By Chuck Woodbury
I took this photo behind my campground near Kerrville, Texas. They’re Axis deer, also known as the chital. Beautiful, aren’t they? But they are also on the local most wanted list — they don’t belong here. They came from India. They were brought to the USA to be shot by hunters at game farms. But, oops, they escaped.
They are considered the most beautiful deer. You can see that from the photo. They look like big Bambi’s with all those spots. The males have impressive horns.
And the thing about these deer is they breed like rabbits. Other deer have breeding seasons; the rest of the year they just eat and avoid motorists and hunters. But not Axis deer. They’re out there in the forest all horned up (pun intended) year-round.
They’re hearty animals — way more so than the native whitetails. And here’s the list of their predators according to Wikipedia: wolves, Bengal tigers, Asiatic lions, leopards, Indian rock pythons, dholes (a wild dog), Indian pariah dogs and mugger crocodiles. Yeah, like there’s a lot of Bengal tigers and mugger crocodiles in these parts!
So what to do about these sex-craved beasts? Shoot ’em! You can hunt them anytime you want in Texas, no regular hunting license required. There’s no bag or possession limit. Frankly, I don’t know why they’re not all gone considering the popularity of hunting around here. The only special thing you need is a non-game permit from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which is different from the standard state hunting license.
But from what I’ve read, even hunting them isn’t keeping the population in check. And if they keep breeding, they’ll eventually wipe out the native deer.
A herd of about 20 Axis deer show up in the pecan orchard behind my motorhome nearly every night. If I had a .30-.06 (which I do not) I could bag my red meat supply in one night for the next year. But then I guess I’d need a couple of big freezers — not happening. And, also, I don’t think my fellow RVers would appreciate me hunting big game in their back yards.