Known as the "Chital" in its native India, the Axis deer has a beautiful golden brown coat with white spots that stay with them their entire life. The spots on adult Axis are much brighter than on their fawns. Adults have a white patch on their necks that is much more distinct on the male or stag than on does. A medium sized deer, the Axis stag stands 29"-39" at the shoulder and weighs 150-250 pounds where as the doe typically is several inches shorter at 26" to 33" but weighs only 90 to 150 pounds. An axis fawn can easily be mistaken for a whitetail fawn, however the axis fawn has a distinct black strip down its spine that the whitetail fawn does not have.
Axis deer are tropical deer consequently they can be in velvet or have hardened antlers and can rut anytime during the year. Similarly the does can be in an estrous cycle lasting approximately 3 weeks at any time throughout the year. The major breeding season lasts from mid-May through August with a peak in activity during June-July. The bucks make no attempt to collect and retain groups of does, rather they service does in each herd as they become receptive.
With a gestation of 7-8 months, normally only one fawn is born per pregnant doe. In Texas fawns are normally born in early January through mid-April, although fawns can be born in any month of the year. Stags reach adult size at age 4-5 while does are typically 6 before they reach their full adult size. Most does are breeding by the time they are 14-17 months old. Lifespan for Axis deer is approximately 9-13 years.
Axis deer typically have 3 points on each antler which sweeps back and up. A very average Axis will have 20 inch antlers while 30 inch antlers are considered excellent trophies and 36 inch antlers are exceptional. The world record Axis antlers were measured in India at 41 inches.
Introduced into Texas in 1932, Axis deer free range across Texas and can be found on game ranches in most parts of the state. Primarily grazers 90 percent of the time, Axis deer can switch to browse during droughts when grasses are in very short supply. These animals are gregarious by nature and can usually be found in herds ranging from a few animals to 100 or more. In each herd the leader is usually an old, experienced doe. Unlike our native deer, adult male axis deer normally are found living with herds of young and old animals of both sexes. Anatomically, axis deer are more closely allied to the North American elk than to our native deer. Like our elk, rutting male axis deer emit bugle like bellows, and both sexes have alarm calls or barks.