The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department expects hunters to have one of the best whitetail deer seasons in years for 2015-16.
The TPWD says timely rainfall and mild weather have “set the table.”
“We saw a diverse buffet of deer foods this spring, where vegetation growth was measured in feet rather than inches this year,” said Alan Cain, TPWD whitetail deer program leader. “Meeting nutritional demands of antler growth, rearing fawns and building up body reserves for the rigors of rut as well as the winter should be an easy venture for most big game animals this year.”
Past seasons have seen deer searching far and wide to find nutritious native weeds and browse plants, according to the TPWD. Deer are known to prefer native forages with a lot of protein and energy, which can be easily digested. Weeds fit that description, and there were plenty of them this year.
TPWD’s 2014 estimate was 3.95 million deer, the highest estimated population since 2005. Cain expects this year’s numbers to be the same or even break 4 million.
Dry conditions from July through late October were met by the recent improved rainfall across the state. That may set the scene for an early winter weed crop. The mid to later periods of the hunting season may see less deer attracted to feeders, meaning hunting strategies will need to stay dynamic as the season moves forward.
Antler growth should be great, but in areas of East Texas where unusually wet years resulted in lower-than-normal fawn recruitment, it may be less than stellar.
Cain suggests taking advantage of antlerless deer harvests to offset high fawn production to “keep deer numbers at a level the habitat can sustain during lean years.”
The general season opens Saturday, Nov. 7, and runs through Jan. 3, 2016, in the 209 counties that comprise the North Zone and through Jan. 17, 2016, in the 30 counties of the South Zone.