Texas Deer Hunting

Texas Deer Harvest Down, Buck Quality Up

Texas Whitetail Hunting 2015-16

Texas’ general deer hunting season has ended for the 2015-16 year, but there are still opportunities for hunters with the remaining youth weekend, late antlerless and spike season as well as those hunting on properties participating in the MLD Permit program. Despite favorable conditions for antler growth and fawn recruitment throughout 2015, it has been a challenge for many deer hunters. This is especially true of those in the eastern portions of Texas.

“It’s been an interesting hunting season, for sure,” Mitch Lockwood, big-game program director for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s wildlife division, said this past week. “We won’t have hard data until after deer season, but, anecdotally, it looks like whitetail hunters have had good success where they had access (to hunting areas), and overall buck quality has been exceptional. But in some areas, access has been a problem all season. Wet weather has played a big role this year, preventing many folks from accessing deer hunting grounds.”

And it’s true. There were many cases were the abundance of rain kept hunters from being able to the enter the gate. Not because they didn’t want to go, but because they couldn’t get to their stands. And it they could have, would the deer have been there? All of the rain led to an abundance of cool season forage so there was no need for deer to visit feeders, at least until later in the season when much colder weather set in.

Deer Harvest About Participation

Hunter participation is a huge factor when it comes to evaluating a deer hunting season in Texas. If hunters can’t get out they don’t shoot deer. “A lot of country in river basins has been inaccessible all season,” Lockwood said, noting East Texas has been especially hit hard with season-long flooding on rivers such as the Sabine, Sulphur and Trinity. I’m guessing harvest will probably be down this year because of the weather conditions,” Lockwood said.

If Lockwood’s predictions hold, private lands will not be the only places where fewer deer were harvested. Several public land deer hunts were shut down as well as a result of a lack of accessibility and public safety. “TPWD had to cancel 16 public deer hunts in East Texas because of flooding,” Lockwood said.

A Tale of Two Hunting Seasons

It appears in hindsight the 2015-16 deer hunting season will be memorable for many reason. “Body condition of deer has been phenomenal; they’re just so fat. Every deer I’ve seen has been in great shape. Antler quality has been just exceptional,” Lockwood said. Hunters able to tag bucks were all grins while others had reduced hunting opportunities as a result of of field conditions.

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