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Lonestar Deer Diversity | The Types of Deer in Texas

The “Lone Star State” of Texas, is not only known for its vast landscapes and rich hunting traditions, but also for its diverse deer population. And, that’s good news for hunting enthusiasts and wildlife admirers alike.

Types Of Deer Found In Texas

From the iconic Whitetail deer to the elusive Sika, each species of deer in Texas offers a unique hunting experience and contributes to the state’s rich biodiversity.

Whitetail Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

giant whitetail buck with drop tine
  • Description:
    • Appearance: Whitetails boast a magnificent set of antlers, with bucks often showcasing impressive racks.
    • Size and Weight: Adult males (bucks) can weigh up to 300 pounds, while females (does) are smaller.
  • Habitat and Behavior:
    • Habitat Range: Whitetails are adaptable to various environments, from dense forests to open grasslands and brushy areas.
    • Feeding Habits: Whitetail feed primarily on leaves, twigs, fruits, and agricultural crops.
    • Rutting Season: During mating season, bucks emit loud grunts and engage in other territorial behavior, like making rubs and scrapes.
  • Significance in Texas:
    • Most Sought-After Game: Whitetails are a prized game animal, attracting hunters from all over the country.
    • Conservation Efforts: Texas boasts robust conservation programs to ensure the sustainability of Whitetail populations.

Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus)

mule deer with giant antlers
  • Description:
    • Unique Features: mule deer possess distinctive antlers that shed and regrow annually.
    • Coat: The mule deer have a grayish-brown coat provides excellent camouflage in their preferred habitats.
  • Habitat and Behavior:
    • Habitat Preference: mule deer thrive in open landscapes such as mountainous regions and desert scrublands.
    • Migration Patterns: During the winter months, mule deer often migrate to lower elevations in search of food.
    • Social Behavior: mule deer are known to form small groups, especially during mating season.
  • Significance in Texas:
    • Trans-Pecos and Panhandle Regions: These areas are hotspots for mule deer sightings.
    • Challenging Hunts: Hunters are drawn to the rugged terrain and elusive nature of mule deer.

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Axis or Chital Deer (Cervus axis)

axis deer in a field
  • Description:
    • Stunning Coat: Axis Deer sport a reddish coat adorned with white spots, reminiscent of a fawn’s appearance.
    • Size: They are slightly smaller than Whitetails and Mule Deer.
  • Habitat and Behavior:
    • Habitat Range: Axis Deer are often found in mixed woodlands, grasslands, and brushy areas.
    • Social Herds: These deer typically gather in herds, grazing on grasses and foliage.
    • Mating Displays: During the rutting season, bucks engage in competitive displays to win mates.
  • Significance in Texas:
    • Exotic Beauty: Axis Deer are highly sought after for their striking appearance and beautiful hides.
    • Culinary Delights: Their venison is known for its tender texture and delicious flavor.

IV. Sika Deer (Cervus nippon)

sika deer in texas
  • Description:
    • Distinct Appearance: Sika Deer are a smaller deer with a coat that is adorned with spots.
    • Behavior: They are known for their stealthy and elusive nature, making them challenging to hunt.
  • Habitat and Behavior:
    • Coastal Habitats: Sika Deer thrive in marshes, swamps, and coastal grasslands.
    • Mating Rituals: Bucks emit vocalizations during the rut, marking their territory and seeking mates.
  • Significance in Texas:
    • Hunting Adventures: Sika Deer hunting offers a unique experience in the coastal wilderness.
    • Conservation Focus: According to Texas Tech Natural Sciences Research Laboratory, sika deer as a species of least concern and increasing in number. However, there is a need to assess how sika deer interact with other Texas wildlife to determining if conservation actions should be necessary in the future.

Blacktail Deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus)

blacktail bucks in field
  • Description:
    • Features: Blacktail Deer share similarities with Mule Deer, including their antler structure.
    • Tails: Their dark tails distinguish them from other deer species.
  • Habitat and Behavior:
    • Mountain Dwellers: Blacktail Deer are well-adapted to the challenging terrain of West Texas.
    • Feeding Habits: They graze on grasses, leaves, and shrubs found in their mountainous habitats.
  • Significance in Texas:
    • Lesser-Known Species: Blacktail Deer offer a unique hunting challenge for those exploring West Texas.
    • Conservation Concerns: Preservation of the Blacktail deer’s mountain habitats is crucial to its survival.

Texas Deer Hunting and Regulations

deer herd

Final Thoughts On Types Of Deer In Texas

In the heart of Texas, a world of deer species awaits hunters and nature enthusiasts alike. From the iconic Whitetail Deer to the exotic Axis and elusive Sika, each species offers a unique glimpse into the diverse wildlife of the Lone Star State.

And now that you know the types of deer in Texas, should you have the opportunity to hunt or observe these deer in their Lone Star State habitat, be sure to tread lightly, respect nature, and embrace the thrill of the hunt.

deerlicious how to remove wild game taste from venison

“Deerlicious!” | How to Remove the Wild Taste from Deer Meat

Deer meat, otherwise known as venison, is a prized protein for many hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. However, its distinct wild or gamey flavor can be off-putting to some, especially if not prepared correctly.

