Difference between whitetail and axis deer

So you’re thinking of going deer hunting but aren’t sure how to tell the difference between whitetail and axis deer? Here you can find all the necessary details on these two noble races. Whether you are a seasoned hunter or looking to get into the sport, knowing your prey better infinitely increases your chances of bagging a kill.

Food Source

We’ll start with the most important basic fact i.e. Food Source. Whitetail deer have two food sources, Forbes and Browse, whereas Axis deer have these both as well as a third source, Grass. This would not be so critical for the Whitetail deer if their body sizes were the same, but they are not. At normal shoulder height, the Axis deer stands 4 inches taller and 6 inches taller when standing on its hind legs. This allows it to take the browse line (the level below which foliage can be reached by browsing animals) higher than the Whitetail deer, effectively cutting down one of its food sources. This is why Squaw Mountain Ranch provides supplemental feeding to prevent this from happening.

Sexual Maturity

Moving on to sexual maturity, Whitetail deer take 24 months to achieve sexual maturity whereas Axis deer take only 14 months. Thus, the Whitetail deer needs a full 2 years to become available for breeding. Whereas the Axis deer is available for breeding in little more than a year after being born.

Breeding Time Frame

The breeding time frame of Whitetail is only 3 months, October through December, whereas the Axis has a year-round breeding frame. This means that the Axis deer will be able to reproduce more quickly than the Whitetail deer. When we consider both sexual maturity and breeding time frames, we can see that the Axis deer will have weaned her fawns and will be ready to breed again by the time the Whitetail deer gives birth to her first set of fawns. These figures show that we are left with a species that will not only out-produce the native whitetail on a neutral location, but will also limit its food source, resulting in a natural fall in population size.

Hunting Equipment

Hunters are required to obtain tags for specific weapons when hunting Whitetail deer. But those terms do not apply to Texas exotics like Axis deer. You’ll be allowed to hunt Axis with any weapon of choice, whether rifles, crossbows or compound bows etc.

Hunting Style

Whitetail deer hunting is about taking a stand and waiting them out. Whereas in Axis deer hunting, you can either take a waiting stand or spot and stalk your prey.


In conclusion, both species have their own benefits and shortcomings. The Whitetail bucks are kings of our country and will remain in this state for a long time. But the Axis deer have a significantly better genetic makeup and are liable to take over the entire habitat if left unchecked. They both offer similar life spans, gestation periods and fawn crop with slight differences in their food sources, sexual maturity and breeding frame as mentioned above.