Nature

Whitetail Deer Having Red-Letter Year in the Lone Star State

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Due to a record amount of rainfall earlier in the year, Texas has become a haven for ground-nesting birds, and the Lone Star State is also having a red-letter year for fawning in whitetail deer. Various parts of the state are synonymous with hunting, and according to Alan Cain, veteran wildlife biologist for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, hunters have lots to be enthused about.

At present, the estimates for the Texas deer herd claim a count of some 5.4 million creatures. In doing the math, this adds up to 48 deer for every 1,000 acres. In Cain’s 2019-20 whitetail hunting forecast, there doesn’t seem to be a bad word to be found. “Overall, antler quality in 2019 is expected to be above average across most of the state. The statewide average Boone and Crockett score in 2018 was 126.1 for bucks 5 1/2 plus and 121.2 for 4 1/2-year-old bucks. That’s respectable quality bucks for anywhere in the state,” he told athensreview.com.

Whitetail Deer Having Red-Letter Year in the Lone Star State

Photo: Public Domain Files

The basis for Cain’s positive report was set in the 2018 fall rains that drenched much of Texas. This resulted in lush forage for the animals, lasting throughout a mild winter and on into spring. “Those winter weeds provided high quality forage for deer at a critical time when they are rebuilding body reserves lost over the winter and through the rigors of the breeding season,” he said. “Wet weather patterns continued into early July, solidifying the excellent habitat conditions not only in terms of available nutritional forages but abundant cover as well. These conditions should translate into above average antler quality, reproduction, and recruitment for white-tailed deer.” For these reasons, he says that hunters can expect to enjoy a truly excellent deer season for 2019.

Whitetail Deer Having Red-Letter Year in the Lone Star State

Photo: Public Domain Pictures

Cain further went on to explain deer population estimates for 2019 and hunter success rates for 2018 by region of Texas in an interview found here. Based on his report, the Edwards Plateau has an estimated 2.4 million deer, more than any other geographical part of Texas. He said that there’s a strong showing of 6.5-year-old bucks, and Llano and Mason counties (the Hill Country area) support the majority of them. Points in between Del Rio to Junction to Ozona, in addition to Hondo to Del Rio, are ripe with bigger bucks. To assist the lesser deer populations, he encourages hunters to make use of their antlerless deer tags. This will help put the buck/doe ratios on a more level playing field as well as improve the area habitat. It was of particular note that hunter success rates for last year’s season were approximately 78 percent.