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November 28, 2023 •iSportsman Staff
If you’re an avid deer hunter looking for a new challenge, try your hand at axis deer. They are a highly sought after exotic species, and extremely difficult to hunt: They tend to stay in thick cover and have excellent eyesight and sense of smell. Not only do they have incredible trophy potential, due to their majestic nature and rareness, but they also have the best tasting venison in the world. On top of that they also have different yearly cycles compared to other deer, with peak rut in the middle of the summer, and are usually available to hunt year-round due to their status as an invasive species, making them a good option for the typical off-season.
Axis deer, also known as chital, are a deer species native to India, who were originally brought over to America in the early 1900s as a game animal. They eventually became free and, because of their speedy reproductive cycle, quickly populated many areas of the United States. Now they are considered a least concern species, with ample hunting opportunity — you just need to know where to look. Thankfully, we’ve collected the best chital hunting spots below.
Considered by some to be the unofficial axis deer capital of the United States, Texas Hill Country is one of the best hunting locations for this exotic species. The environment features ideal conditions for the deer to develop in, such as dense vegetation, climate, and terrain. The area is also huge, with thousands of acres available to hunt on. Combine all this with the fact that the axis deer is an invasive species, meaning that people can hunt them all-year-round, and you have a perfect concoction for hunting chital. The area is part of the greater Edwards Plateau, which is where axis deer were originally introduced to Texas in the 1930s, and they have flourished since then. With the abundance of the species in this region, hunters should have no trouble finding a good opportunity for either trophy or meat hunting.
A perfect combination of exotic locale with exotic game, Maui is a very attractive location for axis deer hunting enthusiasts. With many hunting opportunities only mere minutes away from the nearest airport, hunters can get started basically as soon as they land on the island. Axis deer were introduced here in the 1860s, earlier than the American mainland, which has led to a population explosion for the species. Even today, the chital population is still growing between 20-30% each year, with 60,000 axis deer in Maui County alone. They are a major threat to the environment and economy of Hawai’i, and hunters are desperately needed to help control the population.
Florida has many chital hunting opportunities throughout the whole state, but many of the best hunts are in the southern portion. The mild climate and diverse ecosystems of the state are a relatively similar match for the axis deer’s original habitat in India, allowing the species to truly thrive. This means there are plentiful chances for hunting axis deer throughout the year, but the area around Indiantown is one of the greatest. It features a herd of between 500-800 axis deer, one of the largest in all North America, and is perfect for any hunter hoping to cross the axis deer off their hunting bucket list.
So, if you’re looking to get some hunting in during the off-season, want to challenge yourself with a difficult but rewarding hunt, or just want to taste the most delicious venison in the world, then make sure you hunt some axis deer this summer. Just make sure to hunt at one of these locations, and you’ll be in a prime position to succeed.