White-tailed deer hunting is a big deal in Texas, but hunters had a tough time of it this year in the Lone Star State. “The best estimate is that harvest is down by 30-35 percent this year,” said Alan Cain, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Wildlife district leader from Pleasanton of the South Texas harvest. Some locker plants that process deer are reporting deer numbers are down as much as 40-45 percent!
Cain said to blame the drop on the green-up that came following the drought. “The positive side of this is that a bunch of bucks will probably make it through the season to be available next year and with another year of age,” Cain said.He added that range conditions are still good, and once the bucks shed antlers and begin developing another set they should be healthy.
“The range conditions should help the bucks recover well after the rut and set the stage for a good antler growing year as well as keeping the does in good condition to raise fawns,” Cain noted.East Texas probably went through the summer months in the best condition. It appears hunters did OK after a slow start. “We are below average harvest, but it is hard to say by how much,” said Gary Calkins, Pineywoods district leader from Jasper. “I don’t think it is a huge amount overall.”
In the Edwards Plateau, fall forbs have put a big dent in the harvest. “Excellent conditions this fall and winter, which have benefited the deer but hindered the hunter, resulted in a harvest probably down at least 33 percent this year,” said Mike Krueger, district leader out of Kerrville. Krueger said throughout the season hunters would see bucks utilizing feeders, but few doe.
“The bucks are probably there more for ‘social networking’ than actually to feed on corn and the does aren’t desperately hungry enough to put up with the harassment they’d receive at the feeders.”
Like South Texas, Krueger said the Hill Country is setting up for a good antler year for next fall. “All deer, bucks and does, should come out of the winter in good physical condition, setting the stage for a good antler growing and fawn production season next spring and summer.”