Texas Receives 2017 QDMA Deer Management Award

The Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) has named the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as the recipient of its 2017 Agency of the Year Award. The award was presented at QDMA’s 2017 National Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, in recognition of the agency’s commitment to a strong deer management program.

“The white-tailed deer is a charismatic symbol that has come to represent the importance of wildlife conservation in Texas,” said QDMA founder Joe Hamilton. “The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department understands deer hunting is an essential and longstanding contributor to the state’s culture, economy, and motivator for land stewardship.”

Texas Gets QDMA Deer Management Award

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s signature deer management program has been so successful that its 80 wildlife biologists work with over 10,000 properties on 25 million acres, including nearly 200 wildlife Cooperatives actively receiving deer harvest and management recommendations. Texas is one of only a few states with a wildlife Cooperative program that includes a dedicated Cooperative staff member and incentives for participating landowners.

“Successful management of white-tailed deer is dependent on a strong partnership with hunters and landowners,” said Kip Adams, “QDMA’s Director of Education and Outreach. TPWD’s engagement of hunters has been a catalyst to spark that partnership for wildlife and habitat conservation.”

Additionally, according to data compiled by QDMA for its annual Whitetail Report, Texas has one of the best buck age structures in the whitetail’s range. During the 2015-2016 deer season, only 23 percent of bucks harvested by hunters were 1.5 years old while 59 percent were 3.5 years old or older.

If you love Texas, you will LOVE this video!

TYHP Adventure Hunts

The Texas Youth Hunting Program (TYHP) is committed to helping youth hunters experience hunting and the outdoors. The TYHP is excited to introduce a new element for young hunters, Adventure Hunts. Adventure Hunts will be advanced hunting opportunities designed for older hunters (age 13-17) with previous hunting experience in TYHP.

Adventure Hunts will feature chances to learn and apply advanced hunting skills such as stalking and calling, and many will employ more primitive sporting arms such as bows and muzzleloaders. Hunters on Adventure hunts will not be perched in permanent blinds waiting for game to come to them – the focus will be on hunting actively rather than passively, making things happen rather than waiting for opportunity.

TYHP Adventure Hunts

More challenge will yield greater skills, rewards, and lifelong memories. There will be much to learn, and of course these hunts will offer great fun!

TYHP Hunts: All About Adventure

TYHP Adventure Hunts will focus on wilderness-style camping. And in some cases, that wilderness may very well be in another state. Adventure Hunts will include expeditions to locales such as Colorado, in pursuit of wildlife we normally don’t get to hunt in Texas. Most of the Adventure Hunts, however, will be in Texas, but you’ll be learning to hunt our Texas game in new ways that will be both exciting and educational.

TYHP is designed to be an educational experience, and Adventure Hunts will take outdoor educational activities to a higher level. Success as an “active” hunter will require more knowledge of animal behavior and habitat requirements, not only to locate animals, but to get close enough for an ethical shot if using limited-range arms such as muzzleloaders or bows. Wilderness-style camping will present opportunities to learn about traveling light, leaving no trace and doing more with less. And consistent with the TYHP model, Mentors will be provided on Adventure Hunts to help you learn.

Due to the nature of Adventure Hunts and the physical challenges involved, participation will be limited to older youth aged 13 – 17. The privilege of Adventure Hunts will have to be earned – youth must earn points by providing support to or promotion of TYHP, or by supporting Hunter Education efforts. In other words, we will reward youth who give back to TYHP and the hunting community with spots on Adventure Hunts. So join TYHP for next-level hunting experiences on Adventure Hunts!

First Adventure Hunt Announced

The first Adventure Hunt will be an archery hunt for Pronghorn in Colorado, on the beautiful Comanche National Grasslands in southeast Colorado. Dates are August 14-18, 2017. Learn to camp wilderness-style and go pronghorn hunting with your bow – adventure awaits!

Begin earning points now, and watch this space for the schedule of Adventure Hunts to be added later in 2017. The TYHP staff will be happy to help you coordinate your Adventure Hunt point activities and earn points; for assistance or if you have any questions about the Adventure Hunts program please contact the TYHP.

