deer have no natural predators in, and as a result, their population is growing at 20-30% each year.

Quality of Meat: People say axis deer is the best venison you will ever have the privilege to eat . The meat is tender with a mild flavor, and has been said to have less than 1% fat. That means that the axis deer meat is technically fat-free. This has prompted The Exotic Wildlife Association to vote it as the best tasting game meat. Even today, the axis deer is at the forefront of deer domestication and ranching, as more and more ranchers are going into deer, because of their hardiness, and quality of their meat.

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