Comment: I deer hunt a 1,750 acre lease near Robert Lee in Coke County along the Colorado River. We have 11 paid deer hunters and this year not a single mature buck was taken. In fact, very few bucks at all were even seen during hunting season. This is unheard of for our whitetail hunting lease. Almost every season each hunter is able to harvest at least one 120-ish inch mature buck, with the occasional 140 incher taken, and a couple of mature does.
I spoke to a few deer hunters around us this tough hunting was not just limited to our ranch. I know that the water is way down in the river from prior years, but there is still plenty of water around and on our ranch, so I can not blame our poor deer hunting on that. Someone even rumored that a mountain lion was killing deer, but I doubt that would cause such a widespread issue. We thought everything was going fine, but deer hunting this past year was slow. What’s the deal?
Response: My uncle hunts about 5 miles northeast of Robert Lee and he reported difficult hunting as well. He said he saw only a handful of bucks that were over 3 1/2 years old this year. His lease is about 2,300 acres with 9 hunters and I believe only 1 or 2 of the bucks taken on our lease this year were over 3 1/2 years old. Now that is tough hunting and hard to imagine considering they do a pretty good job of managing the deer that they have.
Fortunately, he and other hunters on that property did see a lot of 3 1/2 year old and younger bucks. He said he did not even get a picture of a mature buck using 2 game cameras that were out since late summer. Now that is crazy! I know they have taken a lot of nice older bucks the last couple of years, so maybe that was a factor, but they had solid deer numbers up until last year too. Although the fawn crop was low for a few years due to the drought, they still had deer.
This year was a very good year for habitat up until the late fall, so I suspect deer hunting was slow because deer simply were not moving. When natural food is abundant deer just do not hit feeders. Mild conditions across Texas kept deer on the low profile until temperatures really dropped, but of course the regular season was far over by then. I too, did not see many bucks this year, but I also think there are a lot more deer out there than we think. All I can suggest is hope for the best and let’s see what happens this coming deer hunting season.
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