5 Exotic Animals You Can Hunt in Texas (Legally)

Carly Brasseux // May 8

For those looking for a unique hunting experience, Texas offers a range of exotic animals to hunt. While controversial, hunting these animals is legal in the state and can provide a thrilling adventure. In Texas, we do consider all exotics invasive species. This means they are not native to Texas and can threaten the ecology of our whitetail deer and other native species.

Here are 5 exotic animals you can legally hunt in Texas.

Axis Deer

Axis deer, also known as chital, are native to India but were introduced to Texas in the 1930s. Since their introduction, axis deer have escaped captivity and are established in Texas, with over 6,000 free-ranging animals and 40,000 kept on private hunting ranges. They are now one of the most popular exotic animals to hunt in the state. 

Known for their beautiful spotted coats and impressive antlers, axis deer can be found in many areas of Texas, particularly in the Hill Country region. Axis hunting in Hawaii is also a popular destination. They are also known for their delicious meat, making them a popular target for hunters.

You can hunt these any time of the year, but May through September is going to have the largest number of hard-horn bucks to choose from.

Check out this axis buck I bagged at the Lazy CK Ranch!

exotic animals you can legally hunt in Texas

Are axis deer a problem in Texas?

While axis deer are a popular exotic game animal to hunt in Texas, they have also become a growing problem for landowners and farmers. Their population has exploded in recent years, causing damage to crops and native vegetation. Some landowners have even resorted to hiring professional hunters to cull the herds.

Are axis deer good to eat?

Axis deer are considered one of the best-tasting wild game meats, with a flavor that is often compared to beef or venison. Many hunters choose to harvest axis deer for their meat, as well as for their impressive antlers.

Blackbuck Antelope

Blackbuck antelope are another popular exotic animal to hunt in Texas. Originally from India and Pakistan, these antelope are known for their striking black and white coats and impressive spiral horns. 

Blackbuck antelope can be found in many areas of Texas, particularly in the southern part of the state. 

You can also hunt these year-round, but the best time to hunt Blackbuck Antelope is during spring and early summer. They rut in June and July and present peak opportunity to hunters. 

Are blackbuck antelope native to Texas?

No, blackbuck antelope are not native to Texas. They were introduced to the state in the 1930s and have since become a popular exotic game species for hunting. Other exotic animals that can be hunted in Texas include axis deer, aoudad sheep, and sika deer.

Can you eat blackbuck antelope?

Blackbuck antelope meat is considered a delicacy in some parts of the world and is often compared to venison. It is a lean meat with a mild flavor and can be prepared in a variety of ways, including grilling, roasting, and stewing. 

How much does it cost to shoot a black buck in Texas?

The cost to shoot a black buck in Texas can vary depending on the hunting ranch and package you choose. On average, prices range from $2,500 to $4,500 for a black buck hunt. It's important to note that some hunting ranches may require additional fees for lodging, meals, and guide services.

Fallow Deer

Fallow deer are a popular exotic animal to hunt in Texas, with their distinctive spotted coats and impressive paddle-like antlers. Originally from Europe and Asia, they can be found in many areas of Texas, particularly in the Hill Country region. Fallow deer hunting season in Texas typically runs from September through December, which is when the fallow bucks are hard-antlered. You can still hunt fallow deer in January and February, but the bucks have been through the rut and there’s a risk that they might have broken points or rubbed points.

What is special about fallow deer?

Fallow deer are known for their unique antlers, which are palmate (broad and flattened) and have numerous points. They also have a distinctive coat that can range from white to dark brown with white spots. Fallow deer hunting is popular in Texas due to its beauty and challenging nature.

Where are fallow deer in Texas?

Fallow deer can be found in various parts of Texas, including the Hill Country, South Texas, and the Trans-Pecos region.

Sika Deer

Sika deer are another exotic animal that can be legally hunted in Texas. Originally from Japan and Eastern Asia, sika deer were introduced to Texas in the early 1900s and have since established populations in various parts of the state. They are more closely related to elk and red stags than they are to deer. Sika deer hunting season in Texas typically runs from early October to late February.

What types of sika deer are in Texas?

There are two types of sika deer found in Texas: the Japanese sika deer and the Dybowski sika deer. Both are considered exotic species and can be legally hunted in Texas.

Are sika deer aggressive?

While sika deer are not typically aggressive towards humans, they can become aggressive during mating season or if they feel threatened. It is important to always exercise caution and follow proper hunting safety guidelines when hunting any type of animal.

Aoudad Sheep

Aoudad sheep, also known as Barbary sheep, are a popular exotic animal for hunting in Texas. Originally from North Africa, these sheep were introduced to Texas in the 1950s and have since thrived in the state's rugged terrain. Dang! A free-range aoudad is on the top of a lot of hunters' lists!

Aoudad sheep have impressive horns and are known for their agility, making them a challenging and exciting target for hunters. They are stout and elusive! Only movement sometimes can distinguish the tawny body from its habitat. 

These things just “disappear.” I had numerous aoudad hunts before I took this one in the Texas Panhandle. We’d see, stalk for hours through canyons and hillsides, and then poof; they are gone over a hill never to be seen again. Super frustrating which makes it all the better when you get one!

exotic animals you can hunt in Texas

Hunting season for Aoudad sheep in Texas is year-round, but typically ruts in the fall from September to November.

Are there wild aoudad in Texas?

Yes, there are wild aoudads in Texas and they are a popular exotic animal to hunt. They were introduced to the state in the 1950s and have since established a population in the mountainous regions of West Texas.

Economic Impact of Exotic Animal Hunting in Texas

Exotic animal hunting in Texas has a significant economic impact on the state. In 2019 alone, the exotic game industry in Texas generated over $2.3 billion in economic activity and supported over 18,000 jobs.

This industry includes revenue generated from permits, licenses, and tourism. Many hunters travel from out of state and even from other countries to hunt exotic animals in Texas, providing a boost to the state's tourism industry.

Hunting Organizations and Associations in Texas

There are several hunting organizations and associations in Texas that support exotic animal hunting. These organizations provide resources and support to hunters, as well as advocating for the industry and promoting ethical hunting practices.

Texas Wildlife Association

The Texas Wildlife Association is a nonprofit organization that promotes wildlife conservation and management in Texas. They support hunting as a way to manage wildlife populations and generate revenue for conservation efforts.

Exotic Wildlife Association

The Exotic Wildlife Association is a nonprofit organization that represents breeders, producers, and enthusiasts of exotic wildlife. They support ethical and sustainable hunting practices and promote the economic benefits of the industry.

Texas Trophy Hunters Association

The Texas Trophy Hunters Association is a nonprofit organization that promotes hunting as a way to conserve wildlife and preserve hunting traditions. They provide resources and support to hunters and advocate for the industry.

Now, who's going hunting exotics in Texas with me?

About the Author

Carly Brasseux

Carly Brasseux is a determined and passionate freelance outdoor writer, published author, business owner and social media/marketing consultant based in Texas. In a world where women are the fastest growing segment of the hunting population, she is a major proponent of those women wanting to learn more about the outdoors and hunting. Her handle, Miss Pursuit, is an expression of her enthusiasm for all things outdoors, from educating women through her experiences learning to hunt over the last decade, to getting out with her kids to explore the wild. Her expertise in social media and marketing, as well as her vast network of people in the outdoor industry, have given her the influence to make an impact for years to come. Member of the Mule Deer Foundation, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Stewards of the Wild and the Texas Wildlife Association.