TYHP Adventure Hunt Details

  • Ages 13 – 17
  • Previous participation in TYHP hunt(s)
  • Additional fees may apply (e.g. non-resident licenses in other states)
  • First hunts will be offered in Fall 2017
  • Youth must earn at least 180 of a possible 500 points to earn a spot
  • Points will be submitted & verified via online Activity Reporting Form
  • TYHP Adventure Hunts Activity Reporting

The table above spells out the TYHP Adventure Hunt Point System and requirements for eligible tasks and events (click on it to display a larger image). If you have been involved with the TYHP in the past or are looking to get started, make sure to contact them as soon as possible about scheduled hunts. The TYHP is a great organization and they can get you and your child out and hunting and on the path to success!

CWD in Texas Elk

CWD Found in Elk

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been found in Texas elk. Officials from the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) confirmed CWD in a free-ranging elk, harvested in Dallam County, on December 6, 2016. This is the first known Texas elk to test positive for CWD.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and TAHC identified the CWD positive elk during surveillance of cervids at TPWD Panhandle Containment Zone check stations. The National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa confirmed the presence of CWD prions in the tissue samples taken from the elk. Dallam County is located in the Texas Panhandle and borders Oklahoma and New Mexico.

CWD Check Stations in Texas

“We commend all hunters and landowners who are submitting samples in the surveillance zone for CWD in the Texas Panhandle,” said Dr. Andy Schwartz, TAHC Executive Director. “Surveillance of this disease found in cervids is critical in detecting and preventing the inadvertent spread of CWD.”

Hunters who deer within the Trans-Pecos and Panhandle CWD Containment and Surveillance Zones are required to bring their animals to a TPWD check station within 24 hours of harvest. Hunters and landowners can located a CWD check station near them.

CWD has been found in free-ranging elk across the US, including the adjacent states of New Mexico and Colorado, the state where CWD was first documented (1967) within the US.

CWD in Texas

The first case of CWD in Texas was discovered in 2012 in free-ranging mule deer in an isolated area of far West Texas. The disease has since been detected in a total of 8 mule deer in that West Texas population located in the Hueco Mountains and one mule deer in Hartley County. CWD has also been confirmed in white-tailed deer breeding operations located in Medina and Lavaca counties.

Symptoms of CWD

CWD is a progressive, fatal disease of cervids that commonly results in altered behavior as a result of microscopic changes made to the brain of affected animals. A cervid may carry the disease for years without any outward indication, but in the latter stages, signs may include listlessness, lowering of the head, weight loss, repetitive walking in set patterns, a lack of responsiveness, and the general, chronic wasting away of the animal.

CWD in Texas elk and deer is limited and to date there is no evidence that CWD poses a risk to humans or non-cervids. Regardless, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend not to consume meat from infected animals.

Comanche County Deer Hunting…

White-tailed deer are a popular game species in Texas and elsewhere throughout the US. Though most deer are taken legally, where there is temptation there will be people that do things illegally. So was the case in north-central Texas, where whitetail are quite numerous… and apparently the poachers are quite dumb/blatant. This illegal hunting story takes place in Comanche County.

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department — A Comanche County game warden had come home for lunch and parked his truck in the driveway when a knock came at the front door. His wife answered the door to find a young man asking if she knew where he could hunt hogs. She said she didn’t know and sent him on his way. The warden got to the door just as the man was getting into his white truck to leave. He felt there was something off about the encounter, so he moved his patrol truck behind his house and set up where he could watch the oat field just across the highway.

Comanche County Texas Deer Hunts

At dusk, he saw a white truck driving slowly on the highway and stop at the edge of the oat food plot. He then saw the man get out, remove a rifle form the backseat, sneak up to the fence and fire four shots into a herd of deer. Another car was coming down the road and spooked the man, so he ran back to his truck and made a U-turn just as the warden arrived to the scene.

The warden proceeded to handcuff, search and read Miranda rights to the man before asking him, “What were you thinking?” The young man said, “I didn’t think you would be home.” The warden then searched the field but did not find a deer or any blood. The man said he had just bought the .243 rifle and had not bothered to sight-in the scope.

The man was charged with deer hunting from a Texas public road and hunting in a closed area. His new rifle was seized.

Mills County Deer Hunting: Big Buck on the Ground!

Central Texas is not known as a big buck mecca in the world of white-tailed deer hunting, but the area produces good bucks every season. Within Central Texas, the southern end of the Cross Timbers area has a leg-up when it comes to growing big bucks. Soils are obviously a huge factor when it comes to plant growth, and subsequent body and antler growth, but it also takes a little management or some good ole fashioned luck. The former can help hunters produce good deer year after year. The latter… well, it never hurts to be lucky, especially when it comes to deer hunting!

