“Lone Star Chital” | Hunting Axis Deer In South Texas | THE HUNGER

by Josh Dahlke

Content Director MORE FROM Josh

A deer season with no end? That’s right.

After my first hunt for axis deer (aka “chital”), and especially after biting into an axis steak, I was captivated by these mysterious spotted deer. As an “exotic” species, you can hunt axis deer in Texas 24/7/365. Axis venison is insanely delicious—reason enough to hunt them—and the pursuit of this handsome and cagey species is genuinely thrilling. The blood-curdling roar of an axis buck will leave you breathless (listen at 4:22 in video), and watching his antlers sway through the Texas brush will give you a whole new strain of buck fever.

I was curious to find out if axis deer can be hunted anywhere in their native range. Chital originate from India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. It took some digging, but eventually I discovered you can hunt native axis deer in Pakistan. It’s a costly ($10K+) venture and travel precautions are numerous, so it’s not within reach of most hunters. On the other hand, axis deer have been introduced in places such as New Zealand, Hawaii, and Texas, where populations thrive and (reasonably priced) hunting opportunities abound.

Like any non-native species introduction, there’s some debate and unknowns surrounding the environmental impacts of axis deer on native species. But in places like Texas, axis deer—both confined and free ranging—are likely permanent residents … so you might as well hunt them.

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