There is nothing that hunters look forward to more than the opening day of the white-tailed deer hunting season in Texas. It’s a day that many hunters start looking forward to as soon as the previous season ends. We are lucky enough to live in a state that literally has a Texas-sized deer population, estimated at between 3.7 million and 4.2 million animals by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department White-tailed Deer Program leader, biologist Alan Cain.
Cain recently stated that the huge deer population is sure to have an impact on the habitat conditions this fall. The drought has already put pressure on deer habitat, but with many areas of the state near, at or over the deer carrying capacity of the vegetation, deer numbers will only add to the problem they and other wildlife species are facing.
“If the dry conditions continue through the rest of the summer we will see poor fawn recruitment this fall, whitetail will probably readily come to deer feeders as a result of less than desirable range conditions and hunters should have pretty good harvest rates,” he said. The deer hunting should be good this year, but poor fawn production could hurt hunters down the road. “Landowners and managers need to encourage hunters to meet their harvest goals for the ranch, regardless of drought or wet conditions.”
Cain pointed to a key theory to deer management, one directly relates to overall deer population numbers. The management of deer is based off of controlling age, genetics and food availability. Habitat should provide most of the food that deer eat, and deer must be kept at appropriate numbers for the vegetation. Landowners should never count on food plots or protein pellets, but only used as supplements. Proper deer density is a concept that has especially has come into focus this year.
“Keep your deer density at a level that you would during tough times and even during wet years,” he said. “Therefore, no matter what the conditions are, plenty of native vegetation will remain to support the whitetail population. It goes without saying that with too many deer on the range, especially during poor habitat conditions, animal performance suffers and buck antler quality decreases as well as reproductive success. If the dry conditions continue this year, I would encourage hunters to try to fill their tags and for those hunting on managed properties try to meet their harvest recommendations this deer hunting season.”
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