AUSTIN – Record high temperatures in the upper 80s and 90s from Amarillo to Austin left ardent bow hunters sweltering in their deer stands throughout October; a trend weather models project could come to a welcome end heading into Saturday’s general rifle season opening day.
Unseasonably hot weather over the last month may have hampered hunting during the archery-only deer season, but Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) biologists maintain that prospects remain excellent.
“I’m still expecting an excellent deer season,” said Alan Cain, TPWD deer program leader. “It has been warm and a bit dry in October, which may have impacted early MLD (Managed Lands Deer) harvest and archery harvest. The deer are still there but some of the hunters I talked to said it wasn’t much fun sitting out in 80-90 degree weather, especially the afternoon hunts, so they’re waiting for the cooler weather. I expect hunting to pick up in November as cooler temps become more of the norm.”
Extended forecasts call for a reversal in weather patterns by mid-November, but even moderate temperature drops this weekend should be a welcome reprieve for hunters. The general deer season opens statewide Saturday, Nov. 5 and runs through New Year’s Day in the North Zone and through Jan. 15 in the South Zone (see the TPWD Outdoor Annual of Hunting and Fishing Regulations digest for county-specific bag limits and season dates). Printed copies of the digest are available at hunting license sales outlets and in digital format as a free mobile app download on iOS and Android platforms at www.txoutdoorannual.com/app .
What can hunters anticipate seeing in the field during the early part of the season? According to TPWD field observations, acorns have been prevalent in October and will persist into early November and may influence deer movements, but as dry as it has become in the last month or so deer are still coming to deer feeders.
“Antler quality is excellent,” Cain noted. “I’ve seen photos of several big deer, including a low-fenced buck harvested in Webb County with a gross B&C (Boone & Crockett score) of around 198. Deer are in excellent body condition. I’ve seen a number of harvested deer with 1-3 inches of fat on their rump and across the back.”
Texas boasts a whitetail deer population in excess of 4 million and those numbers are climbing across much of the state due to high fawn production and survival this year.
Parts of East Texas that have experienced extended flooding conditions over the last two years may be the exception.
Changes to deer season regulations…
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