Hunting the Axis Deer Rut in Central Texas
Axis Deer Hunting in Central Texas is amazing and as a hunter I can speak for a large community of people that will agree that one of the most exciting moments is observing wildlife in their natural habitat. For most hunters in North America the most coveted time to hunt is during the rut. But what does one do when the typical fall hunting season is over? Do they wait till next year? No, No, No, a true hunter will go after the very next best thing and that is Axis Deer Hunting in the spring and summer months, the rut.
No matter the big game animal you are pursuing the best action occurs during the rut and Axis Deer Hunting is no different. The rut is a mating period when Axis bucks go into a testosterone driven frenzy chasing does. They also will show dominance by fighting other males in the herd. This is the premium time to go hunting for big Axis Bucks and this action is what usually hooks even the most novice hunter into coming back again and again.
Axis Deer are not native in Texas, or North America for that matter. Axis Deer were brought over from India to Texas a very long time ago. So, they are considered a non-native game animal and there is no specific seasons to hunt Axis Deer in Texas, but there is a specific time you should be in the woods just like other rutting animals. Axis Deer are beautiful with light brown reddish orange coats dotted with white speckles. Axis Bucks have large horns that can reach over 36’ inches in length and have typically 6 points. They are also known to taste better than most wildlife table fare. This gives a combination of a great tasting meat and a large set of antlers for the hunter. Although, Axis can breed at different time throughout the year the heaviest time of the Axis rut in Texas is during May, with the peak of the breeding typically in June and July.
Axis This is also when most of the Axis horns are hard and out of velvet. This time of year, in Texas brings bright green foliage and a smooth warm air blowing through the mesquites. Axis Deer Does will gather in herds, unlike whitetail Deer during the rut, you will nearly always find a buck with them. Do not be surprised to see large herds of over 20 does and a dominant buck with them. Normally Axis Deer very rarely give you much time to observe them because they are such a secretive and wary prey, but this is not the case during the rut as they are loud and can be found roaring throughout the woods, a sound you will not soon forget.
During the rut months it is typically hot here in Texas. Early in the morning we will travel out across the ranch and search for herds of Axis! When Axis Hunting we typically start in a cedar blind early in the morning patiently waiting for the arrival of the herd in an open field. The cedar blind is usually cut out of the middle of a cedar tree and is hidden high on a hill overlooking a vast area, depending on the wind direction this is a perfect place to harvest your game. While hunting from a blind it is not uncommon to hear the Axis vocalize through the woods, it is very similar to Red Stag or an Elk bugle or roar but much milder.
We will be Axis Hunting midday at a waterhole, as the summer heat creeps in to the high 90’s to 100’ degrees Fahrenheit Axis get tired from chasing does. Since the Axis travel in herds in the rut, it seems many fights will break out in the mid-morning hours around the watering holes. The male Axis bucks will lock horns with other males to show dominance over the herd. This in turn can make bucks very tired and dehydrated, thus a nearby waterhole is a great place to examine and search for a midday buck. The midday hunts are notoriously good because we may find most males taking a break in the summer heat. Axis Deer will stop in the shade under large oaks, or bed up in tall grass near the bottoms of cedar thickets and rest until the summer temps dive back to a comfortable temperature to travel for food or a girlfriend. This in turn gives a great time to glass hills in search of the resting herd. Often, midday Axis Hunts require long stalks through heavy brush to pursue the target animal. For many of these spot and stalk Axis hunts we use shooting sticks to help steady the rifle and it is a cat and mouse game. Initially, this will start out at about 500 yards away and then stalk to 150 yards or less. For the bow hunter comes the hardest part, the quiet stalk into the Axis domain and trying to get the animal within 60 yards without being heard. Patience and skill are at the forefront of this style of Axis deer hunting. There may be other animals resting around the target animal, and typically they are the ones that will become spooked and give away your position. With all the thrill on the main target one must be cognitive of the other species in the woods. If the hunter is busted by Axis be prepared for a loud high pitch bark from the Axis herd.
As the sun descends towards the rolling hills, it seems the whole ranch becomes a little more active. As we sit on the cedar hills, we notice Axis roaring in search of their next mate or fight. Right before dark is probably the most successful time to harvest a mature Axis Buck. But do not fret there are no specific shooting hours for exotic game in Texas. Some Axis deer hunting outfitters and ranches hunt after hours and into the dark, but here at Rock Creek Ranch we do not as we try to keep your Axis hunt as traditional as we can so you will have one of the best experiences possible. Depending on the moon phase Axis will be active all night. If there is a full moon present afternoon hunting may be the best opportunity to hunt Axis. As they will be rather tired in the morning or by mid-day from being so active all night long. The best time to hunt is with no moon phase at all as this will keep them bedded for most of the night and allow Axis Deer the energy to be active all day.
Whichever method or time of the day we hunt May, June, and July is hands down the best time to hunt Axis Deer in Texas. This beautiful animal is a very tough and rewarding hunt. The hide, antlers and meat will leave you with a lifetime experience of excitement, challenge, and achievement! Here at Rock Creek Ranch we encourage you to try hunting Axis at the peak time of the season to challenge and reward yourself with an amazing game animal and a hunt you not soon forget!
As always Happy Hunting y’all!