Mills County Monster Buck

Check out this beast of a Mills County buck! David Podany, Sr.k harvested this free-ranging white-tailed deer while deer hunting in Mills County. The buck sports antlers that scored 179 1/8 gross and 173 7/8 net Boone and Crockett. The lucky hunter was deer hunting on a low-fenced property on November 21, 2014, when the big buck stepped out within range.

Mills County Deer Hunting Looks Good

Looking for a Lease

There are several ways to located hunting land. Word of mouth is still a great method, but it’s definitely not the only way. If you live in Houston, Dallas or East Texas, for that matter, good quality hunting leases may be some distance from your home. Check out classified ads in the major newspapers, calling the Chamber of Commerce in the counties where you are interested in obtaining a lease, and check out hunting forums and online lease finders.

TPWD Draw Hunts 2014

It’s official, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) will handle all drawn hunts online for the 2014-15 hunting season. This includes draw permits for special permit hunts as well as e-postcard selection hunts and for US Forest Service (USFS) antlerless deer permits. Applications must be submitted online only and the Applications for Drawings booklet will no longer be printed and mailed out.

The new drawn hunt system for 2014 looks to be hunter and time-friendly. Applicants can check the public hunting website for draw status, draw results and all winners selected for hunts will be notified by email. It will also allow hunters to pay for their hunt online. It also sounds like it will completely eliminate the chances of disqualification because online entry will cross-verify whether or not you or someone else has already entered you for a particular hunt.

Texas Drawn Hunts 2014

Special Permit Hunts

As is typical of the special permit draw hunts, most hunts require a $3 per adult (17 years and older) per application. The Private Lands categories and Guided Hunt Packages require a $10 fee. There are no feeds for youth (8-16) applicants or supervising adults on Youth Only Hunts. Again, any entry or hunt fees must be submitted online using a credit card.

Most of these hunts take place on state-owned land, primarily wildlife management areas and state parks, but the Private Lands hunts take place, you guessed it, on private property.

E-Postcard Hunt Selection

Several hunting units have a limited number of hunting opportunities that do not require Application or Special Permit fees. However, participants age 17 and older must have a valid Annual Public Hunting (APH) Permit. Adults supervising a youth hunter must be 18 years of age and older and have a valid TPWD APH permit.  Draw hunt results will be online and winners will be notified by email. and contacted by the hunt area to confirm hunt positions.

USFS Antlerless Deer Permits

The U.S. Forest Service and TPWD will also offer a limited number of permits to hunt antlerless white-tailed deer during the general season on Alabama Creek, Bannister, Moore Plantation, and San Houston National Forest wildlife management areas. Both adult and Youth Only Permits are available for each of the units. There is no application fee and a valid Texas Hunting License and APH permit are required to to hunt these areas.

Entering TPWD’s Draw Hunts

This is going to be a whole new rodeo for the 2014 hunting season. The big concern would be the loss of preference points, but it looks like all preference points will remain in place by hunt category but now they will be called Loyalty Points. According to TPWD, application submission begins in early July at the draw hunt web site and continues until midnight on the deadline specific for each hunt category.

Small Acreage Deer Management: High Fence Style

Question: “Interested in deer hunting and management on one of our ranches. We’ve got some whitetail deer on a property that is located near Brady, Texas. What is the carrying capacity for a small 150 acre ranch under high fence if we are supplemental feeding? Oh, and the property is about 50 percent brush and trees (oak, mesquite) with the remainder open grassland. Will probably put in some food plots too on the open areas. How many deer?”

Deer Hunting Pros: Though small acreage places can provide good deer hunting, the high fence situation will really limit what you can do, primarily because you will have little deer movement into and out of the place and the deer herd will be relatively limited. That being said, there is no doubt that you can support some number of deer on the place, and probably even produce some good bucks. Although the ranch is 150 acres, it sounds like the functioning amount of habitat may be more like 90 to 100 acres because of limited cover. 