How To Remove The Wild Or “Gamey” Flavor From Venison

So take a look at some of the methods of removing the gamey, or “wild” taste from venison…

1. Proper Field Dressing and Handling

  • The process of removing the internal organs (gutting) and skinning the deer should be done as soon as possible after the kill. The longer these organs remain inside the animal, the higher likelihood of not only unwanted flavor, but also bacteria. So, being able to locate and field dress the animal promptly are very important.
  • Make every effort to keep the meat clean and cool during this process. Remove any hair, dirt, and bloodshot areas.
man cleaning deer with N1 shirt on

2. Bleeding and Trimming

  • Properly bleeding the deer after the kill can also reduce gamey flavors.
  • Placing the quartered and trimmed meat into cooler full of ice will help drain out the blood, which will greatly reduce the gamey flavor. You can allow the meat to sit for days in the ice. However, for best results, empty the bloody water and continue to add fresh ice during this process. If your cooler has a drain on the back, you can leave the drain open to allow the bloody runoff to constantly drain. Just don’t forget to refill the cooler with ice as it melts!
  • Trim away any silver skin, connective tissue, and visible fat, as these can contribute to a strong taste that many find unpalatable. Removing the “tallow” or fat from the meat can significantly improve its flavor.
man removing silver skin from deer backstrap

3. Aging the Meat

  • Aging venison helps to tenderize the meat and mellow out its flavor.
  • You can dry-age venison by hanging it in a cool (34-37°F), well-ventilated area for around 7 to 10 days.
  • Alternatively, wet-aging can be done by vacuum-sealing the meat and letting it rest in a refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.

4. Storage and Freezing

  • Properly packaging and freezing venison can also help maintain its quality and flavor.
  • Vacuum-sealing removes air, reducing the risk of freezer burn and preserving the meat’s taste.
  • Use freezer-safe bags or containers, and label with the date to ensure freshness.
backstrap with date on package

5. Soaking in Milk

  • Many hunters swear by soaking venison in milk to remove gaminess.
  • The enzymes and lactic acid in the milk help to tenderize and neutralize strong flavors.
  • Submerge the meat in milk for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator before cooking.

6. Marinating

  • Marinating venison is an effective way to infuse flavor and tenderize the meat.
  • Use acidic ingredients like vinegar, citrus juice, or wine to break down the strong flavors.
  • Add herbs, spices, and aromatics such as garlic, onion, thyme, rosemary, or juniper berries to enhance the taste.
  • Allow the meat to marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight for best results.

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7. Use of Seasonings and Ingredients

  • Bold seasonings and ingredients can help mask gamey taste.
  • Consider using strong flavors such as cumin, chili powder, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or balsamic vinegar.
  • Incorporate sweet elements like honey, maple syrup, or fruit preserves to balance out the flavors.
deer meat with rub

8. Cooking Techniques

  • Opt for cooking methods that add moisture and flavor to the meat.
  • Slow cooking methods such as braising, stewing, or using a slow cooker can help tenderize and mellow the flavors.
  • Grilling or smoking with wood chips like hickory or applewood can add a pleasant smokiness to mask any remaining gamey taste.
  • Cooking meats (like a roast) in a croc-pot with vegetables and/or other ingredients, like cream of mushroom soup, can greatly tame a gamey taste.
  • Avoid overcooking, as this can make the meat tough and intensify any unwanted flavors.
  • Adding ingredients like powdered chicken soup mix to venison burger can not only mask gamey taste, but give the meat a great flavor as well.

9. Mixing with Other Meats

  • If the wild taste is still too strong for your liking, consider mixing venison with other meats.
  • Ground venison can be combined with pork, beef, or bacon to create flavorful burgers, meatloaf, or sausages.

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10. Patience and Experimentation

  • Removing the gamey taste from venison can be a process of trial and error.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques, marinades, and recipes to find what works best for your palate.
  • Patience is key, especially when aging, marinating, or slow cooking the meat.

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Final Thoughts On Removing Wild Taste From Venison

By following the above steps, you can transform your deer meat into a delectable and flavorful dish that even those hesitant about the wild taste will enjoy.

So, whether you’re grilling steaks, making a hearty stew, or crafting gourmet burgers, these techniques will help you make the most of your venison and savor every bite.

Maston of N1 Outdoors with whitetail buck

Happy hunting and bon appétit!

XOP Ambush Evolution climbing stand review header image

Inside Information | XOP Ambush Evolution Sit-And-Climb Deer Stand Review

In this review, I cover the XOP Ambush Evolution Sit and Climb stand.

I’ve got some things I like about the stand. I’ve also got some things that I would change, to improve the stand.

So, let’s get to it!

The XOP Ambush Evolution Sit-And-Climb Review

I hunted with this stand several times this year, because I wanted something that would fold down – that wouldn’t have anything in front of me that would inhibit my bow shots.

I’ve used other climbers that have a rail around it that at times gave me problems.

