Texas, a state known for its vastness and diverse regions and terrain, is home to several types of deer. From the commonly encountered white-tailed deer to the elusive mule deer of West Texas and even the exotic species thriving on controlled hunting sites, Texas offers a unique hunting experience for every enthusiast.
Our Texas hunting experts will provide a comprehensive overview of the deer species found in Texas. They will also share valuable information about the diverse habitats of the Lone Star State, each boasting distinctive characteristics and hunting difficulties.
Why Texas is unique for deer species.
The diverse deer species in North America create distinct habitats and provide a range of hunting chances. Spanning from southern Canada to western Mexico, these game animals are popular targets for hunters. Texas stands out by offering a broad selection of deer species for hunting enthusiasts.
Texas has a vast and diverse landscape ranging from lush forests to scattered desert mountain ranges, and this makes for a variety of environments that are well-suited for different types of deer species. Whitetail deer and mule deer make up the majority of the population in Texas. These animals provide great recreational opportunities for hunters of all levels.
Fortunately, with all of the species, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has implemented regulations to protect the deer population and ensure the future of hunting. These regulations help to maintain an optimal balance between humans, deer, and other wildlife species.
Most common Texas deer.
Countless types of deer can be found in Texas. We’ve compiled a brief overview of the most popular species you can encounter while hunting throughout the state.
Where to find white-tailed deer: North Texas, Central Texas, East Texas, South Texas
What we love about white-tailed deer: They’re plentiful and easy to spot in the wild. Their impressive antlers are a great trophy for hunters.
The whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is the most common species in Texas, with an estimated population of 3.6 million. They are recognized by their white tail underside, which they raise as a warning signal when they detect danger. Unlike other deer species, whitetail antler tines grow outward from the head instead of upward.
Where to find mule deer: West Texas
What we love about mule deer: Bigger than white-tailed deer, their antlers are an impressive trophy. They have a unique “mule” gait that is fun to watch in the wild.
Primarily found west of the Pecos River and in parts of the High Plains, the mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) is another native Texas species. They are distinct from the white-tailed deer with larger ears resembling a mule. They’re also a bit bigger, with mule deer bucks weighing up to 250 pounds. There are a few different types of mule deer in Texas, including the Rocky Mountain mule deer and the desert mule deer. These often shy animals are challenging to hunt due to their sharp senses and intelligence.
Where to find pronghorn: West Texas
What we love about pronghorn: They’re the fastest land mammals in North America, capable of running up to 55 miles per hour. Also known as the antelope, they can often be spotted in wide-open fields and prairies.
While not a true deer, the pronghorn is often included in discussions about Texas deer due to its similarities and shared habitat. Most hunters agree that the pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) is a great trophy. They are often found in wide-open areas such as fields and prairies because they are easier to hunt than deer due to their lack of senses. The challenge comes in finding one, as they can run up to 55 miles per hour and quickly cover large distances. When you get a shot, take it.
Where to find Axis deer: Central Texas
What we love about Axis deer: They are one of the most beautiful and graceful species in Texas, with a unique spotted pattern. Larger than white-tailed deer, they offer an even bigger trophy for hunters.
Introduced in 1932 as a game meat, axis deer have thrived in the Texas environment. They are primarily kept on farms or controlled hunting sites. These gems often sport unique white spots with black outlined markings that are beautiful to watch. Although illegal in some areas, hunting Axis deer outside farms and hunting sites is possible.
Where to find sika deer: East Texas
What we love about sika deer: They are small and often found in marshy wetlands, making for a challenging hunt. Their bright coats and impressive antlers make them an exciting trophy.
Known for their diverse diet, sika deer feed on everything from trees and shrubs to grasses and fungi. While not as common as other species, they still play a significant role in Texas’ deer population. These smaller deer (Cervus nippon) are often found in marshy wetlands and can be quite challenging to hunt. They have a unique look with bright coats and impressive antlers. Be sure to check local hunting regulations before going on a sika deer hunt.
Fallow Deer, Black Buck, Blesbok, Corsican Sheep, Four-Horn Sheep, Addax, Rusa Deer, Sable, Grants Gazelle, Ibex Cross
These are various exotic deer species that have been introduced to Texas and can be found on farms or controlled hunting sites.
Some of these exotic species come from South Asia, while others come from Africa and Europe. However, now they’re primarily on private ranches throughout the Texas Hill Country.
Sure, they’re not native deer species, but they are still exciting to hunt. Many of them offer a unique look – blackbuck antelope have beautifully curved horns, ibex and addax are majestic with long spiraling horns, and four-horn sheep have the potential for four impressive horns.
When hunting these species at private ranches, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,500 to upwards of $6,000 for a guided hunt. It’s certainly a unique experience that can’t be found in the wild, and it might be worth checking out if you’re looking for an exciting trophy.
Ready to hunt the various types of deer in Texas?
With such a diverse range of deer species, Texas offers a unique and varied hunting experience. Whether you’re tracking the ubiquitous white-tail in the brushy woodlands of the East, the mule deer in the arid landscapes of West Texas, or seeking the challenge of exotic species on controlled hunting sites, the Lone Star State is every hunter’s dream.
It’s a big state with plenty of terrain and habitat to explore. And with the variety of deer species found here, you will surely find something that fits your hunting style.