The 54-year-old had served a prison sentence for assault, and one condition of his release was that he live in a shared flat in Graz, near to his probation officer.
However, he absconded in February and had been hiding out in a forest near Himmelberg.
Police received a tip-off from locals that he was living in a wooden hut and when they went to investigate on Monday they saw the fugitive through the hut window.
When he saw the officers, who were in uniform, he attacked them with an axe, injuring one of the men. He could only be subdued when the police sprayed him with pepper spray.
“We weren’t even going to arrest him, we just wanted to find out where he was living and talk to him,” local chief police Arnold Holzmann said. The would-be ‘hermit’ is now back in police custody.