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Hunting Velvet Axis Deer

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Black Water Guide Service has been a part of literally hundreds of Axis deer hunts and has quickly become the industry leader in info on the best way to kill Axis. The majority of our articles are based on the pretense of hunters looking to harvest axis while hard horned however, the easiest way to hang a trophy axis deer on your wall is while they are still sporting their velvet antlers.

Axis deer are funny creatures. During the time in which they are hard horned, they might possibly be the smartest animals on earth. Unfortunately for them, when they are in velvet, they could possibly be the dumbest animals on the ranch. A simple decrease in testosterone, the willingness to run in bachelor groups, and the likelihood that they will expose themselves during daylight feeding hours is the main three reasons they become so much easier to hunt during this time of year.

If you're interested in killing big hard horned axis bucks, you may refer to my last article on title Where to Hunt Axis Deer in Texas. If you're interested in killing a big velvet axis deer, stay tuned and I'll give you the details.


The first step is locating a quality bachelor group. While in velvet the axis will partner up in groups mainly consisting of bucks or does. The velvet bucks are most likely going to be in groups of nothing but bucks. You can find some does with them every now and then but more than likely they will be alone and presenting themselves in a feeding pattern. Glassing your main feeding areas is a great place to start.


Take your binoculars. Good glass is very important during your planning stage. My number one goal during the planning stage is to locate the group that has the bucks closest to tipping out. Tipping out refers to the axis antlers being just about done growing. These deer are getting ready to start rubbing out. Also keep in mind that the axis closest to tipping out will be the most weary bucks in the group and will more than likely be the last to enter the feeding zones and the first to leave. Pay close attention to three things while glassing during your planning stage. What route are they taking to enter the feeding zone? What route are they taking to exit the feeding zone? And what time are they entering and exiting? If you are a bow hunter it is also very important to notice the direction in which they are feeding. I will personally watch the deer both morning and evening paying close attention the feeding direction in order to locate my specific shot location. It is crucial that I am in a location to draw my bow when they are feeding away from me and in a path that not only places my target within shooting distance but also allows me to not be busted by the other eyeballs in the group. Once I have these details worked out and my hunting location is determined, I move into the stage of approach.


How do I get to my shooting location without screwing up my hunt prior to it even starting? First I have to play the wind. If the wind is not right for my spot, I simply give it a pass for the day no matter how bad I want to get in there. Busting a group of axis from human interaction is the best way to assure failure in your attempt on that particular target. Just because they are more laid back in velvet does not mean that they are forever dumb. On the day my wind is correct, I approach my shooting location with the wind in my face no later than one hour before my time charts indicate they will be feeding. If I have the opportunity to get in there 2 hours early, I will. A leafy suit or natural cover is my preferred method. I will not hang a stand or use a pop up. I am a firm believer, by learned experiences, that changing the visual surrounding will mess the area up for at least a week. Simply get to your spot, make yourself comfortable, be still and shut up. Axis do not have the greatest ears, especially in windy conditions, but their eye sight is phenomenal and I promise you they will catch you blink if you aren't careful. After I have completed my approach, prepared for my shot, and made myself comfortable, I am now ready for the kill.

The Kill:

As the axis deer began their approach into the feeding area, I already have my weapon of choice in position to make the shot at my specified location. In doing this, I do not have to move or adjust myself when the shot becomes available. I am ready for my target to step into my shooting spot. Knowing that my target is usually the last into the field and first to leave I have a very short and precise window to execute my kill shot. I will sit dead still until he is two steps from my shooting spot with his head down and faced in the opposite direction. Upon his next step I will draw my bow or click off my safety. This small movement will 9 times out of 10 cause him to pick his head up out of curiosity to the movement, ultimately stopping in the proper location of my kill spot. Settle your pin or crosshairs and let it rip! After impact don't celebrate. Axis deer are notoriously tough animals and have a tendency to get up and haul *** again when disturbed. Use this time to internally go back over your success. Take time to chill out and enjoy the accomplishment you just put together.

The Aftermath:

You did it! You have a beautiful velvet axis buck on the ground within line of sight because you did it the right way. What do you do now? You've never killed an animal in velvet and you want to preserve the trophy to the exact specifications as when he walked in during that awesome moment. These next few steps are very important. Immediately get him back to the cleaning rack and get him skinned and quartered. You are going to want to cape him completely off the face which is not hard to do and as long are you are mindful of the deep tear ducts that axis possess, you will have no problem. Take your time and do a good job preserving your trophy during this step. You Tube is a great place to learn, or just give me a shout and I'd be glad to walk you through it. After you've caped him off the face, go ahead and skull cap him with a hack saw or sawzall. Go about 3 inches below the back of his antlers and go straight through about 3 quarters of the way up his eye sockets. When complete, get the antlers into a deep freezer or to your taxidermist immediately. When speaking with your taxidermist let him know that you would like the velvet freeze dried and not injected. The freeze dry method preserves the velvet to the natural state and it will keep the poof look for the lifetime of your mount. The injection method works fine for preservation but you will notice that the velvet lays down and does not keep the poof appeal.


Now that you have completed beating one the worlds smartest creatures at his own game, celebrate! Stick your chest out and walk a little taller that day. You're officially the man. Spot and stalk and freestyle (non blind) hunting for axis is one of the most rewarding hunts on the planet. It takes a great hunter to accomplish this task and its deserving of a little bit of pride.

Just like any other skill in life, there is someone out there who is probably better than me at hunting axis deer. I do know however that we are on pace this year to kill over 100 trophy axis bucks and these same skills seem to work time and time again. They may not be perfect but they are proven for success and we have a bunch of happy clients that would agree with our methods.

If you ever need help going after one on your own property/lease or would like to come hunt one with us, just give me a holler. I'm always happy to help!

Skyler Watkins,

Black Water Guide Service

About the author

Sky Watkins

Owner, Lead Guide

Owner and Lead Guide of Black Water Guide Service. Sky has lead thousands of hunters through some of the most amazing experiences of there lives. Read Pro Hunting Tips from an experienced Texas guide who's been through it all.

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