Question: Went out to our deer lease in Anderson County this past weekend to gear up for the upcoming deer hunting season. We saw 10 bucks and two additional groups of whitetail deer, with another bachelor group of six bucks. There were several good looking eight point bucks, and an 11 point that is going to be a real nice buck in another year or two. It is dry out there, but it seems like we’re seeing more deer then we normally do.
A few years ago on our lease, we would only see a deer or two at a time, at best. Now the other hunters and I are seeing as many as 10 animals in a group on a regular basis. In addition, a young eight point buck actually came to corn feeder while we were hog hunting on Saturday, which is rare. Deer have not come to our feeders very much in past years. Will the drought cause us to see more deer activity this year due to the need for deer to find food?
Answer: Excellent question! And very timely. Yes, the drought in Texas will actually increase deer activity for all hunters this deer hunting season. With habitat in poor condition, whitetail deer are having to work overtime to find food. This explains why you are seeing more animals on your deer lease. Whitetail are simply having to move further and more often to find something to eat.
You mentioned that it was unusual to see deer at your feeders, yet a young buck showed up to gobble up some corn. This is a good example of what you can expect this hunting season if the dry weather does not break. In fact, hunters across Texas will be seeing lots of deer at their feeders this fall. Not because there are more deer, because fawn survival this summer has been horrible, but because the deer that are out there are hungry. Habitat is poor; natural food is scarce.
Hunters interested in the well being of whitetail deer found on their property should look at reducing the deer population prior to the onset of winter. Hunters seeing much higher numbers of deer in the field and at the feeders should take that as a clue that deer are not fairing well. It is recommended that hunters use deer surveys to estimate the number of animals on their property and keep animals at an appropriate number for the habitat.
Currently, habitat conditions are low across the state and the native vegetation will not overwinter many animals. In addition, there has been very little acorn production due to drought. All acorn reports are poor, and acorns are an important high-fat food that help to prepare whitetail for the winter. Deer hunting will be good from a hunter’s perspective, but that’s because deer will be forced to use feeders.
A good number of the deer you see will likely die from inadequate food, so help the remainder of the whitetail deer on your leased property by sharpening your knife and using all of your hunting license tags this deer hunting season. A deer feeder is simply a tool to help attract deer for harvest. Use it wisely. Texas and deer that live here have not faced a drought like this in a long, long time. Filling your deer tags early will help carry the rest of the animals through the winter. It’s going to be a tough one.
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