Outlook favorable for Texas deer season which kicks off Saturday

Still not clear of 2012 drought, things are looking up in many parts

Texas has millions of deer and millions of acres to hunt them. 
Photo by Grady Harrison Texas has millions of deer and millions of acres to hunt them. Photo by Grady Harrison While not clear of the drought, things are looking up in many parts of the state this year and the outlook for deer and deer hunting is much brighter as the season opens this Saturday.

Biologists can provide some general predictions each year based on rainfall and general habitat conditions that are applicable at a landscape level scale, but whether those predictions hold true for individual properties is like trying to guess the Lotto numbers on the Saturday night drawing.

Factors like rainfall, availability of native foods like acorns or mesquite bean crops, habitat quality and availability, even hunting pressure, play a role in shaping your hunting success.

Aside from rainfall and general habitat conditions biologists also consider previous year’s deer population characteristics to make predictions for the upcoming season.

“Statewide population trends remain stable and hunters should expect good numbers of deer year in and year out,” says Alan Cain, TPWD whitetail deer program leader. “I would predict the statewide deer population to be close to or slightly above the long-term average and hover around that 3.6 million deer mark for 2013.” “One factor hunters should also keep in mind is the good carryover of deer from the 2012 season as harvest was down resulting from heavy acorn and mast crops in several regions of the state,” Cain notes.

“For hunters this translates into plenty of opportunities to harvest a deer.” Though the deer population numbers are expected to be good this year, Cain predicts the recent September rains that resulted in a flush of green vegetation may cause bow hunters to rethink their early season hunting strategies as deer may spend less time visiting feeders. A well-traveled game trail may be more productive than hunting at the deer feeder. Dry conditions in 2011 resulted in a significant decline in fawn production, down to 29 percent for the statewide estimate, a 24 percent departure from the long term average. Fawn crops bounced back in 2012 at 47 percent and Cain anticipates survey results will show a higher fawn crop this year.

In fact, Cain is hearing reports from landowners as well as TPWD biologists of fawn production in the 60 to 80 percent range in the Hill Country and similar reports of good fawn production in other areas of the state.

For hunters fawn crops may not be as meaningful since harvest is generally focused on older age class deer, but remember those fawns this year translate into your adult deer.

Overall, the 2013 season is expected to be a good one with great opportunities to harvest a deer.

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2013-10-31 digital edition

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