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Is Axis Deer the Best Game Meat?

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June 18, 2012

Is Axis Deer the Best Game Meat?

By David Draper

I know this goes against the horn-happy hogwash shown on what passes for outdoor television, but when I’m after an animal, especially when it’s a species I haven’t hunted before, I’m not counting antler inches before I pull the trigger. Instead, I’m thinking about how that animal is going to taste. So when I got a chance to hunt axis deer in south Texas last week, I was excited to finally get the chance to bite into an animal that’s widely praised as the best game meat on the planet.

I was down near Sonora, doing some testing for Winchester’s new Razorback XT line of monolithic bullets with SOE Hunts and a few industry friends. I’m happy to report both the Razorbacks and the company’s Powermax Bonded bullets performed admirably on the free-range axis deer and hogs we targeted that weekend. I’ll also tell you the axis meat was good enough that I brought 60 pounds of it home in my luggage, and left another set of hindquarters with the butcher in Uvalde, who’s going to turn it into sausage and ship it to me.

So, is axis deer the best game meat there is, like so many claim? That’s hard for me to say. It is damn good. For my first taste, I cut some ½-inch steaks from the backstrap, added a pinch of salt and pan-fried them in butter to just medium-rare. The meat was, not unlike the holy infant, so tender and mild. I’ve since had a chunk of that backstrap cooked whole on the grill, sliced and served in some lettuce-wrap tacos and will be putting another in the smoker later today. But, being the best is a pretty bold claim, and I’m going to have to say that crown still goes to my personal favorite: the pronghorn.

What about you? Have you tried axis deer? What do you think is the world’s best game meat?

 

Comments (12)

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from mmagee17 wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Canyon Ranch in Sonora?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from fezzant wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Haven't had axis deer. Curious though: When have you had the holy infant? Did you shoot him yourself (and if so, what caliber was required to bring him down)? Was it a guided hunt?

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from rock rat wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Interesting, I'd no idea the deer existed in the US. Being a grass eater might have something to do with it's mild flavor.

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from philbourjaily wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Axis deer is really good. Is it the best?

I don't see much difference in flavor between axis and corn-fed whitetail, but I think axis meat is the tenderer of the two.

I have only shot one antelope, but it was also very good.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Moose1980 wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Of the species I've had, moose loin was by far the best wild game I've ever eaten. It was as tender as a high dollar beef loin without the fat. Reminded me of bison actually, but the store bought variety. I wonder what wild bison would taste like? Pretty good I bet.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dann wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I shot a 250 lb Axis buck out in the Uvalde area in 2007. My wife, a non-game eater, still talks about that meat. Far and away, the best wild game out there.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from missedit wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I'm glad to hear someone is about the meat on the table, that's really about!!!!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from country road wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Don't know if I'll ever get to try axis deer, but I'll sure remember the "like the holy infant" line. Funny.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from dtownley wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Killed and ate a few of these Chinese ungulates. Best... uh no, worthy of ending up on the fork...yes. Bison is better, elk is better, whitetail more flavor. They are invasive, they graze more than browse a deer farmers dream I guess. We had them free rangeing on a lease just north of San Antonio Tx. They fall from holes blowed through them like other medium game, big da-med boned.
.223 REM, 6mm/.243, 6.5 RM, 7 RM, .308 WIN, "06" don't need a gapeing hole, two good'uns will do the trick.
Good looking hide and can grow some nice skull bone.
A couple hundred $ to hunt them ain't bad, shop around they are thick in some parts of Tx., don't break the bank to kill one. Rent a car and drive around the city you might get one on the front end, the extra $6.00 for their insurance is worth it.

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from tybostev5 wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Oryx

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from bassman06 wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I've never had axis deer, whitetail and elk are worthy of the fork when grilled and smoked. However, when my parents took me with them to Germany, I had on the German Austrian border, I had a chance of freshly taken Wildschwein, that is, Wild Boar in a dark and rich gravy with Blutwurst (Blood sausage) and some red cabbage. Topped it all off with a nice beer! I thought I died and saw the infant child, and the patron saint of hunters!

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Never had it or hunted it yet. A far as i'm concerned, whitetail and elk are fine table fare. If axis is better maybe they should introduce them up here in Jersey.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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from Dann wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I shot a 250 lb Axis buck out in the Uvalde area in 2007. My wife, a non-game eater, still talks about that meat. Far and away, the best wild game out there.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from philbourjaily wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Axis deer is really good. Is it the best?

I don't see much difference in flavor between axis and corn-fed whitetail, but I think axis meat is the tenderer of the two.

I have only shot one antelope, but it was also very good.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Moose1980 wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Of the species I've had, moose loin was by far the best wild game I've ever eaten. It was as tender as a high dollar beef loin without the fat. Reminded me of bison actually, but the store bought variety. I wonder what wild bison would taste like? Pretty good I bet.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from missedit wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I'm glad to hear someone is about the meat on the table, that's really about!!!!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from mmagee17 wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Canyon Ranch in Sonora?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from fezzant wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Haven't had axis deer. Curious though: When have you had the holy infant? Did you shoot him yourself (and if so, what caliber was required to bring him down)? Was it a guided hunt?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Interesting, I'd no idea the deer existed in the US. Being a grass eater might have something to do with it's mild flavor.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dtownley wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Killed and ate a few of these Chinese ungulates. Best... uh no, worthy of ending up on the fork...yes. Bison is better, elk is better, whitetail more flavor. They are invasive, they graze more than browse a deer farmers dream I guess. We had them free rangeing on a lease just north of San Antonio Tx. They fall from holes blowed through them like other medium game, big da-med boned.
.223 REM, 6mm/.243, 6.5 RM, 7 RM, .308 WIN, "06" don't need a gapeing hole, two good'uns will do the trick.
Good looking hide and can grow some nice skull bone.
A couple hundred $ to hunt them ain't bad, shop around they are thick in some parts of Tx., don't break the bank to kill one. Rent a car and drive around the city you might get one on the front end, the extra $6.00 for their insurance is worth it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tybostev5 wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Oryx

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Never had it or hunted it yet. A far as i'm concerned, whitetail and elk are fine table fare. If axis is better maybe they should introduce them up here in Jersey.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from country road wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Don't know if I'll ever get to try axis deer, but I'll sure remember the "like the holy infant" line. Funny.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from bassman06 wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I've never had axis deer, whitetail and elk are worthy of the fork when grilled and smoked. However, when my parents took me with them to Germany, I had on the German Austrian border, I had a chance of freshly taken Wildschwein, that is, Wild Boar in a dark and rich gravy with Blutwurst (Blood sausage) and some red cabbage. Topped it all off with a nice beer! I thought I died and saw the infant child, and the patron saint of hunters!

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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