When & Where to Hunt Axis Deer?

By Brodie SwisherMay 28, 2024

Scroll through some of the more popular bowhunting channels on YouTube these days, and you’ll find the pursuit of axis deer has become a growing trend for hunters in the off-season. It’s a species many write off as a canned hunt lacking excitement and adventure. But there’s more to it than what you might think.  

Why the rise in popularity? 

Axis deer are easily one of the most beautiful species of deer you’ll find anywhere. They are sized somewhat like a mature whitetail deer, with unique antlers, and white spots like you’d find on a fawn. And while referred to as “deer,” they are more anatomically aligned with elk than our native deer. 

In fact, when rutting, the males can be heard bellowing/bugling across the landscape, and both male and female axis deer make alarm sounds, or barks.

Even better, they can be found rutting throughout the summer months, making them an ideal off-season bowhunting pursuit to fill the void while you’re waiting on fall.  

When & Where To Hunt Axis Deer?
Bowhunting for axis deer in the off-season continues to grow in popularity. @seek1productions

Where to Hunt Axis Deer?

You’ll likely find axis deer hunting opportunities at most any high-fence exotic hunting operation. But if you’re looking for free range axis deer hunting, look no further than Hawaii and Texas. 

These 2 states hold the herds that are drawing hunters from across the country to experience one of the most exciting off-season hunting opportunities you’ll find anywhere. 

Axis Deer Hunting in Hawaii

You won’t find a more spectacular place on earth to hunt axis deer than Hawaii. It’s picturesque views and tropical backdrop put Hawaii at the top when it comes to bowhunting in paradise.

“It’s the best deer hunt on earth,” says Jim Shockey after hunting with the Pineapple Brothers in Lanai.

The 90,000-acre Hawaiian island of Lanai is home to the largest population of free range axis deer. It’s truly one of the most beautiful  hunting destinations you’ll find anywhere in the world. 

When & Where To Hunt Axis Deer?
Free range axis deer hunting opportunities abound in places like Hawaii and Texas. @seek1productions

“Axis deer were first brought to the islands in the late 1860s,” says Eric Chesser of the Hushin YouTube channel. “Now they number in the 10’s of thousands. This is without a doubt the land of opportunity.” 

Check out one of Eric’s hunts for axis deer in Hawaii in the video below.

As you might expect, the price tag for bowhunting in the paradise-like land of Lanai won’t come cheap. In fact, the cost of hunting axis deer in Hawaii can rival the cost of an elk hunt in many parts of the country. Expect to pay $4000 – $6000 for a guided hunting opportunity in Hawaii. 

If you have the right connections, a DIY hunt in Hawaii is not out of the question, but the right connections are the key. Many hunters find it worth the cost of admission to simply secure a reputable outfitter and eliminate the stress and worry of a DIY-style hunt. 

Axis Deer Hunting in Texas

A more accessible, and affordable, axis deer hunting option is the state of Texas. Depending on where you live, you can make the trip in a day’s drive from many states across the country. 

Yes, Texas is home to a wide range of exotic, high-fence hunting operations that offer axis deer hunts. But it’s also home to one of the biggest free-range axis deer herds you’ll find anywhere.  

How To Bowhunt 12 Months Out Of The Year

Axis deer are native to India, where it’s known as the chital. According to the Texas Tech Science Research Lab, axis deer were brought to Texas in the early 1930s and now appear across the state with some 15,000 free-ranging deer living in a number of counties in the central and southern part of the state.  

They are now known as the most abundant exotic ungulate in the state of Texas and commonly found among the Hill Country region.  

The research went on to show that pregnant females may be found throughout the year, but the major breeding season lasts from mid-May through August with a June – July peak in activity. 

Unlike bull elk, axis bucks make no attempt to collect or retain harems of does, but instead they seek out and service the does in each herd as they become receptive. It truly makes for an exciting off-season ruttting frenzy for those willing to endure the summertime temperatures in Texas.

DIY hunts and old fashioned door knocking can lead to hunting access for axis deer in  Texas, but the opportunities will be few and far between. That’s why most hunters avoid the hassle of such and simply book a trip with a reputable outfitter.

And as you might expect, with the rise of the popularity of axis deer hunting in Texas, comes a rise in the cost of securing a place to hunt. Outfitted hunts for axis deer in Texas are typically more affordable than Hawaii, but they’re not far behind. Expect to pay $3000 – $45000 for a guided axis deer hunt in Texas.  

Drew Carroll of the popular Seek One YouTube channel made the trip to south Texas last year in search of axis deer to kick off his 2023/2024 bowhunting season. He says it was a great way to knock the rust off and get back in the bowhunting mindset after a long spring turkey season. 

“We got the invite to hunt axis from country music singer, Kolten Moore, who also owns Perrenial Outfitters in south Texas,” says Carroll. “It’s actually hill country – it’s  totally different terrain than what I’m use to.”

When & Where To Hunt Axis Deer?
Drew Carroll with his south Texas axis buck. @seek1productions

The team at Perennial Outfitters says they’re axis deer hunts take place on foot, making for an unforgettable spot-and-stalk experience. 

You can expect to put in 2-6 miles of hiking a day, with 6-10 hours spent behind the glass in search of your deer. 

The cost of an axis deer hunt at Perennial Outfitters is $4500, which includes meals, lodging and guide fees. 

Watch Drew Carroll’s hunt for axis deer in Texas in the video below…

Aside from the unique off-season hunting experience, axis deer deliver some of the finest meat you’ll ever put on the table. Most folks that have tried it say it’s the best meat of any critter in the woods. 

Fine food, a majestic animal, hunted in some of the prettiest country you’ll stomp through all year – axis deer make for a unique bowhunting experience every hunter should consider adding to the bucket list. 

Brodie Swisher
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Bowhunting.com. Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
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