Monday, November 09, 2015

What happens when you mix axis with whitetail?

Okay, I have a little bit of familiarity with cervidae--deer species--from my family's exotic deer farm. I've seen native whitetail deer all my life, and right now my neighborhood is one of those that has more deer in it than squirrels. There are 4-5 whitetail doe lounging around in the front yard as I type this. But with the deer farm work, I got to become very familiar with axis deer from India, as well as fallow, red deer, sika, elk and lots of different types of antelope. For my money, axis are probably the most beautiful deer species and do very well in Texas. They're raised on game ranches and many have escaped to form feral populations in the Hill Country. While I've read literature that axis bucks have chased after whitetail does during rut, nothing I've ever seen has indicated they could interbreed. Until now.

axis whitetail hybrid in New Braunfels?

I saw this guy chasing after some whitetail does about an hour ago as I went to pick up today's mail. I saw him from behind, illuminated by my headlights, and from the angle I thought he was an axis. His body was bulkier and more stocky--if you've watched axis much, you'll know they are physically more robust than whitetails. But the antlers are what really sealed the deal. Axis antlers grow vertically with one main beam on each side with several large secondary tines, generally growing vertically as well. Whitetail antlers grow in a horizontal crescent, with secondary tines growing vertically from the beam and (occasionally) drop tine that grow down. Whitetail antlers are generally lighter in color, whereas axis antlers are somewhat darker at the base, becoming light at the tips and are generally smoother overall. This fellow was kind enough to pose for me head-on, looking away and in profile. If those aren't axis antlers (albeit slightly atypical) growing on a beefed-up whitetail buck, I don't know what is. Hybrid? That'd be my guess. It crossed my mind that it might be a melanistic axis buck, but all the images I found online of those are a much deeper chocolate color all over. Also, the brow on this buck isn't as prominent as on most axis bucks. But it does strike me as more pronounced than on most whitetail. And this guy's got a serious weight advantage over the other bucks in the neighborhood. Look at that neck! Very, very curious. If anyone at Texas Parks & Wildlife or Texas A&M's exotic livestock research group has a definitive answer for me, I'd love to hear it!

axis whitetail hybrid in New Braunfels?

axis whitetail hybrid in New Braunfels?

axis whitetail hybrid in New Braunfels?

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