Of course, the grassland areas can grow up and become deer habitat in 5 to 10 years, and that will help, but right now let’s look at it from the standpoint of 100 acres. In that part of Texas, 100 acres of deer habitat can support about 1 deer to every 10 to 15 acres. If you plan on providing year round supplemental feeding then I would think you could get away with a deer to every 8 to 10 acres. This would only be about 10 to 12 deer early on. I would recommend against any more than this early on OR the grassland areas will not grow into deer habitat. The deer will eat preferred browse plants as they grow and prevent establishment. Continue reading Small Acreage Deer Management: High Fence Style

Deer Hunting in Lampasas County

Question: “We are going to start deer hunting in Lampasas County this coming season. We have hunted on the western edge of the hill country for two decades, but now we are on the east side and it’s a whole new game. Got on a 700 acre deer lease about 10 miles south of Lampasas that is located just off of Highway 183. One of the guys we met in town said that some decent bucks come out of Lampasas County. Do you have any knowledge of the area.”

Deer Hunting Pros: All of the Texas Hill Country can produce good deer, but Lampasas County really has the potential to grow some big bucks. I’m quite familiar with the Lampasas area because two of my good friends have hunted up there for years. Still do. I think Lampasas County is a sleeper county that not many talk about, but I’ve seen some good bucks in the back of trucks up that way. The deer hunting up that way can be good, but of course the productivity of your lease will depend on many factors.

Based on the location you gave, it sounds like you will actually be deer hunting near the town of Watson, which is in Burnet County. This area is similar to Lampasas County in that the habitat can vary quite a bit. Depending on the location of your lease, it can range from wide open prairie lands with a low deer density to wooded creeks and pockets of habitat that are basically overpopulated with deer. Either way can be good hunting. The areas with low deer densities will produce larger bucks without a doubt. Continue reading Deer Hunting in Lampasas County

Whitetail Deer Rut in Texas?

Question: “Looking for some information on when the deer rut takes places in Texas. Just started deer hunting last year and hear that hunting the rut is the best time to see bucks. I got on a lease this year and plan on hunting in the Hill Country. The other guys on the lease said there were some good bucks on camera last year but several of the older deer did not get shot. Hoping I can get the drop on one of them. Plan on putting out cameras in the upcoming months to see what is out there. So when is the whitetail deer rut in Blanco County?”

Deer Hunting Pros: Well, it can vary somewhat from year to year, but usually not by a whole lot. In Central Texas, the peak of the deer rut runs somewhere from October 30 through November 7 each year. The timing of the rut is most dependent on the length of the days (amount of daylight), but temperature in my opinion does affect the intensity of activity. I think cooler weather means bucks will chase harder and longer, increasing the chances of observation by a hunter. The rut is a great time to be out deer hunting, but the rut also plays an important role in a deer population. Continue reading Whitetail Deer Rut in Texas?

Whitetail Deer Hunting in Mills County, Texas

Question: “I have always heard the whitetail deer hunting in Mills County can be good. I’ve hunted near this part of Central Texas before when we had a lease just south of San Saba. Currently one of my friends and my brother and I are looking at 320 acre deer lease just southeast of Goldthwaite. Do you have any experience with the deer hunting in this area? We have heard that there are lots of deer, but that they are not very big? What do you got?”

Deer Hunting: That part of Texas can be really good for whitetail deer and often some incidental exotics, as well, though they are few and far between. As you stated, the deer population can be high in certain locations in that part of Central Texas. The deer hunting in Mills County will be best along the major creeks and the Colorado River. Same for the turkey hunting. There will be more deer in the drainage areas, but the quality of animals will depend upon overall management in those areas.

Whitetail Deer Hunting, Deer Lease in Mills County Texas

A fellow I went to college with is from Mills County and he used to hunt several ranches in the area. He ended up shooting some really nice bucks, all of which were mature deer. The place he lived on had a high deer density when he was young, but then they developed a deer management plan with the local biologist and the body and antler size increased. Like any place, the real deal is to allow the bucks to mature. If you can get some age on them then you will see and shoot some nice bucks.

A guy I know that has a ranch in northern Coryell County, just south of Mills County, has had great success in managing his place. He has even more control with a high fence, but the deer are all native. That ranch produces 150+ inch deer every year and they get a buck that is 170+ every third year or so. Those numbers will rival most places in Texas. Of course, he has had that piece of real estate under a management program for about 10 years.

Can the deer hunting in Mills County be good? Absolutely, especially if you are located along the river or a major creek. How things play out on your 320 acre deer lease will depend a lot on what the landowner and neighbors are doing though. If the area is overgrazed then the deer quality will suffer. There may be a lot of them, but antler growth will be less than optimal. The buck quality will also depend on what the neighboring lands are shooting or not shooting. Buck quality will take some management, if you and your neighbors are on the same page.