By Gary Joiner
TFB Radio Network Manager
What’s average in Texas might actually be considered pretty good by others, especially if you’re describing the hunting season for white-tailed deer.
Alan Cain, white-tailed deer program leader for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), is encouraged by the white-tailed deer season that opened Sept. 29 for archery hunters.
“Deer season for the 2018 season is probably going to be an average year across the state. Now, an average year for Texas is generally pretty good, by most folks’ standards,” Cain said.
Cain has received reports of better-than-expected antler quality in areas of South Texas.
“They were surprised by the antler quality they’re seeing. It’s been hot and dry in South Texas and in lots of areas of the state, and habitat was in okay shape, but it wasn’t great. Early on, we didn’t expect big gains in antler quality,” he said. “We were expecting an average year. But talking to some of these individuals, they’re seeing some really good quality deer in parts of south Texas and around the state.”
Cain noted a good mesquite bean crop and a Texas persimmon crop in the southern areas of the state may have helped deer get through some of the dry times.
There’s plenty of white-tailed deer to pursue across the state, Cain said, noting the state’s white-tailed deer population is estimated to be around 4.6 million.
If you’re looking for good opportunities to harvest a deer, consider the Hill Country, he said.
“The Texas Hill Country is obviously one of the highest deer populations areas in the state. We estimate about 2.5 million whitetails in that region of the state,” he said. “So, if you’re looking for a place, not necessarily for trophy antlers or trophy-quality animals, although they produce them there, for sheer numbers of deer, that’s the place hunters ought to be looking for opportunities to go out and pursue deer this season.”
Mule deer hunters in the Texas Panhandle need to be aware of a new antler restriction regulation. Hunters pursuing mule deer this fall in Briscoe, Childress, Cottle, Floyd, Hall and Motley counties will be required to comply with a new antler restriction regulation that prohibits harvest of any mule deer buck with a main beam outside spread of less than 20 inches.
TPWD is implementing the new experimental regulation with the goal of improving buck age structure and sex ratios in these counties by reducing excessive hunting pressure on younger bucks. A similar antler restriction for white-tailed deer has been in place for several years in other parts of the state and has successfully shifted the age class structure toward older bucks.