Unpacking the Ambush Evolution

xop shoulder straps

The XOP Ambush Evolution Sit-And-Climb comes packed up really nicely. It has some bungee straps that hold it together well. It and it comes from the factory with some “get you by” shoulder straps. They have XOP sales after-market shoulder strap system as well (see below photo).

xop shoulder straps deluxe

Here’s a look at the more “deluxe” version of the shoulder straps from that you can buy from XOP.

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Below, you can see how tightly and compact it is. It’s less than 4″ wide, and when you put it on your back and carry it through the woods, because of the way the bungee strap pulls the cables down, it would not get hung up on vines, brush, or tree limbs.

XOP evolution folded width

The XOP Ambush Evolution folds up to an incredibly thin 4 inches!

XOP Evolution 18 lbs

One of the best things I like about the XOP Ambush Evolution is the weight. it weighs only 18 lbs and is the lightest stand I’ve ever hunted from.

Attaching To The Tree

XOP Evolutions sliding locks

To open the stand from the folded position, you simply slide the knob attachments toward the front of the stand until they stop…

XOP Evolutiions tightening screws

…then, you tighten down the knobs to secure the side bars into place.

XOP Evolution knobs

Unlocking and adjusting the strap that goes around the tree is pretty simple… just loosen the knob under the straps, and then push up to disengage. Once you have the strap to your desired length, you tighten the knob back down.

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XOP Evolutions danger zone on straps

The yellow “danger zone” is a good reminder not to lock the strap in place this far out.

XOP Evolution attaching bottom part to tree

When attaching to the tree, you need to set the strap circumference so that when you reach your desired height, the platform will be at a 90 degree angle to the tree.

One nice thing about the cables on the Ambush Evolution is that when they’re on the tree, they will get tight, but they don’t dig in like some other types of deer stands, and that’s by design. You don’t want to dig in to the tree and damage it, and possibly kill it.

XOP Evolution attaching bottom part to tree

The stand has a cool feature where the cross brace is curved, which allows easier attachment to the tree as well as easier climbing.

XOP Evolution seat strap

Here’s a look at the top half of the XOP Ambush Evolution before unpacking to attach to the tree.

XOP Evolution putting top half on tree

When you wrap the straps around the tree, you realize… boy, those straps nice and quiet!

XOP Evolution Climbing Straps

These straps connect the top half to the bottom half while climbing so that you don’t accidentally drop the bottom half and have it fall down the tree.

Climbing The Tree

getting into the XOP Evolution stand

You need to get inside of the top half of the climber to begin your ascent.

xop boot clearance

In this review, I’ve got on these cowboy boots. But, that’s not what I hunt in. I prefer to hunt in insulated rubber boots. And this stand doesn’t give a whole lot of clearance between the base of the stand and where you need to get your foot. And my rubber boots don’t go in here very easily.

XOP Evolution feet in bottom part

As you sit on the bar, you put your feet under the crossbar… this is how you will lift the bottom portion up the tree…

climbing in the XOP Evolution

and just move the bottom platform up the tree a few feet at a time until you reach your desired height.

XOP Evolution tightening climbing straps

Once you get the stand the height that you want to hunt at, the first thing you do is to tighten the safety straps down as tight as you can get them. This will prevent the top from coming down since it can’t be lifted while strapped tight. And it will keep the bottom connected to the top as well.

sitting in the XOP Evolution stand

You can see how my knees are just a little bit bent. I’m going to have my bow on a hanger, and I want my legs to have only a little bit of bend in them so whenever I go to stand up, I don’t have as far to go.

The sit and climb bar is designed for bow hunters to step through it and fold it under out of your way.

And that leaves me to one of the things that I would change just a little bit about the stand. I would prefer a larger seat, as my hips are squeezed a bit, due to the size of the factory seat.

If you bowhunt, you know it’s true!

XOP Ambush Evolution Foot space on platform

The platform doesn’t give you a ton of room to move around, but again, lightweight is often a tradeoff with size.

XOP Evolution seat

The seat width created a tighter fit on my hips than I would have liked, but there are some aftermarket mesh seat options out there that may help remedy this.

Another “con” to this stand is that the seat is a very tight fit on my hips, and it’s not the most comfortable seat.

Of course, there are gives and takes with how light and portable a stand can be and still be as comfortable as a larger and heavier stand might be.

Final Thoughts On XOP The Ambush Evolution Sit-And-Climb Deer Stand

Overall, I like the Ambush Evolution Sit-And-Climb stand from XOP. It’s performed really well for me on several hunts. This is by far the most compact stand I’ve ever hunted in. I also love how light it is.

The only improvements I would make is foot clearance under the crossbar, as well as the “hip squeeze” I experienced with the factory seat.

I hope this review has helped you make a choice on whether or not you would use this stand. I would recommend it to anybody who likes to run and gun with a light setup, has a good bit of walking to do, or has to carry camera equipment with them. Because the stand is so light, it makes the walk into your hunting spot easier.

Happy hunting, and please always wear a safety harness!

– Josh Wells, N1 Outdoors® Co-Founder

>>Be sure to check out N1 Outdoors hunting shirts HERE!