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Farm and Ranch News October 31, 2017  RSS feed

Texas Crop and Weather Report:

Deer season expected to provide good opportunities for hunters
Writer: Adam Russell

The quality of this year’s white-tail deer crop is expected to be very good because of good rain and browse availability. 
(Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Dr. Jim Cathey) The quality of this year’s white-tail deer crop is expected to be very good because of good rain and browse availability. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Dr. Jim Cathey) SAN ANGELO – The general hunting season for white-tailed deer opens Nov. 4, and Texas hunters should expect good opportunities in the field, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialist.

Dr. John Tomecek, AgriLife Extension assistant professor and wildlife specialist, San Angelo, said good weather conditions have provided good forage and cover for deer.

“The deer we’re seeing are healthy, and the bucks have good antlers,” he said. “There were a few places around the state that dried out early in the summer, but the common complaint I am hearing is that everything is so green that the deer don’t care about the corn, so they’re not coming to the feeders.”

Hunting is a multi-billion industry for the state, Tomecek said. Deer leases and hunting provides a critical source of income for rural landowners, ranchers and communities.

“You have communities that may have one diner and a few businesses, and once deer season starts, those diners are full of hunters,” he said. “Those businesses rely on that money. It’s the same for landowners. We have a lot of landowners who might have a bad year with their agricultural ventures, but then their hunting lease payments come in.”

As opening day nears, Tomecek said signs indicate 2017 will be a good year. He suggests checking Texas Parks and Wildlife hunting rules and regulations in the area where hunting before going afield.

Tomecek said deer movement is increasing as daylight hours shorten, which activates the rut, and temperatures cool.

“Animals are starting to move, and a good cold spell or freeze may reduce the available forage and push deer to corn,” he said.

Tomecek said there appeared to be a good yearling crop and that conditions provided good forage and cover for does and fawns during a critical time.

“Those mothers need good food sources or their bodies may tell them it’s not a good time to go into estrus,” he said. “But once you have healthy fawns on the ground, they need good cover to help them avoid predation by coyotes, wild pigs and other predators.

Tomecek said hunters typically take younger deer, but that it’s preferred hunters take deer 3-5 years in age.

“We like to see hunters take full-bodied, muscled bucks that aren’t going to get any better,” he said. “They’ve done their part in reproduction and we like to see them taken before their bodies begin to decline.”

Tomecek said there are some lingering issues hunters in certain areas of the state should be aware of. Hunters in the southernmost parts of Texas, around the Rio Grande Valley, should be aware of quarantine areas where health officials continue to monitor for cattle fever ticks.

“You can harvest animals,” he said. “They’re safe, but remember that state inspectors will want to inspect that carcass or cape for ticks to prevent them from being transported to other parts of the state,” he said. “It’s a simple inspection that only takes a few minutes. You just want to contact the Texas Animal Health Commission and have them look at it before you leave if you’re in one of those quarantine areas.”

Tomecek said he encourages all Texans to participate in hunting, and to share the experience with youth hunters.

“That’s the fun part, the getting out in the field with friends and family and creating generational memories,” he said.

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